The Pretty But Costly Tourist Trap Quality To Avoid While Picking A Restaurant In Italy

There is nothing wrong with being a tourist. It's wonderful to visit other countries and learn about their culture, customs, and history. On the flip side, there are some things you may not know about the norm for locals before you go to a place like Italy, a must-see European country. Some of those gaps in local knowledge mean you could end up paying more than you expect when you sit down at a restaurant in a place like Rome or Milan. One of the tourist traps to avoid when you decide to take a lunch or dinner break from sightseeing is the restaurant you choose. A big red flag before you even look at the menu is location. If you pick a spot facing a monument, you're going to end up paying more — sometimes nearly triple the rate of a place just down the street.

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It might seem like the perfect cafe, and of course, you want a view of the Duomo in Florence as you sip your chianti and eat your bistecca alla fiorentina. The scenario sounds like it's right out of a movie. In a movie, however, everything is set up perfectly, the food is glorious, and no one cares about how much it costs. That's unlikely to be the case on your family trip. Here's what you should do instead when looking for your meal in Italy and a few other things to look out for. 

Picking a restaurant in Italy

If you're visiting a landmark like the Roman Colosseum, restaurants know they've got you hooked. You want to keep looking at the beauty, but your stomach wants to be fed. However, if you eat close by, you'll be charged more. If you walk a block or two away from the monument, you'll pay far less and likely get fresher and more authentic food. To keep up with demand, sometimes busy tourist places cut costs by using frozen food or having things prepared far ahead of time. Make sure to check the small alleyways to find some real gems. 

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If you're looking for a quick coffee or a gelato to stave off the hunger, another budget-conscious thing to avoid is sitting down. You will be charged a lot more if you choose to consume it at a table. Drink the coffee at the bar and take the gelato with you as you walk down the street. (Remember ordering this popular coffee drink in America will get you a cup of milk in Italy.)

Another sign of a tourist trap is pictures on the menu. Some places do it, and it's fine, but usually, they're catering to people who can't understand the menu in Italian. The same thing goes for menus that have different languages. (Ask for one in Italian, which may be cheaper, and use the Google Translate app's camera feature.) Is anyone speaking Italian there? That's a good sign. If a waiter is outside trying to call tourists in, it's not. Keep walking. 

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Other ideas for eating out in Italy

All of this can go out the window if your kids are screaming and all you want is to have a Caprese salad in Piazza San Marco. If you know you're going to be charged more and you don't care, that's fine. Sometimes that's just what you need. However, if you plan ahead, there are easier ways to enjoy delicious Italian food while sightseeing. First, ask your hotel concierge if there is a supermarket near you. Grab fixings for sandwiches and a bottle of wine, and pack a small, insulated lunch bag. Then you can pick some steps or a fountain (not Rome's Trevi Fountain which has strict rules tourists need to know) and have a little picnic. (You are allowed to drink alcohol anywhere unless you're acting drunk.) You can even grab something like pizza from one of the window-only cafes to take over. 

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If you know  you tend to get hungry at a certain time, scope out some restaurants a few blocks away from the monument while you're on your way there. Then you don't have to try to find something afterward when you're getting hangry. You can also ask someone local for a nearby recommendation. In addition, follow Anthony Bourdain's trick for finding the best local eateries while traveling

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