Almost all of our clients ask us about tipping in Italy before leaving on their trip, including guidelines about who should be tipped, how much is a typical tip, and how tips should be paid.
The short answer is that tips are not necessary in Italy. If you are happy with a service, however, you can tip between 10% and 20% of the total charge in cash. That said, tipping rules in Italy are a little more nuanced than that, so here’s a more detailed overview.
Most Italians do not tip their servers at restaurants, but leaving a small tip or no tip at all makes many North Americans uncomfortable. If you’re pleased with the service, a 10% tip is very generous in Italy. If you weren’t thrilled with the service but don’t want to skip the tip altogether, you can leave 5%. Keep in mind these facts, however:
One final note: some Italian servers in places with lots of tourists (like the centers of Rome, Florence, and Venice) are now so accustomed to receiving tips from North Americans that I have heard stories of them asking whether the customer needs change (if, let’s say, you give them €60 to pay for a €55 bill). In the US, this is not an unusual question from a server, but in Italy, it is incredibly rude. If a server ever asks you whether you need change, then of course you do.
You can leave your taxi driver a bit of extra money, but it’s not really a tip. Think of it more as a way to round up the fare a few cents so that no one has to deal with small change. For example, if your taxi fare is €19.70, you can give the driver €20 and tell them to keep the rest. If your fare is €18.70, you can ask for €1 back in change.
For private drivers who quote a fixed fare—an airport fare or a pre-paid fare, for example—there is no need to add a tip. Let’s say you have booked a driver in advance who meets you at the airport holding a sign with your name on it and you know the flat rate is €70 from the airport to your hotel. Give the driver the €70 (or give them more but expect change in return) and say thank you. If, however, you are spending an entire day with your driver as part of a private sightseeing excursion or if your driver goes out of their way to make your transfer comfortable (stopping to show you a favorite eatery, for example, or making a detour to a pharmacy if you have a headache), then a 10% to 20% tip is appropriate.
Apply the same rules to skippers and gondoliers; the fixed rate is fine unless they have gone out of their way to make your experience memorable, in which case you can tip 10% to 20%.
It’s very difficult for North American travelers to spend several hours with a guide and then not give the guide a tip. It seems to be embedded in our DNA! Keep in mind that local guides do not depend on or expect tips. However, they are aware that if North Americans tip, it means they are happy with the service, so the gesture is definitely appreciated. Again if you are looking for guidance, tip 10%-20%.
A rule of thumb for tipping a porter for transporting bags to your room is €1 – €2 per bag, paid as soon as you reach your room. Doormen usually receive €1 for hailing a cab. You can also tip €1- €2 per night for the housekeeping staff, paid at the end of your stay (either leave the total tip in your room or with the front desk staff upon checkout with the request that it be passed on to the housekeepers). If a concierge spends a significant amount of time helping you with recommendations, booking tickets, or making dinner reservations for you, a tip (€5 – €10 per service requested) will also be much appreciated.
If you do expect to leave a tip (or “la mancia”) when dining or sightseeing, be sure to bring small change (€1 and €2 coins; €5 and €10 bills) since tips must be paid in cash. Most Italian credit card receipts to not have an empty space to add a tip.
Tip in euros, not US dollars. Giving an Italian a tip in dollars is a hassle, since they must physically take the dollars to a bank to exchange them for euros (and are generally charged a fee). Italy does all its business in euros, so do not plan on paying tips or anything else in dollars.
Massage therapists, nail technicians, hair stylists and barbers, and other beauty professionals are rarely tipped in Italy but you can leave a 10% cash tip if you are very happy with the service.
Though tipping is not part of Italian culture, Italians who work with North American travelers know that tips are a form of gratitude and genuinely appreciate, though do not expect, the gesture.
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