Tipping in Italy
Tipping while traveling is always a heated topic. You can probably find hundreds of articles online debating whether to tip or not in Italy and when to do so and how much. The only truth is: you don’t need to tip in Italy.
With that being said, during the past 20 years as a consequence of the large influx of tourists particularly from North America, where tipping is ubiquitous, expectations over tipping have changed. This is especially true among hospitality workers in touristy areas, where tips from generous travelers have become a norm and therefore are often not just welcomed but also expected.
However, under no circumstance you should feel obliged to leave a tip. This is because Italian workers are paid a monthly salary for their work, unlike hospitality workers in the U.S. who are paid a reduced hourly wage in expectation of tips. If you were pleased by the service you received or if you feel better leaving a tip and doing so will not put a dent in your vacation budget, then by all means, leave a few euros to show your appreciation. To this date, we still have yet to witness a waiter or service-person refuse a tip in Italy!
Dining & Tipping
The rule of thumb for rewarding good service at a restaurant is to round up the check by a few euros, say, for instance leaving €30 for a €27 check. Because waiters and staff do not depend on tips to survive but receive a salary, they will not be acting as your “new” best friend when you sit down to eat. So once you have ordered, you will need to get their attention if you need something, that also applies for the check.
It is customary for restaurants to charge patrons a Coperto or Servizio charge. The coperto is essentially a cover charge used to offset the price of table cloths, bread, oil, salt, and anything else you might be using and it ranges around 1.00€ – 3.50€ per person. The servizio charge is a service tip and is usually applied to large parties, generally 8 or more, or when you go to a Bar (Café in Italian) and are served at the table.
Dos & Don’ts of Tipping in Italy
- If you decide to tip, tip with cash – even when you pay with a credit card.
- If you want to tip a particular server, make sure to give the money directly to them – otherwise, that person may never see it.
- When a check has servizio incluso (service included), the tip has already been added, so you don’t need to leave anything more. With that said, if you had especially good service, you can go ahead and leave a couple of extra euros.
For every proponent of tipping in Italy, you will most likely find another who will say that tipping is not needed in Italy. Ultimately, tipping in Italy is about what you feel comfortable with. If you feel like tipping then tip away, if you don’t then don’t stress!