Florence 2020 Florence, Italy

Differences in Restaurant Culture in Florence

Welcome back to Feasts of Florence!

As I mentioned in my first blog, last week we got the chance to visit two different vineyards, one of which, Castello del Trebbio, was formerly owned by both the Pazzi and Medici families.

Chianti is the type of wine produced in this region of Tuscany generally using the sangiovese grapes. Although the wine wasn’t my favorite, it was still interesting to go into the cellars and see how they produce it. One of the vineyards even produced their own olive oil which we were allowed to taste with fresh bread. Even if you’re not a fan of red wine, I would still suggest going on a wine tour in your time here. We were able to learn the proper way of tasting wine and were guided by an expert who taught us about the different reasons why we might not like a wine, such as the tannins which add that bitterness and chalky feeling we taste in some wines.

Before I get into some of the places I’ve enjoyed here, I first want to talk about differences in restaurant culture in Italy. Possibly the one  thing that requires the most getting used to is no free water at restaurants; here you have to ask for water and will be given the choice of sparkling or still water. Depending on the restaurant they’ll also ask you what size bottle you prefer. If you finish that bottle of water you will have to pay for another one.

The second biggest difference is tipping. In Italy the waiters and servers are paid much higher wages than those back home in the States. It is not expected nor required that you tip your servers after your meal. One of the AIFS employees warned us that some servers may ask for one because they know Americans tip, and I myself have not experienced us, just rest assured it’s not necessary.  Rather than tipping they have a cover charge, which will be listed on the menu as coperto. What this covers is your placement at the table and any bread or items they bring to the table. Even if you don’t eat the bread, you still have to pay the cover charge. Depending on the restaurant the fee varies from €1 to €5, however most restaurants I have encountered thus far only have a €2 fee. The cover charge is per person so if you and three friends go eat at a restaurant with a €2 cover charge, you will be charged an additional €8 on your bill. Speaking of the bill, the majority of places do not allow for separate checks. As you eat your waiter will place your itemized tab on your table and after you eat you take it over to the bar or the area with the register and you and your friends will have to pay together. This is easier now with Cashapp and Venmo but keep in mind not everywhere accepts card, or if they do your bank may charge you’re a conversion rate so it is usually better to pay in cash.

Something else to note is the differences between a ristorante and an osteria or trattoria. A ristorante is higher end and elegant while osterias and trattorias are smaller, often family-run businesses with a simpler menu; a ristorante may be more geared towards American patrons however they are more expensive.

If you happen to have any dietary restrictions, please tell the waiter! Even if something is not listed in the description of the item, it’s safer to ask to make sure. I am not allergic to nuts but I am becoming more conscious of it now that one of my roommates has an allergy and we often eat out together; I’ve ordered a brownie as a dessert twice from different restaurants and both times the brownie came with nuts in it despite that not being listed in the description. If you don’t eat a particular meat you can tell the waiter non mangio __, meaning “I don’t eat.” If you’re allergic to something you can say sono allergico a ___.

Speaking of dietary restrictions, Ciro & Sons is perfect for people with food intolerances or preferences. They are known for delicious food and being the first gluten and lactose free restaurant in Florence. Their menu also offers several dishes for vegetarians and pescatarians as well. This was one of the more expensive places I’ve gone to so far however it’s not out of budget. For two people our total came out to €76 but we ordered an appetizer, split a salad, and we each ordered our entrees and each got a dessert. The cost of my meal and dessert alone was around €23. The menu had plenty of options and I will be going back to try new things but what I ordered was delicious! I ordered the Petto di Pollo Opera, which was chicken breast with Madeira sauce, mozzarella cheese and asparagus and for dessert I had the tiramisu. Overall I loved Ciro & Sons and will definitely be going back!

See you all in my next post and be sure to keep up with the other blogger’s adventures. Ciao!

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