When talking about summer holidays, everyone should visit Italy; if not every year, at least once in a lifetime! Why? In addition to the fact that the magical cities of Siena, Rome, Tuscany, Venice, and Florence are undeniably beautiful to vacation year round, the atmospheric condition and sumptuous heat of the summer add to the exceptional and amazing characteristics of Italy.
Seasoned tourists know that one of the best ways to enjoy every bit of what a place has to offer is to engross themselves in the cultural activities and zeitgeist of the place. Also, it’s easy to forget yourself completely in an Italian dish and if there’s one thing to recommend doing in Italy, it’s enjoying the cuisine! You can hardly walk past the countless doorways of one street of an Italy town or city without salivating over the aromas of foods coming from different angles.
If you have never heard of the phrase “sotto casa”, which literally means under my house, visiting Italy will give you the opportunity to hear it again and again. Ristorante sotto casa is the community eatery, which can be easily found down the road. It is not uncommon for tourists to have more trust in restaurants recommended to them by food bloggers and travel websites. These websites, however, often tend to forget including local eateries to their lists. The truth though, is that you will may be missing an even better deal and meal if you don’t take the chance to visit these local restaurants.
Trust your gut and select a restaurant based on the atmosphere! If you happen to wonder or stroll through the square, you cannot help but perceive the sweet aroma of tomatoes and garlic that’s diffused through the thin air. Just trust your instinct. Sit and when the waiter comes by, place your order or, if you’re feeling spontaneous, ask him to recommend a dish for you. Eat like Italians! Enjoy your meal slowly and people watch. If there’s one thing Italians don’t rush, it’s their valuable time to eat.
Do not twist things up with the impression that a meal should be prepared with elaborated ingredients before it can look presentable and be delicious. In Italy the best of dishes can be achieved with the most basic of ingredients. This also means you may not have to spend a fortune to enjoy sumptuous meals.
To avoid falling into traps regarding purchasing overly priced meals in Italy, simply keep in mind the following clues when deciding on the restaurant.
° Don’t visit eateries filled with gimmicks. For example, some restaurants display foods through the window with combo deals like free soda and pizza, a restaurant employee may stand outside to give flyers to passersby – do not fall for such “cheap” deals, meals in those places may actually be very expensive!
° Avoid eating too close to the tourist attractions. Restaurants located at tourist spots or extremely close to the centers of tourism, like the St. Peter’s Basilica or the Colosseum tend to charge more because they can; the demand is always high. However, many less expensive and even more delicious options can be found venturing just a few streets away!
° Do not eat at Italian restaurants that don’t have Italian dishes on their menus. A restaurant that has only or mostly English meals on its menu is basically set to treat tourists visiting who may not have an appetite for foreign food yet and will want to stick with what they are used to. Eating at such restaurants is sure to hurt your wallet!
Note: Gratuity is not common in Italy. Many waiters receive good pay and other governmental benefits like paid holidays and health benefits. It is therefore not uncommon for fancy sit-down restaurants to charge you a token that would cover for bread and water before meal, known as il coperto and 10% – 15 % service charge, known as servizio incluso. So, if you have received outstanding services, you are advised to drop a Euro or 2 on the table. Better still, watch what the locals do and follow their step.
Enjoy your stay in Italy by having a gelato every day. Your summer vacation to Italy will not be complete without consuming the unique, national frozen dessert over and over again. Yes, ice cream is in every country and you must also eat it at home, but the special Italian ice cream, you will not want to miss it!