Monday, October 19, 2009

Restaurants in Italy- some consumer tips

One of the main attractions of a trip to Italy is restaurant dining.
But the experience is potentially fraught with danger (to your wallet). And not only for foreign tourists- the Italian consumers' association Adiconsum has issued a list of tips to prevent fraud and overcharging.

Perhaps the most important is that you should demand a written menu (which should also be posted outside), with prices. Avoid verbal orders. This is the law. Be careful about wine prices, too. The cover and service charge can be set independently by each business, but it must be stated on the menu. In Lazio (where Rome is), a cover charge is no longer legal. No tip is ever mandatory in Italy beyond the included service. I never give extra tips in Italy. Frozen foods should be clearly indicated on the menu. Ask for the receipt (preferably itemized).

In case of suspected irregularity, you can go the vigili urbani (the local municipal police). A young Japanese couple was charged nearly 700 euros at a Rome restaurant this summer- they reported them, and the restaurant was even closed for violations.

(In the photo, the picturesque Locanda Montin in Venice)