How Not to Get Ripped Off Eating in Italy, Revisited

February 05, 2012

A little while ago, we wrote a blog post on how not to get ripped off eating in Italy. We made a number of suggestions, from knowing the price differences between having a coffee at the bar or at a table, to always making specific orders and not simply telling the waiter to bring “an antipasto for the table.”

We also told you that, if you were handed a bill that seemed mysteriously inflated and your most polite attempts to fix the situation failed, you should bring on three key words: Guardia di Finanza. That, we said, is because the Guardia is Italy’s financial police. They’re very interested, or should be, in any financial wrongdoing in Italy. Including ripping people off. And including tax evasion.

This isn't a ricevuta fiscale!

As it says on the top and the bottom, “NON FISCALE”—this is not a fiscal (i.e. legal) receipt!

What does tax evasion have to do with your meal as a tourist? Well, the receipt you were given was, most likely, non-fiscal. Meaning the establishment isn’t paying any taxes on your meal. Meaning illegal. Non-fiscal receipts include anytime your waiter scribbles on your tablecloth or a napkin, any time you simply don’t receive a receipt, and any time you get a receipt that looks legitimate, but has a tipoff like the caption “NON FISCALE” at the top. (Our original post included a photo guide to fiscal versus non-fiscal receipts).

Here’s what’s interesting: Since we published that post, the tax situation in Italy has blown up. Berlusconi was ousted. A new government, led by Monti, has come in. And Monti seems to have made it his priority to whip the country’s economy into shape—by, among other things, cracking down on tax evasion. The Guardia has been involved in a number of sting operations across the country.

And Italian citizens? Many are backing the efforts. In fact, one of Rome’s biggest food bloggers, Puntarella Rossa, just launched a campaign titled “No scontrino, no party” (no receipt, no party). Those involved in the campaign are asking for a fiscal receipt every time they eat or drink out—and if they don’t receive a fiscal receipt, they’re boycotting the restaurant and even publishing the names online. Since the Guardia can’t be everywhere at once, those involved are hoping it’ll be one of the fastest ways to whip restaurants, and Italy’s tax situation, into shape.

We think this campaign is important for tourists to know about, too. Insisting on legal receipts keeps restaurants honest. Not to mention that it helps Italy’s economy—and, as you know if you’ve been tuned into the news lately, that’s something that affects everyone.

For more on the subject, check out Revealed Rome’s post on why tourists should care about the “No receipt, no party” campaign.

by Walks of Italy

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2 responses to “How Not to Get Ripped Off Eating in Italy, Revisited”

  1. Another tip when choosing to dine out in Italy, in particular Rome & Venice, don’t get roped into the main bar and restaurants in the main piazza’s, instead venture into the side streets as you are more likely to get a better deal for your euro and better quality food!

  2. John says:

    Since la crisi, it does in fact seem to have gotten worse. A few days ago in Rome, I was charged Euro 13.50 for four cookies and a small pane — from a bakery. Today, in Cortona, Euro 18 for a tiny jar of truffle sauce. The visitor has to be vigilant and assertive. With a bakery, because everything is weighed, it is very difficult to get an itemized receipt. With the truffle sauce, the jar was not marked, but since I have bought it often in Perugia, it never occurred to me that someone would gouge me so outrageously. Yes, if I am sitting down at Florian in St. Marks or the rooftop cafe at La Rinascente in Milan, I expect to pay a lot. But a bakery?! And I speak Italian! Shame on me for not being wiling to say “Vuoi fregarmi?” and just refusing to pay.

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