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Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

Gloucester, United...
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Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

Why wont the Italian Tourist Board ban cover charge. Paying around Euro2.50 per person is shocking. Not everyone eats or wants bread. However the waiters throw the bread down on the table with hurried aggression. It is tasteless, dry and probably made as cheaply as possible. When ordering a main course dish one expects some vegetables to come with it. However in all restaurants we ate at we did not get veges, unless we ordered a separate salad, at an additional 4.50 Euros. Eating out is no fun in Tuscany. The food is disgusting, too much pasta, and only carbohydrates. We tried to order tap water and these waiters just wont hear, throwing bottled water on our table again at a vast rip off price. When trying to explain we want tap water they come back with another bottled version of water.The waiters were unwelcoming towards our young children. Very child unfriendly, showing fury when the children dropped food on the table and floor, as most toddlers and young children do. Many of the menus dont cater for small children so it was a battle trying to feed them. Eating in restaurants in Tuscany is no fun, paying the cover charge is off putting and a complete rip off. On the whole the Italian people running a business there are out to rip off visitors to their area, and are so unpleasant. Sadly i would love to go back and visit the province for all its charming towns and scenery but the people are so unwelcoming, and greedy.

Montreal
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1. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

What a rant!

If you had read a guidebook in advance, you would have known that:

a) A cover charge is mandatory throughout Italy, except in the region of Lazio. The Italians are not going to change their way of doing things because of irate tourists.

b) Vegetables and side dishes are, with very few exceptions, ordered separately.

c) A restaurant is not obliged to give you tap water.

You may think the food is disgusting, but most people do not. There are many options besides pasta.

Italy is generally considered the most child-friendly country in Europe. However, they don't do children's menus. Most people can live with that.

Most people do not condemn *all* Italians as unwelcoming and greedy or consider that they are being ripped off because they do not understand the customs of the country.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

Some of what you are complaining about is just the way things are done in Italy.

The "pane e coperto" charge is normal, and represents the cost of having a table ready for you. This cost is the same no matter how much food you order, so it is actually quite logical that it is a separate charge. Similarly, it is normal that you order vegetables or salad as a separate item: why include this with the meat if some people might not want it?

I don't understand your comment about "too much pasta". The Tuscan restaurants I have visited have all offered a wide choice of pasta, meat, or fish dishes.

I agree that the restaurants should have been more welcoming to children, but I can't help feeling that most of your problems stem from an expectation that Tuscany will do things the same way as Cheltenham.

NY
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3. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

Maybe get rid of the people and pasta and the cover charge, then Tuscany would be fine?

You can refuse the bread, but that does not get rid of the cover charge.

Re, tap water, it is fine in most places, but I do not drink it because tap water can still have a different "culture" than at home, and why risk even an upset stomach from it?

Montreal
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4. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

P.S. If you think the food is disgusting because it's "only carbohydrates", why is the obesity rate in the UK (No. 3 in the world) almost four times as high as in Italy (No. 25)?

NY
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5. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

We can learn a lot from the Italian way of eating. By and large they did not succumb to the 1970's "Western Diet" food industrialization that took the nutruients out, and the "nutritionists" who tried to put them back in. They enjoy a "native diet" in a pleasant way as well. Any country that migrated to the new Western Diet in place of their native diet has shown high rates in obesity increase, and this is not just the fast food joints.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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6. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

The others have pretty much covered it, Italy is not the UK, things are done differently there, if you can't deal with different countries ways of doing things,it is best to holiday at home. I don't recognise your description of rude aggressive waiters, disgusting food and a non-child friendly experience. In 20 years of travelling to Italy, I have of course experienced the odd surly waiter and the odd poor meal, but the opposite is the usual experience. Perhaps your inability to comprehend the different customs meant you gave off a bad attitude which was then returned? I can think of no other explanation.

Upper Maremma...
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7. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

Sorry you had such a poor experience of our cuisine. I guess you must have had meals in very touristy areas and restaurants.

However I have to say that you should read over your message again and ask yourself if maybe you did not take into account cultural differences...

You can't expect to find abroad what you are used to find home. That's a basic thing.

This said I am sure you can get much better service than the poor one you have received.

A few comments. As others have said cover charges are part of the bill. Many restaurants in non-touristy areas have started to eliminate it though. You might not want the bread, but you are still using cutlery and dishes, and a table cloth that need to be washed.

Besides it contributes to the wage of the waiters.

The bread. You might not like it, but it is what it is here for historic reasons. In other regions it is different, but this is what we eat here. You will find many Italians that can't understand how you can possibly live on tasteless boiled vegetables in the UK. Different culinary traditions have different tastes. Full stop. Besides Tuscan bread is not made to be eaten alone. It accompanies the strong flavours of the local cuisine, such as cured meats and game food.

Carbs are a huge part of our diet. But no restaurant lacks meat dishes. All you have to do is choose wisely.

By law, tap water cannot be served for hygienic reasons. You can ask as much as you want. If they do give you tap water, they violate the law.

As far as children goes, I have to agree that Italy is not very child-friendly. Ora rather, you can take your kids everywhere but they will be expected to behave impeccably. Loud, messy kids are not appreciated. And honestly I find it right because kids will be kids but there is no reason why other people in the restaurant have to put up with what loving parents are willing to put up with.

I am sure if you dared to venture farther from the most touristy areas where people have to put up with rants like yours, totally inconsiderate of cultural differences, you would have a much better time. Things would still be different, but people would be more willing to explain and more laid back.

Otherwise, better to go with some organized tour which caters to your nationality and you will find more or less what you find at home. But that is not Italy at all.

Gloucester, United...
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8. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

Hi Casina Your comments are of tremendous value and take your suggestions on board. We have travelled all over Italy in years gone by, particularly as part of our history is Italian from Lake Como . Most recently had a lovely time in Venice. Numerous restaurants did not charge cover charge, and the waiters were lovely and friendly. We did drink tap water in parts of this trip and we were fine, so assumed that Tuscany had now improved the safety of its tap water. having travelled all over Europe, Asia, Africa and South America and USA We avoided the touristy places. Cover charge is very much a system which exists mainly in Italy. The charge for the main course was always in our opin ion very high. Therefore one would expect the tableware costs to be incorporated into this. Service charge was also added, so why charge service charge as well? As far as children are concerned no one likes mess, and as it was we did pick up any mess ourselves. However how can one tell a 1 1/2 year old not to drop food? We would have appreciated having paper put down or something child friendly in place so there would be no extra cleaning. Pasta and bread cannot be eaten by people who are coeliac, so veges and salads play an important in the diet. We did venture away from touristy areas in the hope of finding the true Italian!!

Montreal
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9. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

There is nothing wrong with the tap water. The rule is in place because people have been mistakenly served lye.

Cover charge is the rule in Italy. Whether you agree with it or not, that's the way it is. If you were charged cover charge *and* service charge, you were in very touristy places. Non-touristy places incorporate the service charge into the price.

You can't expect a restaurant to child-proof itself. Are restaurants in the UK child-proofed?

Veggies are abundantly available all over Italy.

It's very odd that you experienced all these problems in Tuscany and never on Lake Como or in Venice.

Edited: 11 September 2011, 16:02
Long Beach...
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10. Re: Cover charge, bad food and aggressive waiters

I think this is a troll post. It hits on just about every ugly brit/american cliche!