With everyone worried about climate change and global warming, officials in Italy are finally doing their part.
Summer is here and that means its time to pack your bags! Contrary to widespread belief, having kids doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your travel plans. I am always amazed at how many families with small children I see traveling all over the European continent. While it is clear that Europeans travel more than Americans, with or without children, the addition of new kids programs and family centric vacations has made family travel more accessible than ever.
Italy may be known for style and excellence with most of its major brands—Ferrari, Prada, Alessi—but for decades, Alitalia, the national airline, has been somewhere between a laughing stock and a national embarrassment.
When Emirates started its route between Milan and New York, Italian business people were elated to have an appropriately refined option for important business trips. But now another swanky Middle Eastern airline has thrown its hat in the ring: Etihad.
If you leave a “normal” American tip, depending on where you are, the recipient may try to give it back to you, saying you paid too much. The waiter may even run out of the restaurant after you!
But this typically happens more in smaller towns, the kind of places where the proprietor is much more likely to give you an after-dinner amaro for free or take dessert off your bill for no reason than stiff you on extra service charges.
What to Tip in Restaurants in Italy
Rome, famously, has outlawed several types of service fees and charges added to the bill in light of confused visitors who don’t understand why they are being charged for bread even when they didn’t ask for or eat the bread.
Still there are many places where various fees, including for service, are added to your check automatically. You’ll usually see one fee called the coperto or pane, which is not for bread but actually more of a per person basic charge for dining in a restaurant.
“Servizio,” or service, is also often charged automatically on restaurant bills, in part because waiters in Italy are paid very differently than in the U.S. (i.e. better), but also because you will often be helped by multiple people throughout your meal.
You don’t really have to leave anything in addition to this, but it is customary to round the bill and leave some extra “spiccioli” or loose change with the rest of the bill.
Tipping for Taxis and Other Services in Italy
Outside restaurants, the tipping situation is much easier to navigate. In taxis, tipping is not necessary and you can tell them to keep the change.
For porters or maids at the hotel, follow the standard one euro per bag or room night formula
For guides, translators, drivers and other special, personalized services, tip as you feel appropriate, but 10-20 euros for a full-day is customary.
Italian Tipping Vocabulary
- conto: the bill
- coperto: the base per person cost of dining in a restaurant. Though it is often thought of as a fee for bread and water, you must pay it even if you don’t partake in those “complimentary” offerings
- servizio: fixed service charge—usually an amount though sometimes a percentage—that appears on restaurant bills
- incluso: included
- spiccioli: small change or loose change. Often referrers to very small denominations, but it typically used just to mean whatever random change you have in your pocket.
Photo by Flickr user John Wood
Italian soccer season begins in August, and let me tell you, in Italy, soccer is serious business.
Italians even have a different name for the sport than most European languages - calcio rather than futbol – because they’ve been playing some version of the sport since Roman times!
Next to a meal with an Italian family or a palio celebration, attending a soccer game in Italy is one of the best ways to dive into and fully experience Italian culture.
How to Get Tickets to an Italian Soccer Game
Photo by Flickr user Nick
As most Italians take an extended summer holiday, the soccer season runs from August through May. Sunday is the most popular day for games, followed by Saturday.
Before you look at the season’s schedule, decide what type of game you want to see. The top teams, those known around the world like AC Milan, Roma, Inter, Fiorentina, play in the Series A, and those tickets can be expensive and hard to come by, especially in the case of important match-ups.
If you want to catch a game, but don’t particularly care who you see, check for any series to see what games are available while you’re in town.
You can often get tickets online, usually from the club or team site, but there are hefty fees that border on scalped ticket prices. The best way to get tickets is in person, at the stadium, but you’ll need to do it in advance and unfortunately most stadiums are well out of the city center and only take cash.
When you buy tickets and arrive at the stadium, you’ll need to show a photo ID as Italian soccer tickets have the attendee’s name printed on them.
Attending an Italian Soccer Game - What You Need to Know
Photo by Flickr user Fatoom Qoughandoqa
Games between rival teams aren’t just heated; they can be dangerous.
Fans from the away team sit in an enclosed area to keep the home team fans from throwing things at them or attacking them and visa versa. It’s best not only to avoid sporting the away team’s colors, but not to cheer for them at all.
To keep things calm, or at least as calm as possible, Italian stadiums are alcohol-free, though smoking is incredibly common. At the entrance gate, guards check bags for bottled liquids, confiscate any alcohol, and remove the caps from any permitted beverages.
Excited fans tend to throw things on the field, either in happiness or disapproval, and there were some incidents of players being injured by projectile soda bottles several years ago.
But it's not all dangerous. The enthusiasm is contagious, so don't be surprised if you leave the game with a new pack of Italian friends.