I knew before I left that the dollar was down against the euro and that things were quite expensive in Italy. Of course I chose to ignore it figuring I would do just fine and not get too extravagant.
Ha! I had no idea how that would play out in reality, so let me give you some "for instances"...
Keep in mind that 1 Euro = $1.50 (ish) in US currency.
So a bottle of water at 2 Euro is actually $3.
In Italy tipping is not necessary; probably because you and your Euro are easily parted. Many restaurants charge a per person copertin (table fee) of $1-3 per person, water is not free so you usually buy a bottle for $3 , a fee for the bread they bring to the table (1.50 per person) is tacked on and that's before ordering any food. A bowl of soup? $10, dessert? $7.50,
At a Trattoria, my first day in Rome, Jeff (one of my photo class buddies) and I split a pizza, a salad, and each of us had one can of Coke. The bill? 38 Euro or $57!!! Turns out the cokes were $9 apiece.
The 4 mile taxi from the Terontola train station to the hotel? $27.
My advice? Wait another two years; economists are predicting the dollar will be much stronger than the euro by then. If you really can't wait; take a second job!