Tipping in Italy: bills and tips explained
In short, tipping in Italy is as a general rule not necessary.
It’s not a custom and it’s definitely not a requirement.
But, of course, that’s in general – as always, there are some exceptions.
Some of those are – that sometimes it’s ok to leave a tip. Sometimes it’s ok to leave a big tip, but sometimes – a small one. And sometimes it’s really not welcome.
Haha, yes, it is.
That’s why I’m going to expand on these things a lot more in this little Italy tipping guide.
But first, why should you listen to me about tipping in Italy?
If this is not the first article you’re reading about tips in Italy, you know that there’s a lot of confusing information going around. Not just from people who have visited Italy, but from Italians themselves or expats who have lived or worked there.
So, why should you listen to me about tipping in Italy?
Well, I’m one of those expats who lived in Italy for 1,5 years and who loves Italy.
Michal and I have travelled around the country from top to bottom and left to right.
We actually didn’t engage too much in the expat community, but mostly with Italians.
I was studying Italian in an Italian language school for foreigners, where we were taught about cultural things as well as the language.
We actually got married in Italy. Yup!
And so on!
So, with all my knowledge and how much I love to learn about everything Italy related, I’m pretty confident that you can listen to my advice, haha.
Bills and tips in Italy – general rules and information
I just wanted to get a couple of confusing things related to bills and tips in Italy out of the way before talking about tipping in specific instances and how much to leave.
Tips in Italy
Tips in Italy are called mancia.
Do you tip in Italy? In general, tipping in Italy is not expected, but it can be, in some cases, appreciated.
I know that if you’re from the United States or Israel, it might be weird for you to not leave a tip in a restaurant. But, of course, you can give tips for exceptional service, and they will be appreciated (unlike in Japan).
But there’s no need to leave more than 10-15% in tips – that would be considered weird.
What is Coperto in Italian restaurants?
If you’ve been to Italy already, you might have noticed coperto x EUR written on the menu or on the receipt.
In short, coperto is a cost for the table service. It usually ranges from 1,50 to 3 euros per person.
That includes the bread, oil, balsamic vinegar, etc., that is taken to the table. And coperto covers the actual use of the table, tablecloth, utensils, and the service of the waiter.
Even if you’re not getting bread, for example, when eating pizza, there might be coperto charged. As I said, it’s for using the table.
There should be no coperto in Lazio, which is the region where Rome is located, as it’s illegal there.
Coperto is not exactly a tip, though.
If there’s no coperto, you might find pane on your bill.
This is the price for the bread that was put on your table. It usually ranges from 1-1,50 euros per person.
Theoretically, you can deny the bread and then you won’t be charged for it.
But I’d advise that you eat it – the bread is generally very tasty.
This is a tip, but it’s usually for bigger groups of people.
If your receipt or bill already has servizio incluso on it, that means the service charge, i.e., tip, is already included. Servizio incluso literally means service included in English.
You’ll find tips included mostly in touristy areas, though.
If you see the servizio incluso, don’t leave an extra tip, there’s no need.
The tax is included
I’ll just leave this right in the middle of tipping tips, haha.
Just like anywhere in Europe, the tax is included in the price.
Related: Venice 2 day itinerary
So, if you see that a meal costs 10 euro, it will in fact cost 10 euro in the bill, not anything else.
The same in stores – if a bottle of wine in Italy is 2,50 on the price tag, that’s what you’re paying at the cash.
No unpleasant surprises!
You can’t tip with a credit card
If you found the service exceptional, you might want to leave a tip.
In that case, make sure you have some cash on you (not 1 or 2 cent coins, that’s just petty) because, in most places, there will not be an option to add the tip on the card bill.
Tips in Italy are generally left on the bill on the table if you’re in a restaurant or a café.
Don’t give the tip directly to the waiter – that will just create confusion and embarrassment.
You won’t get the bill unless you ask for it
In Italy, good service doesn’t mean hovering over you and asking you if everything is going well every five minutes.
Generally, you will get the food and then will be left to your own devices.
At the end of the meal, when you’re ready to pay, flag down the waiter and ask for the bill.
You can say:
Possiamo pagare? which means, can we pay?
Il conto, per favore which means, the bill, please.
Don’t tip the owner
This is kind of a weird rule for me, but if you get service from an owner, you’re not supposed to tip.
In this case, if you try to tip, you might offend the person. “Are you trying to say my business is not doing well??!”
You’ll recognize that the waiter is the owner if you see them at the cash desk and cooking the food in the kitchen.
Tipping in Italy – specific cases
Ok, so, we’ve gone over the basic information on tipping in Italy and visiting restaurants.
So, let’s check more closely different other cases.
Tipping in a restaurant or café in Italy
As I’ve stated already, there might be tips included in your bill already. And coperto ain’t it.
But if you really liked the service you got and there’s no servizio incluso or coperto, you might feel like leaving a tip. But how much?
Well, you can round up to the next round number (5 or 10) – so instead of 42 euros, you’d pay 45 or from 45 to 50. And yes, that’s enough, you don’t need to leave 20% like in the US.
Another rule of thumb I’ve heard is leaving 1EUR per person.
Tipping when drinking coffee at the bar
Drinking coffee at the bar in an establishment is usually faster and cheaper than getting table service.
So if you decide on that and want to leave a little something for the barista, you can just round up to the next whole euro.
That is, if your coffee costs 0,80EUR (yes, coffee really does cost that cheap in Italy), you can leave a whole euro. From 2,50 (cappuccino in a fancier place) give 3EUR.
Just leave the coin on top of your bill, that way the barista will know that it’s a tip.
Tipping the barman
Tipping the barman in Italy is not really a thing, especially if you received your drink at the bar itself. Of course, you can just round up to the nearest euro if it makes getting change easier.
Tipping taxi drivers or shuttle services
Do not tip shuttle service drivers or taxi drivers in Italy. It’s just not done.
The same thing applies to tipping water taxi drivers in Venice – no need to do it.
The only exception is rounding up to the nearest euro so that it’s easier to give change.
Tipping in a hotel in Italy – porters, concierge, cleaning staff
For porters, if the person took your bag up to your room, leave a euro per bag. If the poor lads had to carry multiple bags up flights of stairs, leave 5 euros to them.
Leave a tip to a hotel concierge if they help you find information that wouldn’t be readily available elsewhere. For example, if they went out of their way to help you find a good restaurant (that you wouldn’t be able to easily find on google maps), got a reservation for you in a booked-out restaurant. Or maybe they recommended an excellent tour or an incredible cooking course. In this case, leave 5 to 10 euros.
It’s customary to leave cleaning staff 1 euro per night. You can leave a euro in your room to ensure that the tip gets to the person who actually changed your towels or the full amount in an envelope at the end of your stay. The envelope can be left in your room or given to the receptionist when checking out.
Tipping tour guides in Italy
This is one of the exceptions to the rule where you actually are supposed to tip. The tip money is kind of the main source of income for guides.
The amount of the tip depends on the length of the tour, the size of the group, and the service you received.
Generally, the tip is 5 to 10 euros for a person for a tour. The bigger the group and the shorter the tour, the smaller the tip.
If the guide was not good, don’t feel obligated to leave a tip. But it’s not that often the guides are not enthusiastic and entertaining.
Tipping hairdressers, masseuses, and similar
It’s not really expected to tip in a beauty salon or, for that matter, at a spa.
Of course, if the service was completely incredible, you can leave a bit of a tip, but generally not more than 10%.
So, in short, how much to tip in Italy?
Well, really, as much as you’d like.
Just know that the US custom of tipping 20% or more is not needed – Italians tip if the service was really worth it.
Generally, you just round up to the nearest euro or nearest round number (5 or 10).
So, if your bill was 8EUR, leave a 10. If it was 3,47, you can leave 4 or 5 euros. That’s completely enough.
The service was nothing special? You don’t need to leave anything.
Last thoughts about tipping in Italy
When going to Italy, you really don’t need to worry about tipping too much.
It really is much easier – and cheaper – than in other places, such as the USA (sorry, guys, for mentioning you so much in this article).
If the service was great, though, sure, leave something.
Have I forgotten anything? Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments!