When traveling to another country, it is always important to familiarize yourself with the culture of the country you are visiting. This includes everything from learning some basic words in the language, to understanding what clothing is acceptable, to recognizing differences in gestures and the way the locals communicate non-verbally. It is also important to understand the differences in how shops and restaurants function from the way they do in your home country.
In Italy, customs in restaurants aren’t the same as you will find in the United States. Things such as tipping and paying the bill are managed much differently. Before you travel to Italy, get to know its customs and familiarize yourself with these six things you should know before dining.
Tip by Rounding Up
In the United States, it is common to tip your server 15–20%, but this is not a common practice in Italy. In fact, it is not normal to tip, and you shouldn’t feel bad for not doing so. If you have a server whom you feel was excellent, then round your bill up, and that is considered gracious. For example, if your bill is €28.25, leave €30. It takes a little getting used to, but it is the way tipping works in Italy.
Pay With Cash
Another problem many Americans have when they travel to Italy is that they forget to have cash when they dine. Most restaurants in the United States accept credit cards, but a lot of restaurants in Italy do not. Make sure you carry cash, specifically euros. It would be quite embarrassing if you did not have cash and you had no way to pay.
Ask for the Bill
Have you ever felt like you are being rushed out of a restaurant so that another party can be seated at your table? Well, this will not happen in Italy. In fact, your waiter will take your order, serve you, and maybe even clear your table, but he will not bring your bill until asked. He is not being rude; on the contrary, he is being extremely polite and allowing you time to socialize and enjoy yourself. It is customary in Italy to take advantage of meals to socialize and spend time with friends and loved ones, and there is no hurry for you to leave, even after finishing your meal.
There Is No Such Thing as Italian Food
If you are thinking of going to Italy and ordering Italian food at every restaurant, you are sorely mistaken. In Italy, there is no such thing as “Italian food.” Italy comprises 20 regions, and each one has its own kind of food. You will find more use of creams and cheeses in the north, pizza in Naples, and seafood along the coast. The variety of food varies just as much in Italy as it does in the United States, so take advantage of T-Mobile’s unlimited global data plan to search for restaurants that serve local food. Your Galaxy S7 edge will beautifully display maps, directions, and photos on its large HD screen. Plus, you can rest assured that you won’t be piling on any roaming charges with an international data plan from T-Mobile.
Lattes May Not Be What You Think
When you order a latte in the United States, you get an espresso with steamed milk and foam. When you order a latte in Italy, you get a glass of milk. Why? Because the word “latte” means “milk.” So make sure you clarify the meanings of menu items before you order, and if you want an American-style latte, be sure to ask for a “caffe con latte” or coffee with milk.
Don’t Ask for a Doggy Bag
Here in the United States, the portions of food served in restaurants are often large; so large that you might need a “doggy bag” to take the rest home. In Italy, portions are reasonably sized and rarely will you have any leftovers. However, if you do have food left on your plate, do not ask for a “doggy bag.” Chefs in Italy are extremely proud of their creations and believe that their food will never taste as good later as it does now; they don’t want you to be disappointed.
Now that you know how dining is handled in Italy, get packed and head out on an adventure you will remember for the rest of your life.