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Eating in Italy - Costs

Hi guys,

New chowhound here - wouldn' t exactly call myself a foodie, but maybe an aspiring one. Anyways, I'm hoping someone can answer a pretty basic question about eating internationally. I'm a college student, and I'm planning on traveling to Europe - either Italy or Spain (I crossposted there - hope that's okay) over spring break for 8-9 days, and I'm trying to figure out if I can afford to eat decently over there. Most of my friends, when they did a Euro-trip, ate as cheaply as they could, meaning that they often shopped at grocery stores and ate bread and cheese 2x a day, and then breakfast in the hostel. Problem is, I don't want to do this. One of the primary reasons for my trip is to experience the cuisine of Italy/Spain, so I don't want to eat bread and cheese just to get by.

On the other hand, I never eat at expensive restaurants, and have no desire to change things and go eat gourmet over there, either. I'd like to eat as the locals do - meaning mom & pop places, inexpensive to mid-range restaurants...basically what "normal" Italians eat. I'd like to experience "authentic" culture as much as possible.

Can anyone help me estimate how much this will cost me? Obviously I will do more in-depth research once I decide for certain on a location, but I'd appreciate ballpark estimates to get an idea whether I can afford the trip or not. I'm estimating $25-30/night for hostel lodging, $10-15 day for transportation/miscellany, and am really unsure how much to budget for the food as I have described it. Any help appreciated!

BTW, if I decide that Europe is not affordable my other option is Mexico/Central America, which I know will be cheaper, so comments/comparisons between the two, food or otherwise, are welcome as well!

Luke

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  1. Luke,

    I'ts been two years since I was in Italy, so I'm not current as some. If you are in a big city, it's hard for me to imagine that you could eat a meal out for less than $25. There are plenty of good things to eat for less, but not sitting down in even the most modest restaurant.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bropaul

      slowfood.it specializes in locating great traditional restaurants at moderate cost - in general 35 euros or less, excluding wine (house wine in italy is cheaper than water) This would be for a full multicourse meal. Unfortunately they have redone their website so that you have to join (I dont think it costs anything) to access the full data from their 2007 osterie guide. In the past they only provided full data in the Italian language edition.

      On an earlier trip we found the book Great Eats Italy (formerly Cheap Eats) useful for Rome-Venice-Florence - I cant vouch for the current edition but the author concentrates mainly on less pricy options. She susses out some good fixed price meals, especially lunches. Some in Rome we like are Volpetti Piu, Sora Margherita and Osteria d'Angelo (the last in Prati) Some neighborhoods have more economical options, like Testaccio or the rome university district (San Lorenzo) - here's a link to a Frommer review of one of the slowfood picks over there, Tram Tram that give some cost indications
      http://www.frommers.com/destinations/...
      bty The San Lorenzo basilica is magnificent, little visited by tourists, and right on a tram line that swings through many roman neighborhoods

      Id say a good strategy would be one restaurant meal a day and pizza or picnicking for the other. many (not all) of the restaurants discussed on this Board would come in more like 25 euros per person, especially if you had only a couple courses and skipped dessert (usually disappointing)

    2. Folks, a gentle reminder that Chowhound's purpose is to seek deliciousness. Please recommend appropriately priced suggestions in Italy if you have any, but refrain from general travel advice for hotels, transportation, etc. That's beyond our scope. Thanks for keeping us a focused food resource.

      1. Hi, I am new to this site and need some help. I was in Sorento last Nov. and loved the pasta. We purchased several bags of dried seasoning and thought we were going to other
        stores where we could purchase some pasta but we ended up going back to the ship. Can anyone tell me where, on line, I can purchase authentic Italian pasta? I remember the pasta was small and thick and great. Thanks

        1. Luke - I just picked up a book called PappaRoma 100 Ristoranti di Qualita' a Buon Prezzo. Do you read any italian? It has 100 rome restaurants, trattorias, take aways, etc. where you eat for 25 euro or less, not including wine. I got it at Feltrinelli's book store at largo argentina.

          1. We just picked up two books by Fromer's - Paris for $95 a day and Italy for $95 a day (this includes lodging and 3 meals a day-even mentions best youth hostels). I believe they have Spain too. It gives plenty of great places, where locals go and tips on how to keep your costs down, etc. Even how to book the hotel to get the best price, rather then go through an on-line service. We are staying at a cute little place in Paris paying 69 euro a night when through expedia it's $199. for that same room. Great tips. And finding great restaurants in Italy, cross referencing by googling and getting awesome reviews that back it up with comments like "great price for homemade, local meal, where all the locals go". etc.