7 Essential Rules for Tipping in Italy in 2019

Ah, tipping. Gratuity. A little something extra. But exactly how much extra should you be leaving when you’re tipping in Italy?

If you are coming from a country where tipping is common, you may be prepared to leave a lot of extra cash behind when tipping in Italy. While tips are (almost) always appreciated, leaving 18-25% after the fact would be far too much.

In Italy, the tax is built into the relevant prices that you see advertised.  If something costs 25 euro, then you will pay exactly 25 euro for it.  The 22% VAT is already hidden inside.

For the most part, prices are straightforward.

However, eating out in Italy comes with its own hidden fees as well as the great question: how much should I tip?  Here are 7 pointers on tipping in Italy, and a demystifying explanation of what you are seeing on your bill when you eat out.

Siena Dining

Tips for Tipping in Italy When Eating Out:

  1. Coperto: There is sometimes a charge called a coperto. This coperto should be clearly stated somewhere on the menu, and may range from 1-3 euro per person. A coperto is not a tip, it is a cover charge to offset the price of bread, oil, salt, and anything else you might be using. In Lazio (where Rome is located), there should not be a coperto charge.
  2. Pane: HOWEVER, if there is not a coperto, then expect to pay 1 to 1.50 per person for bread. (You may see this written on the bill as pane in Italian). You can try to send the bread back if you really don’t want to pay this, but the bread is good and really it is not so much to charge, is it?
  3. Servizio: Another sneaky charge that might pop up is the servizio. The fact that a servizio will be added should be clearly stated on the menu, and it should be used only in the case of groups of 8 or more. The servizio is a tip, so there is no need to leave anything more if you have been charged this fee.
  4. Tip as much (but not too much) or as little as you like: Ok, so what about when there is no coperto and no servizio? Well, then, it is simply up to you – but the tip is not anywhere near the 20% that has become standard in the US. A good rule of thumb in a typical restaurant is about 1 euro per person. Alternatively, you can round up the bill, let’s say from 75 to 80 euro. This article (also in Italian) goes into a bit more of a debate – concluding that you should tip when you feel like it. Was the service fantastic? The waiter anticipated your every desire? Tip! But if the service was terrible? Forget it.
  5. Do you have to tip for coffee? I always take my coffee at the bar, rather than sit down at a table. This is partly because I prefer the custom of standing, but also because coffee prices vary if you sit down. (My friends once paid €8 for a cappuccino by the Pantheon!).  However, for prompt service (and because I feel like it), I usually put a small coin on top of my receipt when I bring it to the barista.  If your coffee was €0.90, you can leave the 10 cent coin behind if you like, but this is totally optional.Siena Palio Selva-3
  6. What about tipping everyone else? What about tipping your tour guide or your porter who carried your bag up 4 flights of stairs when the elevator stopped working? By all means, tip a few euro for great service. And you may want to tip a minimum of €5 in this case, because it is a bit awkward to drop euro coins into someone’s hand on the sly. It is easier (and kinder) to slip them a note. There is a rumor that tipping in Italy is insulting. It’s not. Italians are used to the American custom and appreciate it so feel free to tip your tour guide if you feel so inclined, but 20% would still be much much more than customary. To make this a bit more confusing – it is not customary to tip the owner of a business. Employees, fine. However, the owner is autonomous and does not need tipping charity. They have a business to run, and it is doing just fine, thank you.
  7. And tipping in Italy for taxis? Nope. It’s not done. No. Get your change, or round up 10 – 50 cents if it makes the change easier.

    Drinks in Venice

    Now that you know about tipping in Italy – want more suggestions on how to act like a local during your time here? Check out this round-up of even more etiquette pointers.

guide to how to tip in Italy

16 thoughts on “7 Essential Rules for Tipping in Italy in 2019

  1. SM Diego says:

    Great tips about tips! A gaggle of us Californian’s heading out to Rome in a few weeks. I’ve been multiple time but always get flustered by tipping! I’ve had one European boyfriend once tell me “don’t ruin it for the rest of us,” when I tipped too much. At the same time, I second guess myself and think, “gah, they know I’m an American and how we tip, how can I not!”

  2. Sherry says:

    I’m renting a b&b/apartment style place in Rome and they sent me a message with a note about suggested tips to leave, one of them being maid service at 2-5 euros per day. I thought that was odd, as I’ve never had an establishment so blatantly point that out before. In fact, other hotels I’ve stayed in Rome don’t even take the tip I leave with a note!

  3. kelly says:

    We are currently in Italy right now for a 2 week trip fro Rome, Siena, Tuscany, Florence, Venice and Naples/Sorrento and it was just 2 of us a couple. We were charged Servicio on almost every bill and it was just us. Also, cab and taxi do expect tip and especially if you arrange transport from a hotel. We tried the round up or 1 euro a person and it was not taken kindly. We were blantly asked by restaurants that didnt have Servicio to leave a tip. The added servicio at restaurants was anywhere from 10-15% so your advice may be a little outdated.

    • Natalie says:

      Ciao Kelly! Sorry if you had a bad experience. I would still stand by this advice for tipping in Italy, however.

      Private drivers arranged via a hotel should be treated more like service providers than taxis so 10% (or at the very least a bill – meaning €5 min and not coins, could be expected).

      If you were blatantly told to leave a tip, it was likely in English, correct? I think this is unfair but some restaurants do it because they know that the standard is different in the US. I don’t tend to ever go back to the place that treats me this way because it is not correct.

    • Jennifer H. says:

      We had the same experience in one of the restaurants in Rome. When we were about to pay, the person ringing up my sister blatantly asked her if she wanted to leave something for our server (which was him!). And this was on top of the service charge on the bill already, for 9 people!

  4. Larry says:

    Hello Natalie,

    My wife and I want Italy to be our first international trip. We want to go to the famous garden/ruins at Nimfa, which is east of and close to Rome. However, our main focus of the trip will be the Bay of Naples area (Nimfa will be the outlier far north of Naples). Should we rent a car & drive ourselves most places? Is there a native college student or some other private guide or tour preferable to us trying to go it alone?

  5. Image Earth Travel says:

    I’ve never been asked for a tip nor has it been expected in Italy and I’ve been living here for 3 years. I think that tourists have brought the tipping culture to Italy.

    Here in the south, we don’t tip and it’s not frowned upon, but if applicable, menus do state a Servizio or Coperto.

  6. Dotty Sperrimg says:

    Thank you for all this information. My husband and I are planning a trip with my parents this year. It is on my mom’s bucket list, her mom’s family Is from Italy. I spent many years as a child in the US learning how to cook Italian food in my grandmothers kitchen with my cousins. They are some of my best memories. My Dad and Mom are in their 70’s and we know there won’t be that many more chances to go with them so this is the year. We are reading up on the norms in Italy so we can be prepared and have the best trip possible. Thanks again.

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