Tipping in Italy: When, Where and How Much

The Italians refer to tipping as la mancia. Is it really a normal thing in Italy? Public opinion is divided.

A sizable number of locals do not see the point behind the practice. For starters, Italy was never a country with a tipping culture.

Why is that so? Well, first workers in Italy are on a regular salary so tipping could seem unnecessary.

When compared to food attendants in the United States who earn a reduced hourly wage as their tips compensate for meager wages, you can now understand why it is big in America.

Italians do tip, but the culture around the practice is new and less obligatory. Next time you check into a restaurant or contemplate doing something extra after the cab ride, be guided by this article on whether to tip (or not to tip) when in Italy. 

At a restaurant

If you are at a diner, it would be prudent and a good form of appreciation to leave the waiter €2. Alternatively, you can round off the check to the closest denomination of five (on the higher side of course). For instance, a bill of €65, will be neatly rounded off to €70. Just try not to exceed 10 or 15 percent.

While this is normal in the United States, it would be very peculiar in Italy.

Bars

When having an espresso at a counter bar area, leaving behind the change is perfectly normal. As for table service, there is normally a service fee (specifically aimed for tourists). With that in mind, tipping is really unnecessary. 

Taxis

What is a considerate tipping amount is generally an extra euro or two. Not giving any tips is perfectly fine too. It’s hard not feeling charitable after you interact with that cordial driver who offers to take your luggage bags up the stairs or escort you through that poorly lit alley.

Always remember, they might have added an extra charge on your fare for the luggage bags, which is allowed by law. A simple round off to an odd or even number works just fine.

Hotels

Whether it's the porter, housekeeper, valet or concierge, a standard tip of €2 should do the trick.

When not to tip 

  • Grabbing fast food of a cafe or food stand
  • Family shops where the people serving you are the actual owners
  • When the check includes the service tip referred to as servizio incluso.

What to do and not to do in Italy 

  • Even when you are settling your bill via credit card, only tip with cash
  • There is a high likelihood if the tip does not land on the hands of the person who served the meal, they will never receive it.
  • Do not overtip
  • In most of the piazzas frequented by foreign tourists, your waiter will not bring the cheque unless you expressly ask for it. It’s part of the social etiquette in Italy. 
As I mentioned earlier, opinions are divided. For every person who says you do not have to tip in Italy, I can find you others who believe it is fine to show a little appreciation by doing so. So far, I have never encountered a scenario where someone turned down a tip.

...in the belief that better times will come back and we shall be able to eat out/ go shopping (or whatever....) when this crisis is over.

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Wanted in Rome
Wanted in Rome
Wanted in Rome is a monthly magazine in English for expatriates in Rome established in 1985. The magazine covers Rome news stories that may be of interest to English and Italian speaking residents, and tourists as well. The publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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