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Restaurants in Italy-glass of tap water provided 'gratis" as in USA?

Restaurants in Italy-glass of tap water provided 'gratis" as in USA?

May 15th, 2007, 04:23 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Dukey wrote "Since when is trying to save some money, especially by not purchasing things you do not want, being a "cheapskate?" ".

Surely tipping in Europe at the level customary in Europe is more of a cheapskate practice.

Wherever I travel, including Italy, I normally request tap water with a meal, and have never found it to be a problem or to cause staff to show signs of resentment. Perhaps I avoid the appearance of being a cheapskate because I also order wine, and the house can make some money on that.
Padraig is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 05:03 AM
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I'm travelling with a family group of 8 persons. We can save 32 euros/day on water- assuming 2 meals /day -by ordering una carafa del'acqua del rubinetto. Over a 2 week period we can potentially save 448 euros! My decision is made!

Is wine really cheaper than bottled water at a restaurant?
marymarathons is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 05:10 AM
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I think what tomassocroccante meant was that wine is cheaper in Italy than in the US.
Padraig is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 05:10 AM
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Mary, yes a glass of local house wine is often the same price (sometimes cheaper) than a bottle of water. It is usually quite drinkable as well!
ripit is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 05:13 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. I do plan on ordering wine as well!
marymarathons is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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I think it is also safe to say that the standard of drinking bottled water goes back to days when tap water in an given place just didn't taste good - which can be a matter of old pipes, additives, purification systems. All that varies.

I have lived places wheret the tap water was perfectly safe, but not too tasty: Tampa comes to mind. Sulfur-y, as I remember. True in many places close to the beach or where the water table is high. When I grew up in NE the water most places was really good to drink - all comes from underground aquifers. But by the end of the 20th century I heard of regular warnings that women and little ones should avoid the water in some areas, as it had been loaded with "nutrients" that had filtered down from fertilization of fields.

I drink mostly tap water here in NYC - we still have great water - and I definitely subscribe to the idea of not paying for something that can be had free and better free, and hate to see all those bottles piling up. Worse in the "water world" today is the shipping of water all over the world to places where there is already good drinking water. So I do NOT buy water from Europe. TYpical bottled water comes out of city systems in the US ... Dasani, for one, is bottled all over the place (keeps shipping down) just like Coca Cola - the people who sell it.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've seen water in a carafe all over Italy. A lot of little places - especially coffee bars and very casual cafes - serve the glass of water with coffee, as noted above. And if you ask for water without "gas", many places bring tap water in a carafe as a matter of course. Not all. In France they even have special carafes of tap water served with your Pastis.

I never feel pressured nor uncomfortable asking for what I want anywhere - but I also don't get my panties in a wad if what I want "isn't possible." I don't like to spend my life fighting!

Hey, even here in the USA there are places where they sigh and seem to think you're wasting their time, or at least don't find it a typical request if you ask for water - like fast food, or almost any "counter service" place.
tomassocroccante is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Just to add to the debate:
When in Florence, we had lunch with an Italian friend. When we said we wanted water, she quickly -- and firmly -- told the waiter to serve us tap water, not bottled water. She said, "It's silly to pay for bottled water when the tap water here is just fine."
So, yes, Italians do drink tap water. And, yes, it's OK to order it in a restaurant -- at least based on my experience with an Italian.
j_999_9 is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 07:32 AM
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All I'm saying is that I really honestly have NEVER seen tap water ordered in a restaurant anywhere in Italy. I really honestly have NEVER seen anyone (Italian or foreign) drink tap water in their home in Italy. But the next time my husband and I go to one of our local restuarants here, I will make a point of ordering tap water just to see what the reaction is. I have mentioned it to my husband years ago, but he thought it would be strange to order tap water, and that the waiter would think I was strange. It took a lot of convincing to prove to him that it is perfectly common and ok to ask for a free carafe of tap water in France (and he liked the idea having the free water in France!)

Also, when I am served a glass of water with my coffee at a bar, I always see that it is poured from a bottle, not run from the tap.

Maybe the waiters in Florence, Rome, Venice, etc are used to tourists ordering tap water (like they are used to them ordering cappuccino in the evening, and used to only tourists leaving tips). Maybe that's why they don't seem to bat an eye over the ordering of tap water.

How is it that after living in Italy for 6 years I missed the common practice of ordering and drinking tap water in Italy?? Any Italians or expats living in Italy also miss this or is everyone else in the know besides me?
amy_zena is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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I can't speak for Italy, but here in Switzerland drinking tap water was very uncommon until a few years ago. People just felt that drinking tap water was uncouth. I'm not sure if it was because the water was of poor quality or table manners. They drank mineral water, soda pop or water with syrup. Hot milk, ovalmaltine and coffee was also a daily staple.

Thirty years ago, some farmers were still using human waste to fertilize their fields. I wouldn't have wanted to drink the local well water either.
kleeblatt is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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Just as a recap, acqua sin gas is the expression for non-fizzy stuff?

I've seen them charge 4 euros for bottled water so it's not that cheap.

Oh and Italian restaurants are flexible about just serving starters and nothing else? I thought they looked down at the notion of not having at least two courses?

What if you're having a whole pizza?
scrb is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 07:59 AM
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A whole pizza is a meal and it's enough to just order the pizza and nothing else to eat. Sometimes I just order a primo...have not had any problems, except in restaurants in Florence on the tourist route where there want me to order more.

Regarding the water...
gassata - sparkling fizzy water
naturale,senza gas - still water
amy_zena is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Amy, I'm looking forward to hearing your report! Nice to have someone able to go out and do first-person research for us. I thought of asking some friends who have lived in Italy on and off for several years, and when I see them tomorrow I will.

To give our European friends their due, the green movement is very strong in many countries so I imagine the issues we have about too many bottles in the landfill and recycling issues are on the radar, at the least. Things do change - wouldn't it be ironic to see that just as US restaurants seem to be having bottles of water on every other table, European ones began to serve tap water?

Following this thread I should comment on the practice in NYC on the several occasions in the past 20 years when we've been in drought warnings (our water comes from great reservoirs upstate and is some of the most drinkable water in the world 0 but occasionally they run low, as anywhere). When it happens, the city will usually issue an order for restaurants to serve tap water "only at request", since more than half of those glasses of water end up poured out after guests leave. Do that with several million glasses a day and it adds up. Also, it keeps the water issue in front of people, so maybe they'll be more careful when they go home.

I do know of places in the US where the big jugs of filtered water with a little tap - rather like the office water cooler - are used for drinking water in restaurants. Ive seen water provided that way in small coffee stops, too - saves the barrista having to deal with water requests when he's trying to serve coffees.

Where my sister lives, Sanibel, Fl, the tap water is not tasty - typical for an island. They only drink thoroughly filtered water at home (bought for 35 cents a gallon - you bring your own jug) from a machine at the supermarket. Make coffee with tap water there and it tastes pretty bad.
I don't know what they serve in the glasses at restaurants ... I don't remember noticing.

(By the way, the most undrinkable iced tea that ever passed my lips was in the Bahamas - desalinated sea water that still tasted salty and didn't seem to be thirst-quenching, either. And that was at a major resort.)
tomassocroccante is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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My husband got home from work a bit ago, and I told him that I want to go out for dinner in a restaurant in the next few days to order tap water. First he said I couldn't do that. I asked why not. He said because if I asked for tap water in the restaurant, I will make a big "figura di merda." Too funny! Looks like I will have to find someone else to dine with to do this experiment!

I honestly think that I would get a different reaction from a waiter in one of our restaurants we go to regularly here in Pistoia than from a waiter in a restaurant located in the historical center of Florence, Rome, etc. I really think it is a matter of what the waiters are used to. The waiters in Florence are used to the demands of foreign tourists. The waiters in our little town are used to having mainly local Italians dining in their restaurants.

I thought there were a couple of Italians that post here on Fodors. Maybe they could comment??

I asked my husband why the Italians don't like to drink the water here, and he said because they put a lot of chlorine in the water here. Who knows...
amy_zena is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 11:54 AM
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That's the one thing they don't have in Europe, iced tea.
scrb is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 01:11 PM
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Dear me

With the cost of long-haul flight, hotels, rental cars, restaurant meals and we are quibbling over the cost benefits of tap water over bottled.

If you are worried about your green credentials in not using bottled water, check out your carbon footprint for the transatlantic flight.

Many Europeans actually get quite snobby over WHICH bottled water they want, and you asking for tap, to save a few Euros, is going to make you look like a total hick!
waring is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 01:30 PM
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hi, y'all,

i have a memory of reading about some bright sparks who were bottling tap water and selling it as " fresh natural water".

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 01:36 PM
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An extra 12 Euros per day or so for two people to buy bottled water at restaurants is not trivial.

I know the question is about Italy, but the following happened to me recently in Paris. I ordered a cappucino at a small place on Rue Montergueil. For some reason, the barman put whipped cream on it, put the cappucino on a tray, and put a carafe of tap water on the tray as well, all without me asking for either cream or water! I guess he thought that it would be a bit much to have a whipped cream coffee drink without water. (I also got whipped cream on a cappucino at another location in Paris.)

At any rate, given that I am the one who has to pay, and not the waiter, if I feel tap water will serve the purpose, I would ask for it in whatever country.
WillTravel is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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I drink a lot of water, but not usually at meals - all through the rest of the day instead. On the other hand, will all those who have never yet paid for water at any time please sit over here on this teeny tiny couch ...

Now here's a post copied from another thread about budget travel:

Author: logos999
Date: 05/15/2007, 11:46 am
<<At the supermarket across the street here in Munich, a cheap bottle of water (1.5 liters) costs 19ct plus a deposit of 25ct. Hope this helps I wont buy the stuff because my tap water is just delicious!!

Logos999, have you been holding out on us?!
tomassocroccante is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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Actually, I do pay for water. As everybody I pay my 2.50€ for 1000 liters of pure mineral water, better than any San Pellegrino can be. It's just soooo difficult to drink water worth 6€ every day. . Well, I could have another tea now... In Italy in a restaurant of course, I do order San Pellegrino. Wouldn't ever dare to order tap water.
logos999 is offline  
May 15th, 2007, 03:48 PM
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I'll never understand the logic of "You're already spending a lot of money on travel, so what's the big deal with wasting a little more money on bottled water?"
Where does that end?
Yes, I'm cheap. YOu gotta problem wit' dat?
j_999_9 is offline  

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