Students of Prof. Christian Tarchi’s Intercultural Communication course share their weekly assignment with the ISI community.
Written by: Alex Gambuti (Penn State), Sydni Jordan (Penn State), Rebekah Lee (UVA), and Nashae Morgan (UConn).
When you finally decide to head to Italy to study abroad, the first thing that pops into your mind is food, specifically pasta and pizza. You don’t necessarily think of the experience of enjoying the amazing Italian cuisine as being a different dining experience than eating it at an Italian restaurant in the States. One of the first things that we noticed is that the service is definitely not as fast paced as the American dining style. Italians love to take their time to enjoy their food and the company at their table, using it also as a social opportunity. Another note about the service is that being constantly checked on by a waiter does not exist here and you are not rushed to eat because no one is waiting for your table. We have found ourselves having to grab the waiter’s attention just to get the check.
On this note, checks are given to you at the table, but you do not always pay there. In Italy it is common to take the check up to the cashier in order to pay. The concept of separate checks is uncommon. Instead, you ask to pay separately when you get to the cashier. Another difference we noticed was the food portion sizes. The sizes in Italian restaurants are definitely smaller than what one is served in American restaurants. Due to the smaller amounts of food it is uncommon to take home leftovers. When we asked for a take-home container we were given a baffled look. On the bright side, pizza is a different story. We were able to take away an entire pizza for only five euros!
However, don’t let these differences scare or deter you from going out to restaurants! Despite these differences, the food and dining experience in Florence has proved to be not only delicious, but has also taught us a lot about Italian culture. For the most part, waiters have been friendly, service has been great, and the differences are easy to get used to. Although we have only been here for two weeks, we now generally know what to expect when we go out to restaurants. So go out, enjoy your experience and order yourself a nice big plate of pasta!