Things about Italy that are different from California

As observed by Charlie and me

In restaurants

  • You pay for water – typically 3€ – and it often is delivered whether you ask for it or not (happened again tonight – full bottle, we didn’t drink a sip but bought it).
  • A service charge (i.e., tip) is added to the bill, and it always seems unusually small compared to what we’re used to (15-20%) so we leave a little more.
  • Cappuccinos cost 1€ (~$1.20), but I’m told that they’re not be ordered after noon – only espresso.
  • Anyone can walk into a restaurant or cafe and use the bathroom without being asked hassled about being a customer (or not).
  • Italian table wine is terrible, at least so far. The white Pinot Grigio’s are tasteless, the reds one dimensional and cheap.

In our apartment

  • Radiator heaters that don’t seem to have a thermostat. The place stays warm but who controls the temperature?
  • Electric plugs with three round metal connectors in a row.
  • Single faucets that combine hot and cold water and are regulated in temperature by how far you turn them, but even if you turn them all the way to the “hot” setting they never get very hot.
  • We have a bidet. Not sure what do do about that.
  • The washing machine is small, sits under the bathroom counter, and loads from the front.
  • The apartment doesn’t have a dryer. Most Italians air-dry their clothes.
  • Bread in the toaster doesn’t “pop up;” you have to lift it out of the toaster.
  • The refrigerator is tiny, and the freezer compartment almost non-existent.

On the streets

  • Cars parking everywhere. Small cars, mostly, but no space between them, in parkings spaces, between them, and anywhere else they can fit.
  • People smoking. Not a lot, but certainly more than California.


  • To buy a cell phone, you have to have a passport.
  • Grocery stores don’t stock bar soap. What’s going on with that?