On our way home from a trip to Florence we visited Pisa and wandered up the street away from the cathedral looking for somewher for lunch. We went into a modern, nice looking restaurant with friendly staff and service (don't remember the name but about fifty yards before the Japanese restaurant on the right). After 2 pizzas, a sprite, a beer, 2 desserts and an espresso we were expecting the bill for food to come to around 32 euro. The service charge at 6 euro was OK but we were stung for 2 cover charges of FIVE EURO EACH making a total of 49 euro for lunch - a 50% hike in the listed prices. We won't be back in Pisa anytime soon and will definitely be asking for cover and service charge policy in advance of entering any restaurant in Italy in future which is a shame as we went into some great places that gave great food and service at reasonable prices when we were in Florence.
Have just got back from a trip to Italy, and am still so angry about being fleeced at a bar that I got straight online to warn all fellow-travellers about it...
The bar in question is called the Sapori , which can be reached in about 1 minute walking straight north from Pisa Centrale station. Dropped in there for a couple of drinks with a new acquaintance on the last night of the holiday, but made the basic mistake of not checking the tariff - consequently, ended up being charged 28 Euros for 4 beers...
(Around £5.60 per beer, or $11 if you prefer).
Of course, bars can charge what they like, but for my opinion those prices (although apparently legal) aren't any better than theft. Ideally, I'd like to hear one day that the local government have closed that joint down - in the meantime, I'll have to be content with the thought that my words here might deter many travellers from experiencing extreme financial misfortune at the establishment in question!
Both times we ate at restaurants near the central piazza in Pisa, we paid much more than it was worthy. The second time was particularly frustrating, because the pizza prices on the menu were temptingly low, but they charged us dearly for the cola drinks and added an extra "service" charge of 6 euros (for 3 adults), which was not listed on the menu, as it should have been. I suspected it was a "foreigners" fee. The pizzas and calzone, btw, were also disappointing. I don't remember the name of this place but it is located right across the small street from the "Harvard's Bar," on the right side of the street as you face the piazza with the Tower.
I don't know if they're still doing this a lot in Italy, but generally you have to pay to use public toilets. The same was true in France but here in Pisa they had a guy sitting at a table outside the bathroom with a dish asking like 100 lira to let you in. Makes sense though, I wouldn't want to clean up a messy bathroom without pay. Americans might not be used to it though. Took some getting used to on my part.
Please remember, a coffee at the bar counter is much cheaper than at a table. We ordered two expresso. It was the smallest expresso I've ever seen and costs 4 Euro. It was a teaspoon full of coffee!!!!!!!
So, better order your coffee at the bar!
If you are driving by car , then make sure that you do not violate the traffic rules like overtaking or speeding as you would find the polizia everywhere and you would not like to shell out some fine which is about 190 euro for speeding..know this figure of 190 as we were almost fined the same..but manage to escape it as we did not have that kinda money and the polizia were kind people :-))
Watch out for vendors trying to sell things here. We were eating outdoors at a restaurant and an African vendor kept bothering us in an attempt to hock off some cheap watches. Not really a danger, but be prepared.