Tipping in Italy

In Italy, the tipping etiquette is not the same as in other countries, such as the UK or USA. In brief, you do not need to tip – not even in restaurants! Although it may be appreciated in some instances, it can also cause offense and the tipping situation is reasonably complex. Read on for more information!

You may question how leaving a tip can cause offense. Well, many Italian restaurants are family run and so you may well have been served by the owner or their son/daughter. By tipping, you are inferring that they need the extra money, to which a proud Italian may take offense! Don’t panic, however, as most restaurant owners are aware that tourists may not have the same tipping etiquette as Italian residents.

On that subject, what do the Italians do when it comes to tipping? In general, Italians will only leave change as a tip because that is easier and quicker than waiting for change. For example, if the bill came to €49, an Italian may leave a €50 note and not wait for the €1 change, instead saying “tenga il resto” or “keep the change”. So, as you can see, the “tip” is far below the 10–20% of the bill that is more typical in the UK and USA and is really just a few coins. (Note: if you do not receive change at a bar or restaurant, this may be because it has been assumed that the change can be kept!)

All that being said, due to persistent tipping from tourists, some restaurants in Italy’s popular tourist destinations, such as Rome, Florence and Venice, do expect tips from tourists. However, you are not obliged to leave one, particularly as a service charge (“il servizio”) is typically added to the bill automatically (between €1 and €3 per person). In some regions, an additional cover charge is used called “il coperto”, which is “rental” for the tablecloth and silverware, etc. and may also include bread. Note that il coperto is illegal in Lazio so you are unlikely to see it in Rome. In summary, if you had particularly excellent service in a top restaurant then you can leave a tip of, being generous, 10% minus any service/cover charge but do not feel obliged to do so.

Well, that’s restaurants. What about elsewhere in Italy? Here’s a quick summary.

Taxi drivers will not expect a tip but will be appreciative of one if they assisted you with your luggage or provided you with additional, helpful information about your holiday location. Similarly, hotel porters and concierge staff will not expect a tip but will be appreciative of a few euros if they have been particularly helpful. In addition, tour guides will appreciate but not necessarily expect a tip. In general, €5 for a half-day private tour and €10 for a full-day private tour will be more than adequate.

What is different to the UK and USA, however, is that you should take a receipt when you pay. Taking a receipt was once the law in Italy as it was proof that you paid and that the owner rang it in for tax purposes. On occasion, plain clothes police officers stop customers and request to see a receipt. You are not legally obliged to provide proof of purchase anymore but it will make things a lot smoother if you can provide your receipt! This is especially true in street markets.

Thinking about a holiday in Italy but can't decide where to go? Check out our multi-centre holidays, which allow you to visit more than one city in a single trip!

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