Is Water Free and Safe to Drink in Italy?
If you’re planning a trip to the Bel Paese, you might want to know how to get drinking water in Italy as it gets really hot, especially in the summer months.
You have a few options: any café, restaurant and bar can offer you water. However, unlike many other parts of the world, this is not for free. Or at least, not always. In this article, you’ll learn how to get it for free!
Also, is water safe to drink in Italy? I get this question a lot from visitors from all over the world.
Most people wonder if it’s ok to drink tap water in cities like Venice or Milan. The answer is simple: yes, it’s safe to drink water anywhere in Italy. Except for certain situations where water cannot be drunk, getting tap water is not harmful. The only thing that might be different is the taste.
Want to know more about it? Continue reading!
1. Is It OK to Drink Tap Water in Italy? Even in Venice?
Yes, it is safe to drink tap water in Italy: even though we don’t order it in restaurants, we drink it in our home. It’s also ok to drink in any part of the city, unless it’s specifically stated that that particular water source is non drinkable.
The taste of tap water depends on its mineral level: water is pulled out either from the sea or from the ground, therefore the elements in it can vary.
And yes, even in Venice water is drinkable as it comes from the mainland (not the canals!). Even if it is safe, I honestly recommend you to bring your own bottle as you might be overcharged for just a small water bottle around the city. Don’t forget you are in one of the most touristy places in Italy!
2. Do You Have to Pay for Water in Italy?
In whatever restaurant you have to pay for water in Italy. Whether you order a bottle of water in restaurants or half a bottle in a café, you have to pay for it.
However, there might be the chance of getting free water in coffee shops. You can order a glass of tap water for free (or € 0.50 max), but it’s important to specify “tap water”, otherwise they’ll get you a bottle of water and charge you.
It is likely that tiny cafés won’t charge you anything, but if you go to touristy cities or places, for instance Piazza San Marco, you might end up paying way more than expected.
3. How Much Does Bottled Water Cost?
3.1 Cost of Bottled Water in Supermarkets
Generally speaking, in supermarkets all over Italy, you can find a 1.5 liter bottle for less than € 1. Even though the price is really good, buying bottled water in supermarkets has a couple of disadvantages:
- you’re going to carry a plastic bottle with you, which is not really eco-friendly,
- in hot summer days water in plastic bottles gets hot after such little time that you end up drinking warm water
So what’s the best solution? Jump to How to Get Free Water in Italy!
3.2 Cost of Bottled Water in Restaurants
Bottled water prices in restaurants vary according to two factors: the fanciness of the venue and the bottle size.
If you go to touristy or fancy restaurants, you may be charged between € 2.00 and € 4.00 per bottle (generally 0.75 or 1 liter).
If you opt for a pizzeria, trattoria or osteria (or any other informal venue), the price of bottled water will depend on whether you order a half liter (€ 1 – € 1.5), ¾ of a liter (€ 1.50 – € 2), 1 liter (€ 2 – € 2.50). Whenever you decide to go, still and sparkling cost the same.
3.3 Refill or Not Refill?
If you decide to order tap water in a restaurant, don’t expect the waiter to refill your glass, bottle or jar!
You are not in North America where refill of free tap water is a usual and expected thing in restaurants. You are in Italy, where asking for a refill is even worse than asking for tap water! Also, don’t be surprised if the waiter refuses to serve you tap water.
This is not our custom, so you may be told that water comes only in bottles..and prices are on the menu.
Water in Italian Restaurants: Dos and Don’ts
ALWAYS specify how many bottles you’d like.
NEVER order tap water when sitting in restaurants: you would be perceived as a cheap person by everyone surrounding you! Better spend € 1 more to have your bottle on the table. In this case, remember to be specific about the quantity (½ , ¾ , 1 liter or 1.5 liters). Most of the time waiters ask about it, but if they don’t, it’s they who choose: chances are they will bring you a liter even if it’s only you.
4. Why Does Italy Charge for Water?
Charging clients for water is just a way for restaurants to cover their costs.
Water is not included in the coperto, a fee that all Italian restaurants apply to their customers: the price is clearly stated in the menu, usually on the bottom of the page, and it goes from € 1.50 to € 3.00 – give or take – regardless of your bill.
Even if you pay for water in Italy, remember that you are not expected to leave any tip. If you find that you’ve been served with great courtesy and attention, tipping is much appreciated. However, this is completely up to you.
Also, taxes are already included in the prices you see on the menu. For example, if the steak you ordered is € 15 and you took a liter of water (let’s say € 2) you will pay € 17 + coperto (usually € 2), for a total of € 19. You don’t need to do the math to calculate taxes, just look at the menu and you will have your final amount for your dining.
5. Drinking Water in Italy: All Types
As per the type of water in Italy we love them all: still, sparkling or with little gas (we call it “effervescente“, pron. /ef.fer.veʃˈʃɛn.te/).
Some Italians like it better “naturale” (still), some others “gassata” (pronounced gah-zah-tah), meaning with gas. Then there are those who prefer the third category, “effervescente“: you might have seen “Ferrarelle” bottles here and there in Italy – one of the most famous brands for this type of water.
Prices per bottle change according to the brand, not the type of water.
6. How Can I Get Free Water in Italy?
It’s a hot summer day, you’re sweating like never before (summers can be just like that, especially in the south, trust me) and you’re running out of water.
Is buying a bottle your only option? Of course not!
You can have a good sip of fresh water from “fontanelle” (drinking fountains) scattered in the city and..for free! That’s why I recommend you to bring your own bottle so that you can refill it at any time with our refreshing good water.
In winter, on the other hand, some drinking fountains might be closed! In this case, you can go to any coffee shop and order a glass of tap water. As mentioned above, it’s usually free, even if some cafés charge something like € 0.50 per glass.
I hope this guide will help you through your trip to Italy. If you follow my tips you won’t have any problems ;
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