ASK THE EXPERT: Taste the culture

Joe Maloney

In all of my travels, one of my favorite activities is eating. I don’t mean eating for guttony’s sake, but eating to immerse yourself in the culture. A destination’s cuisine is just as important as seeing its sights, and Italy is no different.

No matter what city you’re visiting, I recommend that you ask the locals about the local specialties or what restaurants they like. You’ll rarely be disappointed, and you might even find something new to enjoy.

When you are dining out or touring an area, here is some advice for tipping:

Wait staff are generally paid higher than in the U.S., and Italians do not tip much—if at all—so know that it’s not necessary to leave a tip in restaurants in Italy.

Tour director and bus driver gratuities are not usually included to ensure there is incentive for them to work hard on your behalf. Gratuities at the end of your journey are appropriate and customary. For a 10-day journey, appropriate gratuities would be about 50–60 Euros per person for tour directors, and about 20–25 Euros per person for drivers.

Local Guide tips are customary if you like the guide and thought he/she did a good job. In general, tip one Euro for a half-day tour and a bit more for a full-day tour.

We all have high expectations when we travel. If you’d like to have your expectations exceeded and your experience enriched, make sure to engage the local people and sample their cuisine. Buon appetito!

Joe Maloney is vice president travel and retail operations for AAA Colorado.