is often criticized for its shortage of toilet facilities. To some extent, the criticism
is justified--after all, the city welcomes
millions of tourists per 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
One could argue--unconvincingly--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 might 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, local authorities have
promised to build more public restrooms as part of an effort to
improve tourist facilities. A few years ago, the city doubled the prices of using public
WCs in what critics have called a "toilet tax" on visitors and
ABOVE: This WC is at the foot of the Accademia
Bridge in Dorsoduro, near the Accademia vaporetto station.
Here's how to make the best of a poor
Know where to go. See
the list below.
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
Public WCs of the Venice sanitation authority charge a mind-boggling
€1,50. Some 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.
Many public WCs, museum toilets, etc. 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 isn't as
alarming as it may sound; unisex restrooms normally don't have urinals, and toilet stalls are
enclosed from floor to ceiling, with solid walls and doors.
Locations of public toilets
Venice's public WCs are normally open during
the day and early evening; hours vary with the day and season. See the
official map, or search for
the restroom closest to you.
Official WC descriptions include information such as the
number of stalls and urinals, whether disabled toilets and "nurseries"
(diaper-changing facilities) are available, etc.
ABOVE: An attendant collects fees for the spotlessly
clean WC on the Lido di Venezia, next to the Lido Santa Maria Elisabetta
ABOVE: In the Lido WC, each toilet stall has its own
some of the most popular toilets in the city:
Calle Large dell' Ascensione, which is just
beyond the narrow end of the Piazza San Marco.
Go through the archway from the square, turn right, and look for the WCs (which are down a
short alley off the left side of the pedestrian street.)
Giardini ex reali San Marco. This lavatory is on the
waterfront, not far from the San
Marco Giardinetti vaporetto and airport-boat stop.
Accademia, at the foot of the
Accademia Bridge on the Dorsuduro side of
the Grand Canal (near the Accademia vaporetto stop).
Santa Lucia Railroad
Station. See the
toilets page of our
station article for directions and a photo. (Biffy bargain alert: When we
last checked, the station was charging one euro to use its
clean and accessible WCs, compared to €1,50 at the city's public toilets.)
Piazzale Roma, where
airport buses and municipal buses arrive in Venice.
parking island, if you're arriving or departing by car or tour bus.
Public toilets were 50 cents cheaper than in the city center the last time
The Lido di Venezia, which is Venice's beach
resort. The attended WCs (shown above) are in a modern building next to the
Santa Maria Elisabetta
ABOVE: To reach the public WC in Piazzale Roma, look for a row of souvenir stands at the
tree-lined end of the square.
Venice, Mestre, and Murano have a few department
stores and shopping centers with public toilets for customers. (Sadly,
Venice's Coin department store--a convenient spot for a quick WC visit--is
If you're in
Dorsoduro, head for Ca' Rezzonico near the Ca' Rezzonico vaporetto stop
and use the impeccably maintained toilets in the lobby. The restrooms are free,
even if you don't visit the museum upstairs, and they're located next to the
gift shop and the cloakroom on the ground floor. (While you're at it, buy a
ticket to enjoy this museum of 17th Century Venice in a
About the author:
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
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