Traveling While Alcholic - Italian Style

I’ve tried finding information on this, but my Google-fu skills aren’t up to the task.

I’m an alkie with 13+ years without a drink. I’m going to Italy later in the year and am seeking a way to tell people who will be serving me food and drink that I can’t have booze, without offending anyone, but leaving no wiggle room. My understanding is that some sort of wine or drink is standard at most meals.

My Mom’s a Celiac (and is going with me!) and she has these wonderful cards in every major language saying that she can’t eat wheat, barley, etc., and could the chef please prepare her something she can safely eat.

Anyone either know how to say, without giving offense, in Italian, “No alcohol at all for me, please” or where to get a card similar to the one Mom’s got?

Or any other ideas to assist me before going? I’m rather proud of my years without and don’t want a simple language error to undo my work (although I do have this in perspective)

What say ye, friends?

Mods - I’m not sure if this should be here or in General Questions. I took a guess. Please move as you see fit.

When you are asked what you would like to drink just say what you want. “I’ll have sparking water with lemon, please,” or whatever your favorite. I’m sure you can look up the Italian for “No, thank you.” If someone pours you wine unbidden, just don’t drink it.

A few years ago I was in Italy with a co-worker who doesn’t drink. He simply flipped his wine glass upside down and waved them off politely on the few occasions when the waitstaff tried to flip it right side up. No one ever seemed to be offended or bothered by it.

I’ve travelled in Italy and I don’t drink - if you don’t order it, they generally won’t serve it to you - perhaps only if you order a tourist meal that comes with a glass - but no-one ever questioned me not drinking.

It’s not as common for women to drink in public as it is in Anglo countries (although this is changing with the younger generation, but **Boy from Mars **says this would be the case from 30+) so unlikely anyone is going to react badly at all.

I think this is an excellent idea, too. I know when we used to go drinking, you put your coaster or a napkin over the top of the glass to let the staff know you were done. I’m hoping the places we go are a bit above “coasters”. :stuck_out_tongue:

“I don’t drink” is “Non bevo” (Non bay-voh)

“Non bevo vino” - I don’t drink wine.

“Non bevo birra” - I don’t drink beer.


“No, thank you” would, I think, be “No, per favore” but there might be a better, non literal translation.

However, almost everyone in the cities speaks English, so unless you’ll be spending some time in Basilicata or something, you should be fine.

Is there a phrase Boggette could use for ordering dishes that might be prepared with alcohol that might not be completely dissipated during cooking? It’s easy enough to avoid ordering things named after wine (Burgundy, Marsala) but I would be dismayed if I ordered a fancy dessert and found out that it came drenched in a cognac sauce. How would one ask about that?

“Senza alcool”?

I went to Italy with about 13 years sober as well, actually, and I had no problem. I was never brought alcohol unsolicited, and I didn’t run into dishes or desserts with surprise ingredients, although I am reasonably careful when I order and I ask questions beforehand.

Don’t worry, and enjoy!

With the variety of bottled water, coffees, and soft drinks available, you’re going to be in one of the better countries for a nondrinker to travel in.

You’ll be fine.

No alcool per favore. Non lo posso bere.

(No alcohol, please. I cannot drink it.)

In restaurants, this will be just fine. You shouldn’t have a problem.

Now, if you make friends, and end up hanging out at somebody’s house, you might have a little more explaining to do. Italians go out of their way to be generous hosts, and take great pride in keeping guests happy. That means sometimes they overdo it: they may put a glass in your hand before you ask. They mean well by it, and most of the time they’ll inquire first, but they can be fairly aggressive about doing things to make sure their guests are having a good time.

When I was there last year (visiting my girlfriend’s family), the first thing I had to learn, pretty much immediately, was how to respond to the question I got as soon as I stepped through the door: what do you want to drink. Acqua for water, vino for wine (rosso or bianco), and so on, followed by “grazie.” (I never learned how to say “juice.”)

And the second thing I had to learn, almost as immediately, was “basta” – stop, I’ve had enough. :smiley:

Sugo or succo.

Orange juice = succo d’aranciata
Succo di frutta = fruit juice (should suffice when you are not sure what sort of juice they may have on hand)

and (usually safe if you don’t want something alcoholic):
[li]limonata (lemonade - usu. sparkling)[/li][li]aranciata (orangeade - usu. sparkiling)[/li][/ul]

Thanks everyone for the help! I’m studying Italian now (it’s amazingly like Spanish, with mostly pronounciation differences so far), but strangely enough, the CDs don’t tell you about how NOT to order booze. :smiley:

These are all excellent suggestions and assists. I can’t wait to go!

Where in Italy?