• 2023.09.05
One of the things I vividly remember from my childhood is the ‘nightmare’ of asking a glass of water from the local cafe’ whenever I was thirsty and the embarrassment I felt because I had no money on me as an early teen. In Italy, in fact, it’s frowned upon to ask for tap water at a bar, hotel, restaurant or any business that is.
Drinking mineral water from bottles is very common in Italy which is one of the biggest consumer of bottled water in the world and therefore restaurants and establishments do not serve tap water to their clients. If you want water, you need to pay for it basically.
The “Prendilacqua campaign” which started in Italy not long ago wants to be an awareness campaign created to discourage the consumption of mineral water and therefore of disposable plastic bottles.
The campaign launched online stems from the idea of creating a network of bars, restaurants and clubs that have a tap with drinking water and who want to put into practice the principle according to which water is a common good and it belongs to everyone.

Even if in Italy this is mind blowing, in Australia, establishments have a customer-facing water tap with glasses made available for anyone who wants to drink tap water.
In restaurants, and anywhere where food is served, you can ask for a jug of tap water with or without ice and it’s totally normal.
Something else which is totally normal in Australia is to have food served without tablecloth or place mats. This would never happen in Italy where they even charge you for the ‘coperto’ which would include tablecloth, cutlery and bread.

Another aspect which was one of the first culture shocks I had at the beginning of my life Down Under was related to Australian rhythms. Despite Australia's Mediterranean climate, its rhythms are much more similar to those of the Nordic or Anglo-Saxon countries. Eat early, leave early. Everything is done quickly here! Calculate that the average working hours here are 9 am to 5 pm, therefore it is normal to have lunch around 12 pm and dinner around 6 pm, or 7 pm at the latest. To say that the peak time of a restaurant is from 6 pm to 8 pm, and it is unlikely that you will find kitchens open after 9 pm.
I even find myself eating dinner at 5:30 pm sometimes which in Italy was the snack time, and this certainly took a while to get used to. Eating earlier then it's also normal to go out earlier. If you meet up with friends for a night out, the appointment won't be later than 8 pm. Which of course means that by midnight you can be comfortably at home, having spent a few hours out; you can go to bed at a decent time and get up the next morning in time to do something else.

BYO (= Bring Your Own) or BYOB (= Bring Your Own Bottle) is a very common expression in all Anglo-Saxon countries which indicates the possibility or the invitation to bring your own alcohol to a party, dinner or restaurant.
I was so surprised the first time I heard that! In Australia it is possible in fact to go to a restaurant for lunch or dinner and bring a bottle of wine from home. Some restaurants will charge a corkage fee which means they add a fee to your bill for opening the bottle for you and letting you drink it, while others will charge nothing. Usually only establishments that are not licensed to serve alcohol allow this, but there are exceptions too. In the case of a party or dinner, you are invited to bring what you intend to drink. It is in fact good custom here to drink what you bring, in order to avoid shortages and disapproval.



  • Alberto Ferrando
  • Jobcivil engineer

Hello everyone! I’m originally from Italy and I moved to Sydney, Australia, in 2012 after getting a job as a civil engineer. I love walking my dog along the beach, surfing and taking photos. I used to have a travel blog because I’m passionate about traveling and I love writing about it too. Sydney is my home base now and I wish to share how amazing it is to live here. I love to spend time outdoors and I’m always well informed about local events because my girlfriend works in event management.

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