How to Bend Down in an Italian Shower

Before they conquered football and fashion week, the Italians built some pretty enormous stuff. You could race 12 ton trucks through the crowded Colosseum and not spill anyone’s gelato. But if you did, the poor guy would be covered in cioccolato until he got back to Tokyo, because the same cannot be said for the hotel’s en-suite.

It’s 6 o’clock in the morning, on the outskirts of Venice. I have mad hair (excellent Italian wine), droopy eyes (ditto), and soaking socks (an unexpected side-effect thereof, involving a bridge, a seagull and a canal. I was later told that I held onto my dignity admirably, although I did lose my shoes). If I can just make it into the shower, I think, I will be able to take control of my day.


Having spent the past two days in a state of perpetual awe, I admit that I ventured to meet my little hotel shower with great optimism. Yes, it looks small from the outside. Yes, I’d poked my head in the day before and I definitely had some follow up questions. But then again, I’d also been convinced that Pisa was about to fall on my head, and that the water spilling into the Piazza San Marco would never clear by lunch lunchtime. I am fully prepared for my geometric presumptions to be confounded.

They are not confounded. My thoroughly average sized body is most definitely not going to fit into what appears to be a shower built exclusively for ants. Or French people.

“Alright,” I think. “So you can only wash half of you at a time. No problem! Half and half. Sorted.”

Not sorted. Because, as I soon discover, there is not even room to bend down to pick up the shampoo I have balanced carefully on the uneven tiles. And it soon becomes apparent that I am not going to be able to flip-kick it into my hands in manner of Bruce Lee or David Beckham. So I sink into a sad, soapy plié, thanking my mother mentally for years of under appreciated ballet classes. Side-step out of the shower to lather hair (no room to raise arms). Scuttle back in, crab-like, to rinse left side, then out, turn around, scuttle back in to rinse right side. And all this before coffee.

Now, we can’t judge, because they did come up with democracy, da Vinca and pizza while the rest of us stumbled around eating black pudding and tying bits of grass to the rafters. But it has to be said that the sheer majesty of Italy from coast to coast is inverted country wide by the ludicrously minuscule budget hotel bathrooms.

Which is fair enough. Maybe they’re trying to make all that space back. And fortunately the gymnastic start to your morning is easily remedied the Italian way – throwing your hands in the hair with a resigned laugh and helping yourself to a double espresso.

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