If you ask locals whether to tip in Italy, they’ll explain that tipping is not ingrained in the culture the way it is in the United States. In Italy, a tip (or una mancia, pronounced oo-nah MAN-chah)—whether given to restaurant servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, or hotel employees—is considered a bonus for exceptional service. It’s not a quid pro quo requirement or a way to avoid looking like a cheapskate.
There are cases where leaving a gratuity is absolutely appropriate, expected, and appreciated. Our guide to tipping etiquette in Italy—whether for dinner at a trattoria, the services of a hotel concierge, or a cab ride from the airport—tells you exactly what to tip and when.
Tipping at the hotel
If a porter or bellhop assists with getting your luggage to the room, give that person a tip of one euro per bag. If he or she needs to carry several suitcases, tip a max of five euros.
When the hotel doorman hails you a cab, press a euro tip into his hand and murmur grazie in your best Mastroianni impersonation.
Tipping the housekeeping staff one euro per night is the custom in Italy. Leaving a tip every day, you ensure that the gratuity gets to the person responsible for making the bed and getting clean towels that day. (If you prefer to wait until the end of your stay, leave the equivalent of a euro per day, either in your room or in an envelope at the front desk with a request that it be shared among the cleaning staff.)
If you can tip housekeeping extra, please do: These hard-working people are often the least well-paid on the staff.
The hotel concierge, who can secure restaurant reservations and share insider tips for exploring the best of a city, is a good friend to make. If you take advantage of the services, tip him or her five to 10 euros. The amount depends on the type of service—how personal or difficult was your request? Leave less if it was answered without research or included information readily available to anyone with a map or guidebook. Leave more if it was hunting down tickets to a sold-out opera or a hard-to-get table at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Room service waiters
Tipping for room service, while not necessary, will not offend the person who ferried that delicious espresso up to your room. Leave some coins on the tray and make their giorno.
Tipping at restaurants and bars
The restaurant industry in Italy is completely different from the one in the United States. Waiters in Italy are paid a living wage, and tips do not make up the majority of their income. A gratuity after a meal, therefore, is just a little something extra or a bonus for service above the norm.
Read the check before deciding whether to tip at all. Many restaurants—especially those in touristy areas—will include the phrase servizio incluso on the bill. This means a service charge has already been factored in to the total and you can pay the amount on the check, with no need to leave more. (The word coperto on the bill is a separate cover charge for services including bread, olives, and other extras that are automatically brought to the table.)
If you want to tip but plan to pay with a credit card, carry a little cash. Italian credit card slips don’t have a line on which to add a tip, so bring some euros in your wallet to leave una mancia.
Waiters in restaurants
Italians will tell you they only tip on truly exceptional service or when dining in the finest restaurants, and even then it is usually just an extra 10 to 15 percent, or often simply the change left over from the bill. Go ahead and follow their custom or, if you think the service was great and you want to leave more, feel free to do so.
Waiters in cafés
Among Italy’s myriad and delightful attractions are its many cafés, found on almost every street and serving espresso, fantastic gelato, and pastries. When you get table service at a café, leave the change from the bill, up to a couple of euros, as a tip. But if you do as so many locals do and drink your espresso while standing at the counter, no tip is expected.
Leaving a tip for the bartender is not a thing in Italy. When and if Italians tip for their Negroni or vino, they usually just round the tab up to the nearest euro—this makes drinking in Italian bars more affordable than in the United States. If, however, you have received table service or ordered food at the bar, leaving two or three euros is recommended.
Other tipping situations
Taxi or car service drivers
Cab drivers in Italy never expect a tip, so if you give one to them, they may be surprised. If you’re using a car service like Uber or myTaxi, tipping is also not required. But if any driver goes out of his or her way to assist you, give a small tip.
Definitely tip your tour guide. This is the firm exception to the general when-in-Italy-no-tip-necessary practice. You should tip guides because that money is their main source of income. How much you give them will depend on the size of the tour and its length. If you’re part of a large group tour, then a tip of five euros for a half day or 10 euros for a full day, per person, is recommended. If you’ve hired the guide for a small group or individual tour, then the tip should be 10 percent of the tour’s total cost.
Spa therapist, barber, or hairdresser
Tipping is not expected for personal services like spa treatments, haircuts, or beauty salon services. As always, if the service is extraordinary, then leave a cash tip in the amount of 10 percent of the total cost.
>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Italy