*Full disclosure – I’m in the minority here. Most people do not tip for these services. I tip for exceptional service, especially if I will be returning.
You may hear the argument, “Italian waiters don’t need to be tipped – they make a great living wage.”
While a small group of Italian waiters are professionally trained and able to make a career out of being a waiter (you’ll usually find them at high-end restaurants), most are not well paid. True, they don’t make $2/hour like some American waiters, but the wages are not high. And, the cost of living in Italy isn’t low! So, don’t believe the internet chatter that all waiters in Italy are paid well. A tip for great service will be appreciated and well-received.
How do Italians tip at restaurants? If the service is excellent, an Italian will usually leave a few euros. Otherwise, he won’t leave a tip.
Remember, you should never feel obligated to leave a tip (out of habit or guilt).
It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers, although rounding up the fare is appreciated. Similarly, in hotels, it is not expected to tip housekeeping staff, but leaving a small amount of change or a few euros is a nice gesture.
Overall, tipping in Italy is not as important as in some other countries, but it is always appreciated to show gratitude for good service.
Excellent restaurant service in Italy doesn’t include hovering over your table and asking if you need anything every 5 minutes. The polite way to leave a tip for your waiter is to leave it on your table when you get up to leave. You do not need to hand it to the waiter (which most will find rather awkward). If you pay your bill at the register, you can leave your tip with the cashier.
I always try to have some €1 and €2 coins with me to use for tips. It’s a pain to have to get change in order to make a tip (and sometimes they won’t have the right change).
You will probably see the coperto and servizio charges on the menu and bill during your time in Italy:
The coperto or pane e coperto is a charge to sit at a table (and sometimes for bread), usually in the range of €1-4. You will find it at many restaurants in Italy, especially those that see tourists. This is a charge for the use of the table, linens, and silverware, and it often includes bread. It must be listed on the menu (required by law).
The coperto (which means, ‘cover’) actually originated in medieval times, when weary travelers would enter a locale to take ‘cover’ from the cold or rain. They would often eat their own food, so innkeepers would charge for bread and use of the table, tablecloth, napkins, and utensils.
Servizio is a service charge (an included tip), which is on the bill for large tables or in areas with many tourists. It’s often 15-20% of the bill. If there is a servizio charge on your bill, you do not need to leave an additional tip.
Each restaurant decides if it wants to include the coperto and servizio on its bill
Waiter in Restaurant – A few euros in high end restaurants – Leave the euro on the table or with the cashier
Barista (Making you a coffee at the counter): Round up to nearest euro – Leave the coin on the counter
Cafe Waiter (Serving you at a table): Round up to nearest euro – Leave the coin on the table
Taxi Driver: Round up 1-2 euros – Tell driver to keep the change
Private Driver: 5 euros pick up/drop off or 10% for the full day – Give at end of service
Tour Guide: 5-10 euros per person – Give at end of tour
Porter: 1 euro per bag or 5 euros flat tip – Give after delivery
Concierge: 5-10 euros – Hand to concierge on departure
Housekeeper: 1 euro per day – Leave euro non nightstand daily or total at end of stay
Bartender (apertiivo): Round up to nearest euro
Massage Therapist: 10% – Leave with Cashier
Hairdresser: 10% – Leave with Cashier
Parking lot attendent: 1 euro – Hand to attendent
Private Chef: 10% – Hand money at the end of the evening/trip in an envelope
Food Delivery Person: 3-5 euros, more for large orders – Hand money to driver when food is received
Gas Station Attending: No Tip
Owner: No Tip – Owners are not tipped in Italy
Mancia – Tip
Conto – Bill
Banaconote – Bank Notes – Paper Money
Spiccioli – Coins
Tenga il resto Keep the Change
Cameriere – Waiter/Waitress
Mi puo cambiare i venti euro per cortesia? – Can you please change this 20 euro banknote?