How much to tip service workers in Italy

Tip in cash if and when you do tip | Photo by Edwardolive, Depositphotos

Thank you for taking the time to find out more about what is customary to tip in Italy. Italians do tip but much less often. In general, with the exception of car service, tour operators, porters, housekeeping, and restroom attendants, tipping is not expected. Unlike the US, most service workers make a living wage. Tips for exceptional service, however, will be a nice surprise and is always appreciated. The average tip, if any, is 1-2 euros per person or only up to 10%. Just make sure you have cash; typically you can’t add gratuity to your credit card. Also, leave your tip on the table or in tip jars; never place in waiter’s hands or pockets. The following suggestions are for your convenience.


Tip Guide

Why tip in the first place?

Tipping is not common practice in Italy except for car service, tour operators, porters, housekeeping, and restroom attendants.  For all other service workers, it is a nice, unexpected way to show your gratitude for exceptional service.  But if you receive terrible service don’t tip.

Standard Tip Rate

1-2 euros per person or 5-10% is the standard tip rate in casual restaurants in Italy.  If you want to tip well give up to 10%.  For fine dining it is 10%.  If your bill has a line item for servizio no additional tip is needed as it is already included.  If it says coperto tip is not included.

What is Servizio?

Servizio is a service charge that includes tip in your bill.  You do not need to tip extra.

What is Coperto?

The coperto (cover) or pane e coperto (bread cover) covers the cost of using a table and all its settings (plates, utensils, cups, napkins, etc).  Coperto does not include tip.  This type of charge originated from medieval times, when innkeepers would offer a place to eat with ‘cover’ from the cold or rain.  Since most travelers brought their own food, establishments would make money by charging for use of their setted tables.  In modern day, coperto continues to cover overhead.  It is illegal in Lazio, but it is sometimes substituted with a bread charge (pane).  But even if you didn’t ask for or eat the bread, while you could contest the pane, it would be rude to refuse this charge.

What is Pane?

Pane, as a line item on a bill, is a cover charge for bread.  Tip is not included.  If you don’t see Coperto you will probably see a Pane charge in its place (especially Lazo/Rome where charging coperto is illegal).  Even if you don’t eat bread, it would be rude to refuse this charge.

Coffee Shops

When it comes to coffee, most Italians drink their cappuccinos and caffè (espressos) standing up at the counter/bar. Tourists pay a premium to sit down at tables. Cafes are short-staffed so baristas may also serve as the order taker, cashier, and waiter. Serving tables requires the barista to have to walk further from his/her coffee station and decreases their efficiency for making and serving coffee. Thus there will usually be 2 columns for prices listed at the counter: Banco is for standing at the bar and Tavolo is for sitting at a table.

If you stand and drink your coffee (Banco) you don’t have to tip; but if you want to, leave the 10c or 20c change on your receipt at the bar or drop it in the tip jar when you pay at the register. If you sit down (Tavolo), then consider leaving €1pp on the table or in the tip jar.

Food Service

  • • Coffee (Banco, standing up): No tip necessary.  But if you receive 10c or 20c in change, you can always leave it in the tip jar or set it down on your receipt at the bar.
  • • Coffee (Tavolo, sitting down): Consider leaving €1pp on the table or in the tip jar.
  • • Quick Service Restaurants: These are restaurants where you pick up your own food and seat yourselves if there are tables. €1pp on the table or in the tip jar.
  • • Take-Out: No tip.
  • • Delivery: €3-5 to cover transportation costs. Hand tip to delivery person.  Be extra generous if the weather is terrible. 
  • • Drive Thrus: No tip.
  • • Tip Jars: Not required; but if you want to acknowledge their hard work leave your change.
  • • Casual Table Service Restaurants: These are sit-down restaurants where a host greets you, seats you at a table, and a waiter comes around to take your order.  Tip is still optional and unexpected.  But for exceptional service, show your appreciation with €1-2pp.  If your bill has a line item for servizio, however, then no need to leave a tip as it is already included.
  • • Fine Dining Table Service Restaurants: These are higher-end, sit-down restaurants where a host greets you, seats you at a table, and a waiter comes around to take your order.  Tip is still optional and unexpected.  But for exceptional service, show your appreciation with 10% of your bill.  If your bill has a line item for servizio, however, then no need to leave a tip as it is already included.
  • • Automatic Charges for Large Parties: If you have a large group, of 8 or more people, gratuity may automatically be charged as servizio.  This is typically the practice at table service restaurants, reserved private rooms, and reserved nightclub tables.  If tip is automatically charged, you do not have to add anything extra.    
  • • Wine Stewards & Sommeliers: No need to tip separately from your regular bill. But if they enhance your dining experience and/or go above and beyond, tip them additionally when they come back to ask if you enjoyed your wine. No need to tip for each bottle; just once per meal as a token of gratitude (€5 for standard wine; €20 or up to 10% of wine bill for really expensive wine). As a bonus, if you are ordering or bringing in a rare or unusual bottle of wine, it is not only acceptable but very much appreciated to offer your wine steward or sommelier a taste and ask for their feedback.
  • • Wine Tastings: No need to tip.  But if you had a great tour and tasting, consider €1-2pp.
  • • Bartenders: Round up to the nearest euro.  
  • • Buffets: same as casual table service restaurants.  €1-2pp for excellent service.
  • • Drink Attendants: You see these service workers more often at casinos where they come up to you while you are playing (or you initiate service by pressing the attendant button) and ask you what you would like to drink.  You are not expected to tip but you could consider giving €1-2 if they are helping you stay continuously hydrated at your favorite machine.

Tours and Transportation

  • • Valet: None expected but €1 when car is retrieved is appreciated. Tipping at drop-off is optional but always appreciated as the driver who parks your car may be different from the driver who retrieves your car. 
  • • Taxis and Car Service: None expected but you can round up to keep the change.
  • • Shuttle Drivers: No tip.
  • • Tour Drivers: Half day €5pp; Full day €10pp.
  • • Private Drivers: Transfer €15; Half day €25; Full day €45.
  • • Tour Guides: Less than 4-hours €5-10pp; Half day €30; Full day €50.
  • • Wine Tastings: No need to tip.  But if you had a great tour and tasting, consider €1-2pp.

Lodging

  • • Doormen: No tip
  • • Bellhops/Porters/Luggage Delivery: €1 per bag; but if they show you how to use your room then €5-10 instead with no extra for individual bags (unless of course any of them were embarrassingly heavy or they went out of their way to take extra care of something that was extremely fragile; then you may want to tip them a little more as a thank you).
  • • Concierge: For quick questions tips are not necessary. If they help you with making complex reservations €5-10. 
  • • Spa Service: Optional.  Up to 10%.
  • • Housekeeping: €1 each night. Tip nightly as housekeepers may rotate their room assignments. Leave tip on the restroom counter (not the bedside table as that is insulting and considered for prostitutes).

Restroom Attendants

It is customary in Italy to tip restroom attendants €0.50 – 1.

A restroom attendant is usually someone that stays in the facilities to hand patrons towels after they wash their hands and to clean the facilities.  Yes it is awkward having them present.  It is as uncomfortable for you as it is for them to be there (actually probably more so for them because they have to endure more smells).  

Tip Jars

Adding money to tip jars is not required. But if you want to acknowledge great service and/or hard work please consider leaving your change or €1.  

Methods Accepted for Paying Tip

Cash. 

Adding gratuity to a credit card terminal is not generally possible.  Please note, however, if your bill has a line item for servizio, tip is already included.

Bad Service

If you are less than satisfied with the service you received or it was nothing exceptional, never feel obliged to leave gratuity. The service you paid for covers the salary of the person who worked to service you.  Don’t reward bad behavior and make it difficult for locals who will be stuck with lower service. 

Also, don’t be afraid to leave no gratuity for pushy waiters who are brazenly asking you for a tip and trying to take advantage of you as a tourist.  You may find this more often in high traffic, touristy areas.  It is not illegal for them to ask for a tip but doing so is very distasteful and utterly poor form.  

How Not to Insult with Tips

  • • Never put tips in a waiter’s hand or in their pocket. This is extremely rude.
  • • Leave all tips on the table (under a glass, cup, or bill holder) or in tip jars.
  • • To avoid coming across as rude or condescending, do not leave small copper cents, a handful of Euro cents, or go overboard with big notes for small services.
  • • It is okay to hand over tips to valets, porters, and drivers (taxi, private, delivery, etc) directly.
  • • Place tips for housekeeping on the restroom counter (not the bedside table where it is considered payment for prostitutes).
  • • Never tip business owners.

Special Note for American Visitors

I know it is ingrained in us to tip 15-20% but tipping really is an American custom. 

Italy and the rest of Europe generally pays their workers a living wage.  Tips really are optional in Europe and only to show appreciation for exemplary service.  Never tip for bad service. 

If you are blessed with stellar service, only tip up to 10%.  18-20%, as is custom in the US, is way to gratuitous in Europe.

Last updated August 24, 2023 by Jacyln