What other ways are there other than "alla romana" (where the bill is split into equal parts and everyone pays one part) are there of paying at a restaurant in Italy?

My question is about "modi di dire" and idiomatic expressions. For instance, besides "pagare alla romana", is there also a "pagare alla napoletana" or other similar "pagare alla X", where X is a noun derived from a city name? And, if so, what exactly does each of these expressions mean?

Preso dal sito clubmacchiavelli.it:

  • Prendiamo ad esempio la classica proposta di "pagare alla romana", frequente quando al ristorante arriva il momento di provvedere al saldo del conto. Generalmente il pagamento alla romana viene inteso come il metodo più sbrigativo per pagare il conto, in quanto si prescinde dall’effettivo consumo di ciascun commensale, procedendo invece ad una divisione della spesa in parti uguali fra tutti i partecipanti.

Wikipedia also states:

  • "Going Dutch" is a term that indicates that each person participating in a group activity pays for themselves, rather than any person paying for anyone else, particularly in a restaurant bill. It is also called Dutch date, Dutch treat (the oldest form) and "doing Dutch".

But what do you say when one parson pays for everyone else, and the next time the other person or another person pays and so on?

OK, I've found it on context.reverso.net:

  • Facciamo alla napoletana: uno paga per tutti.
  • Let's do it Neapolitan-style, one pays for all.

Any other ways? :-)

  • 3
    If this is a question about Italian language, please reword it as such. Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 20:46
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    Everywhichway you prefer, as in any other country: one pays for all, everyone adds up precisely what they spent and pays for it, everybody runs away from the restaurant, faster than the waiters. But what has it to do with Italian language?
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 21:07
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    @Charo "Pagare alla genovese" might be localized, hence prone to variations, because I also knew it as to not pay at all (Tuscany here)
    – kos
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 7:51
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    Oibò: su “pagare alla genovese” nel senso di “pagare ognuno per conto suo” la Wikipedia cita la Crusca la Crusca cita la Wikipedia... (Quanto a me, non ho mai sentito questo modo di dire in nessuno dei due sensi qui menzionati, a parte le generiche insinuazioni sull'avarizia dei genovesi.)
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 8:05
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    @DaG: In Spain, the same thing is said about Catalans, so some people say "pagar a la catalana" to mean that each person pays for himself.
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


"Pagare alla romana" is the only widely-spread expression linking a city (or geographical area) to a method of splitting restaurant bills.

Since Italian costumes vary a lot following geographical patterns, different people living in different regions are looked upon based on common prejudices, which can lead to funny alteration of the original "pagare alla romana".
These are mostly jokes, hence they are not widely spread, but most Italians could understand them anyway, and hopefully smile a bit.

The ones I know or have heard of:

  • "alla genovese": everybody pays for what he/she consumed (most often called "ognuno per sé")
  • "alla ligure": the same as "alla genovese"
  • "alla calabrese": somebody pretends going to the toilet, but in fact he just leaves the restaurant leaving the bill to others
  • "alla portoghese": everybody leaves, nobody pays, problem solved.

It is not really the same, but I find it correlated, the Neapolitan tradition of "Caffè sospeso", in which somebody enters a bar and asks for one coffee, paying for two. The second coffee will be served free of charge to the next needy person ordering a coffee.

I don't claim these prejudices are correct, and if anybody knows more of these jokes I'll be happy to complete the list.

  • @FedericoBonnelli, thank you for adding a funny side to the conversation. Please don't call these prejudices, this word has a very negative connotation, and imho is not appropriate, unless you meant it in a funny way of course. Rather, the fun is not linked to the people who come from the named locations; the fun in using these expressions is just pretending that everyone from that place pays in thay very same way, which of corse cannot be true. It's like the pizzas on pizza menus of restaurants. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 15:01
  • I'm not a big fan of pizzas, but even within the same city two pizzas with the same (city or non-city) name will appear on two different menus belonging to two different restaurants, the ingredients will tend to be partially or completely different. And isn't it fun to think that if you eat "pizza alla Genovese", then you are a "Genovese", (even thoufh you might not consider yourself to be one). Or, isn't it funny, to absurdly! think that whenever a Genovese will eat pizza, they will eat precisely the one reported as pizza alla Genovese in the menu? Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 15:08
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    @JackMaddington pizza names are a completely different story. Some of them are simply classics which everybody will understand, and some others are just made up names. If I order a "pizza Napoli" without even looking at the menu, I'm confident I will receive a pizza with "capperi e acciughe" (caper and sardine) topping, because it's a classic, like the "pizza Margherita" (just mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce), no question asked. If some pizza place invents a new pizza name using a toponym, they often put in the topping some ingredient typical of that place, like "pesto" in "pizza Genovese". Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 15:56
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    @JackMaddington And about calling them "prejudices", in one case the joke infers people from the Calabria region are thieves not willing to pay the bill. According to me this is a very negative offence towards calabrians, and unjustified too, so I'll stick with the very negative connotation of "prejudices" :-) Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 16:02
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    Federico, thanks for the answer (and I uphold your definition of those descriptions as prejudices; otherwise, we would be implying that people from Calabria are actually thieves and so on). Personally I never heard “alla genovese”, “alla ligure” and “alla calabrese”, and as for “alla portoghese” I only know of “portoghesi” referred to people taking a bus without a ticket and so on, not “alla portoghese” as described here. But, as you say, they may well be sayings with a limited diffusion.
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 16:41

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