There have been some changes to the Courtesy Point brochure that lot tourists pick up while in the city. The agreement between the bars and the Municipality of Florence in which a person could use the toilet even without a purchase is no longer active.The ‘handshake’ agreement that was in place was terminated for reasons that can probably be understood!
Thankfully the city has invested in upgrading most of the public toilets & have even opened new toilets on the Piazza Santa Spirito.Yes the is a cost normally E 1.00,but for that you get a clean ,maintained & safe toilet!You will also find a number of automatic toilets,One is tucked away on the Piazza Madonna della Neve the other looks like a green version of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey!
While visiting the city, you may have discovered the mystery of the sink/toilet room. In most cafes you will find a small sliding door with a sink, beyond that is another sliding door with a toilet behind it. The etiquette to this rather delicate situation is still an enigma. Trust your instincts.
Cinemas and Department Stores
Cinemas have public toilets in their lobby area and Department Stores and Shopping Galleries have bathrooms located throughout. A tip is expected if an attendant is in place
Bookstores and Libraries
Larger bookstores in Italy tend to have bathroom facilities available. You can usually walk in and use them without any bother. Public Libraries are another good option because many are centrally located and easily accessible. They are not likely to have attendants.
Contrary to popular opinion, restaurant, fast food, café and bar operators are not required by law to have a bathroom that is available for use as a public toilet. Most people will buy a drink or a small food item and then use the bathroom. Always remember to ask if they have a toilet on the premises before you buy anything! If you have children and are in a hurry, you will find many owners sympathetic and they will usually make the bathroom available.
Fast Food Restaurants and Gelatarias are good options because they are always busy. Some McDonalds and Burger Kings are locking their bathrooms or may ask you for a receipt but the convenience of their locations is worth the chance.
Public bathrooms in large hotels are usually available in the lobby area, near the bar or restaurant. Some hotel bathrooms will have an attendant and a tip is expected. The larger the hotel, the easier it is to blend in. Confidence and the appropriate dress are important for this option. Be low key and unobtrusive and you should be able to use the facilities like a guest.
All museums and galleries have toilet facilities available for visitors. Some are attended and some are not. Most of the toilets come equipped with a plastic seat, toilet paper and soap and water. Always use the toilet prior to leaving. It will help avoid any emergencies that may blight your day.
Most churches have toilet facilities available but you need to find the church warden to ask permission. It is usually given and a small donation in the collection box is appreciated.
Disabled toilets and facilities are excellent in Florence. They are listed in the directory or you can visit the monument sites for further information.. As many facilities as possible with disabled access are listed. The hotels listed are helpful and friendly to the disabled traveller and are a good option when necessary.
Baby Changing Facilities are available in some public toilets but there is not as many as there should be. Happily you will find some on the Piazza del Duomo ,opposite the Bapistery of San Giovanni.Another is located in the Santa Croce area in a Park on the Borgo Allegri .A new toilet facility has recently opened on the Oltrano on the Piazza Santo Spirito.They are even fitted out with tables,arm chairs & bottle heating! Things are looking up ! Don't forget to look out for the Baby Pit Stop Signs,they are few and far between but the library Biblioteca delle Oblate on the Via dell'Oriuolo has full facilities .Resist the urge to change your child on a chair in a cafe or restaurant.The local population is tiring of public urination & unfortunately it has bled over to the hapless parent!
Remember: We do the boring stuff so you don't have to!