Subject: A most interesting W.C. in Italy!
Hello Ziners,

Near the parking lot in San Gimignano, we noticed an unusual bathroom, which we happened to need at that very moment. It was a round sort of concrete shed, with a roll-up garage door, which slid sideways instead of rolling up, kind of a "beam me up, Scotty" affair. Instructions told us to insert 25 cents, or up to 1E, although it wouldn't make change for less than 1E, which did seem to us to be a bit of a ripoff, so we decided to go in together. Just as we figured the whole thing out, a young American fellow came along, in similar distress. We had him go first as we were planning on going in together, although it was also because we were a bit uncertain of the contraption. Our fellow traveler inserted his money, and sure enough, the garage door rolled open sideways, slowly, very slowly, and our friend entered, as the door once again slid slowly closed. At that point, hysteria set in for us.

Eventually, the door opened once again, with our young friend standing there with a dazed look. He said that it was truly amazing, but you must absolutely follow all the directions to have the toilet paper release from the holder, place your hands under the sink to wash them, etc. As he was telling us all this, the closed hut started to make loud sloshy noises, sort of like a giant, badly insulated dishwasher.

Our friend wished us well, and when the hut had finished its wash cycle - the sign said that it was disinfecting everything - we entered its watery interior. And we do mean watery - not sure what was going on in there, but water covered the floor, the whole toilet, etc. Just then, we noticed a sign that said that we only had 15 minutes, so we knew we'd have to hurry. Not sure what would happen after 15 minutes - perhaps the door would roll open to reveal one or more occupants "in flagrante delicto"!

Luckily, we did our business quickly, managing all the instructions, and once again, the door slid open to reveal a whole young family of five German tourists. Les said "Greetings, Earthlings" while I pronounced the whole thing "Wunderbar!" We told them to all go in at once, but to hurry, they only had 15 minutes, which they said would be enough. So, we left them there, and proceeded on to Colle di Val d'Elsa, another wonderful hill town. Since then, we have laughed and laughed about this strange bathroom. The strangest part was the difference between this and the sometimes really nasty ones that we'd have to pay 50 cents for, in other parts of the country. Oh and yes, we finally did come upon one of those holes in the ground where you just stand or crouch -unsure of which way to face and wished we'd had an experienced traveler to help , but we managed. But that hole in the ground, in the beautiful town of Pienza, wasn't anywhere near as much fun as the "space toilet" at San Gimignano.

Since then, we've found info on the internet about these strange bathrooms, which apparently, can be found in other places in the world. Have other 'ziners encountered these bathrooms?

Margaret and Les in Toronto