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General tips #6

#9 Be prepared not to find non-fat milk. The least fat we could find was 1.6%. #10 One experience in Venice may have been an aberration, but if (as Rick says) it's becoming a theme park for adults, our experience is likely to be more common in the future. We were in a non-touristy area and wanted to get lunch. I was set on re-enacting the experience we'd had in 2005 in which we came across a neighborhood deli (essentially) where we got great panini, which we ate sitting on the edge of a canal. So when we saw a small deli/grocery store, I went in and asked (in halting tourist Italian) for a panino, expecting to get a sandwich. The old man behind he counter understandably thought I wanted a sandwich roll which is the alternate translation of panino. He was none too happy when my partner, who speaks fluent Italian, made it clear we wanted sandwiches, even though he had the cutting board, knives, meat cutter, meats, cheeses, etc. right there in front of him. After much grumbling, he gave us each a roll with some prosciutto and cheese on it (no mayo or oil, no mustard). When an old woman obviously a resident came in and asked for something, his demeanor changed markedly. My guess was that he resents the fact that tourists have taken over his city, but understands that they spend money, some of which is spent in his shop. It seemed to me that his attitude stemmed from that ambivalence and resentment.

Posted by
1829 posts

When we want a sandwich ie with two slices of bread rather than a bread roll, we ask for a tramezzino.

Posted by
11805 posts

Italy isn't a "customer is always right" country - especially for tourists. It makes it tough on Americans, because we come from a "customer is always right" country and arrive with that expectation. I find if you can be happy taking what you get, you enjoy Italy more (and they enjoy you more). That's one reason I'll never take a Costa cruise. They advertise cruising "Italian style", for me that's shorthand for bad customer service and fat guys in speedos ogling your wife. I had an Italian roommate in college. He always said, "Italians either love you or they hate you, there's no in-between." I've been on the receiving end of both and have never quite figured out if it was related to something I said or did.