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Public Toilets in Venice

Venice is often criticized for its shortage of toilet facilities. To some extent, the criticism is justified--after all, the city welcomes an estimated 12,000,000 tourists a year, yet it has only a handful of public WCs scattered around the half-dozen sestieri, or districts, that make up the historic center. It doesn't take a plumber to realize that the existing facilities are going to be overwhelmed when 100,000 tourists show up with their water bottles on a typical summer day.

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Above: Public toilets in San Polo. INSET BELOW: In bars, you'll occasionally find Turkish-style toilets.

photoOne could argue that building enough toilets for the masses would require destroying many of the buildings and monuments that tourists come to see. Large-scale deployment of lavatories would also displace even more Venetians than the 1,200 who already flee to the cheaper, less crowded mainland in a typical year (maybe in search of a place to pee).

If it's any consolation, the city has promised to build more public restrooms as part of a major effort to improve tourist facilities. The city recently doubled the prices of using public WCs in what critics have called a "toilet tax" on visitors and residents.

Here's how to make the best of a poor situation:

  • Know where to go. See the list and official link on page 2 of this article.

  • Go when you have the opportunity. Use your hotel bathroom before you start the day's sightseeing. During a museum visit, look for the restroom. At better restaurants and cafés, use the loo before you leave.

  • Carry change for toilets, which often have turnstiles at the entrances. Public WCs of AMAV, the Venice sanitation authority, charge a mind-boggling €1,50 unless you have the Venice Connected pass. Larger museums (such as the Doge's Palace) have attended restrooms with posted fees. In other museums and galleries, toilets are often free.

  • Pay attention to spelling. "Signori" means "men," and "Signore" means "women." Fortunately, many restroom signs use icons instead of text.

  • Don't be fazed by unisex facilities. Some museums don't have separate restrooms for men and women. Instead, an attendant directs you to the next vacant toilet stall, or--in some cases--banks of men's and women's toilets face a common row of washbasins. This needn't be cause for embarrassment; unisex restrooms normally don't have urinals, and toilet stalls are enclosed from floor to ceiling, with solid walls and doors.

Next page: Venice lavatory locations


In this article:
Introduction Toilet locations

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