Tipping in Italy: When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do

As a tourist in Italy, one of the questions that often comes up is how much should I tip at restaurants and for various services. Tipping in Italy can be confusing for visitors because tipping customs are different than in the US and other places. When in Rome, do as the Romans do โ€“ so follow the local tipping etiquette to avoid confusion and be respectful of Italian customs.

In restaurants: Keep your wallet in your pocket

In Italy, service charges or coperto are included in the bill at restaurants, so tipping on top of that is not expected or customary for locals. Italians consider restaurant staff to be well-paid professionals, so they do not rely on tips as part of their salary. Tipping in excess of a few coins can even be seen as rude or insulting.

Locals usually round up the bill or leave their spare change as a tip. So if your bill is โ‚ฌ45, leaving โ‚ฌ50 in cash and saying โ€œGrazie, ciao!โ€ on your way out is perfectly acceptable. However, leaving an American-style 15-20% tip in addition to the coperto will leave your Italian waiter thinking you donโ€™t understand the local culture. Skip the big tip – it’s not what tipping in Italy is about.

In coffee bars: Pay for your coffee and go

Like in restaurants, tipping baristas in Italy is not customary or expected. You can leave your spare change in the tip jar on the counter if you like, but it is by no means required. Baristas are paid a proper living wage and do not rely on tips. So pay for your coffee or other drink, say “grazie, ciao!” and be on your way. Tipping in excess can be seen as rude, even if the baristas seem friendly and welcoming. Keep any tip to a minimum while tipping in Italy’s coffee bars.

For taxis: Round up the fare and say “Grazie!”

Tipping taxi drivers in Italy is customary, but again, aim for rounding up the fare or leaving a couple of extra euros, rather than a standard percentage tip. If your fare comes to โ‚ฌ12, hand the driver โ‚ฌ15 and say “Grazie!” with a smile as you exit the taxi. While a euro or two is a friendly gesture, leaving too generous of a tip could be seen as rude by the driver, who is a professional making a proper living. For Italians, the taxi fare is meant to cover the driver’s time and service, so excess tipping upsets that balance. Keep it minimal while tipping in Italy’s taxis.

In hotels: Leave a euro or two per night for housekeeping

For hotels, tipping etiquette in Italy is a bit different than in restaurants and coffee bars. It is customary to leave a tip for housekeeping staff, who work hard behind the scenes to make your accommodations comfortable during your visit. However, still keep tips minimal – aim for 1-2 euros per night. So for a 5 night stay, leaving 10 euros total is adequate and will be greatly appreciated by your housekeeping staff. No need totip daily, you can leave your tip envelope on the last evening of your stay when you head out for dinner. Make sure to thank your housekeeping staff if you see them, as they provide an important service, even if it is behind the scenes. Tipping generously with gratitude is the custom in Italian hotels.

At hair salons and spas: Tip 10% for good service

The one area where Italians regularly tip at a standard percentage is for personal services like hair salons, barbershops and spas. For good service at a hair salon or barbershop, Italians will tip 10% of the total bill as a sign of appreciation for the stylist or barber. At spas, 10% tips are also customary for each individual service like massages, facials and treatments. However, if you book multiple spa services, ask the front desk staff if gratuity is already included so you do not tip in excess of the customary amount. When in doubt, ask about the tip policy to be sure. But in general, use 10% as a rule of thumb when tipping in Italy’s salons and spas.

So in summary, tipping in excess is usually seen as rude in most situations in Italy because service staff are viewed as paid professionals. However, not tipping at all can seem rude in some contexts. So aim for the Italian custom of rounding up the bill or leaving small change in restaurants, coffee bars and taxis. Leave 1-2 euros per night for housekeeping, and tip hair stylists, barbers and spa staff around 10% of the service for good care. When tipping in Italy, think small: stick to coins and small bills but tip with gratitude and a smile. And remember, when in Rome do as Romans do – follow the local Italian tipping etiquette!

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