Tipping In Italy: Essential Guide to Getting it Right

There’s no denying that visiting Italy for the first time can raise all sorts of questions. When you take a trip to Italy, you’ll likely spend much of your time visiting an array of historical sights and dining out.

It’s when you go out and about within Italy that you’ll be thinking of one question at the back of your mind. What should you do about tipping service providers?

You can find out the answer to that question and more in this comprehensive guide to tipping in Italy.

Here is what you need to know:

Do you tip in Italy?

Tipping in Italy is not mandatory.

As with many other European countries, you can tip if you feel that a service provider has exceeded your expectations

Unlike some nations, tipping does not makeup part of a person’s salary, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Tipping customs to keep in mind

In Italy, the first thing to do is check that tips aren’t already included in your bill.

There are a couple of tipping customs that you should bear in mind when you are rewarding your host for excellent service:

  • Always hand the tip in cash to your waiter directly. Otherwise, they might not get your tip;
  • Hosts aren’t being rude by not bringing you the bill. In Italy, it’s considered rude for waiters to give customers the bill unless they ask for it first.

Useful phrases to know

It always helps to know a few Italian phrases, even if you’re not a fluent speaker:

  • Il conto, per favore (the bill, please);
  • Quanto costa questo? (how much is this?);
  • Grazie (thank you);
  • Ciao (goodbye).

Tipping restaurants in Italy

In Italy, restaurants usually add a “gratuity” charge to your bill, which is around 10% to 20% of your bill.

Before you even consider leaving a tip, check whether there’s a tip charge in your itemized bill first. If there isn’t, it’s thought of as polite etiquette to leave around a 10% to 15% tip. Of course, if you haven’t received excellent service, you aren’t obliged to leave a tip at all.

If possible, pay your bill in cash. That way, you can virtually guarantee that the tip will go to your server rather than the restaurant themselves.

Tipping in restaurants in Italy
Image by stokpic from Pixabay

You should be aware that some restaurants may charge you extra fees depending on what you’ve ordered:

  • Coperto. Such a charge must be clearly marked on the menu and is usually one to three Euros per person. It’s not a tip as such, but a cover charge for the price of things like bread, oil, and condiments you’re using for your meals;
  • Pane. If there’s no coperto charge, you’ll sometimes get asked to pay a similar fee for bread if it’s not exclusively listed on the menu as part of your meal;
  • Servizio. If you’re dining as a group of say eight people or more, you don’t need to pay a tip to your server as it’s already included in the bill.

All restaurant staff in Italy don’t rely on tips to make up their wage as they get paid a set salary for their work.

Tipping tour guides in Italy

Tour guides don’t usually get tips – but they are gratefully received.

Sometimes the best way to see the sights in Italy is by going on a tour bus or having a walking tour with a guide. When you’re getting shown around the country’s landmarks or points of interest, you want the experience to be both enjoyable and educational.

If your tour guide has made your experience feel somewhat underwhelming, it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave them a tip.

But, what if they’ve gone beyond the call of duty?

Have they provided you with an entertaining and fascinating experience? In such cases, you’ll want to give them a tip as an extra “thanks” for such an enjoyable tour.

Image by Concetta Angelillo from Pixabay

When it comes to amounts, the general rule of thumb is to tip €5 per person for a half-day excursion, and €10 per person for a full day.

Tour guides get paid a set salary for their work. Tips do not form part of their wage.

Tipping in hotels or guest houses in Italy

Tipping hotel and guest house staff should only get done if they’ve exceeded your expectations.

As you can appreciate, there are many employees in hotels and guest houses. Examples include reception staff, housekeepers that clean your room, bar and restaurant staff, porters, and so on.

It could potentially end up being rather expensive if you keep tipping everyone that serves you in your hotel or guest house! It only makes sense to tip if an individual has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

If you do wish to reward better than average service, here’s a rough guide:

  • €5 for porters that carry your luggage to your room;
  • €1 or €2 for a concierge that offers excellent help and advice;
  • €1/day for maids and housekeepers that service your room;
  • €1 for room service.

Hotel and guest house staff don’t rely on tips to form part of their wage as they get paid a set salary.

Tipping taxis, coaches & cabs in Italy

Taxi, coach and cab drivers don’t expect to receive a tip.

There will be times where it’s more convenient for you to use a taxi to get from one location to another. In Italy, taxi drivers don’t usually get tipped. But, they will appreciate being given extra money. The same applies to cab and coach drivers as well.

Before you embark on a journey, be sure to ask your taxi or cab driver for the fare upfront. When traveling on a coach, you will know these costs from the outset. If you decide that your taxi, coach or cab driver has exceeded your expectations and provided outstanding service, you can tip them. But how much should you give your driver?

For a short journey, round up the bill to the nearest €5. If you’ve gone on a long taxi ride, it makes sense to round up the bill to the nearest €10.

Tipping in bars and pubs in Italy

You aren’t expected to tip staff in bars and pubs in Italy.

People generally don’t tip the waiting staff in bars and pubs. If you insist on leaving your server a tip for excellent service, consider rounding up your bill to the nearest Euro.

For outstanding service, such as sourcing your favorite beverage from elsewhere if they don’t have it in stock, it’s polite to round up your bill to the nearest €10.

If you do decide to tip, be sure to do so when settling your tab rather than each time you get served a drink.

Tipping barbers and in hair salons in Italy

Barbers and hair salon staff in Italy don’t expect to receive a tip.

If you’ve decided to visit a barber or hair salon during your trip to Italy, you may consider leaving a tip for an outstanding service.

The amount you should tip will ultimately depend on how much of an excellent service you received during your visit. You could leave a cash tip that equates to 10% of your bill if you feel you’ve received outstanding care and service.