Decaf, Doggie Bags, Wine, and Restrooms

Sep 24th, 2010, 12:31 PM
  #1  
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Decaf, Doggie Bags, Wine, and Restrooms

Ok, I still have some oddball questions circling in my head.

Will I be able to get Decaf Lattes, Cappucinos etc, or just plain Decaf? I know Italians love their coffee, I feel like it's heresy to ask, but decaf is pretty much a dietary requirement for me.

And what about sharing food. Do we ask to share, ask for 2 (or 3) plates, or just "pass it around"?

Doggie Bags? We have 2 apartments rented, one in Rome and one in Tuscany, so it would be nice to be able to take things home if we are too full to finish a meal.

What about taking home the remainder of a bottle of wine if we don't finish it at the restaurant? This is common now in Virginia, but I don't know about Europe.

Other than McDonalds, how do we find restrooms in Rome when we are walking around most of the day?
wrenwood is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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Cappucino is not drunk after breakfast, nor is caffè latte, but for tourists they'll always make them.

Their regular coffee (if you just order un caffè per favore) is a tiny espresso, or an even tinier ristretto - some Americans who are used to their buckets of weak brewed coffee feel they need more liquid in their espresso, so the Italians started making what they now call Americano - a watered-down espresso. Don't know about decaf - I guess it exists...

Splitting food - no. A dessert, yes, if you ask nicely for due cucchiai per favore - two spoons please. But main courses, no. But if you order three different things, it's nobody's business how you share them around after the waiter has put each dish down. Just don't ask the waiter to do it.

Doggie bags - generally, no. Could depend on the restaurant. Do they serve take-out, like many trattorie and pasta/pizza places? Or is it a full-table-service only place? Then probably no. But it does not usually come up because you don't get these insanely huge servings you get in the US - I'd be surprised if you leave anything on a plate.

Also note that there are no refills - you reorder, you pay again. And ice may not be in your drink, or even available - if it comes from a fridge it is considered cold, what do you want ice for is the question?

I've never thought of taking a bottle out - I have no idea what the reaction would be. Might depend on how nicely you ask... a cork shouldn't be hard to find unless it's already in the trash.

How to find toilets (they are not restrooms or bathrooms, they are toilets), in the vernacular the little room is a gabinetto - if you can't see them, ask dove sono le toilette, and have some coins ready in case.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 12:54 PM
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"...and have some coins ready in case...." and - I forgot to mention - Kleenex! Stock up on those little travelpacks, one in every pocket, not just for the toilets in case, but many more times a day they'll come in handy.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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You can get any kind of coffee with decaf. Ask for it decaffeinato.

You can share dishes if you ask for "uno in due". It's not customary to ask for it divided in three or to pass it around.

Most restaurants are not equipped for doggie bags. Portions sizes are not supersized. Order what you think you can eat, one course at a time.

In some cities, notably Rome, it's forbidden to carry open bottles. Many restaurants have wine by the glass or the carafe.

Use restrooms when they are available rather than looking for them when you need them. Restrooms in museums are generally more than acceptable. Most bars have restrooms of varying degrees of comfort or cleanliness. It's customary to order something at the bar before using the restroom.
Zerlina is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 01:00 PM
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What about taking home the remainder of a bottle of wine if we don't finish it at the restaurant? This is common now in Virginia, but I don't know about Europe.

In Europe we always finish our bottles of wine....
alihutch is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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In France you can order a half-bottle or carafe of varying sizes... would Italy be the same?
Travelnut is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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I have never seen anyone anywhere in Europe taking home an unfinished bottle of wine.

Doggie bags - no.

Don't order "latte" unless you want milk.
StCirq is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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I went back from decaf to espresso. Espresso roasted coffee stays in the roaster longer. This destroys some of the caffeine. I used to have problems with regular American *coffee* but have no problems with espresso, especially Italian espresso.

Sharing food is fine. Just don't ask or you may be charged a-la-carte. That happened to me once in the Netherlands when I shared my dinner with my daughter.

While it is true that there are no doggie bags in Europe you can improvise. Bring an over sized purse or day bag and wrap the leftovers in paper napkins or ZipLoc baggies. I saw my Austrian aunt pocket the whole cheese board once. Don't ask.

The cork should have been pulled at your table and left in your hand for inspection. Hang onto it. Cork your dregs and put the bottle in your over sized purse or day bag. Don't ask and don't tell. Screw the rules. Cops, if you can find one, won't be looking in your hand bag. I have stood on train platforms drinking wine from the bottle in many cities. Trains do not provide wine glasses.

Emphatically ditto the suggestion for a packet of tissues. I carry a roll of TP in my day bag. This is a requirement anyplace in Europe. You never know when the stall will be empty. I guess the last customer figured that the 50 cents he paid for a poop included the whole roll of TP, so he took it home.

Every cafe has a toilet. Normally you pay to use it. I need a pit stop every few hours and usually sit down for a beer or espresso, then use the facilities. If you want something as clean as McDs stop in a five star hotel. There is usually a sparkling toilet on the ground floor.
spaarne is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 01:43 PM
  #9  
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"In Europe we always finish our bottles of wine..." LOVE IT! I thought about this after I posted ~ most of the time there is NO problem finishing wine ~ the exception being when we end up driving to a Restaurant, so I guess that is why I asked.

Restrooms in museums ~ I assume we would have to already be in the museum to use? Can't just walk in and use the restroom and then leave? Are there any "public" restrooms or are they just gross?

Kleenex tip NOTED!
wrenwood is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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Forget museums for just a toilet break, not only would the toilets in 99 percent of cases be on the inside, but most museums now do security checks and it slows things down - no more little favors like a nudge and a wink from a friendly attendant to get in and out while you leave your bag...

But there are the already mentioned cafés and bars (not the US kind of bar) and train stations and shopping malls and sometimes just simply public toilets in passages and off to the side of public squares - I'm sure you'll develop an eye for them if you need them frequently. Just don't run out of coins.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 03:25 PM
  #11  
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got it......coins and kleenex!
wrenwood is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 03:49 PM
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You can also refer to decaf coffee as "caffe Hag" (caf-FAY AHG . . . Note that you don't pronounce the H at the beginning.) Hag is a well-known brand f decaf, like Sanka.

You can order wine by the glass, by the half liter, full liter, and in some cases by the quartino (quarter liter), never mind by the bottle.

In more than 20 trips to Italy, neither I nor my traveling companions have ever had leftovers to bring home.

I've never had a problem sharing. Just don't share every single course--the portions probably won't be large enough to do so anyway. We usually just pass around or put the plate between us, but I have had some places split the dish for us when they heard we planned to share.

Aside from every coffee bar as mentioned, you can usually find a restroom in a department store like Coin or Rinascente.
ellenem is online now  
Sep 24th, 2010, 06:38 PM
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European portions are generallymuch smallerthan in the US - so IMHO there is rarely anyting left for a doggy bag unless you tremendously over order. As for sharing- ir you want to share an appetizer or a dessert you can ask - but there won;t be much for anybody. Main courses often don;t come with vegetbles so if you order those you can definitely share -since there is way more than enough for one person.

But if your appetites aren;t that big I just reco ordering fewer courses.

I have seen decaf coffee (usually instant) but have no ideaof they make decaf espresso or cappucinos.

Every major tourist sight has restrooms as doesevery restaurant and cafe. You can simply drop in, order abeerage and use theirs.Ifdesperate the largest hotels (with restauarants and public meeting rooms) usually have public restrooms. My theory is to use the one in every sisght I visit -since you never know.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 08:50 PM
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Whatever you do, don't use the public restroom behind the tourist information office in Pienza! Beyond GROSS!! Really the only one I've found in Italy so far that I literally ran out of without using.
Dayle is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 09:11 PM
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"And what about sharing food. Do we ask to share, ask for 2 (or 3) plates, or just "pass it around"?

Doggie Bags? We have 2 apartments rented, one in Rome and one in Tuscany, so it would be nice to be able to take things home if we are too full to finish a meal.
"

Not done and not necessary/relevant. As others have said -- you won't be served the huge portions you'd normally be able to share back home. You'll get a reasonable portion - not a mountain.
janisj is online now  
Sep 24th, 2010, 09:39 PM
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The Rome Tourist Board website says there are 63 public toilets (7 pages of them).
http://www.060608.it/en/accoglienza/...bagni-pubblici

Only 25 of them are in the center of Rome (only 3 pages).

Their search function stinks so it's difficult to search the center of Rome only. You have to click on advanced search, select center of Rome under zone and click search again. You can also select a specific area in the center of Rome.
kybourbon is offline  
Sep 25th, 2010, 12:24 AM
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"In Europe we always finish our bottles of wine..."

We don't.

Possibly not relevant in this case, but it's quite common in Italian hotels for guests in the dining room to have unfinished bottles of wine re-corked, labelled, stored in the dining room and brought out again at the next meal. I've eaten in many city-centre restaurants in Milan where this applied too.

Not in highly formal or tourist-oriented places. But a few yards from the Duomo or the Brera gallery, restaurants happpily brought out the bottle I, or my neighbours, hadn't finished two days earlier. In family-oriented resort hotels, waiters just assumed we wanted an unfinished bottle recorking.
flanneruk is offline  
Sep 25th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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Another common way to ask for decaffeinated coffee is "Deka", which is officially a brand name (like "Sanka") but widely used as shorthand, as in "un deka macchiato" or "un cappuccino deka". Any bar (and most restaurants too) that has an espresso machine should not have any problems making any of the varieties decaffeinated.
House wines are often sold by the carafe, and often of very acceptable quality (compared to many restaurant house wines in other countries), and it is no problem to order a quarter or half liter, and then add another quarter or half later. House wine is usually inexpensive, and in many cases priced proportionally, so two "quartini" costs the same a one "mezzo".
If a restaurant is prepared with containers for "take away", they will usually not make a fuss about doggie bags, but otherwise they aren't prepared for you to take home your left-overs as it is really not much at all common in most of Italy.
I_heart_Venice is offline  
Sep 25th, 2010, 09:54 AM
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Regarding public toilets, above, "...their search engine stinks......"

Excellent. LOL.

I've always felt that the price of a coke or beer or glass of whatever gives one rights to the establishment's facilities. Never been turned down. Have some coins, and yes, kleenex.
BillJ is offline  
Sep 26th, 2010, 11:12 AM
  #20  
 
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I travel with the slim packs of-pre moistened towelettes and have often been grateful for them. Not only do they come in handy for personal use but you can use one to clean your hands should there not be any soap and you can use one to clean up those toiletes that are particularly nasty.
kfusto is offline  

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