This happened a few evenings before my flight back home. Dinner time in Vicenza, home of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. It was my last must do item, eat polenta e baccala’ (a local dish) at Righetti. www.selfrighetti.it/inglese/Righetti.html It’s a landmark, been around forever and while it’s touted as self service is not the typical American style self service and you pay through the honor system.
We sat outside under the trees, the evening was perfect and I was delighted to hear English spoken at several tables. By the way, you set your own table, and then you also clean it. Before leaving I went to use the bathroom. There were 3 doors. Men, handicap and the one in the center, for ladies. Two women stood by the middle door, whispering…they glanced at me and whispered some more. I tried to hear what they whispered about and realized they spoke English.
“Excuse me.” I said, “Is there something wrong? May I help?”
I had their full attention. They looked at each other, nodded and flung the ladies’ bathroom door wide open. Then the chubby one pointed to the floor and with a look of horror on her face said. “There is a hole.”
Indeed it was what’s known as a gabinetto all turca (Turkish toilet?). I forced myself not to laugh and explained it was considered hygienically good because you squat and don’t really come in direct contact with anything since you have shoes on where your feet stand. The young one nodded, exchanged more glances and finally went in and closed the door. I prayed she didn’t get her feet drenched when she flushed, but I guess all went well. I waited for the chubby one to go, but she wasn’t buying it, she insisted I go first and when I asked why? Her answer made perfect sense, “I can go in and squat, that’s easy, but how am I going to get back up?” I guess I’ll never know, I left before she closed the door.
Perhaps it’s time to retire the Turkish toilets???