Tipping in Italy: When, Whom, and How Much To Tip

Tipping in Italy: When, Whom, and How Much To Tip

If you’ve spent even a fraction of your life in the United States, you’ll notice that tipping has been ingrained in so much of our culture. From grabbing a quick coffee to getting a haircut, we’re used to seeing the prompt, “How much would you like the tip?” But how about tipping in Italy, when and how much are you expected to tip?

It can be a bit of an adjustment to plan a trip to a new country and factor tipping in your budget. You may be asking yourself, “When or where do I tip,” leading up to a trip to Italy or before you move here for good. 

We’ll break down tipping etiquette in Italy, where and when tipping is expected, and how much you should generally leave. 

General Tipping Etiquette in Italy

Tip to reward great service
Tip in Euros cash
Round up the bill to the nearest €5 or €10

Generally, tipping isn’t a huge custom in Italy at all. You can get through an entire trip and not leave anything extra, especially if you’re traveling on a budget, staying in budget hotels and hostels, and avoiding fancy restaurants.

For the most part, it seems more expensive hotels and restaurants expect tipping more often, though it’s still not completely necessary. So, the more or better service you get, the more you should tip. This generally makes sense.

If you choose to tip in Italy, make sure you’re giving cash in Euros. Though this may seem obvious, I’ve seen Americans at popular tourist areas like Cinque Terre leave a single US dollar on tables as a “tip.” What is someone going to do with a single US dollar? Make a trip to the bank to exchange it for Euro cents?

Please make sure you bring cash if you’d like to tip. You won’t always see the little tip section on checks or on the credit card screen. Having a Euro or two on hand is always a good idea, and it ensures the person you give it to actually gets to keep it.

A lot of people who live in Italy like to round up to the nearest five or ten. Let’s say your Taxi was €18.50. It’s common practice to leave the taxi driver with €20, unless he or she is a bad driver or rude. Plus, it makes the payment process a lot easier because the driver doesn’t have to fiddle with small change.

Should I tip at a restaurant, bar, or cafe in Italy?

Service fees (coperto): €1 to €3 
Casual restaurants: round up to the nearest €5 or €10
Fine dining restaurants: up to 10-15%
Coffee bars: €0 to €0.50

The main place you’d consider tipping in any country is in restaurants. Because the wait and bar staff in the US rely mostly on tips to make a living, people from the States are used to the extra cost involved. On the other hand, in Italy, restaurant staff are paid an hourly wage and the expectations are very different. 

On restaurant bills in Italy, you’ll often notice a “coperto” or “servezio” charge of a few Euros (typically €1-€3 per person) that will go towards the staff’s wages. You may leave an additional small cash tip if you were happy with the service by rounding up to the nearest €5 or €10. This is certainly appreciated, but not expected and here’s why.

The service style and tipping in Italy go hand in hand. You’ll experience a very business-like service at most restaurants in Italy, and this is normal, not something to be taken personally. Do not expect an American-style “full service” when you go out to eat.

Usually, your server will visit your table two or three times, to seat you, get your order, and bus your table. They’ll come more times if you’ve ordered multiple courses. It also isn’t rude to call a worker’s attention to order another drink or ask for something.

Of course, tipping is different in fine dining restaurants or places where you feel you’ve received exceptional service. Tips can range from rounding up to the nearest five or ten up to 10 to 15% of the bill. For this, just use your best judgement and give what you think is fair for the service you received.

At cafes, you’ll find a completely different culture compared to coffee in the United States. Cafes in Italy, which are actually called bars, have a turn-and-burn mentality. Customers come in, order a cafe and cornetto (croissant), woof down the pastry and shoot the coffee, and leave within a few minutes of ordering. 

Cafe, or an espresso, will usually cost between €1 to €2.50 (which would be considered a rip off for most locals). If you want to leave a tip, rounding up to the nearest euro would be your best bet.

Bartenders don’t expect tips at all, and generally, you’ll pay exactly the price on the menu for your drinks. Sometimes, you’ll get table service. In either situation, you can always tip if you want. A few Euros here and there is good.

Should I tip my tour guide in Italy?

Not required
If you learned a lot and enjoyed the tour: €5 per person

This is probably the one place that I’ve left larger tips in my time in Italy. Many of the tour guides are insanely passionate about the places they’re taking you through and have college degrees in history or art and have spent countless hours studying about the topics at hand.

One particularly great tour I had was the Doge Castle and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. Despite how bad I am with names and faces, Mose’s tour was so memorable, I’ll never forget him. He spoke about everything with such passion and detail, describing the historical context of every room we went through, and made a great connection to how culturally important Venice is today.

I was with two other friends, and we pooled together to give him €25. Nothing crazy, but we were in a group of 10, and others tipped Mose too. 

Despite this, tipping still isn’t considered mandatory, especially for shorter tours. Use your best judgement in this case as to how much you want to give or whether you want to tip at all. If you learned a lot, laughed, or simply had a good time on your tour, you should consider leaving at least €5 a person to your guide.

Should I tip at a hotel in Italy?

Housekeeping: €1 per night
Concierge: €10 
Doorman, room service: €1-€5

As a man who travels on a budget, I don’t find myself at hotels with concierge, bellman, and doormen very often, so I don’t have personal experience in this circumstance.

However, tips at hotels are usually appreciated, even if it’s a few Euros here and there. Always leave your housekeeper a Euro a night, as they tend to be paid on the lower side and they really do a lot of hard work. If you use room service, have a porter to bring your bags up, or have a doorman hail you a cab, a few Euros would suffice each time they help you.

Lastly, you should tip the hotel concierge a few extra Euros for their service, around €10 or more. They can give you the insider scoop on things going on in the area, make your reservations at the best restaurants, or book tickets to a one-night only show.

Should I tip a barber, hairdresser, or masseuse in Italy?

Not required
Exceptional service: up to 10%

Personal services like haircuts or massages don’t usually require a tip. The money they charge, for the most part, goes right into their pocket.

Of course, there are exceptions for amazing experiences. The go-to figure for this would be up to 10% of the total cost. 

Generally, tip amounts are much smaller in Italy than in the US and in most situations, tipping is not expected. If you’re feeling generous and want to show appreciation for exceptional service, the typical amount to tip is up to 10%. Anything above that is unusual. For casual services such as taxi rides, restaurants or coffee shops, rounding up to the nearest €5 or €10 is customary. This translates into €1 to €3 usually. 

The post Tipping in Italy: When, Whom, and How Much To Tip appeared first on My Dolce Casa.

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