Last updated on December 29th, 2023
How many times have you heard that Italians don’t tip? Probably many but is it actually true? If you have been to Italy, opened any guide book or tried to follow the locals, you are probably confused and overwhelmed by the conflicting information out there in terms of tipping in Italy.
When I first came to Italy I didn’t understand either but after years of both working and enjoying services in Italy, I now know all about tipping in Italy. With plenty of first hand experience under my belt, I can confidently share my insider knowledge on tipping in Italy with you.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a steadfast rule or formula to use when it comes to tipping in Italy but rather, it depends on the service and situation. But how are you going to decipher each individual tipping situation?
Don’t worry, I am here to help. In this article, I will go over exactly when and where you should be tipping in Italy where you are not expected to tip and tipping best practices.
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Should You Tip In Italy?
Although there is no solid rule for tipping in Italy, it’s fair to apply this general statement to any situation:
TIPPING IN ITALY IS NOT EXPECTED BUT IT’S ALWAYS APPRECIATED!
Unlike the US, there is no rule or minimum amount you must tip for various services nor is it expected but when it does happen, it’s always much appreciated.
You should be tipping in Italy if you are particularly satisfied with the service that has been provided to you. It’s a way of showing gratitude.
Fact: Tips are not required in Italy. You should only be tipping for services that you particularly enjoyed.
Why You Should Be Tipping In Italy?
Italy is the motherland of piacere or pleasure, sometimes referred to as la dolce vita Italiana so why not show your appreciation for the lovely experiences you had while visiting?
If you particularly enjoyed a service or thought an experience was beyond any expectation, then you can show this appreciation by tipping in Italy.
Of course, there are other ways of showing how much you enjoyed a service or product with words, online reviews and recommendations but a solid tip is a tangible way to show your appreciation directly to the person who was serving or helping you.
Why Italians Don’t Expect Tips
The main reason there is no tipping expectation in Italy is because it’s not bound to the law.
Italians working in the service industry are paid enough to support themselves. This being said, they are by no means paid well and tips are especially welcomed by waiters. In the US, tipping waiters is fundamental because they rely primarily on tips to make a sufficient wage.
Keep In Mind: Just because tips are not expected doesn’t mean they aren’t greatly appreciated by Italians who work in the service industry.
Quick Reference Guide To Tipping In Italy
|Who To Tip/Situation
|Amount To Tip
|How To Tip
|waiters at a Restaurant
|Leave € on the table with the merchant copy of the receipt
|barista (when you are having coffee standing up at the bar)
|round up to nearest €
|Leave the tip on your receipt on the bar countertop
|waiters at a café (when drinking coffee at il bar)
|Leave € on the table with the merchant copy of the receipt
|Leave € on nightstand daily
|€5-10 per service
|Give € to concierge on departure
|€1/bag or €5 flat tip, no matter the number of bags
|Give € directly to the porter after delivery
|€1 for calling you a cab
|€1 directly to him or her
|room service waiter
|Leave on tray in room
|€5-10 per person or 5% for multiple days
|Give € directly to guide at end of tour
|Round up €1-2
|Tell driver to keep change
|€5 short distances but upward of €15-20 for longer trips; 10% full day
|Give € directly to driver at end of day/service
|food delivery person
|€3-5 and upward of €10 depending on how large the order is.
|Hand € to delivery person after they have handed you the food
|Give € directly to him or her
|Give € directly to him or her when you are leaving
|parking lot attendant
|Give € directly to him or her
|gas station attendant
|You can opt for getting your gas pumped for you and paying a premium gas price/liter
|cashiers (at bars)
|Instead, you might see a jar for un caffè sospeso
When You Should Be Tipping In Italy
When tipping in Italy happens, oftentimes it’s in the form of ‘keeping the change’. For example, if you have an aperitivo out with three friends and it’s €9.50 per person, you might leave €30 on the table, allowing the server to keep the €1.50 change.
If you are leaving the change directly to someone who is providing you with change and you want them to keep it, say:
Tenga il resto.
Keep the change.
Tipping In Italy At A Restaurant
Although you are not legally required to tip a waiter in Italy, it’s also not true that all waiters make a good wage either. The majority of waiters make enough to get by but it does not provide them any wiggle room.
Keep In Mind: Never feel like you have to leave a tip. You should be tipping only when you feel the person deserves it.
Many Italians will tip by leaving anywhere from a couple of €1 coins for a light lunch and upwards of 10% of the bill at a high end restaurant.
For example, when my husband and I go out to dinner, we may spend around €90.00. If the bill is €85, we will just pay €90 in cash and let the waiter keep the change. If the bill is around €92, we will pay €100.00 and leave the change (more or less, the amount is going to hover around 10%).
If we are paying with a card, we will just leave a small bill, either a €5 or €10 on the table with the merchant copy of the receipt.
Tipping In Italy At A Bar Or Café
Standing At The Bar
If you have your coffee standing up at the bar, tipping in Italy is not commonly practiced. Usually a coffee will cost around €1 so it’s unlikely you will have extra change with which to tip the barista. If, however, you order 2 cappuccini, you will probably be charged around €2.70. Leave the €.30 on the counter with your receipt when you go to order your coffee at the bar. You are more likely to tip when sitting at a table.
Sitting At A Table
Same concept applies as at the bar: leave a bit of change that makes sense based on the total cost of your bill for coffee but don’t leave small denomination coins like centesimi.
Good To Know: Centesimi are 1/100 of a euro. They’re like the euro version of a penny.
Tipping In Italy At A Hotel
Tipping in Italy is really only commonly practiced in luxury hotels but not really the norm in smaller pension or B&Bs primarily because the situations or services in which you might tip aren’t offered.
Good To Know: You do not need to tip the owners for a long-term rental with Airbnb or other online rental hosts. Rather, tip the housekeeper for their services. If I stay a week in an agritourism, I will leave a €10.00 bill at the end with a small thank you note or in an envelope.
Again, no rule but around €1-€2 per day is the baseline. Either leave it daily (which can help to ensure good service everyday) or leave it in an envelope on the last day. In this case, the money may go to someone who only cleaned your room 2 days meanwhile the housekeeper who cleaned the other 5 gets the short end of the stick).
If you are using a concierge service at your hotel, leave a tip of €5-10, depending on how much they helped you with what you needed and how satisfied you were per service provided.
Tipping a hotel porter is a nice thing to do, about €1 per bag, or €5 total.
If they call you a taxi cab, consider a €1 tip.
Room Service Waiter
Leave €1-2 coins or up to a €5 bill, depending on the total cost of your room service on the tray when you’re finished (don’t leave the tray outside your door, however, because it will disappear in a second!).
You can round up the tab to the nearest euro if you’d like. For example, leave a €10 bill for a €9 cocktail. If you pay with a card, keep in mind that centesimi can be offensive so it’s best to keep a couple 1 or 2 euro coins on hand and leave one on the table with the merchant copy of the receipt.
Tipping In Italy Your Tour Guide
Depending on how you booked your tour, your guide may only be receiving a small portion of the total amount paid while the remainder is going to the tour company and booking fees.
Consider around €5-10 per person. If you are on a longer tour, say a full day tour or two day tour, consider 5%.
Some tours are subsidized by the city to promote tourism. In this case, a tip is greatly appreciated so if you were happy with the service, don’t hesitate to tip the same €5-10 per person, as with a paid tour.
Tipping In Italy Private Drivers
This really depends on the length of the trip and/or total cost of the car service.
If you are being picked up from an airport and being driven two and a half hours, you should tip around €15-20. If it’s a short ride from an airport to your hotel in the city center, €5 is fine.
For a full day of driving (for example, if you book a driver to take you through prosecco country in Veneto, tip upward of 10%.
Tipping In Italy Taxi Drivers
Lots of Italians end up leaving the change to a taxi driver, which can be anywhere from €1-2 or upward of €10 for long rides.
For example, if your trip is €18.40, leave a 20 and leave them the change.
Tipping In Italy At A Spa
If you are at a spa, salon or wellness center in Italy, you may decide to leave a tip for exceptional services. Usually, Italians do not tip for these services but it’s a nice thing if you are happy with your service or haircut. I usually just leave €5 directly with my hair stylist but you can leave upward of 10%.
Tipping In Italy A Private Chef or Cook
If you have decided to hire a private chef or cook to come and cook for you, you can tip them 10% of the total bill at the end of the night by handing cash to them in an envelope.
Tipping In Italy Attendants
No matter what they are tending or keeping a look after, you should be tipping around €1.00.
Exception: If you are tipping a bathroom attendant, you can also tip €.50 and it doesn’t come off as cheap.
When You Shouldn’t Or Don’t Need To Tip In Italy
There are really only a few situations when you really shouldn’t tip in Italy.
When You Are Dissatisfied With The Service
Because tipping in Italy is not mandatory, you should only be tipping as a way to show your appreciation to a person for their service. You should not tip if you are not satisfied with the service you received. If for any reason you felt ignored, that the service was not as it was advertised or fell below your expectation level, then don’t feel any pressure to leave a tip. Don’t worry, it won’t make you look bad.
When The Service Is Included In The Bill
Typically, table service is not included in the bill. To cover the wages of waiters, the bar charges more for items when you sit down (as opposed to consuming them standing up at the bar).
If, however, you see servizio incluso on the bill, it means that the restaurant or bar is adding an extra service charge for the waiter’s service to you and you should not be tipping them.
Nice To Know: By law, if the service is included, it must be listed on the menu. It’s illegal to add servizio incluso to the bill if it’s not advertised somewhere else that is visible to you.
Servizio incluso is not a typical practice in Italy but it’s something that you will see in very touristy areas such as popular squares in Rome, Florence and Milan or in many areas of Venice. It’s a little sneaky so be sure to ask your server about any potential service fees before tipping in Italy to avoid any confusion at the end.
Fact: The word coperto refers to the bread and table setting, not the table service. Read more about the coperto in Italy.
Who You Shouldn’t Tip In Italy
You should not tip owners of bars, restaurants, etc. The point of the tip is that it shows appreciation for WHO was serving you. If you tip the owner, he or she might pocket the money. Unfortunately, you can’t trust them to then divide it out to the servers (like in many US places) or give it to the person who served you.
The concept of a hostess at a restaurant in Italy is different than it is in the US. Usually, the host will be the owner and as I said, it’s not customary to tip owners.
If you would like your gas pumped by an attendant, look for the pump labeled or marked servito instead of self-service and someone will come out to pump your gas for you. In this case, the price/liter is going to be higher to account for the service (i.e. servizio incluso)
Exception: If they are providing a specific service like checking your tires or washing your windshield, feel free to tip €1 if you want
Cashiers (at bars)
No tip is usually given to cashiers at bars but you might see a jar labeled caffè sospeso, which translates to “suspended coffee”. The caffè sospeso is a southern Italian tradition when you order a coffee but pay for two, allowing the next person who comes along who is not able to pay, to cash in and order the already paid for coffee.
Note: In some touristy places in town that cater to international markets, cashiers will also put a small jar out labeled “tips” but this is not an Italian tradition.
How To Leave A Tip In Italy – Cash Only!
It’s an old country and so old school it is – no cards, just coins and bills when tipping in Italy.
Tipping In Italy With Cash
Fort tipping in Italy, you need to tip with cash, not add an allotted amount to the total bill that you will be paying with a card. Unfortunately, you cannot trust that any money paid out as a tip on a card will actually land in the hands of who served you. It’s better to leave cash directly on the table for the server or waiter.
Tipping In Italy With Coins
The other concept to keep in mind is quantity. Italians can get offended and leaving such a small amount such as a few pennies or small denomination coins is cheap and will come across just so. It can be perceived as offensive by an Italian to leave a handful of pennies. If that’s all you have, skip the tip and compliment the waiter for their lovely service and food.
Stick to €.50, €1 or €2 coins but avoid small denominations such as €.01, €.02, €.05, €.10.
Good To Know: It’s absolutely fine to tip with bills if the tip amounts to a larger figure such as €5.00 or more.
Three Tips For Tipping In Italy
- Although you may be used to it, there is no need to leave a large tip upward of 30%. Even at the nicest restaurants, a 10% tip will do.
- Don’t slip cash into someone’s hand or pocket. Leaving it on the table when you leave is just fine.
- Don’t leave 1,2, or 5 cent coins on the table for anything.
Helpful Tipping Vocabulary
|tenga il resto
|tehn-gah eel reh-stoh
|keep the change
|Mi potrebbe cambiare i venti euro per favore?
|mee poh-trehb-beh cahm-beeah-reh ee vehn-tee ehoo-
|Can you please change this €20 banknote?
Tipping In Italy FAQ
Servizio incluso means that the restaurant or bar is adding an extra service charge for the waiter’s service to you. It should be advertised as an additional charge either on the menu or in sight before your bill arrives. If it’s not, it’s illegal to charge you for it.
Yes, you still need to pay the coperto, even if you don’t eat the bread because the charge covers more than just the bread.
Yes, if your child takes up a seat and is going to eat, they will be charged a coperto fee.
No, tipping in Italy is not required by law but it is greatly appreciated by who served you. Tipping is a way to show your appreciation for a service that you particularly enjoyed.