Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First-Timer's Guide to finding the best bathrooms at Vinitaly

Over the years, Vinitaly has grown. When I first went there in 1984, there may have been 6 pavilions in use. Now there are 17. The crowds have swollen and the infrastructure has been tested at times. The search for a clean, dependable bathroom is a necessity. Hours of standing, tasting, spitting, drinking water to wash off the tannins and the tint, an espresso every couple of hours and you get the picture. When you gotta go, you gotta go. But some places are better than others. And so, dear readers, for the very first time, I am offering first-timers (and crusty veterans) my Guide to Finding the Best Bathrooms at Vinitaly.

Me and my consigliere chillin' in the press room
The Palaexpo building (refer to the map at the end of this post) is the Mother lode for great bathrooms, but you have to know where to find them. The press room has a good one nearby. But in the bowels of the building, there are some private rooms that are clean and ultra-lux. You will have to find them (as I did) but this building, which houses the administration, tops them all.

Of course if you are on the other side of the Fairgrounds, that isn’t always an option. Usually, but not always, the newer pavilions have newer bathrooms. Building F, the Enolitech, is at the end and thus the traffic is less. Good choice, as is the one at entrance H. Building 7B however is a cluster, avoid it.

Remember to schedule your meeting with time in between and don't ask "long questions"
Also to be avoided are the bathrooms in between building 10 and 11. What started out as wonderful alternatives to building 9 (one of the skankiest bathrooms in the fair) quickly “went south.” There is usually a line, and a wet floor from faulty plumbing. And women have been known to run into the men’s room. No big deal, as there are all manner of cleaning women wiping up the floors from the men who haven’t yet figured out how long it is to the pissoire.

One of the oldest and one of the classic bathrooms are in Pavilion 8. The lines aren’t too bad and the floors are constantly being mopped. And sometimes the women invade the men’s room (definitely more of a pattern in the last 10 years).

Entrance “San Zeno” is airy and clean, albeit a bit chilly when the weather is cool. They have paper towels. That is a problem in many of these bathrooms, running out of something to wipe your hands on. Toilet paper shortages have not been a problem.

One of the worst bathrooms is in Pavilion 9, because for some reason they never get much circulation. I pity the Winebow folks next door, trying to do private wine tastings for their V.I.P. clients. They keep their door closed; I reckon one of the reasons is to keep the odors from wafting in. It can get pretty gross.

Upstairs in building 9 there are smaller bathrooms, but they aren’t always accesible. Also the disabled bathrooms are always locked. And who knows who has the keys?

Buildings 3 and 5 have press areas. There are cleaner bathrooms and free espresso. But you have to have a press pass. Keeps out the riff-raff . It’s worth starting a blog for.

The porta-potties are risky, but they can be a real life saver when you really can't go any further. Probably better options for guys than gals. They can get raunchy fast.

The Sicilian Pavilion, #2, has a secret bathroom that’s adjacent to the glass washing room. But you really need to be of Sicilian origin to get in, if you catch my drift.

If you can find it, they have installed some of the new urinals with the fly on the inside, to help men, with other things on their mind, keep their eye on the prize. This works amazingly well. The Italian men see it as a game, kind of like shooting and making a goal. Whatever works. Sorry ladies, TMI, I know. But it is pretty funny to see them young bucks high-fiving each other when they hit their mark.

Near the Palazzo Uffici there are banks of modern, clean stalls, but they require a little “influence” to get past the barriers. It pays to know someone in high places.

Look, it’s four days of intense work, this Vinitaly stuff. You need a plan. This week, while at the Vinitaly wine judging, I decided to make a dry-run through the empty pavilions to renew my “best of” list. And now I am sharing this with you. But I have not told you where the absolute top one is. That’s my secret. Maybe if I ever start a wine blog by subscription, maybe then I will share secret of the sacred throne. But that’s a long ways off, if ever.

See the attached map – if you don’t remember this post, print out the map and take it with you. Steer clear of the ones I have marked with a red star and feel more relaxed to frequent the ones I have marked with a green star. But remember, you might find one marked green that is a wreck. This can happen, but in the meantime, you are years ahead of the rest of the folks who are just running anywhere. And that’s not a good plan for getting through Vinitaly with dignity. And be glad it's not the Horse Show, which was what was just here when I did my dry-run. Wine doesn't poop - horses do - you dig me?

Good luck and you are welcome. See you in line…

written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy Follow Me on Pinterest
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