Tipping is one of the most common upsets that tourists have. Each country faces it in a different way, and it often depends on cultural factors. But how exactly does it work in Italy? What is correct, and whatnot? I will clarify all your doubts and worries about this topic before you travel there.
You are not expected to tip in Italy, and no law obliges you to leave it. However, it is appropriate and ethical to tip in some situations. Most Italians give a tip when the service is extraordinary, but it is unusual.
Even if you already know the answer, you should keep reading! There is still a lot of information that will help you avoid a blunder. It looks like a simple topic, but it isn’t.
Are You Supposed to Tip in Italy?
You are never supposed to tip in Italy in any place you visit. The service is already included in the price so that no one will expect you to tip. Employees don’t even assume to receive a single tip.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should be stingy and doesn’t tip anyone. What I’m saying is to don’t feel obligated to do it. The Italian Galateo (etiquette) says that it is rude to ask for a tip from the client. You are free to do what you think is right.
Many tourists come to Italy without studying the culture. This is why they lose a lot of money trying to figure out what to do. They feel overwhelmed when they face reality. But this is not your case; you are going to master the art of tipping.
Is It Rude To Tip in Italy?
It is not rude to tip in Italy at restaurants. In fact, you are more than welcome to leave a tip if you do it correctly. Most workers will appreciate your gesture and give you a better service.
In some countries, it might be offensive to leave a tip. Let’s take Japan as an example: A Japanese waiter will not receive you even 100 dollars extra. But that’s not the case in Italy.
Why Are You Not Expected to Tip?
You already know that cultural and external factors play an essential role. But why are you not expected to tip? What is the main reason? Well, here is some history that you should know to understand it:
The word “mancia” in Italian, which means tipping, comes from the French “manche” (sleeve). This does not arise from the tribute of money, but to the masters who gave sleeves to the slaves. In the past, workers did not earn money but a place to live. They received clothes once a year. So, only those who worked very hard deserved to get some extra sleeves.
Other sociologists say it is because of the crisis. But personally, I think it is more a social and environmental factor.
Differences Between Italy and The U.S.
Italy is quite different from the United States when it comes to tipping. It is more than cultural and social differences. It is the system itself that works in another way. They are exactly the opposite side of the same coin.
In most European countries, the salary is supposed to pay the employee. There is the idea that workers can live only with their wages, but this is not totally true. Sometimes they have to work overtime to help their family. You will often see young people trying to pay for their studies.
In the United States, it is obligatory to leave a tip when consuming. This is because the workers entirely depend on tips. For example, the waiters have a poor wage, but they can live with the gifts of clients.
Minimum Server’s Cash Wage (without tips) in Italy. Based on 37.5 work hours per week.
|Hourly Wage||Weekly Wage||Monthly Wage||Annual Wage|
Minimum Server’s Cash Wage (without tips) in the United States. Based on 37.5 work hours per week.
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A little story that happened to me in the U.S.
In back 2010, I visited the U.S. with my family. We went to a restaurant, but the food was not to our liking. Then, we chose to go out and find another place, but the cashier was asking a tip. She was bringing us repetitively a tipping plate, and I naively gave it back again and again. It looked like a cartoon scene! I was ten years old, and I still remember that day.
Something as “simple” as tipping can become a challenge. We didn’t know the cultural differences, and we had to learn a life lesson.
How Does Tipping Work in Italy?
There is a lot of confusion about how tipping works, even with Italians. Some people say that you must always tip, and others suggest never to do it. Legally speaking, you don’t have to tip in Italy. Tipping is an “optional” in the discretion of the customer himself.
However, we all know that it is more than just giving money. Tipping is a way to show respect, solidarity, and even class towards the worker. It is not only some customs and laws but a sense of humanity.
What Is The Tipping Etiquette in Italy?
Despite what people guess, the Italian Galateo says that you should tip. Even if you are not obligated to tip, people will see you better if you do it. Sometimes it can make a huge difference when they are serving you.
Basically, what you need to do is to put yourself in the shoes of others. Ask yourself this question: How would you feel if you receive a little incentive? Imagine that you have a family to support. What would you do if someone gives you even 50 cents? It isn’t that much, but in volume can make a difference.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying to tip everyone you see. But at least appreciate the effort that workers are putting in. Often a word or gesture can be worth more than millions of dollars.
What Percentage Should I Tip?
There is no percentage or a minimum amount of money to tip. You are free to tip as you want without any restrictions. Remember not to be too stingy, though, so learn to find your sweet spot first.
However, I recommend you tip 10% or 15% of the bill as a guideline. Don’t be too attached to that, but just use it to have an idea. You don’t have to calculate every single cent when paying.
Why Should You Tip?
Tipping can guarantee you to have the best service if you come back. You should see it as an ethical duty. If the worker impressively served you, the real question is: Why you shouldn’t? Even if the price includes everything, it’s nice to repay him with a solid extra. Don’t be rude when you tip!
The Art. 2034 of the Italian Civil Code defines it as a “natural obligation.” There is no penalty if you don’t respect these orders, but you should do it anyway. They are base on morality, fairness, and natural laws. They must be spontaneous and not obligated.
When Shouldn’t You Tip?
It can happen to have a bad experience with the employee. If the service doesn’t meet your expectations, you can refrain from tipping. However, you don’t have to discuss or anything, simply pay the bill and leave.
I still encourage you to forgive if he served you badly or was rude. We can all have a bad day or be stressed out. Remember that we are humans, and we are vulnerable to making mistakes. The best thing you can do is to go where he and clarify what happened. You will even end making a new friend.
Who Should You Tip in Italy?
Only certain sectors accept receiving tips, so be careful when you leave extras. In some cases, it can also be rude and offensive to tip some professionals. Here are some examples to who you can tip with no problems:
- Tour guides
- Hotel Staff
- Taxi Drivers
- Gas stations attendants
Who You Should Avoid Tipping
- Supermarket cashiers
- Business owners
Tipping At Restaurants
In some Italian restaurants, you will find a charge known as “coperto.” They will charge it in your bill, so expect to pay a little bit more. Essentially, you are paying for using the glasses, cutlery, tablecloth, salt, chairs, etc. It also includes the personal, but it isn’t the same as tipping.
If there is no coperto, you may have to pay for the bread or pane. Often you will find it before sitting down. If you don’t want to eat the bread, simply return it. However, if it isn’t visible on the menu means that it is free. Usually, the cost is about 1.50 euros per pane. Everything goes to the owner.
It is crucial to see the entire menu before ordering. You must check if there is an additional cost besides the food. You can’t refuse to pay the charge if it is noticeable on the menu.
Sometimes you will also find a charge called “servizio.” You don’t have to worry about this if you are seven people or less. But if you do, they will charge it automatically. It is like a tip, so don’t give anything. Sometimes the service is included in the price with the name “servizio incluso.”
There are a lot of mistakes you could make if you don’t know Italian. So, I highly encourage you to check out this post. It is key to learn some basic Italian words, even for dining out.
Should You Tip Waiters in Italy?
No one can obligate you to tip, but if you liked the service, you could give an extra. If there is more than one, the waiters will share it among them. You should provide a bonus to the waiter who did you a favor.
Please, don’t give a tip in the waiter’s hands as if it were a wad of cash. Also, it isn’t proper to put it inside his pocket.
How Much To Tip Italian Restaurants
If you really enjoyed your meal, then you should surely tip. There is no specific amount of money to give. But a good range is from 5% to 10% max of the bill. I wouldn’t go more or lower than that.
If the service was average, you could leave the change or just round-up the bill. It is fine to don’t leave anything, but it is not a very kind gesture. I would say pay according to your pocket. Remember to leave it under the glass or with the bill
What About Michelin-Starred/Fancy Restaurants?
Michelin-Starred restaurants are the ones where the food is excellent. They are fanciest than the others, so their prices are higher. A similar rule applies here; give the 5% or 15% of the bill if you liked it. Often you will find a troop of waiters that will serve you.
I recommend you avoid give coins in these places. It is best to tip with a banknote depending on the final bill. But remember that no one can force you to do so.
No one tips at pizzerias. They are a casual place to spend time with family and friends. Only if someone is serving you leave a tip. But in most cases, it isn’t necessary.
Tipping at Bar
When it comes to caffé or bars, I would definitely give a tip. They expect you to tip a few cents, usually 0.10 or 0.20 euros. You can leave a tip on the table, a jar, or together with the bill. If you decide to sit down, you may have to pay a little bit more. Make sure you ask before sitting.
Also, you should tip if they are preparing you a drink such as a coffee or cocktail. Don’t leave it if you are only buying a bottle of water or something like that. Also, you don’t have to tip for food like panzerotti, sandwiches, or snacks.
Tipping at Hotels
Tipping at hotels isn’t very common, no matter if they are 3 or 5 stars. You are never supposed to tip at Italian hotels. But if you enjoyed your stay, leave a banknote of 5 or 10 euros max. You should also fill in the form and leave a thank you card.
You have the option to leave a tip the reception, or personally to the employee.
Nowadays, I hardly ever see people working as porters in Italy. Most of the time, I have to bring my suitcases myself. But if you find a porter that helps you with your luggage, tip him. You would be fine with 2 euros. Consider giving a little more if there isn’t an elevator.
If you want to learn how to handle your luggage in Italy, visit this post. You will find unique information that will help you along the way.
As for housekeepings, give a tip if you find the room clean or a figure with towels. You can tip only a few euros if you don’t stay too long. A good tip would be 1 or 2 euros and a thank you card. Remember to be elegant when you are giving it.
Tipping drivers (taxis, transfer, tour drivers, etc.) is not standard in Italy. However, if you liked how he served you, it is okay to tip. You can tip your rider round-up the bill by giving the nearest 5 euros. We prefer to don’t tip drivers.
When it comes to the delivery guy, you must always tip him. They often have a fair salary that many times isn’t enough. They had to ride until your order to your home. You should tip deliveries with a couple of euros or leave the rest. Also, you must consider the weather conditions.
When you book a tour guide, you don’t have to pay anything more. But if you received fantastic service and you learned a lot, tip him. The best range to tip a tour guide in Italy is from 5 to 10 euros/person. It is recommendable to tip
Tipping in Other Circumstances
Gas Station Attendants
Many gas station attendants don’t work legally there. My father always pours the fuel himself. But you could give some cents if you don’t want to leave the car. Even if they don’t work officially, they are safe.
You shouldn’t tip at spas and resorts unless they specified it before serving you. It is rare to see someone tipping in these types of places. Remember to ask if there is an additional cost.
Hairdressers and Barbers
You don’t have to tip hairdressers and barbers. But if you plan to return, consider leaving a tip. It can make a huge difference when the employee is making you prettier. Give 2 or 5 euros max.
Most people don’t tip wedding vendors since they are expensive enough. You don’t have to tip anyone, but it is still appreciated.
What Do Italians Do?
Every person is different, and it often depends on personal experiences. But most Italians give tips when they get a remarkable service. We already expect to have the best service on every occasion. It must be amazing and exceed our expectations.
There are three types of Italians:
- Who never leaves a single tip: A lot of people fall into this category. They just don’t like tipping, and they won’t advise you to do so. They even question the existence of tips and their purpose.
- Who sometimes leaves a tip: People in this category rarely give tips. They tip if the service was fabulous or they had an awesome experience. Also, they leave it if the employee was helpful.
- Who tips like an American: There aren’t so many people that always tip. They learned it from their parents or from visiting other countries. They believe it is essential to tip at every place.