4422 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814   •   (301) 656-1670   •   ciao@bethesdatravel.com
Monday - Friday: 9:00am - 5:30pm  •  Saturday: By Appointment   •   Sunday: Closed


  • Italian espresso is corto e forte (short and strong!).  An Americano is basically an espresso with hot water added.

  • Italians are growing accustomed to the American-style all-day cappuccino, but traditionally drink it only in the morning! 

  • Take cream in your coffee? Order a CAFFÈ latte! Asking for a latte will get you a glass of milk!

  • Italians don’t like ice and hotels do not have ice makers in the hallways.

  • Tipping at restaurants is generally optional, but we suggest leaving a 5%-10% tip in cash–there is no gratuity line on credit card slips. 

  • Some restaurants add a mandatory tip–perfectly legit. No need to tip beyond that. 

  • Many restaurants charge a “coperto,” or cover, typically 2-3€/person.

  • Expect to see a BAR on every corner; they’re Italy’s version of a café.  Prepay the cashier (cassa) then order from the barista by showing your receipt (scontrino).

  • When using the bathroom (bagno) in a BAR, it’s a courtesy to make a purchase – a coffee or a bottle of water should suffice! (Also: Please travel with handy pocket tissues!)

  • Some BARs have dining tables. They may be reserved for table service. Ask before sitting down!

  • The evening stroll (passeggiata) is a lovely Italian tradition, great people-watching, and a good excuse for a pre-dinner gelato!!

  • Another lovely tradition is the aperitivo. BARS serve light snacks to accompany a glass of wine or Italian-style bubbly!

  • When ordering vino, try locally grown vintages! 

  • At restaurants, ask what’s in season. Italians pride themselves on fresh ingredients and have proscribed the use of GMOs, antibiotics and steroids in food production!

  • Dining Hours: Lunch is generally served from ~12:30-2:00 PM.  Most eateries close for the afternoon. Show up for a late lunch/early dinner at your own risk! (Before 8:00 PM is early for dinner! However, this is gradually changing in the cities, which are evolving to longer dining hours.)

  • Italian meals traditionally consist of several sequenced courses:

    • a) Antipasto (starters or samplers)

    • b) Primo (a starch, like pasta or risotto)

    • c) Secondo (usually meat or fish)

    • d) Dolce (dessert).

  • Europeans don’t do sweet ‘n’ sour. Traditionally savory (salato) precedes sweet (dolce).  

  • Someone gluten-intolerant is celiaco/a.