Tips About Tipping in Italy

To tip or not to tip? That is the question!

In North America, diners are pretty much required to tip anywhere they go. No 15% tacked onto your Visa bill or laid out on the table? Well, you’ll certainly get a dirty look from your waitstaff. And don’t think you’ll be given those nice little mints when you leave either. No-sir-ee-bob.

But in Italy, the tipping game is played a little differently. Waiters are paid more, and don’t rely on huge table turnover to grab as many tips as possible to supplement their measly income. This is better for you, the traveler, for two reasons; you’ll get to linger as long as you’d like at your table even after you’ve finished your meal, without being hounded to leave by a waitress whose “boss would just like her to settle all the bills before her shift ends” and, you’re not obligated to tip (dare una mancia).

I’m not saying tipping doesn’t happen in Italy. Sometimes a coperto charge is already included in the bill for 1 or 2 euros per person, which is like a service charge or a tip. An Italian receipt (il conto) is often hard to decipher (creative math, different way of printing numbers, etc.). I once overheard a group of young American guys wondering why the waiter charged them 1,50 euros a piece for the packets of ketchup they had requested! From a table away, I knew it wasn’t some culturally confusing ketchup charge, it was the coperto. If only I had written this sooner…

Anyways, in other places, such a charge isn’t added. If you feel your meal was exquisite and your waiter (cameriere) was extremely helpful/friendly/charming/funny/good looking then leave a 2 or 3 euro tip (and your phone number, if you’re really brazen) and call it a day. Round up a euro or two for your cab driver, especially if he helped you with your bags. Tip a hotel porter a euro or so, and your stay might just go even smoother than expected. Toss a two-euro coin to your tour guide if they explained things well, and they’ll be grateful that you’ve just paid their next coffee.

The rule of thumb is this: a few extra euros for good service is always appreciated, but not expected. If you want to be generous, be generous. The person will be grateful, and may even remember your kindness for the next time you return.

7 thoughts on “Tips About Tipping in Italy

  1. Wonderful. Extremely useful and as usual, your banter warms my heart. If I could marry you I swear I would. ❤

  2. I’ve travelled to every country in Europe and I can honestly say that tipping is not necessary in the way that it is so important in North America and more exclusively in the United States. You can tip if you want to, and it is appreciated, but is not 100% necessary because of the reasons you mentioned. Like here, people will treat you better if you tip.

    When I went to Miami, I had a long conversation with one of the car valets, he said that he hated dealing with Europeans because they never tipped with the exception of Germans, apparently Germans tipped and well!

    I went to Las Vegas recently, and I just couldn’t believe how many people were expecting to get tipped, the car valet every time you dropped off/ picked up the car, the waitors, person who picks up your class at the slot machine,the room service, the pool guy, the taxi driver, everyone was expecting tips every time you turned around. In the salon spa, they already had a tip/ gratuity put into the bill. As well, room service had a $5 tip built into their rate, did you ever order a $35 hamburger from room service? I didn’t but that is how much it would have cost!!

  3. Ciao! I used to wait tables in the USA, so when i first moved to Italia it was weird for me not leaving a tip. i felt like a jerk. But, I am SO over that now!

    Now, sometimes when I got back to the USA, I forget to tip! Quello è grave! 😉

  4. Pingback: Practical Italy: Money | Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"

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