It occurs to me that the situation with Italians and change really hasn't changed (sorry) in about 30 years since I was first in Italy in 1978. Back then IIRC, the smallest paper money was like 500 Lira and if you went someplace (like the tower of Pisa) that cost like 100 Lira and expected to get coins back as change, you were wicked hosed. They might take the 500 Lira note and let you in or they might tell you to get lost.
Roll forward 29 or so years. There is this thing called the Euro. If you pay for something that costs .39 Euros in Germany or Amsterdam or, gasp, even France with a 5 Euro note (the smallest paper Euros I have seen) they gladly give you back 4.61 in CHANGE. Not in Italy. In Italy you would be lucky to get back 4.60 or maybe even 4.50. In all my trips to Italy in the last year, the only cent and two-cent pieces I've seen have been in my pocket when I got to the country. Today I was at a place that didn't even have five-cent pieces. Geez, in Amsterdam they'd probably be so embarassed if they didn't have cents they'd give you back 4.65 or just the whole 5 Euros.
And the vending machines at the customer are no better. Things cost like .39 and .52 Euros and the machines don't take cents and don't give back change as coins. (They do have the capability to add the money to a key fob that all the customer employees have; As a vendor, I just haven't rated one.) So, I've gotten very good at hording coins and buying multiple things at once so I don't lose too much money in the machine. Which is funny since it is going on my expense report anyway.
Is copper that much more valuable in Italy than in Amsterdam? What gives?