Are you perplexed about tipping in Italy? You’re not alone! Tipping in Italy can be quite confusing and controversial, so I’m here to help you sort it out.
Yes, there are plenty of people who will insist, “we don’t tip in Italy!” and “tipping isn’t part of our culture!” You can listen to them if you want.
However, I’ve worked in the service industry in the United States and here in Italy, and I can tell you people do tip here, and tips are appreciated!
It’s important to know that tipping in Italy is not the same as tipping in the United States.
Italians don’t always leave a tip, and if they do, it’s not a large amount.
In other words, here in Italy, an automatic, generous tip isn’t given like it is in the United States.
But, if you’ve received exceptional service, feel free to leave a tip!
Obviously, I’ll go into more detail, but if you’re ever unsure about whether or not to leave a tip, keep that in mind.
The advice below is based on my experience living here, working as a guide here, on how my Italian husband tips, and on conversations with friends and acquaintances that work in Italy as:
- Taxi drivers
- Private drivers
- Cycling/hiking guides
- Cultural guides
- Hotel porters
- Hotel housekeeping staff
TIPPING IN ITALY – THE BASICS
- As a general rule, tips aren’t automatically given like they are in the United States and aren’t included in the bill.
- You will hear “we don’t tip in Italy!” and “tipping isn’t part of our culture!” but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave a tip. The amount is definitely less, but tipping for good service is always appreciated.
- Tip with cash, not a credit card. It’s usually not an option to tip on the credit card slip, and if you do, that tip is unlikely to make its way back to your server.
- Don’t tip with small coins. While the €1 and €2 coins are fine to tip with, it’s best to avoid tipping with smaller change. You probably wouldn’t leave a tip in pennies and nickels in the US, so don’t do it here.
- You don’t need to tip the owner of a company, restaurant, etc. If you would like to leave a tip in this situation, leave it with someone else who helped make your experience great (an assistant, a waitress, etc).
- Tips are not required! If someone is asking you or bothering you for a tip, don’t give one. It sets a bad precedent and encourages him/her to continue the impolite behavior (with tourists).
QUICK GUIDE TO TIPPING IN ITALY
|WHO TO TIP||HOW MUCH TO TIP||HOW TO LEAVE TIP|
|waiter (restaurant)||A few €; 10% in high-end restaurants||Leave € on the table or with the cashier|
|barista (taking coffee standing up)||Round up to nearest €||Leave the coin on your receipt at the counter|
|waiter (café), sitting down||Round up to nearest €||Leave € on the table|
|taxi driver||Round up €1-2||Tell driver to keep change|
|private driver||€5 pickup/dropoff; 10% full day||Give € at end of service|
|tour guide||€5-10 per person||Give € at end of tour|
|porter||€1/bag or €5 flat tip||Give € after delivery|
|concierge||€5-10||Hand € to concierge on departure|
|housekeeper||€1/day||Leave € on nightstand daily or at end of stay|
|bartender (aperitivo)||Round up to nearest €||Tell bartender to keep change|
|massage therapist||10%*||Leave € with cashier|
|hairdresser||10%*||Leave € with cashier|
|parking lot attendant||€1||Unofficial; hand € to him|
|private chef||10% of food bill||Hand € in envelope at end of evening/trip|
|food delivery person||€3-5, more for large orders||Hand € to delivery person when food is received|
|gas station attendant||No tip||Gas price higher for serviced pump|
|owner||No tip||We don’t tip owners in Italy|
*Full disclosure – I’m in the minority here. Most people do not tip for these services. I tip for exceptional service, especially if I will be returning.
PRINTABLE QUICK GUIDE TO TIPPING IN ITALY
TIPPING AT A RESTAURANT IN ITALY
You may hear the argument, “Italian waiters don’t need to be tipped – they make a great living wage.”
While a small group of Italian waiters are professionally trained and able to make a career out of being a waiter (you’ll usually find them at high-end restaurants), most are not well paid. True, they don’t make $2/hour like some American waiters, but the wages are not high. And, the cost of living in Italy isn’t low! So, don’t believe the internet chatter that all waiters in Italy are paid well. A tip for great service will be appreciated and well-received.
How do Italians tip at restaurants? If the service is excellent, an Italian will usually leave a few euros. Otherwise, he won’t leave a tip.
What should you do? Feel free to reward exceptional service with a tip of a few Euros if the servizio isn’t already included (more on that below). At higher-end restaurants, a tip for great service can be closer to 10% of the bill.
Remember, you should never feel obligated to leave a tip (out of habit or guilt).
Good To Know: Excellent restaurant service in Italy doesn’t include hovering over your table and asking if you need anything every 5 minutes.
The polite way to leave a tip for your waiter is to leave it on your table when you get up to leave. You do not need to hand it to the waiter (which most will find rather awkward). If you pay your bill at the register, you can leave your tip with the cashier.
Good To Know: I always try to have some €1 and €2 coins with me to use for tips. It’s a pain to have to get change in order to make a tip (and sometimes they won’t have the right change).
You will probably see the coperto and servizio charges on the menu and bill during your time in Italy:
The coperto or pane e coperto is a charge to sit at a table (and sometimes for bread), usually in the range of €1-4.
You will find it at many restaurants in Italy, especially those that see tourists. This is a charge for the use of the table, linens, and silverware, and it often includes bread. It must be listed on the menu (required by law).
Fun Fact: The coperto (which means, ‘cover’) actually originated in medieval times, when weary travelers would enter a locale to take ‘cover’ from the cold or rain. They would often eat their own food, so innkeepers would charge for bread and use of the table, tablecloth, napkins, and utensils.
Servizio is a service charge (an included tip), which is on the bill for large tables or in areas with many tourists. It’s often 15-20% of the bill. If there is a servizio charge on your bill, you do not need to leave an additional tip.
Each restaurant decides if it wants to include the coperto and servizio on its bills.
TIPPING AT A BAR OR CAFÉ IN ITALY
If you order a coffee at a bar or a café in Italy, a tip is not expected.
However, if you pay €0.80 for your coffee at the bar, feel free to leave your €0.20 coin on top of your receipt when you go to collect it.
If you sit at a table, you’re already paying a service fee, so you shouldn’t feel obliged to leave more. If you receive exceptional service, you can round up to the nearest Euro.
Good To Know: The cost of consuming a coffee at the bar is considerably lower than drinking your coffee at a table. Your coffee bill will swell from about €0.80 to upwards of €5 for the chance to sip slowly at the table. It’s worth it if you want to relax and soak up the scene, but if you’re just looking for a quick espresso shot, you’ll want to stick to standing at the bar!
TIPPING AT A HOTEL IN ITALY
Tipping for hotel staff is appreciated (and common) in luxury hotels.
In smaller hotels, pensions, and B&Bs, tipping is not expected, but is definitely appreciated.
You do not need to tip for stays in apartments, AirBnBs, or long-term stays.
A general guideline is €1/day. It’s best to leave it daily (to ensure good service during your stay), but you can also leave the total in your room at the end of your stay.
If the concierge has helped you during your stay (restaurant recommendations, booking tickets for you), a tip is appreciated. You can give €5-10, depending on the help given.
Tipping the hotel porter is not required but is always appreciated. €1 per bag, or €5 total.
A common tip for the doorman is €1 for calling a taxi.
A tip (as a percentage of your total meal bill OR a per meal amount) is appreciated, but not expected. If we are staying somewhere and have the same waiter throughout our stay, we leave a tip at the end of our last meal (recommended). Otherwise, leave a tip at the front desk to be divided amongst the kitchen staff.
Room Service Waiter
€1-2 left on the tray when you’re finished is appreciated, but not expected.
Bartenders do not typically receive tips in Italy, but you can round up if you’d like (leave €10 for your €9.50 negroni).
TIPPING TOUR GUIDES IN ITALY
If you’ve taken a paid tour, a tip is not expected, but is very much appreciated. Guides often only receive a small portion of the fee you paid. Exception – if you take a guided tour with the owner, you do not need to leave a tip.
A common tip is €5-10 per person.
If you have taken a large group or private tour, a tip of 10% is common, and even more if you are thrilled with the experience.
If you’ve taken a free tour, it is common courtesy to tip the guide, €5-10 per person.
TIPPING PRIVATE DRIVERS IN ITALY
Private drivers are sometimes a great alternative to renting a car.
Depending on the service, I will tip €5 for a pick up/drop off or 10% for a full day of driving.
TIPPING TAXI DRIVERS IN ITALY
Tipping a taxi driver is not expected, but I’ve found that most people do leave a small amount. The general rule is to round up to leave €1-2. So, if your cab fare is €13.10, leave €15.00.
You can also leave an additional tip if they help with luggage (€1 per bag).
TIPPING AT A SPA IN ITALY
Are you getting a massage, manicure, or hair cut? If you visit a spa, salon or wellness center in Italy, you may be wondering if you should leave a tip.
Italians generally do not leave tips for these services. Some do, and I usually leave a 10% tip for exceptional service.
Exception: You do not need to tip if the service is performed by the owner.
TIPPING A PRIVATE CHEF IN ITALY
If you’re staying at a private villa and have a chef cook for you once, or nightly, 10% of the total food bill is a standard tip.
|tenga il resto||keep the change|
|Mi può cambiare i venti euro per cortesia?||Can you please change this €20 banknote?|
I hope you found this real-world advice helpful and that you’ll feel confident tipping (or not tipping) during your time in Italy!
Are you planning a trip to Italy? Check out our post – 200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips for Your First (or 10th!) Visit.