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No matter what type of traveler you are, at some point you will feel the urge to visit that very special European (no pun intended) monument: the toilet. And when that happens in crowded downtown Florence, you’ll want to find free and functional public washrooms.
Here are my top picks for where to ‘go’ when the going gets tough.
Cafes and Restaurants
Italians are a little protective of their places of hygienic refuge. This is why they usually put up a sign saying that the toilets are for paying customers only. However, various Florentine restaurants, bars and cafés have recently been told to share their toilet love—even when no one’s buying anything. As you can imagine, proprietors are still a little “pissed” about this new rule so you have two choices: piddle and run or buy a drink to go with your visit. I recommend the latter.
Both stores are open daily too though hours vary.
The city of Florence has graciously built a series of public toilets in and around the city center, and most tourism offices now offer a guide to said public potties (see image above).
Although I have never tried these out, word on the street is that they’re not too bad. However, they are not free. A sitting at a Florentine public outhouse will put you out €.60-1 depending on location. If you feel the need to shower too, this will cost you €3.60. To plan your toilet tour, here’s a helpful map.
After filling your basket with fresh produce from the Mercato’s stalls and maybe wolfing down Florence’s fabled lempredotto sandwiches, take advantage of the free stalls in San Lorenzo market’s main building (see map here). Toilets here are frequented, but clean.
Finally, a word on “Turkish Toilets…”
I feel the obligation to forewarn you on something you might encounter whilst public bathrooming in Florence. There is this monstrosity, this relic of the past that was somehow overlooked by the Renaissance movement. If you do come across that legendary ceramic hole in the ground (i.e. the Turkish Toilet), please keep these steps in mind. First, use the foot grips. Second, empty your pockets. Third, relax and stand back while you flush. Amen.