When in Tuscany do as the Tuscan do!

By Linda

A helpful guide to looking like a local!

1. Don’t ask for parmesan cheese to put on top of your pasta. That’s an American thing!

2. Tiramisu was invented in Tuscany in the 1960’s to give an afternoon “pick me up” to café guests. Although its origin is Tuscan, it became extremely popular in America in the 80’s. Tuscan’s and all Italian’s for that matter would not normally have a sweet dessert after a meal. But, they would have cheese and fruit after a meal.

3. Dinner is served! While in Tuscany don’t plan on having an early dinner. No matter how hungry you are! Dinner is served between 7:00pm and 10:00pm nightly. Reservations are required in small local eateries.

4. There will be no butter on your bread! Or oil for that matter! Bread is sometimes offered with a touch of house-made olive oil, but asking for butter would be considered rude.

5. “Il conto, per favore” or “Bill, please” The bill will not be delivered to your table until you personally ask your waiter to bring it. Italians enjoy long meals and restaurants do not want to rush you through a meal. So take you time enjoy another glass of wine.

6. Everyone is charged “coperto.” It is simply a service charge for table service and is usually a few euros per person or table—depending on the restaurant.

7. Cash! Be sure to have some euros in your pocket for small purchases at local shops. Large stores readily accept major credit cards, but local ones often prefer cash on small purchases. Contact your local bank before you head to Tuscany and order euros at the best exchange rate, or stop by an ATM at the airport before heading to your hotel, train or location.

8. Taxis are not easy to hail in Tuscany because the villages are small and really don’t have taxi services. Large cities do have taxis, but are hard to hail from the street. Go to a taxi station, or call ahead. Large hotels can also help you with transportation needs.

• Be sure to discuss price before you start your journey in a taxi

• Make sure the fare meter is on when you enter your taxi

9. Afternoons are for relaxing! Many shops will be closed in the afternoon around 1PM to 4PM and you will find locals having caffé and enjoying conversation in local piazzas.

10. You won’t see spaghetti and meatballs (polpette) on the menu. Meatballs are more often served as a main course or in soups and never served with pasta. Italian immigrants made spaghetti and meatballs popular when they could now afford meat in the 1880’s America.

11. Don’t be surprised if you ask for a Latte’ and you get warm milk.

12. Slow down and be present! Tuscany is a place of being present. Sit and enjoy the view, have a caffe’ or gelato every afternoon, smile, take a walk and soak in the sights of Tuscany. It’s all about the experience in Tuscany so slow down and enjoy all it has to offer!

“Il dolce far niente” The sweetness of doing nothing