LivingTravelWhen and how much to tip in Italy: the...

When and how much to tip in Italy: the complete guide

In 2012, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend dined at two restaurants in central Rome. They did not tip either of them. The next morning, the billionaire couple’s snub made the front pages of Italian newspapers. There was a public outcry, but many people may have thought, ‘What’s all the fuss about? Everyone knows you don’t tip in Italy! “

Oh you

The confusion surrounding leaving a tip ( the mancia ) in Italy is nothing new. The best thing to do is prepare ahead of time by reading Italian customs and social etiquette. And knowing Italy’s expectations when it comes to tips can help you avoid embarrassing situations or even prevent you from creating another international incident.

Tips on tips in Italy

Due in large part to mass tourism (particularly from the US, where tips are the norm), attitudes in Italy about tips are changing. But what was true in this country 20 years ago is still true today: you don’t need to tip in Italy. Why? One main reason is that Italian workers are paid a monthly salary for their work, in contrast to food service personnel in the US, who receive a reduced hourly wage rather than tips. It’s not that Italians never tip, it’s just that they do it less obligatory and in much more modest amounts.

So before digging through your wallet at dinner or pulling out your wallet at the booth, check out our when, how and how much to tip (or not) in Italy:

In restaurants

If you have a proper meal in a restaurant, the general rule of thumb to reward good service is to leave the waiters around € 1 per person. Often a party will simply round up the check by a few euros, for example, leaving € 55 for a € 52 check. If you want to tip more than that, you still don’t need to leave more than 10 percent of the total check. Tipping of 15 to 20 percent, while standard in US restaurants, is unknown in Italy. And remember, for really lousy or indifferent service, you have to leave niente (nothing).

In bars

If you’re sipping espresso at a coffee bar counter, it’s perfectly fine to leave the extra change behind (usually a 0.10 or 0.20 coin will do). For table service, you may be charged a ‘service fee’ for seating (predominantly in tourist areas). In that case, it is not necessary to leave a tip.

Taxis

The ‘rule’ here is to leave a place between nothing and a euro or two. If your driver is especially friendly or offers to carry your bags up the stairs, a few euros is a standard tip. Please note that a surcharge could be added to your fee for each piece of luggage, which is perfectly legal. For a regular taxi ride within city limits, you can simply round to the nearest 0.50 cent or € 1, if you wish.

Hotels

At full-service hotels, staff should receive the following tip:

  • Porter: € 1 per suitcase.
  • Housekeeper: € 1 per day.
  • Valet parking and concierge: € 1 to € 2.

Tours

It’s not mandatory, but these days it has become quite common to tip your guide. If you are satisfied with the tour, it’s fine to give your guide a few euros from each person in the group.

Situations when tipping is not required:

  • Grabbing a quick snack in a cafe.
  • Family businesses where it is obvious that the people who serve you are the owners of the establishment.
  • When a check has even service (service included), the tip has already been added, so you do not need to leave anything else. That being said, if you had particularly good service, you can go ahead and drop an extra couple of euros.

Dos and Don’ts for Tipping in Italy

  • Tip with cash, even when paying the bill with a credit card.
  • If you want to tip a particular server, make sure the money reaches their hands; otherwise, you may never see it.
  • Don’t brag by going overboard with tips.
  • Remember that in all squares, except the most touristy, your waiter will not bring you your check until you request it. You are not being ignored; it is considered rude to present the check before the customer requests it.

For every tourist or Italian you meet and tell you there is no need to tip in Italy, you will find another who will tell you that it is now the norm to leave something. Ultimately, tipping in Italy is about what makes you feel comfortable. If you feel better leaving a tip and doing so isn’t going to ruin your vacation budget, then by all means, leave a few euros to show your appreciation. We still have to have a waiter or service person refuse a tip in Italy!

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