Practical Information on Florence
Should I tip or should I not?
Giving a tip to someone should take place when the level of service that at least matches or even exceeds your expectations. Tipping poor service only encourages that person to continue to offer a sub-standard service.
Restaurants: in many restaurants in Italy you may find tips are included in your final bill under the voices: "coperto" (cover charge) or "servizio incluso"(service charge) reported on the menu' or on the bill. In these cases the money goes directly to the owner of the restaurant. Tipping a restaurant can usually work with 10% - 15% of the total bill. Most Italians do not tip in these cases, except when the service and quality are truly special. If paying in cash, you can just round up to the next euro and call that your tip if you’d like, unless the service has been exceptional and you can add 5% or 10% on the table, just let the waiter know.
In Bars: Italians often leave a few coins for a coffee, but please do not tip with unwanted small tiny change, it is not so kind.
Taxi Drivers: taxi fee include extra for night trips, luggage and out of downtown rides, so you usually do not need to tip taxi drivers, but in the case they helped you with your heavy or plentiful luggage, or if you’ve had a nice chat, or whatever, you can just say "keep the change" (in Italian, this is "tenga il resto"). If you feel you really want to leave something more, a 10% would be fine!
In Hotels: you can leave 1,50 Euro per bag at luggage porters.
Tour Guides: the typical 5 - 10% tip is sufficient.
Hairdresser: tipping is not a must here, it's entirely up to you! It is obviously a nice gesture, you can just let them keep the change.
FLORENCE BUSINESS HRS
Boutiques are generally open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00/30pm. Lately they have been more flexible and depending on festivities and seasons those may be open also on Sundays, but not before 11:00am. Department Stores are usually always open from 10:00am to 8:00/9:00pm.
In Summer, due to the heat, locals prefer to leave town for the weekend and you may find that most boutiques and stores are closed in the afternoons. August is the holiday month for Italians and even if the trend is changing, many stores will close at least for 15 days. Also a few Bars and Restaurant will close for Summer break. In Winter some Boutiques are closed on Monday mornings until 3:30pm.
Supermarkets downtown are usually open all week long until 9:00pm. In the surroundings areas Supermarkets are closed on Sundays(except once a month).
Electricity in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at a 50 cycles per second.
Frequent travelers can simply buy one of these adaptor devices (in the photo) in Europe to avoid carrying both the device and the converter around. The adaptors are not expensive in Italy (6,00 Euro more or less). Many rental properties supply proper hair driers because home owners hate to deal with the many customers disgruntled when their own devices turn to lumps of charcoal in their hands. Ask if you aren't sure. Sometimes hotels may lend you a converter to recharge your batteries or mobile, but since people do not give it back, do not expect many hotels to have it.
It is not uncommon to find signs saying that the toilets are for paying customers only. You will realize that due to the amount of tourists in Florence it is not easy for Bar owners to handle such crowds that use their activities as toilet stops only. Visitors may just order a glass of sparkly water or coffee and then ask for the Toilet, this is what Italians usually do.
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"I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them" - Twain