Cultural Experience | Bologna

5 Things You Didn’t Budget For In Italy

So, you’re going to Italy. You have your flights booked, sites you want to see  mapped out, and a feeling of elation for your next adventure. In order to see, do, and eat to your heart’s content in this beautiful country, the creation of a budget may be something on the horizon. Typical items such as hostel stays, souvenirs, and food may be the first few things that come to mind when you think of a budget. Here are a few unique items you may want to consider adding…

1. Water

While you might generally opt for water to save a couple bucks while out to eat back home, this is not the case in Italy. Regardless of if you go for the sparkling or still option when ordering acqua, you will have to pay for it.

Tip: Order a nice wine, or beer if that’s more your thing, instead. You’re going to pay for your drink regardless and you’re in a country known for it’s fantastic wine, so why not? I also suggest buying large bottles of bottled water during the day because while it may be annoying to carry around, it is cheaper than buying several small bottles.

2. Sitting

Yes, you read this correctly, you have to pay for sitting. Now, this does not mean you will get charged every time you want to give your feet a rest, but it’s true in some instances. Many restaurants and coffee bars alike charge a “coperto”, which is essentially a fee they get to charge you for sitting at their restaurant.  Not all places charge a coperto and many that do not explicitly advertise this in order to attract customers.

Tip: If you are getting coffee, stand at the bar and drink it rather than sitting down. You may not be as relaxed as when you go to your favorite coffee shop back home, but you’ll save yourself some money in doing so. Look for sit down restaurants that do not charge a coperto or ask the staff before deciding on eating there and make sure they stick to their word! I ran into a few establishments that tried to charge me when the bill came.

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3.Being fined on a Eurail train

This is not likely to occur if you’re smart with your Eurail pass, but it can happen to the best of us. There are a few ways one can be fined when using a Eurail pass. One being not properly filling out your Eurail pass when traveling and get caught doing so. This can be a hefty, on the spot fine that can be easily avoided so long as you remember a pen on your journey. If you buy a second class Eurail pass, which is smart since it’s cheaper than the first class option, do not select a first class seat on the train even though the website allows you to. You will be yelled at in Italian and then forced to do the walk of shame up and down the train cars looking for an available seat. Or so I’ve heard, anyway.

Tip: If you buy a Eurail pass, which you should if you want to save money on longer distance trains, fill it out correctly before you get on and when selecting your seat, make sure it correlates with the type of pass you bought.

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4. Bathroom

When you gotta go, you gotta go. In Italy, when you gotta go, you also gotta pay. Public restrooms charge for entry and often times have people working in the bathrooms to ensure users are paying for their use. (Side note: can you imagine being employed as a bathroom toll taker?) It will only cost one euro or so per use, but over time, it can definitely add up.

Tip: Use the bathrooms at restaurants you eat at! You’re already paying for overpriced water and to be sitting down, so you might as well get a free pass to the bathroom out of it. This will probably not be doable every time, but it will definitely help lessen the amount of euro you spend at the W.C.

Italy Eurail Train Image

Photo Credit: Taylor Hites


Okay, so you probably did budget for transportation, including taxis. The real question is, did you budget enough for taxi rides? What I found in my 3 months in Italy is that majority of Italian taxi drivers love to take advantage of desperate, lost, and tired American tourists.They  will try to get you to pay crazy amounts of money for a ride, so bargaining with them is a must.

Tip: Ask how much it will cost to get where you want to go before getting in the car. This way, you won’t arrive at your destination and have to fork over 20 euro more than you expected. Learn enough Italian to express your want to lower the price of the trip. Most drivers will be willing to negotiate if you put in the effort.



Alexandra Brookhart

University of Northern Iowa | 3 stories

Adventure enthusiast. Pizza connoisseur. Dog person. I am a senior at the University of Northern Iowa. In the past two years I have traveled to Italy, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, and South Korea. I am so excited to share my experiences!

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