Cost-Eat Inside vs Eat Outside

May 1st, 2002, 12:02 PM
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Cost-Eat Inside vs Eat Outside

Would someone explain the restaurant customs of different prices to eat & drink outside vs inside - especially in Italy. Is it a given that the same food/drink will be more expensive if you sit on the piazza/patio and less expensive if you eat inside?

Also do restaurants usually charge for tap water and bread on the table before your meal?
May 1st, 2002, 12:11 PM
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I don't know if there is a universal answer to the inside/outside question.

Many restaurants will look down at your request to have tap water. Bottled water is considered suitable for drinking; tap water is considered suitable for washing dishes.

And yes, it is customary to charge for "pane e coperto" (literally, bread and "cover" or quite literally, the table covering). Acting incensed about this charge is to show your intolerance for different customs. You can do what ever you want; you can ask them to serve you antacids or deodorant with your meal, I guess. But accepting the charge for pane e coperto is the normal thing to do.

Best wishes,

May 1st, 2002, 12:16 PM
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I just want to point out that Rex has valid points, but there are other options. If you are on a tight budget, before you order, always tell the waiter no bread if you already know that you will not eat any. otherwise you will get charged even if you don't eat it.

I hate water that is carbonated and i always make sure that if i order water i specify without bubbles or without air. who cares if some look down on you. if you do not want to drink carbonated water, make it clear - otherwise you will usually get carbonated water when you request "water"

in general some cafes offer the exact same food at a higher price if you sit down to eat it. not all places, but as a rule, expect that if you want it the cheapest way, do not sit down to eat.
May 1st, 2002, 12:20 PM
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I agree that "no pane" is a valid option; I have seen it listed as two items on the bill - - and many places literally count how much bread you took and add it to the bill on a per piece basis.

I can't remember the last place in Europe that failed to ask (when serving English-speaking Americans) - - gaz? o no gaz?
May 1st, 2002, 04:00 PM
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May 1st, 2002, 04:49 PM
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Rex -

Belle asked a couple of very polite, straightforward questions about Italian customs. Not once did she say anything remotely critical or even question these customs. Yet your reply is so pompous and condescending - you sound like you're scolding someone who is whining about these issues. Perhaps it's unintentional - but I'm starting to see why a lot of people take issue with your tone.

To Belle - Have a GREAT trip!
May 1st, 2002, 05:00 PM
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In Greece I found that the restaurants did generally charge a cover but it came out to be under a dollar US, in Venice none of the places we went charged a cover, mind you the food did cost a lot more.
May 1st, 2002, 05:02 PM
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I agree that I did not play by the golden rule - - that I did not word that as I would want it said to me.

Let me try again, with a meaning closer to what I wish I had said:


More than once, I have heard American travelers in conversation, acting incensed about this charge. To fail to understand how normal this is in Europe is to show an intolerance for different customs.

Of course, travelers - - from America or any country - - can say or do whatever they want; they could ask a restaurant to serve them antacids or deodorant with their meal, I guess.

But accepting the charge for pane e coperto is the normal thing to do.


Clearly my mistake was to use the pronouns "you" and "your" - - that made it accusatory to Belle - - and it was a big mistake.

I apologize.
May 1st, 2002, 06:05 PM
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its like paying rent for a better apartment!
May 1st, 2002, 06:39 PM
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Is there a higher charge to eat at tables further away from Rex?
May 1st, 2002, 07:00 PM
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we just had 5 weeks in Italy and from our experience -
if you have a coffee standing inside at the bar it will be roughly half price the cost if you sit inside or outside at a table.

Whether you eat inside sitting at a table or outside sitting at a table, you will be charged the same price (same food, same service).

We were nearly always charged for cover charge and pane (bread). Even if you don't eat the bread you are still charged. Some places had it in large writing on the menu that there was no cover charge so you know you are supposed to tip.

It was fairly unusual to see someone with tap water. Everyone has bottled water which is "gas or no gas" or sparkling or still. We always got asked which we wanted. You will also usually get asked if you want a half litre or litre.
May 1st, 2002, 07:06 PM
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I agree. Belle asked only if the charge was usual, and Rex attacks her as if she were going to make a big issue and refuse to pay it! Would in the world made you suggest such a thing Rex? Having another bad day?
May 1st, 2002, 07:53 PM
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topping, for Belle
May 2nd, 2002, 04:57 AM
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Rex -

You just can't give it up, can you? You simply couldn't resist restating your snotty statements, and directing them to the board at large instead of just Belle. Maybe you can't control yourself.
May 2nd, 2002, 05:09 AM
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not directed to the "board at large" - - but to these people:

<<I have heard American travelers in conversation, acting incensed about this charge>>

you think I just make up such an observation?

Methinks you might be one of those who have ranted publicly over such a thing.

And I used the pronoun "you" intentionally, Mr./Ms. Cowardly AnonymousYikes.
May 2nd, 2002, 05:25 AM
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Quit crying. Rex offered v. good advice - this is a travel message board, not a class on polite writing skills. Rex, don't feel obligated to cater to these ridiculous complaints.
May 2nd, 2002, 05:27 AM
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Hey good buddies:

Thanks for understanding that I'm just making an attempt to know what I'm going to experience. I'm trying to avert "misunderstandings" and understand (not condemn)customs (and perhaps save a euro or two in the process).
May 2nd, 2002, 05:56 AM
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Re: water with the meal.

You don't often get the iced water jug automatically on the table in Europe.

It is normal to order water with the meal, and the waitress will try to sell you bottled water.

However it is quite normal to take tap water in restaurants here in France. Order une carafe d'eau, or eau du robinet. There is no stigma, and it often tastes OK !


May 2nd, 2002, 06:22 AM
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I'm no expert on these things, but had read somewhere that the profit on the bottled water was kept by the waiter, so that (in addition to the original point Rex made about how Europeans view drinking tap water) not buying the water was viewed a little bit like not leaving a tip might be seen in the U.S. Anyone else heard that? Rex?
May 2nd, 2002, 06:44 AM
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IN France-they also ask if you want bottled water: ie fizzy water (with gas).

In Italy-con gaz ( with bubbles-carbonated)
no gaz (regular bottled).

In France,if you eat outside at a table, it is more expensive than eating standing up or taking away your food.

In Italy-like in Venice at San Marco Sq-they DO charge more to sit and drink coffee etc--BUT you also have the enjoyment of listening to the orchestra-which is well worth the price of the coffee-

They will also bring you ICE at no charge anywhere I have travelled...
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