Just spent a very enjoyable few days working in Milan with some lovely people. One question puzzles me though. Why exactly do hotels in continental Europe still ask you to surrender your passport at reception? It was only for five minutes or so, but it's still a little disconcerting. In the UK, they'd be more interested in seeing your Mastercard.
20 years ago, I seem to remember that French and Italian hotels held on to your passport for the duration of your stay and you had to rely on trust that you weren’t entering a brothel where you’d be expected to earn your document’s return.
On one occasion in Vienna, I have a feeling I did enter a brothel, which could explain why my memory of the next few years is a bit hazy.