Cash or Credit in Italy? Meals prices?

Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,085
You can get a sandwich to go for 3 to 4 euros in most places (even in Venice and Rome, which are particularly expensive). However, the price goes up the moment you sit down since there's usually a cover charge and service (not everywhere, but in most places to be sure). So food to go is always cheaper. I found 2.50 euro slices of pizza in Venice (not particularly good but as good as any take-out pizza by the slice shop in NYC). Some of these pizza shops had fix-priced offers that included drinks for 5 or 6 euros. Gelato is at least 1.5 euros per scoop but often 2 or 3 euros, but the scoops are pretty big.

But as others have pointed out, sodas are particularly expensive. The cheapest I found was 1.5 euros (so over $2). Your kids need to learn to drink water. Even in a supermarket, sodas are not cheap, but water is. You can get a huge bottle of water for less than 1 euro.

In a restaurant a .75-liter bottle of water is normally about 3 euros, and I caught one restaurant refilling their still-water bottles with tap water and then re-selling them. I found it more amusing than annoying since the restaurant served excellent food at good prices, but this is one reason to have sparkling mineral water at cheaper restaurants, and this might help satisfy your kids' soda urge a bit. At least this is fizzy, though usually a bit more expensive than still water since bottles are typically smaller. But you have to realize that you're going to be in for 4 to 6 euros just for water with sit-down meals. I was able to get a carafe of tap water exactly one time.

I found in Venice that supermarket food wasn't all that cheap, so for us it was worth it to buy a quick lunch on the go, either a pizza slice or a pre-made sandwich. I found it to be similar in Rome and Florence. But a typical dinner for us with one first course and one main course plus wine and water was usually 30 to 40 euros per person. So what I usually pay in NYC but more than in most US cities. But there are more casual and cheap tourist restaurants that serve fix-price meals for less (15 to 20 euros), but you get what you pay for.

I think it's perfectly acceptable for parents to order first and second courses and to share with younger kids or to have kids share courses amongst themselves (this will save considerably for sit-down dinners unless you are getting a prix-fixe). But most Italian restaurants expect you to order 2 course if you sit down, so just prepare for that. Courses are, therefore, smaller than the typical courses in the US.

But I think you're going to want a sit-down meal sometimes, and it's always cheaper to do that at lunch and to save the pizza slices and pannini for dinner. You'll save about 50% doing that.

I never found a real sit-down restaurant that didn't accept credit cards. And I had absolutely no trouble using my credit cards anywhere in Italy last week. I still feel that it's better not to walk around with a lot of cash (there are a lot of pick-pockets in Italy this summer). I'd pay for casual, quick-serve meals with cash and use credit cards for sit-down meals. But supermarkets may not accept credit cards. I never saw anyone using one there ... exactly the opposite of my experience in the US, where I rarely use cash at the supermarket anymore. But then people buy less.

Even for souvenirs, most places were happy to take a credit card if I spent more than 10 euros.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 06:16 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,513
Interesting discussion. In italy there are tourist traps, good tourist restaurants, and good local lunch time places. Since i mostly holiday on bicycles, I get to be "in the street" more than most tourists and have found the meal of the day in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

On a bike it is easy, you aim to be getting to the start of a town at 11:50 you then amble through town looking out for working age people heading together somewhere, if you follow you normally get lucky, no you don't get much or any choice, no you don't get more than a chalk board with a hint as to what is for sale, but you normally get very friendly locals who sort out any problems and enjoy finding a middle-aged couple in filthy bicycle clothes in their midst.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,380
on our trip to Rome in February, we found some sandwich bars with lovely tramezzini [triangular sandwiches] and other snacks for only about €1.50 -€2 each, which with a drink was only €5 in total.

BUT - it was near the language school which was near the Roma San Pietro station. the closer you get to the touristy centre, the harder it is to find such places.
annhig is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,322
Only came back from Rome last week so I have prices etched on my brain.
In not particularly touristy areas, like suburban Prati, cheapest sandwiches and panini to go are around 1.50 to 2 euro, going up to 2.50 to 3 euro euro in places frequented by tourists. Drinks in can and bottles to go vary little, around 1 euro each, except in obvious tourist traps like mobile shops outside the Colosseum (3-4 euro). Pizza by slice is sold by weight (etto or 100g) and varies with toppings, but a typical serving the size of a man's palm is around 3-3.50 euro, which with a bottle of water will come to around 4-5 euro for a cheap lunch if you are a modest eater. Gelato starts from 2 euro for a small cone or cup, and 3-4 euro will probably be sufficient for most. Coffee (espresso) in most bars is 1 euro, 1.50 for cappuccino and 2 euro for latte, up to double for sitting outside.
Alec is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I was not aware that the average american family had abandoned soft drinks for kids. That's all I see kids drinking (except for toddlers) and it's usually 12 oz or 16 oz - and I know some places give free refills.

As for the idea of a 13 or 14 year old buy sharing a one-course meal - in my experience they are more likely to start eating the furniture. I know my brother and his friends (and male friends of my DDs when younger) could easily empty a refrigerator in an hour. Obviously if you are talking about kids under 8 or 9 they probably eat less - but older kids can down an incredible amount of food - to fuel all of those growth spurts. (I can't imagine a 6' and 160 pound 14 year old being happy with 1 slice of pizza and a glass of water.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 12:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,380
you're right, nyt. those kids will hoover up anything in reach, and get pretty teasy if they don't get regular refuelling. That's why staying in an apartment when you have kids that age is a really good idea. we found a place in Venice that did takeaway pizza which was pretty reasonably priced. We didn't use it every night but a couple of times in the week that we were there it hit the spot.
annhig is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2013, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I think it's a lot easier for adults - esp older adults - to save on food by eating lightly. They are often tempted to do so anyway - and can make up with a nicer dinner

But IMHO doing this with growing kids can be very difficult. Younger kids can be very picky and older kids are often voracious.

I don;t believe that the OP said how old they are - and that could make a big difference.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 4th, 2013, 12:53 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,380
you're right nyt, the OP only mentions being a family of 6. probably they have both problems - picky younger kids, and voracious older ones. definitely a case for staying in an apartment.
annhig is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:25 PM.