Things to Know for Your First Trip to Italy
My husband and I went to Italy for our honeymoon in May. We started out in Rome, then travelled through Florence and Pisa, and finished off our trip in Venice. Here are some things we learned while traveling through Italy. If you're planning a trip to Italia anytime soon, keep this information in mind.
Restaurants - There’s no tipping at restaurants. It’s already part of the bill, if you’re dining at the restaurant. Some restaurants close in the middle of the day and reopen at dinner time.
Cost – Eating in Rome is very reasonable. You can get a 3 course meal for about $15 per person, Florence tends to be a bit more expensive. The prices in Venice were similar to Rome's.
Street Sellers - In Rome, there are many "street sellers" who try to sell a variety of products to tourists. They can be very pushy, so be sure to keep saying "no" in a firm voice.
Cash - We used the ATM in Rome to get cash and just paid the bank fee.
Drinks– Italy is popular for wine. A popular cocktail is called a Spritz (Aperol and Prosecco) and Bellini (peach). Some restaurants even give you Limoncello after your meal.
Food – One of my favorite was pasta with Arrabiatta sauce. It’s a spicy red sauce. Most pastas don’t come with veggies, unless it says it in the menu. It’s a good idea to order a side of veggies if you’re ordering pasta. When you order water, they’ll offer carbonated “gas” or regular “no gas” water. Be sure to say “no gas” if you don't like carbonated water. Many locals in Italy take a “café” break around 3pm. (I don’t drink coffee so I took gelato breaks instead).
Water – The public water fountains contain clean drinking water unless there’s a sign that says otherwise. In Venice, tap water tastes exactly like store bought water.
Piazzas– [PIAH-ZAS] There are open square spaces where locals meet their friends or just hang out. Some have entertainment in the late afternoons like music performance, comedy show, etc. It’s a great place to hang out.
Gondola Ride - These rides are expensive, starting at more than 80EUROS, but don't be afraid to barter. Since our gondolier only gave us a < 30 minute tour, we were able to settle for 80EUROS vs. 120EUROS. Don't expect your gondolier to be professional. Our guy was on the phone, smoking a cigarette, and even paused our tour to run an errand. It was quite an experience. Just go with the flow. I'd still recommend going on a Gondola ride in Venice because it's so romantic and a MUST-DO at least once in your lifetime.
Language –Most people speak English but here are some common phrases that are good to know
Ciao (CH-AO) – Hello
Grazie (GRAT-ZIE) – Thank you
Dove el Toilet (DO-VEH-EL-TOI-LET) – Bathroom
Scuzi (SCOO-ZEE) – Excuse me
Si (SEE) - Yes
Me dispiache (ME DIS-PIA-CHE) – I’m sorry