Shopping and dining at Aviano
Congratulations on your assignment to Aviano Air Base, Italy. While visiting Italy is a dream that many Americans strive to accomplish, moving and living here can be a completely different challenge. This article will help make your transition smoother and answer many of your questions and concerns.
While in Italy, you’re bound to find pastas and pizzas that you love. It might be slightly tougher to find the perfect juicy burger you’re accustomed to eating at restaurants stateside, unless you head to an on-base Burger King or off-base McDonald’s. There’s even a Hard Rock Café in Venice if you’re craving American food. Near Aviano, you’ll also find many restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, including Japanese, Chinese, Turkish and Indian.
Italy has three main categories for eating establishments: osterias, trattorias and ristorantes (restaurants). Osterias are small mom- and-pop establishments, which are the least formal and specialize in local foods and drinks at fair prices. Trattorias are considered more formal than osterias and have larger menus, as well as local foods and drinks. Ristorantes are formal establishments, usually more expensive that trattorias and osterias, and offer a wide array of foods, wines and other drinks. Some establishments are open for lunch, while others are open for dinner only. Dinner is usually served from 7 p.m. to midnight or later, but varies by location.
Italy is known for both red and white wines, and every town you visit is likely to have a few small wineries of their own. Italy also has a few beers that can be found bottled or on tap. Alcohol can be purchased at most grocery stores and food establishments. The legal drinking age on base is 18 years of age. Be aware that the legal limit for alcohol consumption while driving on or off base is not to exceed .05 on a breathalyzer.
Tipping at restaurants in Italy is not as common as in the U.S. You’ll often find a cover charge per person on your check, which can be used as the waiter’s tip or to cover the bread and water provided at the table.
Credit and debit cards are commonly used in Italy and are probably the preferred method in which to pay for things. They can be used at most restaurants, grocery stores, ATMs and toll booths across the country. Always be sure to check with an establishment to see if your card is accepted and carry extra cash to be on the safe side. Fees might be incurred due to exchange rate charges, foreign transaction fees or ATM charges, so be sure to check with the institution you use for up-to-date information. Also inform your bank or credit card institution that you are moving overseas to prevent your accounts from being frozen due to unusual purchasing activity.
Get out of your comfort zone and skip the commissary to find all that local grocery stores have to offer. You might not be able to purchase all of the brand name items you’re accustomed to at home, but you will find similar items as well as phenomenal cheese and meat sections. You won’t find as many frozen food aisles as you do in the States because Italians use fewer preservatives and usually buy only enough food to be eaten within a few days.
You won’t find gigantic malls in the immediate vicinity of Aviano, but just nine miles away in Pordenone you’ll find two small malls. Meduna has 30 stores, while Emisfero has approximately 63 shops, including H&M, GameStop, an electronics store, grocery store, several cafés and many other shops.
Towns and villages across the area continually host open-air markets with fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, clothes and other items of interest. Many of these markets rotate on a daily schedule from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. among towns surrounding Aviano. On Mondays in the city square, you’ll find the open air market at Azzano Decimo. On Tuesdays, visit the market located in the city square at Aviano. Every Wednesday and Saturday Pordenone hosts an outdoor market in its city square. The market moves to Sacile on Thursdays and Cordenons on Fridays. Other cities hold markets of their own with varying schedules.
If you like Lowe’s or Home Depot, then you’re bound to enjoy Self, a home improvement store located in nearby Pordenone. Self offers products and services similar to those provided at home improvement stores in the States.
Missing the convenience of Wal-Mart while living in Italy? Look no further; SME is similar to Wal-Mart and located in Pordenone, only a few kilometers from Aviano. SME has electronics, home furnishing, entertainment, children and auto departments, to name a few.