The Dos & Don’ts of Eating in Italy

July 30, 2011

If you want to learn how to source, cook, and of course, eat Italian food from passionate local experts in Italy, check out our wonderful Rome Food Tour and Florence Food Tour along with our Pasta Making Class

Everyone gets ripped off at one time or another while traveling and it happens in Italy just like everywhere else. We like to think it’s rare, but as your expert travel guides it’s our duty to make you aware of a few of the most common scams. Armed with just a little bit of knowledge, you can avoid being ripped off in Italy’s restaurants and cafes so you can get back to the serious business of eating some of Italy’s most delicious foods.

Eating in Venice

From where to eat to avoid a fiasco to begin with to tipping culture, here are our top tips for how to eat without getting ripped off.

Avoid tourist traps

The farther away from a tourist site you eat, the less likely you are to be ripped off!

As in any country, it’s a sad truth that in some less-than-honest Italian establishments, tourists can be seen as easy prey. Restaurants and cafes right near the big tourist sites are the most likely candidates. It’s not always the case of course, but well-located eateries that don’t cater to a local (and therefore repeat) market are more likely to charge inflated prices.

Rome’s Piazza Navona

This view of Rome’s Piazza Navona is lovely – but eating at a restaurant while appreciating it can cost your wallet!

For the record, yes, high-risk establishments include those on popular piazzas, like Rome’s Piazza Navona or Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. A rule of thumb: In general, whenever you see as many non-Italians as Italians, be on your guard.

Another tip-off that you’re in a touristy establishment: There’s a “host” outside the door asking you to come in (any Italian restaurant catering to locals, won’t have this, since they’ll rely on word-of-mouth), there’s a menu with pictures, or there’s a big sign that says “Tourist Menu” or even “No service!” or “No cover charge!”. (More on that later).

Don’t sit down in an Italian cafe. No, really. Don’t!

Unless your feet are just killing you, avoid sitting down in the kind of place that Italians call a “bar” and we call a “cafe.” Why? Because as soon as you sit down, the price of whatever you’re eating doubles, triples… or worse. That’s why you see Italians usually taking their coffee and cornetti standing up. The price of coffee in Rome is capped at a set maximum price, so regardless of your location, a standing coffee will never set you back too much. For a masterclass on coffee, check out our blog post on How to drink coffee like an Italian.

Drink coffee standing up at the bar, like the Italians do!

Drink coffee standing up at the bar, like the Italians do!

How not to get ripped off if you really have to sit down at a cafe

If you do decide to sit down, before you order anything or make yourself comfortable at the table, always walk in and look at the prices usually listed above the counter. In most cases there is one column for “banco” and one for “tavolo.” “Banco” is the price if you stand at the bar; “tavolo” is if you’re sitting. If it’s still worth it to you, then by all means, sit – but keep in mind roughly what those prices were and be sure to double-check the receipt to make sure they match up.

At restaurants, know what you do and don’t have to pay for

Yes, you do have to pay for water. (You can ask for “acqua dal rubinetto,” tap water, but it’s often seen as a bit rude. Plus, those glasses of tap water will take ages to get refilled by your waiter, if they’re refilled at all!). At moderately-priced places, a large bottle of mineral water for the table should cost no more than 2 euros, maybe 3 in more expensive cities like Venice.

Yes, you do also have to pay for bread. This is the “pane e coperto” charge — more on what that is in a moment.

Yes, you do have to pay for that antipasto or foccacia, even if the waiter offered it rather than you ordering it outright.

And yes, you have to pay for that digestivo of limoncello or amaro or grappa. Well, sometimes. Here’s how to tell: If the waiter asks you if you want an after-dinner drink after you’ve eaten but before he’s brought the bill, you’ll probably be charged. If he asks you if you want one after he’s brought the bill and/or you’ve paid, it’s probably a little “thank you” on the house.


Will that after-dinner limoncello cost you? It depends

Avoid giving the waiter the power over what, or how much, to bring

Sometimes, waiters will ask if you would like an antipasto for the table. Most of the time, this is fine. Occasionally, though, the antipasto winds up costing an arm and a leg – and you don’t realize it until you get the bill. In a lot of cases this will just be an assumption on the part of your server that as a traveler, you’d like the best but (as is the case anywhere) it’s wise to know what you’re ordering before you order it.

Be specific when you order an antipasto, or that bruschetta and other food might just keep coming and coming… at a cost

Be specific when you order an antipasto, or that bruschetta and other food might just keep coming and coming… at a cost

So instead of telling the waiter to just bring you something, order specifically from the menu, with the quantity you’d like, and be clear. “Vorrei un’antipasto per due,” you could say (an antipasto for two), even if there are four of you. That’s fine.

Italy is blessed with some of the tastiest fish in the world, but since fish is usually charged by weight at restaurants, this can get a little confusing. You say you want the fish of the day that’s around a certain weight, the waiter brings out a lovely, fresh-caught one to show you that’s around that weight but estimations can be off and it can cost more than you had thought so if you’re price conscious, be sure to double-check the exact weight (and whether the listed price is total or by weight) before you order.

Getting the bill at a restaurant

When your waiter brings you a bill (remember, you have to ask for it!), make sure that it’s itemized. (Again, ask for “il conto dettagliato” or ““il conto lungo“). Sometimes, restaurants will just write a total number down, or even just say it. In that case, ask for the itemized bill. It’s the only way to know if you’re being charged what you should be.

What’s that “pane e coperto” charge on my bill?

When an Italian restaurant charges you for bread, it’s generally not per basket. Instead, the price is usually per head. It’s typically about 1.50 euros per head, perhaps 2 or 2.50 in pricier, more-touristy places like Venice or Sorrento. That said, some regions have apparently passed laws, including Rome’s Lazio region, saying that this “pane e coperto” charge is against the law. That doesn’t mean that most restaurants are paying attention. And yes, most Italians are paying for pane e coperto as well — not just tourists. So in general, we let it go and pay.

Even if you don’t touch that bread, you might still be charged “pane e coperto”

Even if you don’t touch that bread, you might still be charged “pane e coperto”

But there’s a caveat. This charge should be written on the menu. Maybe it’s in small letters, maybe it’s on the back page, but it should be there. If it’s not? We make a fuss. And the charge gets taken off.

What about a charge for “servizio”?

If an item has been added, probably 10 but up to 20 percent, called “servizio,” that’s “service.” You see this often in Venice, the Cinque Terre, and Amalfi coast, and at more-touristy establishments in Florence and Rome. Something to know about servizio: Although it seems to be legal, it should be written on the menu, as should pane e coperto. Check the small print at the bottom of pages or on the front or back of the menu.

If the servizio hasn’t been written anywhere, ask for it to be taken off if you see it on your bill. If everything about the servizio seems to be as straightforward as possible — you knew, from the menu, it’d be 10% extra, and sure enough, it was — then pay it but remember that this counts as the tip so you don’t need to leave an additional gratuity.

Note: Some restaurants try to attract tourists by saying, “No service charge!”. That’s fine but it means the place is pretty touristy. (A place that catered to Italians probably wouldn’t have servizio, and wouldn’t make a big deal about not having it, especially not in English). And so, in general, since you have the least chance of being taken advantage of at non-touristy places, a sign proclaiming no servizio isn’t necessarily a good thing, either.

To tip or not to tip?

First, one thing to keep in mind: Waiting tables in Italy is much different than waiting tables in the States. Many Italian waiters are paid off the books, meaning they’re not paying taxes. If they are on the books, then they get paid vacations (some six weeks per year or more) and paid sick leave. And they have national health.

Furthermore, if servizio has been added to your bill (see above), then leave nothing on top. Rest assured knowing that, since most Italians won’t even have this servizio on their bill and won’t tip, you’re still tipping quite a lot in comparison.

To tip… or not to tip?

To tip… or not to tip?

So if all that’s been added to your bill is pane e coperto, or nothing at all, and your service has been good, then maybe leave something. But not 20 percent. Not 15 percent. Not necessarily even 10 percent. A few coins, or rounding up, is sufficient.

While that makes many Americans grimace, remember: Italy is a different culture. And it’s a different tipping culture, too. Adjusting to it is not only part of the experience, but shows respect for the locals.

Think you’ve been ripped off anyway and want to take action?

When presented with a confusing or ridiculous bill, 90 percent of people won’t do anything about it. They’ll pay and leave. But for the rest of the day, they’ll be seething – and it does a disservice to future tourists. So remember: You do have control in this situation. Here’s what you do.

First, simply point out the discrepancy to the waiter and ask, politely but firmly, for it to be fixed. This is why you got that itemized bill. Even if he doesn’t speak much English, you can point to the specific item. For servizio or pane e coperto, the most useful phrase is often “Non è scritto sul menu” (this was not written on the menu – “Nohn ay skree-toe sool meh-noo”). In most cases, that’s all that’s needed – and in some you’ll even find that there has been a mistake on one side or the other. Maybe you didn’t realise you were drinking bottled water or you missed a note on the menu.

If your polite requests haven’t done anything to remove that 20 percent servizio that was added to your bill unannounced, or to get the proper tavolo price for your cafe meal instead of tacking on 20 euros more, demand a real receipt.

In most of these rare cases you’ll find that the receipt they’re issuing you with is not a real receipt. That means they’re not paying taxes on the meal you just had. It’s off the books. And that’s illegal. So, before you stomp off from the restaurant in a huff, look at the receipt you were given. Handwritten notes or scribbles on a tablecloth are not legal fiscal receipts. In some cases this may be something called a preconti, a pre-receipt of sorts delivered by the waiter who should then take your cash and return with change and the real, official receipt. Unaware of this custom many foreign visitors often leave their change and depart without ever seeing the real receipt.

If you do encounter one of these, ask for the second, legal receipt. Here’s what a fiscal receipt looks like:

A legal receipt from an Italian restaurant.

Legal receipts from an Italian restaurant.

If you don’t get one of these, feel free to kick up a stink.

These are rare cases though. For the most part, eating in Italy is a fantastic experience you won’t soon forget. Just be aware of local customs and be savvy when ordering if you’re on a budget. Try to get away from the tourist spots and discover your own culinary gems. That tiny trattoria you found near your hotel, or the hole-in-the-wall pizzeria you discovered in Trastevere, is likely to be the memory you cherish most from your time in Italy.

Italian food in a Florence food market. Find out how to get your money's worth and not get ripped off eating in Italy with the Walks of Italy guide to Italian food.

by Walks of Italy

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Show Comments

136 responses to “The Dos & Don’ts of Eating in Italy”

  1. I lived in Italy for four years and have visited many times since but I didn’t know all the information given here!


  2. Karen Fratti says:

    As an American trying to get by, I served lots of tables in lots of different places in Rome (super touristy trattorie on the via Lungaretta, a super fancy place tucked between via dei Coronari and the Lungotevere, and two off the map, local, restaurants in Prati and Pigneto).

    While servers are off the books, we would get paid a set fee for our shift – the worst being 30 a day to the best, around 50 a day (like from 10-3, then 6-1am).

    That said, you ARE supposed to tip your server, just not as much as you do in America. It would be normal for me to get 5-10 euro on a dinner check for two. The idea that the mancia goes directly to the owner, so don’t leave it, is silly and outdated. We worked long hours, off the books, 6 days a week and depended on those tips to pay our rent! 30-50 euro a day is nothing, really. Those old men in Piazza Navona get more, for sure, but when owners aren’t paying taxes, they can really rip off the waiters, especially the non-Italian ones.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Thanks for your comments, Karen! That you worked as a waitress while you were an expat here in Rome definitely provides an interesting perspective.

      That said, though, it’s the rare Italian indeed we’ve ever encountered who leaves 10 euros on a dinner check for two (tourists, of course, often do exactly that). Not to mention that while 30-50 euros per shift can seem paltry to Americans, if you work 6 shifts/week, that’s 300 euros per week in your pocket, tax-free — so it seems a bit surprising to us that Italians would be “depending” on tip money on TOP of that to pay their rent. But let’s not forget that in big cities, many Italians live at home, so they get to save on rent in any case 😉

      Overall, though, we didn’t mean to write a post focusing on tipping or telling people never to leave tips. Instead, our aim was to tell people that there is no pressure to tip in Italy — and there absolutely isn’t, especially, as you say, in the American 15-20% range of things. Particularly if you’ve been ripped off!

    • Hi Karen, I just spent a year in Italy with my friend. He owned a restaurant in Calcatta, sold it and moved to Bracciano. In Bracciano he worked for his friend in his restaurant as the waiter. He, on a good day, might have €5 in tips, which were shared between him and the cook. Tipping is not normal there.

  3. bj norris says:

    When I visited Itlay (basicly my grand tour) my aunt told me the same thing but not all of what you have mentioned. It is sad that there that group of people doing that to the rest of the world. Also is sad that they are bringing that attitude to any country they are visiting or moving to. And the US is the melting pot for the rest of the world, it is our problem too. The statue of Liberty was given to us by France and France was the worst for service on my grand tour. I am in a tourist area too and the prices are high during that time and go down a little agfter the season is over. Granted they all work hard hopefully providing good service and also in taking advantage of the public.
    This whole nation is in trouble rignt now, i feel it is because people only want for themselves and don’t care about the rest of the world. I am single, run my own business and still give people cost breaks and the best service possible.

    Tip according to the service, if it is great, even with a little extra care, tip accordingly, if not, tip very little. The owner as well as the service people should appreciate it and all the business that comes to them because of it. Good decor, good service, good food and then change the good to excellent, i did a good or great job.Now you are always going to have the ones who don’t like anything and I ususally have 3 of those a year, then after it is a good year.

  4. Bonnie says:

    Very interesting article. We visit Italy every year. Just had our 9th trip and did not know about the receipt legality. I do however dislike the title of the article. I have a hard enough time convincing people that visiting Italy is not like going to Mexico! They do not have to fear for their lives, of being robbed or mugged (or worse) or be on constant “rip off” alert. There is such a difference between visiting Rome or Florence and visiting a smaller town like Montalcino, but people don’t seem to change their outlook accordingly.

    • o2cui2i says:

      you might not get mugged, but if a person doesn’t keep their head about them. they most likely will get pick-pocketed or conned.

      dont fall for that little girl with the sad story and a rose….

      carry your purse/backpack/camera bag on your stomach so you have control of them.

      although most Italian people are wonderful people, there is a group of seedy characters who want all your money and will take it from you if they get the chance.

  5. David in Abruzzo says:

    Really excellent article – complimenti !
    In our part of Abruzzo there aren’t many tourists, so restaurants don’t overcharge (the 2-course lunch with wine/water/coffee for €10 is a reality) and tips aren’t expected.
    In the big tourist centres, speaking Italian from the outset helps ward-off the worst excesses, but in general, a high percentage of tourists seem to be ripped-off (often without realising it)

  6. Bonnie says:

    Another observation: many waiters in Italy, particularly in ristoranti, are hired under contract, so their pay is not “under the table”.

  7. I am sorry to read the the title of this article — it insinuates that rip-offs are the norm, which is simply not the case.

    Is everything in New York a rip-off because it costs more? There are some good points made here, but really, there is no need to make people paranoid with a inflammatory title like that.

    On the plus side? Tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes…what a concept. 😉

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Nan,

      You’re right — it’s absolutely unfortunate that we had to title this post this way. But it’s not about things “costing more” simply because you’re in a city or tourist area, as you would in NYC; it’s about tourists often getting completely different, and inflated, prices than the locals — illegally, and without accompanying higher quality of service or food. (In fact, touristy restaurants often serve some of the worst meals you could possibly have… where tomatoes aren’t really even tomatoes! 😉 ). We don’t think anyone who’s lived in Italy for any amount of time could disagree with the fact that this does happen, and often. This post was a guide to how to deal with that.

      And yes, if you’ve made the waiter “jump through hoops,” then absolutely feel free to leave something as a tip. We’re just saying that 20% as a matter of course, no matter what the service is like, is completely unnecessary! Handing it to the waiter is a great suggestion — that way you avoid the whole it-going-to-the-owner problem.

      Thanks for your comments!

  8. Nan @ LivingVenice says:

    p.s. I think travelers should almost always tip the waiter – as foreigners we make them jump through so many hoops that a regular Italian diner hardly ever does. If you’ve been a bit fussy, leave ’em 5% – 10% — cash — and make sure you hand it to them!

  9. Antonio Iabichino says:

    As Italian and as wedding planner, so I’m involved in the tourist sector let me say that this is quite interesting article and unfortunately it’s way much true BUT there is one thing I do not agree at all and is when the writer states: “we’re going to let you in on some secrets that not even the locals want you to know”. I TOTALLY disagree with this point of view that makes us seen as we would like to trick people all the time! This is not true, as all the things that are said are things we face as locals in our daily life as well. Honestly we do face the same things many times but I thank the author for this article because this will help wrong things change change and will make possible to give better services.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Antonio,

      That’s an interesting perspective, and you’re right — we shouldn’t have made it sound as if many, many Italians aren’t annoyed or even furious about the same shenanigans that tourists are! You guys sometimes get the brunt of it, too 🙂 (although I think foreigners who don’t speak Italian and don’t know what to expect are perhaps a little easier to trick). Thanks for this reminder, and thanks for your support for the article. We, too, hope these things will change!

  10. Un interessantissimo articolo che secondo me getta una traccia sul perché negli ultimi anni siamo passati ad essere dal 3º paese più visitato al mondo al 5º, superati ormai dalla Spagna e dalla Cina.

    Al primo posto c’è sempre la Francia!

    Segno del nostro declino economico e culturale.

    • walksofitaly says:

      For those who don’t speak Italian, the translation:

      “An interesting article that, according to me, is on track, because in recent years we have gone to being the 3rd-most visited country in the world to the 5th — now surpassed by Spain and China. In first place, it’s always France!

      It’s a sign of our economic and cultural decline.”

      Thanks for your comment — we always love getting an Italian’s perspective! 🙂

    • espressofrog says:

      I’m French (south east) and I love spending my free time in Italy, possibly because the people are nicer than in my country, the service is good and the food is great. Now apart from one incident (charged twice for copperti) I’ve got nothing bad to report from the Piedmont-Liguria region. But maybe it’s because we French are the worst tippers on the planet (we have a 15% inclusive service rule) and the poor Italian restaurant owners have given up all hopes on us?
      I’d like to say that once you start speaking in Italian and put the effort in learning it, Italians will be flattered. I even got free coffees in Italian restaurants abroad like that 😉
      But don’t kid yourself, southern France is different no better. It’s expensive and they will often tell you that the card (Visa/Bancomat/EC) machine doesn’t work today so you will have to pay in cash this time.
      Anyway, it’s been a pleasure reading the comments. Great article.

      • Thanks for sharing your perspective! And yes—we’ve found that Piedmont/Liguria is okay, relatively speaking. In general, we’ve found the more touristy the spot, the more likely this is to happen… so it’s more likely in, say, Rome than Piedmont.

        Thanks again for stopping by!

  11. Ismail Daif says:

    After visiting cities in Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany, Lazio & Sicily I’m happy to say I have only been ripped off once, in Pisa. Possibly because I’m not an English speaker.. or because I don’t fancy touristy restaurants.

    Anyway, thanks for the info! At least I’m armed for upcoming rip-off situations 🙂

    Btw, I don’t understand why they would use ricevuta “non fiscale” instead of printing “ricevuta fiscale” if they’re cheating anyway?

    • Igor Manzoni says:

      Hi Ismail,
      they give you the “ricevuta non fiscale” in order to evade taxes by not adding the amount on the registers. But if they will put “ricevuta fiscale” on the ticket the “Guardia di Finanza” could check the registers and by not finding the corresponding amount it would be a worst situation for them than simply say it was a misunderstanding. Many of this “Italians” know very well what a poker face is. 🙂
      Igor. (from Milan)

      • Paolo says:

        “they give you the “ricevuta non fiscale” in order to evade taxes by not adding the amount on the registers”

        That’s not true. The “ricevuta non fiscale” is numbered and has to be recorded in the fiscal register. The difference is that it is a simpler document to fill compared to the “ricevuta fiscale” or “fattura”, that have to include the tax data of the customer.

        Trickery can be done with the “scontrino non fiscale”, that has no fiscal value and is not recorded. Again: utter complexity in tax rules, helped by scarcely prepared tax inspectors, are the best help for tax evaders in Italy.

  12. MdAmor says:

    I haven’t had any problems eating in Italy, but the pickpockets were everywhere! Thanks for the great info.

  13. Gayle says:

    Fantastic advice – and great detail, too!

  14. rulol says:

    As a tourist operator and an italian citizen i would say it’s quite outrageous to depict the operators as a bunch of blackmailers or thieves : i would like to remember that Italy is a fascinating and complex part of the world hard to understand for non-italians who too much soon try to judge and pretend to catch what’s going on here.
    Thieves and rippers are everywhere in the world (incl. USA) : maybe it’s time for the travellers to become more informed and smarter and it’s time for the travellers to try to understand and learn about the society, the habits, the locals’ attitudes they are going to visit maybe also trying to learn some words of the native language : not everywhere english language has to rule the world…

    • Guest says:

      rulol, you wrote: “maybe it’s time for the travellers to become more informed and smarter and it’s time for the travellers to try to understand and learn about the society, the habits, the locals’ attitudes they are going to visit ”

      This article you’re so strongly criticizing is exactly that; trying to learn and become more informed about another culture. What’s wrong with that?

      • Rita says:

        Unrapalleeld accuracy, unequivocal clarity, and undeniable importance!

        • cinese-americano di new york says:

          uhm… i don’t believe this article was meant to offend the native italiano. i love italia, and would live there if i could afford my own healthcare (different subject, mi dispiace). okay, so the article (which the title and a few lines lacked precision to comfort), was harsh, but it helps the the foreigners (namely, the english tongue/relative in their culture for comparison) to be able to enjoy italia without losing euros in “just eating” when those euros could be spent more in other desires such as an opera or museums or shopping – all still in italia. it’s a minimum precaution for the non-europeans (not just the non-italiano) a comprendere how best to spend “all” the euros to their best desires in italia. in new york, everything is no doubt expensive, even a pizza, but you pay tax, and most employees and all restaurants are under federal, state and local tax duties. What we make, we must report – we are taxed on everything, and so our service (tips) are voluntary to each person’s discrepancy of quality of service – because we pay tax on practically “everything”. So, in comparison (which is the take-away of the article) is for the English/American to not expect the same traditions taxes, service fees, and the add’l tips that an italian waiter may expect.

    • Jools says:

      Your average English traveller definitely doesn’t find Italy too difficult to understand. We have an excellent understanding of what has happened both politically & socially within your country. The same thing in Spain, Mexico, France etc.. it is nothing new & there is, as you say, crime “everywhere in the world”. Also, many, many english people continue to learn to speak Italian. My Italian class is full, the people I meet there have a healthy interest & a strong desire to travel in Italy for business & pleasure. My Italian teacher takes us to local restaurants run by Italian families. It is all very positive & I think that if you are a tourist operator you should be aware that this is the attitude of the vast majority of people from my country. Please dont generalise like that until you have a wider knowledge. I can assure you, you are mistaken.

  15. Marco says:

    i’m italian and i travel a lot in my country.
    unfortunately sometimes (somentimes!) in the mayor roads of the mayor cityes happens that owners try to rip off strangers.
    i think the best way to don’t be cheated is just to watch the menu and make mentally the bill before. when, at the end, the ceck comes ask why if is different.
    and the tip? all goes to the owner… ahahah… what is italy? a slave country?
    or: six or more weeks of vacation, c’mon!
    and, yes, we have national health care. we pay for it, i dont know why you relate it to the tip.
    ok, i stop, it starts to be boring

  16. Icovada says:

    As an Italian, I would like to point out that not all receipts have to look like the ones you said are right.
    Most of the times the restaurant will just have a “registratore di cassa” and give you a white strip of thermal paper, just like the first one in the article, that does NOT say NON FISCALE.
    Those are legit. Don’t make a fuss if they give you one.

    Besides, I just loved the “Like the I.R.S… with guns”. So true.
    Polizia? Kinda scary
    Carabinieri? You sometimes forget how to walk casually when you’re around them.
    Guardia di finanza? It’s maybe better to walk all the way around the block.

    • Michael says:

      You are why I love Italy.I find the people honest and unobtrusive . Every tourist spot adds extra to their prices. But also within in those areas you’ll find good value. I love the gratitude shown when a tip is left. I love that there is no pressure to tip. I just had someone say I shouldn’t eat out if I can’t afford it when I ask should people stay home if they can’t leave a BIG tip!!! I thought by buying the food I was helping the restaurant but hey there you go.. I live in Ireland and sure aren’t the Irish a lovely welcoming bunch…Hell no!! You get the same thieves and con men that any tourist spot attracts.

  17. Dear all,

    I’m Italian and working in the Travel Industry. I find this article pushed too far on bad habits and chances to be ripped-off. I had the bad luck to be ripped-off sometimes in all parts of the world. It happens evrywhere, that’s it. Italy is nothing worse or better than other places. So, please, don’t make this unique Country look like a criminal ambush for Tourists. Congratulations for the blogin general, well done and useful.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mauro! I’m sorry you thought we were making this country look like a “criminal ambush” — as you can see from our blog and our company, that is certainly not our intention. However, this particular post was about how not to get ripped off while eating in Italy… so that’s what it was about! We’re not saying that getting ripped off happens more or less in Italy than in other countries, but our company and blog is about Italy, so Italy is what we write about.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  18. Joe says:

    I have been to many cities in Italy and what you say has been the case for me in many resturants. I appreciate the article and it will save me alot of anguish in dealing with this situation in the future. Maybe you can figure out the taxi situation for another article. It’s also a problem.

    • walksofitaly says:

      I’m glad we could help, Joe. And you’re certainly not alone — we can’t tell you how many clients and visitors we’ve had to Italy who have experienced the exact same thing! We hope this post can help everyone :). Oh, and we’ve actually already written about how to handle the “taxi situation” in Italy. Now you can return to Italy with all the tools you need :). Enjoy your next trip!

  19. Sabbry says:

    Italians stand at bar because they usually have cornetto and coffee during the coffee break!!!! Italians usually seat in late afternoon or evening!!! so if u are sitting in the morning or in the afternoon, then u are a tourist!!!! The reason why the price “al tavolo” is higher, is very simple. The property has to pay a lot to have tables and chairs in the road in the city center, so if u want to seat there u have to pay more!!! But I think to have a coffee seating in piazza navona or piazza San Marco has really NO PRICE!!! So, please, just seat, enjoy your coffee, enjoy the wonderful view and pay your bill!!!!!

    • Igor Manzoni says:

      I’m Italian too but for me, 7 euros for a coffee it’s quite a huge price! Try to mind the fact that coffee is one of the more profitable products in a bar. It’s so with it’s normal price too! (More or less 1€)

    • RCW says:

      Amanda, This is a Great post! Thank you. I appreciate your consumer advocacy. This is about consumer awareness.
      I’m a New Yorker that lives in Manhattan, yes sometimes it’s absolutely worth the price to SIT down to enjoy a coffee, a bite to eat, go to the bathroom when I’m a tourist in another city I alos like to read my guide book sitting down. But i don’t want to pay more then the posted prices for sitting!!

      As your post says you don’t want us to be fooled or uniformed as a consumer.

  20. Luca says:

    Just a suggestion from an italian guy living in France. When you got to a bar or restaurant avoid touristic areas to sit it is more expensive in Rome as in Paris as in London. Find good place on guide or ask to people around you, even the nice girl in the museum will suggest you how to avoid to be cheated. DO NOT go where you hear just english or french or russian or whatever you will not enjoy your mean, sit where you hear a lot of Italians. By the law the price must be specified on menus also for the service and the “coperto” so if you do not see the price in the menu, do not go! Another thing just to know: a good restaurant have no more than 5/6 “primi” and 5/6 “secondi” this means that when you can to choose between 12513 different dishes something wrong is happening there.

    Do not accept piece of paper as a Bill unless you are going in a very little typical “trattoria” where the owner is an old man with mustaches but your bill will be no more than 15€/person ;).

    By the way this article is scaring people wants to visit Italy. The same kind of things happen in France, England, and Spain so c’mon guys cheater are everywhere. Continue to go in Italy you will not regret 😉

    • walksofitaly says:

      Thanks for your comment, Luc! Those are also some excellent tips. As for your last point, we certainly didn’t mean to scare anyone who wants to visit Italy — as is clear from our blog, and our company, we LOVE Italy! It’s just a heads-up to first-time visitors who may be, and who we KNOW often are, caught unawares by these kinds of shenanigans.

      And yes, as others have noted, these things can happen anywhere — but our blog is about ITALY. Therefore, we’re going to try to prepare travelers for what can happen to them while they’re… in Italy! (We’d love to read someone’s post about how to avoid these types of issues in other countries, too, though!).

      Thanks again for stopping by, and for your comment!

  21. trudy says:

    I appreciate your advice – we are planning our first trip in a couple of days – I think some people are taking your bewares, a little literal, and I don’t think that’s how it was intended. It’s unfortunate that these types of ‘rip-off artists’ exist, but they are everywhere, I think you have jut helped to point out, the different methods, and I appreciate that. I don’t anticipate we will get gouged, but one can never tell – even in our own city – so it’s good to get the heads up – knowledge is power in the event where you might have to use it.

    Thanks again

  22. atrongreg says:

    I would like to say I appreciate this information. I still love Italy and can’t wait to honeymoon all over your country. I agree with Trudy that it was taken quite literally by some people. PEOPLE: there is no need to get defensive. The article was not bashing Italy in any way. It is simply something that does occur in Italy. But for those of us who are visiting for the first time, we would like to know how to reduce our chances of getting taken advantage of. I would do the same for anyone coming to the US for the first time–like what places and people to avoid. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my country!! Thanks.

  23. Sara says:

    I am a frequent traveler. I lived in France and the USA the past 32 years of my life. Italy is a beautiful country and that’s the reason I spent my 3 last summer vacations in Italy, traveling from Milan, to Florence, to Rome and most cities in Sicily. I found it very upsetting that most resaurants I have been to in Italy give you a fake receipt, prefer cash payments, pretend that their credit card machine is out of order. I just finished my dinner at a restaurant in Syracusa, and paid 25% extra for bread and service. Prices are written in small letters.
    In France, restaurants do not rip off tourists. We should really compare Italy with France and not Mexico!

    • Mimosa says:

      Appreciation for this infmrotaion is over 9000—thank you!

    • Alessandro says:

      Sara, in france or at least in Paris you get rippedoff like in italy… Expecially if you are an italian!

      Maybe you get more fiscal bills, but food and wine is overpriced if you are not carefull.

      1/2 a bottle of chablis (basic good quality) charged 42€. (of course in an expensive restaurant)

      In italy you get at least 1 full liter for a (basic good quality) (in a same expensive restaurant)

  24. Alissa says:

    What do you do if you get one of the fake receipts? Do you just ask for il conto fiscal? And how do you know when you have the real thing? Is it the numbers on the side?

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Alissa,

      You’ll probably get the fake receipts much more often than not, especially in central and southern Italy, if you’re paying with cash. (A credit card transaction has to be registered). Because it happens so often, we’d use saying something about the receipt as a last resort only if you think the restaurant is taking advantage of you in another way. But, of course, you’re entitled to always ask for a legal receipt if you want, regardless of how the place treated you! You would ask for “una ricevuta fiscale,” meaning “fiscal receipt.”

      Admittedly, it can be a little tricky to tell if a receipt is fake or not. But for it to be real, it should have all of the following:

      It should say “ricevuta fiscale” on it, and that option should be checked. It should also have the restaurant’s 11-digit partita IVA number, which is their tax identification number (we’ve blacked this out in the examples for privacy reasons). And it should have the restaurant’s name, the restaurant’s address, the date, and a full list of what you ate.

      We hope that helps! Thanks so much for your comment and for stopping by.

  25. Justine says:

    Been living in Milan for 2 years and will be taking a trip down to Florence. I’m looking forward to revisiting Il Latini, a place known for their fiorentine steaks and their rip-off prices. They look at your table, scribble something, smile, nod and give you a check for triple the amount its worth.

    Last time I went, I couldn’t enjoy my steak because I was too worried about getting a huge bill and not being able to do ANYTHING about it. Even though a little nervous, I’m prepared to go in to ask for an itemized bill and if necessary… I’m pulling out that beautiful 3 word phrase. Thanks Walks of Italy!

    • walksofitaly says:

      And thanks for reading Justine! Next time you’re in Rome give us a shout and we can have stop by a restaurant that doesn’t pull this kind of stuff.
      Stay in touch and keep reading, we read your blog, too! And keep your eye out for Walks of Italy Milan, we’ll be working up there as well from next year. Ciao!

  26. Diana F says:

    Thanks so much for you tips! I was recently in Italy and I was already sort of aware of it but they always find a way. Tourists are easy target for them. I am writing a post regarding my trip and I’m glad to share your tips. I will share the link.



  27. Melan says:

    I think people are missing the point of this article. It isn’t about frightening people away from Italy or suggesting that all Italians are cheats and thieves, it is about being more aware of some of the practices of some of the owners of places where tourists eat. I live in Italy for 15 months, in both Rome and Florence, and I was ripped off many times before I realised what was going on. My tip is never, never eat near a tourist destination or where they have a tourist menu.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Very good advice, Melanie! Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words. And we completely agree—Italians certainly aren’t all cheats and thieves, nor would we ever want to frighten people away from Italy. We just want to make sure that people have the most knowledge possible to make their trip the BEST it can be!

  28. Mansi says:

    Hahaha..i never knew all this before. I always imagined Italian cafes to be quite affordable for a cup of coffee and a piece of bread. But it’s strange that cafes are quite expensive there.

  29. Jerry says:

    Excellent post. We are headed to Cinque Terre – visiting it in the off-season. Are we more or less likely to get ripped off during low season? Or doesn’t it matter? Also, could you give a brief explanation of the price differences that might be expected between cafes, trattorias, osterias and ristorantes? Any differences in the kinds of bills we should expect between one type of eating establishment and another? Thanks!

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Jerry,
      We’re glad to hear that you’re visiting the Cinque Terre! With the bad press from the floods that happened there this fall, they can use the tourism dollars now more than ever.

      As for your question about low vs. high season, when you’re more likely to get “ripped off” is hard to say. If, for example, a waiter is going to try to take advantage of you by charging you for something that you didn’t order—the kind of thing which does sometimes happen, but that is certainly not the norm and that you shouldn’t feel paranoid about—that’s someone who would probably try to take advantage of you regardless of the season. So, regardless of the season, be open, be friendly, enjoy the area and the people—just simply also be aware, i.e. double-checking your bill and following other tips that we outline in this post.

      As for price differences between different eating establishments, there used to be a big difference in price and atmosphere from a trattoria to osteria to ristorante and so on. However, these differences have largely diminished (although a “ristorante” does tend to be on the more elegant side). In general, if you’re on a budget and what to find the best-value food, just make sure to 1) get recommendations about where to eat, preferably from a local you can trust and/or by doing some online research before you go (this is particularly helpful in touristy areas like the Cinque Terre), and 2) look at the menu before you walk in. Most trattorias, osterias and restaurants will have one posted outside. (If there is a host standing there trying to get you to come in, simply be firm about whether you want to or not—particularly since the best restaurants generally won’t employ a host whose only job is that one!). As for cafes, in general, don’t eat hot meals there—cafes are meant for coffee and a snack, like a cornetto (croissant) or tramezzino (little sandwich), not for full meals. In fact, they don’t even have full kitchens, so often the hot food at a cafe will be microwaved.

      We hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions about eating in Italy, and make sure to check out our “traveling on a budget” series, including how to save while seeing the sights, how to save on accommodation, and how to use transportation on a budget.

  30. Jerry says:

    Thanks for your explanation of restaurants. It is low season in Cinque Terre, just like everywhere else in Italy. But more places are open for business here, it seems, than in bigger tourist areas, such as Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino (which is 98% closed). Here in Riomaggiore, we are surprised to see what a struggle it is financially for people – not even taking into account the flood that ravaged Vernazza. The people in the 5 are worried that bad press about the damage in Vernazza will be mistakenly applied to the rest of Cinque Terre, and tourists will stay away from the whole area this year. That would be too bad. Cinque Terre is still exquisite, and well worth visiting. Yes, times are tough and the government is cracking down on “tax cheats”. But this has created opportunities for discounts, rather than a higher likelihood of getting ripped off: Many lodging and restaurant operators are hoping guests can pay cash – credit card use leaves a paper trail – so they can avoid those crazy taxes, which we hear are near 50% on many things. So cash is warmly received, as is the bearer! This may not be news to more savvy travelers than I, but I thought I would pass it along for what it is worth.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Jerry,
      You’re absolutely right, and we would never discourage anyone from visiting the Cinque Terre! However, we have to disagree on one point: In no way do we support folks paying cash to these establishments to help them evade taxes. This is both illegal and a huge part of Italy’s economic problems, as the recent crackdowns have highlighted. A couple of quick facts: In 2009 alone, Italians evaded about 120 billion euros in taxes, which is almost four times the value of the country’s new austerity budget. And if Italy were as strict in collecting taxes as the U.K. and the U.S. over the last 40 years, economists calculate that the country’s national debt would now be 80 percent of GDP, not 120 percent. Also, while taxes are high in Italy, they’re not always as high as these shop owners would have you think. Italy’s corporate tax rate is roughly 32%, for example, while in the U.S., the corporate tax rate is up to 38% from the federal government and another 12% from the state.

      So while restaurant and shop owners in the Cinque Terre—and, in fact, across Italy—do warmly receive cash, and while this is something we see on an everyday basis across the country, it’s simply not something we support. And neither do many, many Italians! You might be interested to see our recent blog post on one campaign that Italians have launched, called “No scontrino, no party” (no fiscal receipt, no party), aimed at eradicating this cash-only culture that has so undermined the economy in Italy.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your support of the Cinque Terre!

  31. LeAnne says:

    I read this article while feeling a small sense of validation. My largest gripe about living and working in history center Rome are the monetary discrepancies proposed upon the expats and tourists. What I think is most curious is the Italian means to defend that this doesn’t happen very much. Since these establishments lean towards targeting visitors and toursits- of course an Italian would state this doesn’t happen so much! Many of my Italian friends think that I am always on the lookout to be “ripped-off”. I have given up trying to argue that I, as an outsider, receive incorrect change almost weekly (I know the difference between a €1 and €2 coin!) or am charged for items I didn’t order. I understand the need to defend one’s culture and yes, it happens everywhere but I am happy this article addresses this for those who agree this happens quite often and will watch out for it.

    I love this post and will pass it on to everyone I can prior to their arrival in Italy.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi LeAnne,

      We agree completely. There often is a discrepancy in Italy’s major tourist cities and sites between how Italians and tourists are treated, and we have countless stories of the same things still happening to us—even though we’ve now lived and worked here for years and years! Speaking Italian also goes a long way; when we’re at a restaurant with, say, an out-of-town friend who speaks no Italian, and we’re speaking in English, we often get treated one way, but if we’re there with Italian speakers (even other non-Italians!), and speaking the language, then the restaurant assumes we live here and treats us another (better!) way. It’s a shame, so we hope these tips do help everyone—even those who don’t speak Italian!

      Thanks again for your comment, and we hope this helps you and your friends!

  32. Kurt says:

    It is amazing how ordering is so different in areas of the world. In the United States we just take for granted that water is free and so are refills. Bread or something before diner, if not explicitly order by the customer is always considered free fo charge. It is the little cultural differences that make travel interesting.

  33. Ginny says:

    We had a brief break in Rome and one of our strongest memories was of being charged the equivalent of NZ $68 for four ice creams while we sat outside the cafe. We often tell people travelling to Italy from New Zealand to be wary when they eat and to check out all charges. Loved your advice.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Ginny,
      Ugh—we’re so sorry to hear that! Hopefully this post will help you out next time 🙂 … feel free to pass it on to your friends in New Zealand!

  34. Gianluca (from Venice) says:

    Especially in tourist cities do NOT go to the restaurant too early!
    Locals usually have launch between 12.30 pm to 2 pm and dinner from 7.30 pm to 10 pm… remember the more south the later!

    Going to a restaurant at 6pm is like saying “hey i’m a tourist and i want to get ripped off”

    So, here in Venice, before looking for a meal why don’t you go to the “bacaro” (little and hidden cafes) and get a Spritz, the local aperitif? The average price is between €1.50 to €2.50 🙂
    Sometimes you will not pay the “tavolo” prices if you bring your drink to the table by yourself 😉

  35. john champagne says:

    Thanks for the article! In Lazio, the pane e coperto is now against the law, though it sometimes continues to be charged. I find the response of some of the Italians to your article particularly frustrating. I own an apartment in Italy and have travelled all over the world, including the US, most of Europe, and North Africa, and I am amazed at the way some Italian businesses cannot look beyond their immediate self interest to the larger picture. (Just recently, I tried to explain to a restaurant owner in Rome how charging illegal fees hurts Italy’s reputation. He refused to believe me.) The mancia does still indeed go to the owners and not the servers, as servers themselves have recently told me when I have pointed out that the pane e coperto is illegal. And don’t even get me started on the lack of soap in the bathrooms! In the midst of the bird flu panic last year, I see a sign hanging on the door of the restroom at the painting museum in Sienna instructing you in how to wash your hands so as to avoid disease. But no soap in the bathroom. (I wanted to ask the staff there what they did when they needed to use the facilities at work.) I love Italy, and I know it is not the US, but many Italians will admit to you that they lack any kind of collective identity and civic pride. Because in a country where there is so much needless bureaucracy, it is easier to be “furbo” (sly) than to try and fight what seems like an overwhelming system. And yes, even Italians suffer from this.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment! It’s always great to get the perspective of someone who has lived here, and yes, we agree with you on the pane e coperto and mancia issues :). We hope blog posts like this one help convince those who think it is better to be a bit “furbo” that, in the long run, it is definitely not!

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  36. Veneziano says:

    I have stumbled on this site whilst trying unsuccessfully to download the correct form from to make a “denuncia”.
    I have just returned from the latest of my frequent trips I make to Northern Italy for business, were I was ripped off blind just two days ago in Milano.
    Entertaining an American colleague on my last day, we ended up being charged 106 Euro for what from experience should only have been a 40 Euro bill.
    On my own in the same immediate area I was eating well for 10 – 15 Euros, speaking only Italian! , being an Italian.
    Previously travelling in 3 with the same person, we mostly spoke Italian, the 3rd party also being an Italian.
    On this occasion we obviously were only speaking English, target indication one.
    Indicator 2, was my colleague’s positive comments for the food, I should have seen it coming.
    The food for an Italian made “schifo”.
    At the end I get a piece of paper with amounts written on it.
    I asked for a tax receipt to make a business claim for the expense, and received what I knew not to be a correct receipt, but did not continue my argument, paying the said amount.
    I do however have this incorrect transaction receipt with which I should be able to make a claim, it might seem trivial, but not doing so is the reason that these “ladri” get away with what they do.
    They are of course not all the same, but I believe many Italian merchants do see foreign tourists as mugs to be ripped off, and do so with religious conviction.

  37. Bob says:

    I’ve just read through your blog and all the comments. Thank you so much for such an informative blog. I’m still reeling from some of the comments defending this as being normal practice around the world. It is not normal practice around the world. Yes, you pay extra to be in a desirable place – a place where everyone else wants to be but you do not have to be ripped off.

    Just to explain, ripped off means cheated or pay more than you expected because extra ‘not-normal’ charges were added to your bill purely because you look stupid enough to pay. I’ll happily pay 10 or 100 euros for a meal if that is what I expected. What I don’t like is being cheated.

    I’ve lived and worked in for 1 year or more in Japan, Portugal, UK, Hungary, Macedonia and Equatorial Guinea. Only in Portugal did I ever get ripped off (getting less change than I was due) and it happened enough not to be due to poor math skills or bad luck. So, being ripped off is not a global phenomenon – not everyone is doing it (not even in London).

    I’m going to Italy for the first time this summer. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m so glad I learned what to look out for and ways of dealing with it.

    Thanks again

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Bob,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! We’re in complete agreement on this not being normal practice, and on your definition of ripped off. That said, we hope that it doesn’t happen to you while you’re in Italy—and that, if it does, you find yourself much better prepared than before you found our post 🙂

      Thanks again for your comment, and for stopping by!

  38. Sunshine says:

    I love visiting Italy and always had a great time. However, last Sept 2011 we were ripped off by a ceramic shop in San Gimignano – Shop La Luna nel Pozzo. We order 3 pcs of ceramics hand-painted pots/vases we can used as fountain. We paid in full for a total of Euros 2000. We expected the delivery of the ceramics in Nov but never arrived and when we call the owner, he said its still in production and after that, we couldn’t contact him anymore…. we dont know what to do next… we are still trying ways to locate him…
    Are italians that dishonest?
    Can u advise what can we do next?

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Ann,
      We are so, so sorry to hear that! That’s a terrible situation. If you’ve contacted the owner again and received no response, the best next step might be to contact your credit card company—you didn’t pay with cash, did you? Their fraud department should be able to handle exactly this kind of thing. Let us know what happens, and we’re happy to try to help!

  39. marylis says:

    Thanks so much for your article! And don’t change the title – it’s perfect. Because I am in Venice at the moment and seriously, if you don’t have your wits about you, you will get ripped off. They do seem to be quite precious about their tables, don’t they? We went to a highly rated brewery restaurant yesterday and wanted to see what beers they had on tap – ended up ordering drinks at the bar which, unbeknownst to us means that you cannot order food or sit at one of the outside tables. This makes the waiters very grumpy and rude…so we were stuck in a dark table inside wanting to order some nibbles but told that we couldn’t because we had ordered at the bar and the fries would have to be from the restaurant…very weird!

  40. Alessandro says:

    Just my 2cent on the SERVIZIO.
    Im an ex-Venetian restauranteur (yes one of the expensive one’s)

    The servizio is actually a “service quality fee” it is absolutely NOT A TIP! None of that amount goes to the waiters! It goes all to the restaurant company.

    Restaurants that have a basic service, waiters, or better “food-runners” will just ask what have you chosed from the menu and bring it to you. END. They shoudn’t charge any “servizio” but just “coperto” wich is normally max. € 3 per person in venice.

    High quality restaurants wich have trainted and professional waiters an staff will charge you the “servizio” (high quality service) fee wich varies from 8% to 18% (and this is the harry’s bar in venice, one of the most expensives).
    Theese restaurant shoudn’t apply any “coperto” charge because they already ask “servizio”.

    If they charge both, (i dont remember if it is legal or not) you are likely beeing ripped off.

    Asking servizio + coperto is considered a real rip off in italy.

    Also, neither coperto or servizio should be charged if you are in a bar (prices may vary though from sitting to standing).

    If you go in a restaurant-bar and just drink cocktails or aperitive you should not be charged coperto or servizio!

    This is the REAL meaning of SERVIZIO.

    In italy tips may be given only in cash and are on top of whole bill!

    Very good guide to not get ripped of. Most important of all, always ask for “RICEVUTA FISCALE” “FISCAL INVOICE” that is the only legal way to buy someting in Italy.

  41. Don says:

    My wife and I are travelling to Italy in early Oct. 2012 for 2 weeks. We fly into Rome were we will rent a car as soon as we land and drive to Tuscany staying at a B&B in a town mentioned in the article. After 3 days we head to Cinque Terre staying on a single bed B&B on a sailboat. We catch an overnight Ferrie out of Genoa to the island of Sardinia, which we will spend a couple of days and then another overnight ferrie Back to Rome. We then finish up 3 days in Rome.

    We have already booked all of our rooms, with much careful planning. We booked a lot of our activities in advance. We booked our car already in advance. We booked our ferrie rides (with our car) in advance. The only things we haven’t booked in advance will be our meals and souveniers.

    I have read through your articles pertaining to where we will be traveling and have even taken notes to prevent anyone from taking advantage of two Texans that do not speak Italian at all.

    Italy is one of our top 5 travel spots that we wanted to see while we were still in our mid 40’s and assumed that, we as non-Italian speaking foreigner, would be treated with the same respect we would give to any non-English speaking Italian that we could meet traveling to Texas that we would encounter during their exploits.

    Yes……We, as Americans seem to be spoiled with conveniences like easy ways to pay for stuff, access to easy to find food establishments. From the articles it appears that conveniences are defined differently that they are here in Texas were we live. Your articles have helped in planning and mentally preparing for our honeymoon.

    We keep reading about the economy in Italy….How is the atmosphere there now….Sept. 22nd, 2012? Do the eating establishments really not take credit cards?
    How difficult is obtaining euros in Italy, outside of Rome? Do the food places and shops deal in American Dollars at all? Are most of the shops really closed outside of the larger cities this time of year? What is the weather like right now in Rome and the northwestern coastline up by Genoa?

    I don’t look at any of the “rip-off” articles as a negative, only as a “caution” for an American going to a country I have no idea of what to expect. I have looked at “How to Pack”, “Places to Stay and See”, “Don’t Get Ripped Off”, and several of the other articles…..they have been very informative on what I need to do this next several days before we go.

    Thank You!!!

  42. Dante says:

    I thought the article was informative. But, I also enjoyed the posts…both for and against.
    The main thing is while travelling be aware of the different customs, treat servers as you would like to be treated and just be aware.
    Just made your site a favorite.


  43. LMPY says:

    Thank you for this post. I will be returning to Italy this Sunday (on holiday this time) for a 10 day trip and taste of Italy. However, after reading your article, I wonder how one can truly keep from being targeted, esp. if they are part of a travel group and will therefore have the tourist agency “label” plastered on our foreheads – LOL. Regardless, I am looking forward to enjoying my coffee (standing this time) eating great food and sampling superb wines again (while seated) but will remember your words of advice while reconciling the bill.

  44. martina says:

    ok being italian myself and having lived in italy all my life, there are so many things on this article i disagree with. first off, the ripping off part usually only really happens when you’re in the south of italy (anywhere below Rome I would say). this whole image of italians being loud and rude and stealing is because of the south.
    second, those written receipt pictures you put up? any little restaurant or taverna will hand you those and its completely normal to get a receipt like that. just because you’re not used to it, doesn’t mean it’s illegal.
    third, the ‘coperto’ charge is simply for sitting down at the table and using the cutlery and shit and in all honesty, if you’re having dinner with a few friends and split that coperto charge, it maybe comes down to 50 cents each, so it’s not a big deal. at all. also, i have never even heard of the service charge. that’s usually what the coperto is for. waiters are paid much better than in the states, as you said, and the misconception that you’re being overcharged for your meal might simply be because you think you have to give them an additional tip of 20%. and, italy as well as numerous European countries, are a lot more expensive than the states.
    and the “would you like a little bit of focaccia? thing…we say that to be nice and because we can tell you’re not italian just by looking at you. and focaccia is fucking delicious, so we’re offering something you might not know to ask for. we don’t do it to trick you into thinking that we’re offering you food. it’s a restaurant, of course you have to pay for it! what, do you go to a restaurant and not pay for the bread the waiter kindly asks you if you would like at the beginning of the meal?
    lastly, if you go to the police station with a receipt, they would laugh in your face. yes, that makes us look and sound bad, but that’s what you get with italian police. sorry.

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Martina,
      Thank you for your comments! However, perhaps because you are Italian, you haven’t really experienced what many tourists to this country have. Therefore, have to respectfully disagree with your following points:

      1) In no way are we implying that every time a tourist eats out in Italy, they’ll be ripped off. We’re quite clear on that point! But it does happen, *often*—just read some of the other comments on this post for proof.
      2)It’s certainly not the case, as you say, that being ripped off only happens in the south of Italy. It is most common anywhere there are tourists. Venice, for example, is a big offender.
      3) The receipts we put up are, as you say, normal to receive—but they are also illegal. (Which is kind of our point! 😉 ). They’re illegal because they are *not* the official receipts that show that the income is being taxed.
      4) Yes, the coperto is for sitting down, as we explain. However, we’re not sure what you mean about “split” that coperto charge; across the country, it is usually per person. It’s usually 1-2 euros per person; we’ve never seen a 50-cent coperto.
      5) We’re very surprised you’ve never heard of the service charge, but again, that’s our point—it’s something that is usually applied at *touristy* restaurants, to *tourists* only. We’ve seen it on many, many menus in Venice, as well as on fewer menus (but still there, at touristy places) in Florence, Rome, Milan, the Cinque Terre, Amalfi coast, and elsewhere.
      6) Of course, many times Italians offer focaccia to be nice! But you seem to assume everyone knows that it’s not free. You know that because you’re Italian; many people don’t! At a restaurant in the US, for example, if the waiter offers you water and bread when you sit down, the water and bread are free. So it’s not that surprising that some people think focaccia, being essentially bread, would be as well. (Or that the water would, for that matter!).
      7) We wouldn’t be so sure about that. The Guardia di Finanza are definitely cracking down these days!

      Thanks again for stopping by, and for sharing your experience as an Italian!

      • Lisa says:

        I know this is an old post but I agree with Martina. I live in the center of Venice and the only waiters that are working under the table are illegal immigrants that come here for work. An Italian will always work legally. They work long hours and deserve a tip. Also just because the bread is free in the States does not mean it is here..The restaurant buys it from the bakery. Its not cheap and they also pay to have it delivered. And for the hand written bill it is a normal practice here…It does not mean they are not paying taxes. It means they are not up to date with technology. You would be surprised how many places still don’t accept credit cards. And those are usually the places with the best food. And just to let you know we also pay coperto charges. You are paying for the table cloth and silverware. And the charge should go accordingly to the level of service you are getting

  45. Jon J says:

    We have been to Rome many times and this article is correct. In fact, the situation seems to get worse each year we return. The last time we went, which was last week, we were faced with a rip-off on all of our meals. Yes all of them. We kicked off the week by having a local bar attempt to charge us 25 Euro for two espresso and cornetti. The Italian couple in front of us made the same order and were charged 6 Euro – which is still high compared to most local places. When I responded in Italian that they should rob someone else they offered the local price. I left.

    The thing to know is that Italy is like Mexico in many ways. People say that is an unfair comparison but it is true and I love both places. You will get panhandled routinely, you will get pushy street sellers getting in your face all day long. There is a high amount of crime. The restaurants will rip you off. So will tours. So will Taxi cab drivers. People will also offer to take a photo of you with your camera and then demand a tip. This last trip I even had a guy dressed up in a blue uniform “help” me find my train and then ask for 5 Euro. But like Mexico, if you can get beyond the irritations, there is much to see and enjoy. If vacation by “prison rules” bothers you go to Rome one time just to see it. If prison rules bother you, you will hate it here.

  46. cat3appr says:

    It’s pretty silly how some comments try to justify using topics that can be summarized:
    – it doesn’t happen only in italy
    – it not true that it happens everywhere or everytime in italy

    The blog it’s about Italy, so the fact that the same thing might happen in India or Panama it doesn’t apply 🙂 comprende? 😀

    Probably there are a few lucky ones who got a fair honest treat, good for them! but once again, we are dealing with major numbers, not the few lucky ones, and the tendency is what is described in the article: restaurant owners/waiters, will tend to fool the tourist around, it’s not even their fault, it’s part of the dna, so it’s up to you to bring him back to the right track.
    An yes, it happens mostly in the central south part of Italy, just google around and avoiding getting sulky over demonstrated facts.

  47. Alexandre says:

    As a French student who travelled to Italia countless times on purpose of work or leisure, I must say that your guide is spot-on.

    I’ve discovered the hard way many of these so-called “business methods”, but now that I speak a quite correct Italian, I’ve not been scammed as much as I used to be. The first part about the choice of the place to eat is crucial : 80% of issues will come from going where the flock goes.

    There is also a classic scam that hasn’t been pointed out in your article, namely “change scam” : e.g. you pay with a 20€ bill and you’re given the change on a 10€ one (same applies with higher values like 50€). This happened to me in the famous Gambrinus Caffè in Napoli, and the waiter had a hard time explaining where the other bill had gone.

    Then again, this is not the case everywhere and everytime in Italy. But I’ve travelled a lot there, almost a year in total and to many parts of the country, and I just can say that I’m growing tired of the petty scams on the part of malevolent owners of touristy places. Now that I can read through their game, it gives me an idea as to how much money they make each year with their tricks. It can only be reduced by informing tourists of their mere rights (“The tip is not included sir.” – “Oh but I know it is good lad !”).

    As to what Martina points out (Southern Italy being the haven for scammers), I can say that it is a huge prejudice on your part, although largely shared by Northern Italians. I’ve not been more scammed in Napoli than in Firenze or Torino, it’s just a question of owners and (bad) habits. Although I must confess I’ve been given a few more receipts in the North (but that concerns the law, not the price).

  48. Albert says:

    Love your article and 90% of things pointed out happened to us!!! It seems that half of the time an extra coffee or something else is ‘fat fingered’ on the bill. IMO and after traveling all over Europe a tourist is most likely to be scammed in Italy … and after that in Bosnia and Albania … sorry Italians, I love your food but you mistreat tourists 🙁

  49. Ebony says:

    Hello I am visit Rome this June for a week. I’ll be staying at Hotel Caprice if you could please tell me some good FAIR priced places to eat that would be wonderful. I’m from PA so a fair price breakfast is $15.00, lunch about $20.00 and dinner about $40-50. Thank you!!

    • walksofitaly says:

      Hi Ebony,
      For dinner, your cheapest and best-value spots in Rome will be pizzerias! We especially like La Montecarlo (near Piazza Navona) and Baffetto 2 (near Campo dei Fiori). Other than that, good, classic Roman trattorias (also open for lunch) with prices along those lines include La Campana (near Piazza Navona), L’Amatricianella (near Piazza Navona), and Armando al Pantheon (near the Pantheon). As far as breakfast goes, most places don’t serve American breakfast the way we do, so the best-value option will undoubtedly be to eat breakfast as the Italians do, meaning a croissant (called “cornetto”) or other pastry, and a coffee, standing up at the bar of a cafe! We hope that helps!

      • Sharon says:


        My husband and I are leaving for Venice on Friday, so I am so glad I discovered you website & especially this blog post! My husband has to visit Castelfranco Veneto for work so we decided to come in early to see Venice. I have to be honest, Italy’s bad reputation for scamming tourists, the pick pockets, and pushy Italian men following women around harrassing them are ruining American’s interest in visiting the country! When my friends and collegues found out we were planning to visit, they all started with the horror stories which I have to say have me a bit concerned since I will be on my own in Castelfranco Veneto while my husband is working, but the worst is being made to feel guilty about why we are voluntarily visiting a place where the perception is that the Italian people hate American’s and are simply annoyed by our very presence!

        I really hope this is not the case, because I would love to come back and be able to share the very opposite about our 10 day trip!

        Can you recommend a few honest restaurants in Venice to visit and some things to see & do while we are there? Also, what is the reputation of Castlefranco Veneto?

        I am truly excited to visit and I pray, the trip goes well because Italy is a place I have always wanted to visit and I will be utterly disappointed if it isn’t all I have dreamed it would be!!

        • Hi Sharon,
          Don’t let the stories get to you… we live in Italy, and those stereotypes seem grossly overexaggerated to us! We haven’t heard anything about Castlefranco Veneto, but we’re sure you’ll be just fine. In Venice, just make sure to get off the beaten path and as far away from the area around St Mark’s as possible, especially when it comes to eating and shopping. Restaurants we especially like are Al Nono Risorto (Santa Croce 2337),
          Casa Bonita (Cannaregio 492) and La Porta d’Acqua (San Polo 1022B). Enjoy!

  50. Cecilia W says:

    Thank you for this helpful article. In 2001, my husband and I took a European tour and visited Italy. I still remember being ripped off in Rome on an egg sandwich I bought from a ristorante off the beaten path. When I opened the sandwich, there were 3 thin 1/2 slices of egg pushed up to the edge for show, but the middle was empty. Crooks!!!

    When we visited Venice, we dined at a cafe at St Mark’s Square. We had 2 cups of coffee and shared a dessert. They were the MOST EXPENSIVE 2 cups of coffee & dessert!!! Now I understand we’ve been RIPPED OFF… again!!!

  51. kat says:

    I must say that in all of my stays in italy, as a solo female traveler, I have never been ripped off so to speak….instead a little spoiled when in a traditional restaurant on my own. Little “on the house” touches & really attentive waiters who take a few extra measures to make me feel comfortable. I do speak a small bit of italian, but overall, I believe it is the solo foreign female thing.

  52. Valeria says:

    I just returned from a two week vacation in Italy (Florence, Venice). As a solo female traveler, I had eaten at various establishments throughout my travel. Not once was I ripped off, actually I was given discounts, free on the house touches like the previous response (kat). The waiters were attentive, respectful and friendly. I used both cash (euro) and credit card at times. My bill was always accurate or sometimes less than what I ordered, when it should have been more. The meals I ate were meat, fish, vegetables (more pricey dishes). As pasta and pizza I found in these establishments to be less expensive.

    • Leo says:

      I have had the same experience, as a single male traveller. Twice in the same pizzeria (Venice Lido) I had to have the waiter correct my bill. The first time he forgot to charge for the half litre of wine he served me. When I reminded him, he gave it to me free of charge. The second time (same pizzeria, different waiter) he forgot to charge for the dolce.

      Five trips to Italy, from Venice to Reggio Calabria, I have been ripped off three times (that I am aware of) and all times were taxis (maybe a future post?)–once in Naples, once in Avellino and once in Reggio. Never had a problem in restaurants.

      I am heading back to Venice in a few weeks for Carnevale, but I will certainly watch out for the signs. Thanks for the tips!

  53. Thanks so much for posting this helpful information! We’re going to share it with all our clients!

  54. andrea says:

    Hi, I’m Italian … thank you so much for exposing to the world so much ignorance.
    you should have asked somebody that knows italy a little better than you before making such long series of mistakes. Of course you get ripped off in Italy, even more if you consider ripping off as something that is simply different from your culture.

    some examples:

    1) Rome and Florence and Venice are slightly more populated than Pittsburgh. And we have public social security. This explains why there is a higher cost of service and of the fiscal space you use while eating. If you want to be treated like in any fast food in the US, just go there, it’s full of Mc Donalds (if you consider that food).

    2) there is a maximum price established for coffee, cappuccino and cornetto. This price is way lower than in any Starbucks in the world. It is logical that it can be applied only at “al bancone” and that the price “al tavolo” can be much higher. It goes to paying the rent of the place. And the rent in the center of Venice can be huge. It’s normal, it’s one of the nicest places in the world and everybody would like to be there.

    3) Slavery has been abolished in Italy so we do consider that it makes no sense to have somebody working as a waiter and relying only on tips. The 6 weeks paid vacations just exist in your fantasy. Pane e COPERTO is not for the BREAD, it’s for using the physical space and have it nice and clean. Once again, if you prefer eating a greasy hamburger in a plastic stuff, in a dirty place, it’s full of Mc Donalds … and it’s completely false the fact that the money for tips goes to the owner. It’s generally shared among waiters. This avoids fights among waiters as there are in the US and provide a much better level of service. I am italian and i generally leave at least a 10% tip if the service has been good enough.

    If the only way of attending turists is the US way, ask yourself why in all of Italy wi have less BK than in NY alone, no Pizza Hut, almost no Starbucks, no Taco Bell, no In and Out, no KFC no, no, no … and why Mc Donalds, in order to enter the Italian Market, had to buy an Italian franchise.

    Nothing wrong with differences and if you like advising tourists regarding Italy, please start to learn about Italy a little more.

    It seems there are enough suggestions in comments to push you to re-write the article correcting all the huge mistakes you made.


    • Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for your comments! We understand that you dislike that we’ve written a post about this; you’re not the only one. However, we think it’s very important to inform tourists of something that can happen, and does all too often, in Italy. Of course, we’re not saying Italy is the only country tourists get exploited in. (Nor do we in the blog post!). But there’s simply no argument that they *do* get ripped off here. Just check out the most recent example, of British tourists getting charged 54 pounds for 4 ice creams near the Spanish Steps last week!

      If you point out an actual mistake we made in the post, we’d be happy to correct it 🙂 Writing the post, though, is something we can’t apologize for. As you can see from the comments, a lot of people have been very grateful for the information… or wish they had it before they visited!
      -The Walks team

  55. Ellie says:

    I was so outraged the first two times I dined at a restaurant here in Rome. We Are Back packing on a small budget) The first time I asked for tap water (as is the norm in Australia and France) and did not ask for bread, so I was taken aback to find additional charges in the bill. So the second meal I had in rome, I requested for tap water and said no thanks to the bread. The waitress forcefully insisted that I drank bottled water and did not give me a chance to protest. When the bill came she had also charged for bread which we politely returned to her upon receiving it. I told her we had not touched the bread but she insisted it was service charge.

    After the two incidents I decided I needed to do thorough research and I came across your article which had proven to be the most useful and detailed!! It helped me with correcting tonight’s dinner bill. Thanks so so much!

    Just one question, how do you tell if a receipt is official? The one I got from the second restaurant had two boxes, “fattura” and “ricevuta fiscale” neither box was ticked. And she tore off the white sheet AND the yellow carbon paper beneath it for me to keep. Is that hsneaky?

    • Hi Ellie,
      Thanks for your comment, and we’re so glad to have helped! You’re right—it is tricky to tell if a receipt is official. But one of those boxes should have been checked, and you should have gotten a copy to keep.
      Please let us know if we can help with anything else!

  56. lauramenzies says:

    Just come back from rome an hour ago. Very disappointed in the way the italians have dealt with us. Rome was beautiful but nearly every time we ate out we were overcharged. (lost my temper with one of the waiters) You are giving your city a bad name folks, you are a disgrace.. What a flippin shame.

    • We’re so sorry to hear that, Laura. We’re hoping that posts like ours, and comments like yours, will help create change! Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you—we’re so sorry to hear that it soured your Italy experience.

  57. Susan Jerrott says:

    Hi – this is such a helpful article. I am quite nervous about our trip to Rome, Cinque Terre and Florence due to reports about scams from Taxi drivers, pickpockets and waiters. One question – we are doing three Walks of Italy tours in Rome and one in Florence – are tour guides willing to give restaurant recommendations at the end of the tours or are they not allowed?

    • Hi Susan,
      Thanks for reaching out! All of our guides are allowed (and encouraged) to give recommendations, since think one of the best ways to help our clients is to give them advice on what to do and see like a local. So don’t hesitate to ask them for help!

      Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  58. anna says:

    The first type of receipt is legal document coming out of a cash register. Non fiscale means that they opted to transmit telematically data to the national revenue agency. Most of the receipts coming out of a cash register in Italy are “non fiscali”. Cash register have a unique serial number, which is reported, and visits by the “guardia di finanza” are based on that. Sometimes they go into a shop and check if, in their precence, they make a lot more receipt than the same day, or period, of the last year. People can call anonimously the Guardia di Finanza if they know that a cash register is never used.

  59. ivan says:

    Just got ripped off at a restaurant in Lucca, at the corner of via degli asili and piazza Salvatore. I was charged coperto and 10% service, and was not given a legal receipt. Following your advice, I will contact the Guardia di finanza.

  60. Lindsay says:

    I visit Italy regularly – twice a year, on average – and I have to say I’ve encountered very few rip offs.

    In Rome and Palermo we encountered massive service charges added (about 25% and not stated on the menu), so on both occasions we simply left the cash for the food, drinks and coperta and left. In Brescia a dish that should have had truffle added did not. I complained, it got heated, but the bill was reduced accordingly. A restaurant in Venice changed our order and brought us a dish we didn’t want when the one we did want had run out. It look a lot of arguing to get the bill reduced.These are the only instances I can think of. One of our regular restaurants once added the bill wrongly, they were really embarassed about it and gave us Grappa. I’d class that as an honest mistake.

    If a waiter tries to tell me what to have – the antipasti trick – and we feel we’re being pressurized, we leave.

    I love visiting Italy and it’s a real shame that people get so ripped off that they don’t want to return. I really think that places that take pride in their food will treat appreciative diners with respect. This has been my experience.

    On the other hand, I think tourists owe it to the country to accept that things will be different from home. Don’t whinge about the coperta – the bread is good. Rather than moan about sitting down prices, have your coffee standing at the counter.

  61. Rowena says:

    I love how the comments keep rolling in on this particular article. I’ve lived here for 10 years with my italian husband, and getting a proper scontrino from every food establishment we go to is a MUST. He says that if he has to pay taxes, well then so do they. Cracks me up when a gelateria or restaurant doesn’t hand a receipt up front. He’ll tell them up front “sconto o scontrino?” If we’re dining with american friends and they offer to pay the bill but don’t receive a receipt, he’ll go up to the owner and make a fuss and won’t back down. And whoa be the person that hands him a non fiscale version!

  62. Joe H says:

    To all the Italians who have blamed tourists for getting ripped-off because of their ignorance I have a warning for you. Look at what happened to Jamaica. It used to be one of the most visited travel locations for U.S. citizens. Not anymore. As beautiful as it is there, people will eventually get tired of being ripped-off and just stop going. There are a lot of other choices. But maybe that’s ok for Italians. Maybe you’re tired of stupid and ugly Americans, British, and Australians visiting your country. My family and I just returned from a wonderful vacation to Rome, Sorrento, Florence and Venice last week. We had a fantastic time despite constant attempts to overcharge us for meals, taxi rides, merchandise, etc. The cuperto charge is fine and perfectly understandable why they may have to charge it at a restaurant near a trendy piazza. But all the other shenanigans on the part of waiters, cashiers and taxi drivers is just short cited and foolish. Fortunately, the warm people, wonderful food and wine, rich history, churches, beautiful art and natural landscapes make-up for the bad experiences. But just know that people will only put up with so much before they stop coming back. And hopefully we won’t be seeing “Come back to Italy” ads on TV like the “Come back to Jamaica” ads we see so often now.

  63. Michele Ada Alston says:

    My husband and I are leaving for Milan, Venice and Florence on the 10 of September, 2013. I am so grateful to scan the internet and found your article. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such insight. This will be our first time to Europe. I have been researching articles and I found your article to be very helpful and I now feel so much better by reading your article. I will print this out and take this key information with us.

    Warmly and blessing to you,
    James and Michele

  64. Patricia Khalifa says:

    Thank you for the information. I am a senior citizen and traveling to Italy for the first time in late November. Do the hotels have restaurants and do these scary behaviors happen there as well?

    • Hi Patricia,
      We’re happy to help! Yes, some hotels do have restaurants. And this behavior may happen less there, since they don’t want to irritate their hotel guests. In general, though, these restaurants tend to be aimed at tourists (and hotel guests), not locals, so we don’t tend to recommend them regardless; that’s because the best, most authentic food in Italy is usually at places for locals, not tourists. (Although, of course, there are certain exceptions to this; in Rome, for example, some of the most expensive and best restaurants in the city are at hotels). Instead, therefore, if you want to avoid scams, we recommend doing a little restaurant research in advance to find the best, most authentic, local, trustworthy places, rather than choosing a place at random. And, of course, just keep the tips from our blog post in mind. Let us know if we can help with anything else!

  65. Corinna says:

    Great article with great advice for travellers as usual, but I have to confess I do not like the title! It seems that everywhere is like that…rip-offs are not the norm! 🙂
    In any case, please remind that bars and cafès MUST show a detailed price list, so if you can not find it, it is legit to ask. the same for menus at the restaurant.
    Another consideration about tipping. The tip usually goes to the waiters, not the owners! So if you think your waiter has been good, just leave the tip! (a small amount of € will be enough!)

  66. Ann says:

    Thanks for the article. When we were in Venice on a vaporetto a young man behind us was telling what seemed to be a first date how he didn’t get tourist prices at restaurants since he was Venitian.
    I got ripped off at the indoor market in Florence 1/4 lb of turkey for $20 euros. Ridiculous. I’m now living in Spain and am flying back through Milan and deciding if I even want to stay in Italy or just get back to Spain or go to Vienna. Torino sounds good as does Bologna and Verona but
    I hate the feeling of having to be on my guard when I travel. I see why Spain is getting the tourists who used to go to Italy. Forgot to add what’s with the train pricing too. Half price if you are Italian.

  67. Delilah MacGillivray says:

    Thank you for this information. My friends and I are travelling to Italy from Australia in April. We are all first timers and looking forward to the trip. In fact it has been our dream for many years. There are so many different perspectives of the good, the bad and ugly of travelling to various countries and in this case, specifically Italy. I can understand the need to cost a service (and everything that goes with it, space, product, personal service, ambience etc etc) as I have managed a golf club for a period of time. Seriously, everyone wants the best product and the best service, but no one wants to pay for it. Regardless of what language they speak. I must admit that when my friend pointed out this website and said that I need to read it, and when I did, I thought what the ####. I understand the perspectives of the locals who know and want to trust that people in their Community will do the right thing and respect visitors. Unfortunately that is not the case and it brings shame to the rest of the population. The person who said to scrutinise bills and only pay for what you ordered is spot on. We do that in our own Country. I live in a regional centre of Queensland and feel that I work too hard for my money to allow someone to disrespect me. It is about respect. If I get great service I will buy more product and stay longer, even if it means that I have to pay to sit on the seat. I will also go back. Just the opposite will also happen where we vote with our feet and either don’t go back or tell a hundred other people … you get my drift.

    Thanks again for the article and tips. I reckon I will either be really skinny when I get back to Australia … god knows I could do with losing a few kilos … or I will go with the flow and just check those bills a little more closely … got to do some study and practice on those Italian phrases you have given us … All in all we are going for the experience and will try to keep an open mind … The Dalai Lama preaches tolerance and compassion … there is a reason for everything … Cheers from Down Under

    p.s. people expect to come to Australia and see kangaroos jumping down the main streets or as popular media might have suggested in the past, Indigenous people (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders), my mob, going crazy which is far from the truth … it is only from visiting a Country that we see, hear, feel and experience the real truth. It is important to keep an open mind, but also not to be naive.

  68. humaid says:

    Yes . I was in Venice couple of days ago. We were charged for the tables 4 euros for 2 people and 12 percent for the service . Next to me they were 4 American ladies were also ripped off and we’re a bit angry. When I asked him why I should pay for the table while I am pay for the service also . The waiter said this is the system in Venice. Ask him gently about the bill and total before you sit.

  69. Jse says:

    I was on a school tour and we were ripped off while eating lunch in Florence. I was a large group of us (about 15) and the waiter put everything on one bill, including a service charge, and then wrote a new number down with a 20% “tip” included. There were so many of us, and he was very convincing and unfortunately we didn’t have much time before we had to meet up with the tour group, so we paid it and left. It wasn’t until later that we realized we had been scammed and paid an extra 40 euros or so

  70. Darcy Icely says:

    Thanks for talk about, Your post is awesome and its really helpful

  71. Chiara says:

    It’s a great article, very useful. Being Italian I’ve to say that, unfortunately, everything you said is true.
    There are some places in big cities where tourists are charged much more than natives.If you avoid touristic areas this shouldn’t happen.
    The best thing to do, maybe is to ask for advice to some Italians about what the best places to go for lunch/dinner are.

  72. This is what i have been looking for and you have done a great job. Beautiful layout. Thanks for sharing.

  73. Thanks for this excellent article. I’ll be visiting Tuscany and the Amalfi coast in the fall and I’ve been shocked by all the stories I’ve been hearing from friends who have traveled there and have been robbed, even when sitting inside parked cars! Thanks for the frankness of this article. Would much rather hear the truth than a sugar-coated version.

  74. I’m going to visit Italy next month, this is really helpful
    thank you very much

  75. Yvonne says:

    Thank you for the most useful article. I wish I had read it BEFORE I got ripped off. I’ve been traveling through Italy for almost 3 weeks now and got overcharged a bit a few times (nothing serious so I didn’t think much about it) but yesterday I paid 25% more than should have. Unfortunately, I only noticed what happened after I came back to the hotel so I guess there’s no point in trying to go back to the restaurant and demand the money back.
    I understand why some Italian readers are not happy about this article but ripping off is happening in Italy and there is no point denying it. I’ve travelled quite a bit and lived abroad for over a decade and I NEVER got overcharged in such an outrageous way!

  76. Yuliana says:

    I find this article very useful! Once in Napoli in a non touristic venue me and my friend went to eat out and we didn’t even get a menu, we wondered why this happened, but we’re too shy to ask (yes it happens when you are in a different country where you don’t speak the language it’s very easy to get initmidated) so we ended up paying a bill for €100 for fish with salad. The food was delicious but we were not expecting this as the final bill. We payed and left, we were bummed out for a couple of hours and felt stupid but what can you do is life! We didn’t relate it to the fact that Italians are corrupted or there to rip you off and make you feel like an idiot, we simply just continue our trip and learned from experience. We were so embarrassed to tell our napolitano friend afterwards about our experience because he is very outspoken. So to me this article helps me understand how things work and even if I want to pay extra to have a coffee and sit down in the morning. Or if I just want to mimick and do as the locals. I think travelling especially when you are on vacation in a new culture is unpredictable and can be a wonderful experience! But I have read a lot of previous comments from people getting offended or correcting this article and I misses the point. A lot of European countries have similar customs and routines and maybe for them it’s easier to adapt and understand how life works down there but for non European travellers like Canadians maybe it’s a bit different and maybe beautiful to discover as well. “Aperitivo for Canadians means drinking more than 3 drinks and probably end up being happier than ordinary” that’s why we call it happy hour!


  77. Catherine says:

    Additionally, I live in italy, and I wouldn’t recommend the tap water as a way to save money while touring italy. In some regions maybe, but definitely not always a good idea. In some cases the water is totally worth the piece of mind…..

  78. Emanuela Napoli says:

    Hi WalksofItaly, I’ve just finished to read your article, found as a pin on Pinterest. I am Italian, living in Sicily -close to Etna and Taormina- and also have been worked as waitress for years to pay my studies. This article strikes me. Many tips suggested are symptomatic of knowledge and experiences here in Italy. Despite your continuous preambles to exonerate yourself and be neutral, you clearly describe a place that is quite far from the reality. Italy LIVES on tourism. We honour our guests and are renowned, especially in Sicily, for our hospitality. I manage some vacation villas now, and it’s not unusual for us to offer our assistance and many services, of course for free. We’re not compelled, but we do. When I worked as waitress, I was payed by the owner and had no free day. It’s a tough job but we live on it. It makes me smile to read that you suggest not to leave any extra tip, to “respect” our culture and habits. So I am not expected to ask for any assistance, help or support in Us, I guess. Stop with stereotypes please!

  79. BEST BEST BEST,,,,, i like your blog.. and ..i like your website………..

  80. Andre Ferrari says:

    I am British, but now living on Lake Como. I would recommend trying the self service eateries that the Italians use. If you can track one down of course! There are a couple in Como called Top Gourmet, (run by a supermarket chain using their own produce). The most central one is at the end of a short street facing Macdonalds. 99.9% of tourists don’t know its there and walk past it! Inside it is full of locals stuffing their faces! The menu changes daily. There are always 4 primi (pasta or rice) on offer for about 4 or 5 euros. For a bit more you can have a ‘tris di primi’ – your choice of 3 of the primi. That makes a satisfying meal. There are several main course options, salads and sweets. It wont break your wallet, although working out the price on the menu boards can be a bit confusing. But the food is good, cooked there on the premises. The places are clean and the staff friendly. You won’t get ripped off here. The coperto charge is 0.00! We found a similar place in Milan, and the out of town supermarket Iper (at Grandate) also has a self service restaurant which is excellent (the wine which you fill a jug yourself from a tap is very very reasonable). There is also a great ice cream bar there. These places are all hidden away, so it is worth finding out where they are. As this site says, going where the locals go is the best guide. One of the expensive touristy places right on the Como waterfont has just had a make over and now serves food on trendy flat platters. Only a couple of years ago they were serving lasagne in the plastic tubs it had been microwaved in! This is just a few hundred yards from the self service place which makes it all fresh!
    For those on budgets, buying a bit of ham and cheese and some bread is always an option. But DONT buy the pre-packed salami, meats or cheese! They are pretty bland. I have bought lots of different pre packed cheeses all labelled ‘D.O.P.’ and found them to be pretty much tasteless! It all far tastier if you buy it by weight from the deli counter which most supermarkets have. It is sold by the ‘etto’ (100 grammes). If it is priced by the kilo, then the price is easy to calculate. Look out for the stuff on special offer that week. Supermarkets also sell their own packed sandwiches which are the cheapest of all. Blow the money you save on ice cream! Try all the wonderful flavours! The little ice cream parlours make their own ices. The prices are clearly indicated for 1, 2 or 3 scoops. Buy them at the counter to take away, (always cheaper) and enjoy them on the nearest public bench.
    The stand up coffee rule is a good piece of advice. But confusingly, in some of the little, really local bars they charge the same price standing or sitting! And do try to chat to the staff, even if you only know a few words of Italian. A lot of Italians speak some English. Your attempts at conversation are very likely to be appreciated. And once you are chatting you can ask where the best places to eat/drink/shop etc. Make friends with the locals and tap into that local knowledge! Enjoy your stay in Italy!

  81. Joe says:

    Typical paranoid article! Better to stay at home and not travel.

  82. Sam says:

    The first visitors to Italy should always go through the article like this because this article has covered all such key things that one should know. I am actually thinking about ordering food there i just know Foodpanda, Swiggy all those delivery services. Does FoodPanda exist in Italy? Or is there any other delivery services that i can use?

    • Walks of Italy says:

      Hi Sam,

      We think there is Just Eat, Foodpanda, Fresh and Delivery Hero in Italy now. When looking for options around town search for the words “consegna” for delivery and “a domicilio” meaning at home. Buon appetito!

  83. Thank you so much for the post you have shared with us

  84. Wayne says:

    I’ve read many of these types of posts. Although the price of meals can be slightly higher in hot tourist spots such as Piazza Navona the cost is outweighed by the beauty of the location. I have never felt I have been overcharged at restaurants and cafes in Italy or in any other major cities. If you are concerned about the cost of restaurants overseas don’t visit other countries. Stay home and eat McDonald’s. Travel should be an adventure, penny pinching stifles the enjoyment.

  85. Parker says:

    The stand up coffee rule is a good piece of advice. But confusingly, in some of the little, really local bars they charge the same price standing or sitting! And do try to chat to the staff, even if you only know a few words of Italian.

  86. Travelling in Italy is tricky without learning the language. The most unique neighbourhood of Rome, Trastevere, speaks broken English mostly. Not knowing the language limits our experiences, bars us from touching the lives of the locals. Despite their warmth, you would feel a lack for Italy is a place filled with beautiful people. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the common Italian words and phrases you need to know when travelling in Rome:

    This are the common Italian words to speak and phrases you need to know when travelling in Rome:
    Good morning: Buon giorno (bwon gee-orno)

    Good evening: Bouna sera (bwon-uh say-ruh)

    Good night: Bouna notte (bwon-uh no-te)

    Hello/Goodbye: Ciao (chow)

    Help: Aiuto

    Thank You: Grazie (grah-tseeay)
    And many more words to speak in Italian.

  87. These tips helps a lot for normal person who are going to Italy for first time in restaurants as all of the tips helps a lot for the normal person to lose the pocket or I say the money in the restaurants as you can see the different hotels charge different and waiters also wants tips as a compliment so to escape from these charges your blog helps a lot thanks for sharing these tips.

  88. Dino Violante says:

    I appreciate it when you said that in order to save money, it is best to order something from the menu and not let the waiter decide what to bring to me. That sounds hard as I know that there are Italian words that are hard to pronounce. I am so glad that I will not be visiting the country yet and that I will just hire an Italian caterer here. At least, that way, I can easily ask what I want to eat.

  89. It was really nice when you said that it is best to order something from the menu instead of asking the waiter to choose for me in order to know how much I will need to spend. Since I am trying to save money, I will be sure to do this. That way, I can dine at a fancy Italian restaurant without having to worry so much about my budget. Thank you for the info!

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