The Bidet in Italy Or What the Heck is This Toilet-looking Thing?


My first sight of the bidet in our house.  My first thought...a toilet with taps?

My first sight of the bidet in our house. My first thought…a toilet with taps?


I am such a Canadian. I was born and raised in Canada and other than a three year stint teaching English in Japan, until we bought this house in Cianciana, I only ever lived in Canada.


What is a Canadian like? Well, many of the stereotypes are true and some are not. I do say “sorry” all the time but I rarely say “eh”. Typical conversation in Canada:


Two people are walking through The Bay (it used to be a Canadian department store – since bought out by a US company – and is the oldest department store chain in the world). Canadian #1 bumps into Canadian #2 by accident while looking at winter coats.

Canadian #2: Oh, sorry.

Canadian #1: Sorry.

Canadian #2: Are you looking at these coats?

Canadian #1: Yeah, since it’s August, I thought I’d better get a new winter coat before the snow comes. (You may think I’m joking here, but it has already snowed in Calgary!).

Canadian #2: Sorry, I hate to say this, but I bought that coat last winter and it wasn’t very warm. Sorry.

Canadian #1: Really? My daughter bought this last year and she said it was great. Sorry.

Canadian #2: Oh, sorry. I don’t want to contradict your daughter. Sorry.

Canadian #1: Oh, sorry. No it’s fine.

Canadian #2: Well, I should get going. Sorry. It was nice to chat with you, eh.

Canadian #1: Oh, yeah. Sorry, I didn’t mean to take up your time. Thanks for the advice, eh. Bye.


From “Snow in September? It’s not unheard of for Albertans” on the Global News webpage. Click on the image to go to the story.


Notice all the sorrys. We really do this. Also notice that there were only 2 “ehs”. Canadians do sometimes say “eh” at the end of sentences but not as much as the stereotype would lead you to believe.


What else is typically Canadian? Well, many Canadians do like maple syrup and it is available pretty much ubiquitously. My husband, Nick, loves maple syrup and I think if we ran out and didn’t replace it immediately, he might actually cry. Not a pretty sight to see a grown man cry over lack of maple syrup so I make sure we always have some in the house.


Addendum: Nick wants me to say that he has NEVER cried over maple syrup in his life and that last paragraph was an example of hyperbole. Sorry.


Another Canadian stereotype is true for many Canadians. We do see wildlife pretty regularly. We have deer wandering through our back yard almost daily. Every day I see eagles, turkey vultures, hawks, falcons and sometimes owls. I hear ravens in the woods behind our house but never see them as they are notoriously shy. Occasionally we have bear spotted in our neighbourhood. I grew up on the side of a mountain in a suburb of Vancouver and there were bear wandering into our neighbourhood all the time. The word would go out between the parents – “can’t send the kids to school this morning, bear on the loose, sorry” – and the kids would all cheer “Yay bear!”. From time to time we will hear a radio report that a cougar has been spotted in a neighbourhood and keep the kids and the pets inside. There is a story that a cougar actually got into the basement of the very posh Empress Hotel in Victoria one time, but I don’t know if that is a true story or just an urban myth. Sorry.


Another thing about Canadians is that we haven’t got a clue about bidets. Bidets don’t exist in Canada.

I have heard of people using bidets for all kinds of things other than their actual intended use. Here are a few:

  1. Pet drinking fountain,
  2. Foot washing centre,
  3. Leg shaving sink,
  4. Bath for babies,
  5. Beer cooler,
  6. Storage for wet umbrellas,
  7. Place to keep plants,
  8. Station for washing underwear and other delicates,
  9. Bed for the cat,
  10. Water play station for the kids, and
  11. Goldfish bowl

The first time I saw a bidet I could not for the life of me figure out what it was for. Was it a different kind of toilet? If so, the drain seemed pretty small. Was it a kind of sink? Then why was it shaped like a toilet and at seat height and why was there also a normal sink? What the heck was it? I asked Nick and he informed me that it was a bidet and it was for washing your “bits”. Okay. I could understand that. I had come across a few high tech toilets in Japan that had shooting water and fans to dry you. But, those were toilets. How did you use the bidet? I mean, which way did you sit? If you sat the same direction as the toilet, then how do you reach the tap? (Italian bidets are a little different than other places in Europe as they don’t have water that ‘shoots’ up at you – it’s more like a sink that you sit over.) If you sit the other way, you have to completely remove your pants and underwear otherwise it’s impossible to sit and that seemed a bit excessive to me. And, I didn’t see any cloths. Did you use your hands to wash? And which bits were you supposed to focus on? The front bits or the back bits? So many questions! Well, all I can say is…Thank you Youtube! I went on to Youtube and searched for “How to use a bidet” and, of course, I found hundreds of videos to help. So, for all those Canadians (and Americans) out there who have never seen an Italian bidet, here is an instructional video so you know what to do.  It is in Italian.  Sorry, but I think you can get the main idea just from watching it.

You’re welcome and… sorry.


5 thoughts on “The Bidet in Italy Or What the Heck is This Toilet-looking Thing?

  1. Okay. I admit it. I had to Google bidets too. Amazingly, there are several different methods. Funny stuff for us North Americans….oh, and Canadians….uh, sorry.

  2. I love it Diane! I used to want a bidet (once I figured out what they were) but now they have things like Cottonelle Wipes, with just seem so much easier, and one-stop, so to speak. I really love your writing.

  3. Sorry Diane but like I am from California, Duh! So like I was reading your story about bidets and OMG too Funny! So like my mother decided to go to some university in Sweden when my brother and I were like super little. Yeah the bathroom had a bidet thing. We like lived in a house and all the other ‘Mericans lived in like dorms so the party was always at our house. No cat, but eh, the beer was there! And all that other stuff, yeah we did that too!
    Hubby went to You Tube to figure it out I so could not stop laughing over is reaction to “there are several designs”. Like Duh! Of course there are! Sorry!

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