The Inconsolable by Bartolini, The Academie, Firenze, Italy.
Traveling overseas presents a few dilemmas in the toilet department and whilst I thought I had covered most things in my travel chapter in my two books Pelvic Floor Recovery:Physiotherapy for Gynaecological Repair Surgery and Pelvic Floor Essentials I have now realised, as I have used more and more toilets on this trip, that I have missed some vital hints.
It never ceases to amaze me the variety of styles, heights, flushing mechanisms, instructions-hand-written-on-a-piece-of-cardboard and the cost, amongst other things, of toilets in overseas countries.
Really? No paper in the toilet- it really goes in that open, no-lidded bucket????
In fact can I say we are pretty boring in Australia! Basically if you’ve seen one toilet in Australia, you’ve seen them all. Whereas over here, particularly in Italy, it’s a competition to see which toilet can be the trickiest, particularly in the flushing department.
Also a close second to the toilets are the ways to turn a tap on- it was quite embarrassing one day when there was a girl waiting while I was attempting to wash my hands, and I was madly waving my hands under the tap, as you do in some automated tap systems (I was sure this was one of them as I swear as I moved my hands under the tap, some water came dribbling out) and she pointed to the pedal on the floor, with a look of pity at my stupidity.
The other thing that is very prevalent over in Italy is the bidet. Every hotel room we stayed in had one. The last beautifully positioned, exquisitely decored room- sorry Junior Suite- in Venice had a bidet which was extremely spaciously positioned while the toilet and the toilet paper roll were crammed in like an after-thought.
Yes that’s the door to the bathroom- note how close you are to the wall and yes there is the magnificently spacious (never-used) bidet
The most significant thing I noticed was the height of them all. Every toilet I encountered on this trip was ridiculously high, which as you know from previous blogs, is a nightmare for women who have had babies (the stretch on their pelvic floor muscles and perineum causes increased laxity and therefore it becomes more difficult to evacuate). So I am going to seriously look into a travel footstool to sell from my website. But my patients know I have already told them they must ask housekeeping for a couple of toilet rolls and get around the height issue with their hotel room toilet like that, but having a nifty, light, collapsible one would be great I think.
Now the whole point of going to Italy was for Bob to attend the 24th Architecture Biennale in Venice. Every year there is a Biennale-one year for art, the next year for Architecture. It lasts for 6 months from June to November and I can highly recommend to everyone to make it a definite reason to visit Venice.
Now some people I know don’t like Venice because of the vast number of tourists that visit- and I must say we were over-awed by the vast crowds that suddenly appeared at 11 am and then magically disappeared around 5 pm. And then when we were resting in our hotel room on the first day, the brilliant sunshine disappeared, the room went dark …………and we looked out the window and saw this:
The view from our hotel window and there were 3 or 4 of those crammed with thousands of tourists every day!
No wonder there are millions of tourists in Venice.
But if you stay up the Arsenale end of Venice, it is much, much less busy and also it doesn’t flood (yes, you all know I’m sure about Venice’s other minor issue of flooding)
We saw some minor flooding on a high tide St Marks Square
Here’s some serious flooding St Mark’s Square, 2012
The theme this year for the Architecture Biennale is Fundamentals- all the Elements that make up the science of building- the roof, ramp, walls, facades, ceilings- you get it. But the one that definitely interested me of course, was the toilet display. And it didn’t let me down. It was brilliant as evidenced by the photos throughout this blog. Who knew that architects threw themselves into the anatomy of the perineum when designing a toilet.
There were even photos of naked men voiding with different angles- too risqué to show in this blog! But seriously the display was brilliant and one of the highlights was seeing the winner of the Bill and Melinda Gates prize for “Reinvent the toilet challenge”- the blue diversion toilet by Eawag and EOOS- a stand alone toilet, not reliant on scarce water or expensive sewerage infrastructure.
Reinvent the toilet challenge winner by Eawag and EOOS
There were interesting pretty ceramic toilets
Urinal circa 1895
And then some really interesting technical drawings on work on a squatting toilet- they possibly could have done with some input from a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
But I think that one of the very significant parts of the exhibit was a little cartoon situated low on a display that Bob found and said – this is what you finish the blog with.
In case you can’t read what the little boy is saying –
“So you’re telling me you have so much clean water that you shit in it?”
Let’s all think about the significance of that- it’s pretty amazing isn’t?