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The story and the myths about bidet

The presence of bidet in a toilet is obviousness, but as soon as you cross Italian border it becomes clear how those sanitary objects are diffused abroad. Those ones who’s travelling much  knows it quite well, it is not so easy affair to find a bidet in other countries. 

We may say, a bidet is a feature of our country, this element of bathroom sanitary that is extremely simple in its use, is not a popular thing abroad, moreover, in major occasions it is considered as a pretty odd object. 

In this matter, it would be reasonable to look back in a history and recollect the story of an object, that we are, Italians, are considering essential for our lives.

The first curious moment in the story of bidet, is a fact that this basic hygienic object is not originally from Italy, it was invented in France in the early 1700s. The inventor of the first bidet is Christophe Des Rosier, French Prime Minister, who installed this sanitary in his house, to be more exact in his wife’s bathroom.

In French language in fact, the word "bidet" comes from the French stout pony by the same name. It got its name because sitting astride a bidet is very similar to the position you would take if riding the small horse. Inspite of this matter France did not have much success in implementation of bidet in everyday use. In this regard, a lot of comic episodes took place.  

As one French retailer, in 1739 was selling bidet even without any idea what this thing was needed for. He described the product as : “Violin case, made of ceramics, on for legs”; or another anecdote says, 100 bidet should had been installed in Versailles, but after a while they had to be demolished because nobody used them.

The “love story” between bidet and France didn’t have the happy end, probably due to influence of ethical principles of that period: emblematic that fact, that the celibate philosopher Diderot who lived  that time, supported the idea to avoid touching or looking at own genitals, because it may lead to a vice. 

The other view, the use of bidet was in strict association with prostitution. Actually, the bidet were very popular in bawdy–houses, prostitutes believed, that washing genitals in bidet may help to avoid unwanted pregnancy. 

In our country, the bidet was immediately appreciated as practical and functional, and it didn’t take long time to become a commonplace in our private bathrooms and toilets. 

The first bidet in Italy was installed in Reggia di Caserta, and was basically a bowl placed over black wooden structure. Until now, this bidet is being kept in interiors of the palace. But also in Italy, in the beginning, there were some doubts about usage of this sanitary object. Inventory of valuables found in Reggia di Caserta palace just after arrival of  Savoy in The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, describes bidet as “a bizzare guitar shaped object”.

Nowadays, Italy is European country where bidet is commonly used. Other countries where bidet is popular are Spain and Portugal, but any way it is less popular than in Italy, where it comes up to 100%

If we look at the globe, we see that bidet is quite popular in South America, in countries like Brazil and Argentina, and at the opposite side, the countries who mostly doesn’t use a  bidet at all are the Great Britain and the United States. To find a bidet in British countries is a really arduous effort. 

In respect of  the United States of America, the major number of Google search key words “ What is bidet” were registered in this nation, and this is very illustrative to see that a sanitary as bidet is almost unknown in this country.

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