Tipping in Italy, Top 5 Questions & Answers

Tipping in Italy is like paying a good compliment. Always appreciated, never anticipated. Tip like an Italian! How much to tip and when.
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Una mancia (pronounced oo-nah MAN-chah) means tip, as in gratuity in Italian. The fact that there is a word for “tip” in Italian means tipping is a thing in Italy. Yet when asked, Italians themselves say tipping is not expected in Italy. Expected is the operative word because Italians do tip in Italy, just not very much.

If tipping is a cornerstone of acknowledgment for excellent service, what’s a tourist to do? Especially if you’re sitting in a restaurant in Italy for the first time googling “tipping in Italy” and need an answer quick!

Tipping in Italy

Our tipping in Italy guide answers five of the most common questions about tipping in Italy. Use the links below to quickly jump ahead to the answer you need.

  1. Why Tipping in Italy is Not Expected?
  2. How Much to Tip in Italy?
  3. Where to Tip in Italy?
  4. How to Tip in Italy?
  5. When Not to Tip in Italy

While decoding tipping in Italy is partly personal preference, it helps to follow what local Italians naturally do. Something I’ve been observing for over a decade while traveling, and now living in Italy.

We’re Paolo and Brandy. Together we have been traveling across Italy for over a decade. After becoming dual Italian American citizens, we moved to Italy to live out our early retirement dreams. Now we travel to Italy’s most popular destinations and explore hidden gems full-time from our home base in the Italian Alps.

1. Why Do You Not Tip in Italy?

If you’re accustomed to tipping 15% – 20%, not leaving a tip in Italy might feel downright stingy. So why do you not tip in Italy? 

Tipping in Italy is culturally not the norm for two reasons. First is wages. 

Americans might be surprised by how many waiters are adults in Italy instead of not teenagers. Beacuse many restaurants in Italy are family-owned, the profession is a respected career that comes with a living wage. While in America, tips are expected to make up a large portion of a waiter’s wage.

Furthermore, Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world. Many Italian families hear stories about being poor after the war around the dinner table. Together these factors have impacted Italian culture around tipping. Leaving a tip requires disposable income, which many Italian families did not have.

Since Italy is the only European country where wages have fallen since 1990, it’s unlikely the tipping culture in Italy will change anytime soon.

In other words, when in Rome, tip like an Italian.

2. Tipping in Italy, How Much

15% and up is what tourists who don’t understand Italian culture tip in Italy. 

Most of the time, tips in Italy are no more than a euro or two. Often Italians will leave the change from the bill.

Tipping beyond a few euros does happen in Italy. This is when where you are matters.

3. Where to Tip in Italy

In Italy, tipping depends on two main factors. The first is where you are. Meaning bar or restaurant, sitting or standing. Where answers if you should tip or not. 

The second factor is purely discretional. How ordinary or extraordinary the service received is. This will help you determine how much to tip in Italy.

Let’s dig into those variables a bit, starting with the where.

Tipping at a Restaurant in Italy

The secret to feeling comfortable tipping in Italy lies in the level of service. For example, take “il Ristorante” (the formal Restaurant).

Formal restaurants sit at the top of the restaurant food chain in Italy. They offer fine dining with multi-course meals, high-end service, and on occasion, a famous chef.

Tipping at a formal restaurant in Italy is a way to express appreciation for fine food or service, but locals rarely go beyond 10-12%. Leaving a few extra euros is still perfectly acceptable.

In the more humble Trattoria, Pizzeria, Enoteca, or Taverna, round up the bill or leave a euro per person.

Regardless of the type of place, tipping is at your discretion.

Tipping at a Bar in Italy

Open all day long Italian bars offer a relaxed, flexible experience.

Bars in Italy serve coffee, sandwiches, and aperitivos. They are also a convenient stop for pastries, gelato, scratch-off lottery tickets, and bottled water.

Consequently, Italians are as likely to start their day as to end it at a bar.

Italians typically stop for an espresso on the way to work. Throughout the day, they stop at bars for breaks. Either time, they most often stand at the bar.

Why? Because no tip is expected at the counter in Italian bars so it’s cheaper to stand. 

The same goes for anything purchased to go. 

However, a small tip is polite if you sit at a table and someone comes over to serve you.

Joining friends for aperitivo at a bar in Italy? The same logic applies. A quick drink at the bar doesn’t come with an expectation of a tip. 

However, if you’re served free snacks at a table with your drinks, it’s okay to normal to leave a small tip. Customarily the change from the bill (no more than a couple euros) will do. 

If you don’t, there is no reason to feel guilty. Many Italians don’t tip on either of these occasions. For a taste of what a typical Italian bar looks like, check out this BBC video.

Why Italians are saying 'No' to takeaway coffee - BBC News

4. How to Tip in Italy

In America it’s not uncommon to leave cash for the bill and tip on the table. Italians rarely, if ever, leave money on the table in Italy. Since waiters are not always tipped in Italy, checking the table after customers leave is not automatic. Italians who tip are going out of their way to say thanks for the excellent service. In Italy, Tipping is a personal decision and is handled personally.

Euro tipping in italy

To express gratitude for exceptional service, hand the tip directly to the waiter. Make eye contact and say Grazie (thank you in Italian).

ALOR Italy Tip: There are two ways to pay by credit card in Italy. At la cassa (the cashier) or at the table. When paying at the table the waiter will bring a credit card machine to the table. Unfortunately, neither option comes with the ability to add a tip to the credit card charge. So always carry a euro or two for the times you feel like tipping in Italy.

Always carry a stash of euros in Italy to be able to leave a tip, even when paying by credit card. @ALOR_Italy

5. When Not to Tip in Italy

If you see servizio incluso (service included) on the bill, don’t tip. The restaurant has already added gratuity to the final cost. Check the menu for servizio before ordering and the final bill before leaving a tip.

Italians will tip beyond servizio if they are regular customers who become friendly with the staff or owners. Even then, we’re still only talking about a couple more euros. 

ALOR Italy Tip: Servizio should not be confused for Coperto which is common on bills in Italy.

There is no expectation of a tip in Italy at a Gelateria (ice cream shop). The same goes for all food-to-go establishments. Places like Pizza a taglio (pizza by the slice). Rosticceria (roasted meats). Paninoteca (sandwich shop).

Feeling generous anyway? Look for a tip jar. If there isn’t one, our tip is not to feel guilty about just saying “Grazie” before you leave.

Outside of food, tipping taxi drivers is not customary in Italy.

However, because tourists set the tone, tipping at hotels is. If you get help with your bags or receive outstanding housecleaning, tip a euro or two.

In Conclusion

From Agriturismo to traditional Ristorante the rich history of Italian cuisine comes in many forms. Tavola Calda, Enoteca, Pizzeria, Pizza a Taglio, Taverna Osteria, Pescaeria, and Roticceria just to name a few. It’s no wonder tipping in Italy feels confusing to first-time tourists. I love how Stanley Tucci sums it all up in the video below.

At the end of the day, no one will stop you from tipping more in Italy. Still, we recommend leaving the shame or guilt associated with tipping less at home.

Instead, think of tipping in Italy as a balace between the Italian culture and your personal preference.

To sum it all up, culturally, tipping in Italy is a matter of personal choice. Use your discretion and these general tipping in Italy guidelines, and you’ll tip (or not) just like an Italian.



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