Handling money in Italy is more complicated than you may realize, but don’t worry as our tips and tricks below will help you spend your money without any awkward issues. Still have more questions? Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help make your dreams come true.
The importance of exact change in Italy
Italians love correct or nearly correct change. By love I mean they would nearly die for it.
Remember that old lady at the grocery store digging through her coin purse while everyone behind her rolls their eyes? The one you always end up behind when you are in a hurry?
Well my friends, she is everywhere in Italy AND THEY LOVE HER. She is adored, revered. Show up in line with exact change for your purchase and they will love you too.
Slap down a 20€ bill for a bottle of water and brace yourself for the eye rolls, mumbling under their breathe and complete disregard for your value as a human. Give them a 50€ and brace yourself. They may have to close the shop down for the day. Or at least a few hours while they walk the streets trying to find change.
Sounds easy you think, no big deal. How hard could that be. How hard? I’ll tell you my dear, it can be down right impossible. The odds are stacked against you. ATMs dish out nothing but 50€ notes, an endless stream of 50’s. I’ve tried to outsmart those dastardly machines, ask for an odd amount that would force at least a 10 or 20 bill. But they are good, those ATMs. Damn they are good. Try to pick another amount and they will forbid you. Your hand is forced and you are left walking away with a hand full of ticking Italian time bombs.
So how do you make change?
How to make change
Stuck with 50€ bills and no where to go? Here are the best places to break the bill and not lose a finger.
Autostrada: Drivers can pay the autostrada fee in big bills and no one will blink at you. I dropped a 50 for a 3.40€ toll just to push the envelope and it was moderately disappointing.
Tourist hubs: I look for tired staff and trinket shops overrun with tourists, places I’m not trying to impress and won’t ever return. Grab a quick treat or water here and leave your change shame at the door.
Major sites: These places are used to tourists and generally have large amounts of cash on hand.
Hands off the money
As if worrying about exact change isn’t enough, you also have to make sure that you hand it over appropriately.
Italians also don’t hand over the money directly as we do. You will find at every counter a little dish or tray next to the register. This is where you should set your money down and where they will put your change. Do can hand them the cash but it always ends up feeling a bit awkward.