Cash or Credit in Italy? Meals prices?

Jul 1st, 2013, 03:38 PM
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Cash or Credit in Italy? Meals prices?

We are a family of 6 traveling to Italy in 10 days. We are paying for our accommodations and tours with credit card, but for meals and souvenirs, which is best, cash or credit? Also, I've read most casual restaurants charge about 7-10 euros per meal, including a drink. How accurate is that?
ymoubarake is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 04:27 PM
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You can usually pay by credit card, except in very small places or outside stalls etc.
There are many places - bars, snack bars, cafeterias etc that serve a meal deal, consisting of a pizza or pasta plus a drink, such as coke, beer or wine, for around 8 to 10 euro. So your estimation is spot on (I was in Rome last week).
Alec is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 04:39 PM
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You can eat for 10 Euros but I would not say that most casual restaurants charge that little. Usually meals are divided into courses and that E10 meal won't include vegetables or a meat course.

There is a wide range of prices for meals, depending on where you are. Avoid tourist areas for meals and the restaurants will be cheaper. Drink tap water rather than soft drinks. If you stop for a coffee or something to drink (same applies to food) it's cheaper to stand at the bar, a bit more to sit inside and the most expensive to sit outside. For lunches you can get take out at bars and find a place to sit and eat.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 04:50 PM
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Also, I've read most casual restaurants charge about 7-10 euros per meal

I'm not sure what you mean here because the cost of your meal depends on what you order. But most Italian restaurants add a "coperto" or cover charge in your bill. Sometimes it says "pane e coperto" for bread & service charge. It is a per person charge and ranges from €0,50 to maybe €3.00.
JoyC is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 04:55 PM
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Going to the ATM and getting cash is your best option. We had one of our credit cards compromised at a little place in Rome last year and it was disappointing. Luckily we were prepared with back up cards. The menus and prices for the most part are posted so you can make educated guesses. Be aware that they really don't "share" pizzas there as we do here. There are many inexpensive options....self cater breakfast, have only two meals a day to save, skip the second course and sides. Depends upon what your family likes and how they eat. Soda is always expensive whether in Europe or the US, always avoid that at a restaurant.
LuvToRoam is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 05:05 PM
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The real deals in Europe are in some towns for instance in Carrara, eating places for the working peope, blue collar, white collar, ...everybody....this places similar to routiers in the Auto routes , are authentic and offer great deals:
Full meals at lunch, a set up menú, delicious and huge. Bon appétite
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 05:29 PM
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No - a meal is not typically 7 to 10 euros. For 7 to 10 euros you can get a mini-pizza and a soft drink at a casuale place.

for a meal - shared appetizer, main course each and a beverage at something better than a pizza joint will be more like 20 euros and up per person. (We typically do one special meal in each city and average about 250 to 300 euros per couple.) I think assuming prices are up 30% - that is a meal that is $20 in the US will be 20 euros in Italy.

You can of course find lots of ways of budgeting - doing picnics with sandwich stuff from a market, etc. But a sit down meal for 10 euros is pushing it.

And remember:

Portions in Italy are much smaller than in the US (if you have any teens with big appetites they may need multiple courses)

Pasta is usually considered a course before the entree - not the main course
Soft drinks are very tiny (6 oz) and expensive - and come with little ice

If your kids drink a lot of soft drinks that can easily cost you 3 euros per drink by 4 kids by 4 drinks per day = 48 euros just for sodas. (I assume you will have 4 drinking soft drinks - wine will not be much more).
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 05:54 PM
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Some prices from a recent trip to Venice. All prices in euros.

(The area around the Piazza is more expensive, coffee or drinks IN the Piazza cost a small fortune)

Coffee and brioche eaten standing at the bar – about 2.50

Bottle of wine from a supermarket – drinkable, but not exceptional – 4.00

Bottle of vodka from the supermarket – about 12.00

Pizza for two at the Ae Oche pizza place, with wine – about 26.00

Slice of pizza – big – to go – about 2.50 or 3.00

Glass of wine at a bar – 3.00

Spritz at a bar – 2.50

Picnic food – if you are buying say fruit at a supermarket, wear a plastic glove, bag your produce, and weigh it on the scales – then attach the bar coded label to the bag. Watch someone else do it and it is really easy.

Dinner for two at a nice, but not 5 start restaurant (La Bitta in San Barnaba) with a bottle of wine – about 65.00

I think you will struggle to find a sit-down meal for 10 euro, except maybe at a place like Brek, which is a cafeteria style place. Cover (coperto) charge should be listed on the menu outside, as should any service charge (sometimes 12%).

In bars, there will be two, or maybe three, different prices.
Lowest – drink your coffee at the bar (al banco)
Higher – be served at a table – (al tavolo)
Higher still – sitting outside.

In Australia, and I think in the USA, people put very small purchases – like $15.00 – on their credit card. This is not the practice in Italy.

Over a two month period, we used cash exclusively, drawing it in 500.00 euro hits from ATMs. We found that on Fridays and over the weekend, ATMs would sometimes only give 200 euro.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 06:23 PM
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In casual snack-bar type places, the going rate for a pizza/pasta and one small drink is around 8 to 10 euro. Of course in conventional trattoria or hostaria, you can have several courses with prices to match, but for lunch at least, that's what most visitors do, or get a pizza by the slice and eat on the hoof. The supposed 'no eating' rule around major sites wasn't being enforced. Sandwiches and paninis are around 2 to 3.50 euro, and a small can of coke or 1/2 litre of mineral water around 1 euro to take out. Beware mobile shops outside major sites - they can charge 2-3 euro for the same. Fill up your water bottle free from many fountains - cool and delicious.
Alec is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 06:35 PM
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Alec, that's really good advice about the mobile shops near major sites - we've been hit with that!
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 06:39 PM
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Alec, are you referring to purchasing the take out sandwiches from a restaurant or just making them yourself?
ymoubarake is offline  
Jul 1st, 2013, 07:14 PM
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> for meals and souvenirs, which is best, cash or credit

When each is an option (and credit won't always be an option), it may depend on your bank. My ATM account charges a currency conversion fee, but my credit card doesn't (as long as I pay in the local currency, not US $), so I save money by charging when I can.
kja is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 04:03 AM
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We were in Rome, Tuscany, Umbria and Campania in the spring. We were never served tap water even though we asked. Bottled water was usually about €3. My husband and I would usually share a bottle. It was cheaper to drink wine than water or soda. Sometimes you just needed water too! We found pizzas to be €5-7 and insalata mista (tossed salad) about €5-6. First plates of pasta were usually €8-10 fancier dishes up to about €12. The portions were not large but when combined with a shared appetizer, bread, salad and or dessert we were always comfortable full.

The food was even better than I imagined! Enjoy
Laurieobella is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2013, 07:58 AM
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You should be able to get a lunch of the day Monday to Friday for Euro 13, that would be a small starter, a main dish (often an interesting bit of animal) and a desert with wine and tap water (from a re-use bottle). Coffee extra from around 12 to 1pm. Just watch the local workers at 12:50 and where they go. No you will not find these places in the main drags of tourist high spots. That is the best deal going
bilboburgler is online now  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 04:05 AM
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I agree with bilboburger from Monday to Friday at lunch you can find set menús of the day for a surprisingly low price.
Where is this possible? In my experience in Spain for sure and in some other cities in other countries too, this "lunch of the day" is available,
in hotels . Not in five stars touristic hotels but in nice stablishments with one to three or even 4 stars where locals and hotel guests eat lunch. Also in some restaurants. As I mentioned before they are available too in the national main routes in places that have a sign saying routiers , that means in places were truck drivers eat.
In Carrara ,Italy we were directed to a place where all locals blue and white collar workers seemed to be having lunch. Food was delicious : a set menú for a set price.Nothing a la carte.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 04:14 AM
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I wish to add m the following: in Burgos, Spain a few years back we were staying in a 4 stars boutique hotel ,it worked like this: at lunch there was this set menú for aprox 12 euros, it was delicious 1) an entrée like fresh asparragus 2)
Meat fish etc as a main,3) dessert + , bottle water and excellent Toro wine.
The dining room was packed every day mostly tons of locals. However in the same hotel's bar a couple of tapas, not even the fancy ones, may be something like a "tortilla de papas" and some drink would be much more expensive.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 04:56 AM
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Menú del día in Spain shouldn't be confused with tourist menu available at some restaurants in Italy. The former is a state requirement and often represents a good local deal, while the Italian version is usually a tourist trap with boring food. In many Italian trattoria and hostaria (not tourist snackbar etc), you can just have one course, such as good homemade pasta, with bread and drink for 13 euro or so, which is excellent value. Italy is generally 25-30% more than Spain.
Alec is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:38 AM
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I definitely agree with Alec.

A lot of small inexpensive places for food and souvenirs are not going to take credit cards, so be prepared with cash. If you are buying souvenirs from small stalls and open markets, I personally think it is better to pay cash rather than hand over a credit card.

There is a weird obsession on this message board with toting up the cost of multiple soft drinks the minute anyone posts a question about family food costs. Most American families do not let their kids drink soda nonstop anymore, so i don't know what century this "advice" comes from.

If you don't want to pay for bottled water at an Italian eatery, you ask for "acqua rubinetta."

If your family of 6 includes children under 15, those children will not be expected to eat like adults at an Italian eatery. They can share plates of food and pizza.

Do you have a good guidebook for Italy? A good guidebook breaks down the typical costs of a meal and gives you tips on where to eat inexpensively.
stevewith is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:46 AM
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I agree, tourist menús are probably not worthy , but I insist those eating places for blue/white collar workers
that do exist in some cities in italy and on the main routes for truck drivers are great buys. Alsot they are authentic.
Of course I do not mean that I would go to Europe to eat exclusively in such kind of establishments
I love good restaurants and they come pricy. However I enjoy mixing up.
Regarding tourist menus and even menu del dia in this time of crisis, I can vouch that in Argentina
they have evolutioned from good meals to lousy choices. They have skimmed here and there including
In quality etc, how are things in Europe Today I do not know.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:56 AM
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The best meal we had on our last visit to Italy was in a truck stop outside Montangna. It was three courses, included wine (unlike the truck drivers, we didn't have any) and cost about 13 euros each. Nineteen guys and my wife.
Ackislander is offline  

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