Visiting a new country throws up many, many questions.
Some are invigorating and remind us why we set our sights on a particular destination in the first place: Where should I stay? What should I see? Who might I meet?
And some are more practical and emphasize how adrift we can feel when arriving in a new place: How do I ask for directions? How do I use public transport? How much should I tip? Will it be too much? Or worse, will it be too little?
If you’ve ever found yourself deliberating over tipping or service charges in a foreign country, you probably promised to school yourself on the subject before your next adventure, and yet not all of us remember to do so.
So with that in mind, let’s talk tipping in Italy!
To tip or not to tip in Italy?
First off, tipping in Italy is neither mandatory nor expected, but if you do decide to do so, the gesture is a very clear indicator that you appreciated the service provided.
As many of us like to tip – or are, at the very least, accustomed to doing so – it’s worth remembering that different etiquette applies depending on the service provided.
If you keep the following tips – yes, we said it – in mind, you will be covered on your next Italian adventure!
Do Italians tip for coffee?
Many locals enjoy a swift coffee at a cafe counter, and are likely to simply round off the price of their beverage after a quick caffeine fix.
So, for example, if your coffee cost 80 or 90 cent and you paid one euro, leaving 10 or 20 cent on top of your receipt would be much appreciated.
It really is as simple as that!
Cover and service charge in Italy
If you’re enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner in Italy, and decide to leave a tip, the figure will depend on the terms of your receipt.
Many restaurants in Italy provide their patrons with bread and oil, and as a result, patrons will pay what is known as a coperto or a cover charge. The coperto goes to the restaurant itself, and not your individual server.
If the service you received was good and ultimately enhanced your experience, you would be advised to round your bill up to the nearest ten. In these instances, locals tend to leave this as a cash tip specifically for their server.
If your receipt stipulates a service charge – servizio incluso – you should not feel obliged to add anything further.
Check the menu before you order and if you don’t understand – simply ask if there’s a service charge so you know what to expect at a restaurant.
Tipping in bars in Italy
Just like in cafes and coffee shops, tipping in bars is not expected in Italy, but leaving change for your server is not uncommon.
Many locals tend to simply round off the bill, and leave the remainder for wait staff if they are satisfied with the service provided.
Remember, tipping in this instance can depend on how often a local frequents a particular bar and how familiar they are with the wait staff. As a visitor to the country, there is certainly no onus on you to tip per drink or leave a substantial extra after squaring your tab!
Read more: How to Enjoy the Best Italian Wines in Rome, Venice and Florence
‘Should I tip my tour guide, taxi driver and hotel porter?’
Tipping tour guides can be tricky! Should you? Shouldn’t you? What’s the etiquette? Where do you stand?
In Italy, a good rule of thumb is to consider the duration of your tour. If you spent half a day or less on a tour, you might consider tipping your guide between five and 10 euro. If your experience was close to a day in length, a tip of 10 euro or so would be gratefully received!
But remember, your decision should depend purely on how impressed you were by your guide and the service provided, and you should never feel that you have to tip.
When it comes to tipping taxi drivers in Italy, it’s pretty simple! Most locals simply round up, so if your fare comes to 18 euro, and you leave your taxi driver with 20 euro – that gesture would be very much appreciated!
And what about if you want to tip your hotel porter? No problem! One euro per bag is a handy rule of thumb!
Read more: La Dolce Vita: 8 of the Best Luxury Hotels in Rome
And if all else fails…
If you’re still unsure as to whether or not to tip, why not let a local lead you with their personal rule of thumb?
The following came courtesy of one of our Walks’ insiders in Rome:
“If the meal is €40 and we pay with a €50 bill, and the waiter gives us a €10 note as change, we won’t leave a €10 tip. So, no tip to the waiter! On the other hand, if the waiter gives back change with two €5 notes, we would consider giving a €5 tip!”
A word to the wise!