We had a problem with a leak in the bathroom that was dripping into the apartment below so a couple of idraulici (plumbers) were called in. The leak came from a pipe beneath a tiled floor and two feet of solid concrete, so a pneumatic drill was used to dig a huge hole, which was just as loud and messy as it sounds.
The plumbers, who barely spoke a word of English, geared each other up to ask me, in the universal language of mime and lots of pointing, if it was true what they’d heard: English people don’t have bidets? I confirmed this was correct and then, by the use of some very graphic mimes apparently involving handstands in the shower, they demonstrated how they thought we would ‘freshen up’ after using the loo. They found this hilariously amusing and much merriment was had laughing at the funny, disgusting ways of foreign English folk!
Bidets certainly are very important here. An American friend, who owns an apartment in Rome, wanted to remove the bidet when refitting her bathroom but was told in no uncertain terms that she would never be able to sell the apartment to Italians without a bidet.
Actually, it’s not quite true that we don’t use the bidet – it does come in very handy for chilling beers when I’m taking a long bath…