Tipping in Italy, Am I Cheap if I Don’t Tip?

tipping in Italy

I have been in Italy for almost two years now, but I still am not completely sure how to handle tipping here. Tipping in Italy is different from in the United States, for sure. My husband always tips, whether I agree with him or not. To be honest, the service providers always seem thrilled to get a tip, however the locals who frequent the business are not always happy with the precedent that American’s tipping establishes. So, I headed out to the blogosphere to see what the general consensus was.

You Don’t Need To Tip…Ever

In the “No Need to Tip” camp, I found Sara, from Ms. Adventures in Italy. She says, “you don’t need to tip in Italy.” Another blogger  that echos this sentiment is Francesca, from Burnt by the Tuscan Sun. She goes as far as saying, “You have my permission NOT TO TIP.” (The bolding and capitalization is hers! ) Waiters in Italy make a better wage than they do in the United States. Not only that, but many restaurants add a ten to twenty percent service charge into the bill, so you are already paying a tip as part of the bill.

Only Tip if the Service Was Excellent

My hero (and travel guru) Rick Steves weighs in on this topic by saying, “In Italy, you only tip if you really like the place, the food and the service; if the waiter was very helpful for example.”  Another heavyweight travel website, TripAdvisor gives this advice, “Normally, just round up the bill, a few Euro.  If you were given an outstanding service, a good tip — 10 euro in cash — will make the staff happy, but you are not “compelled” to do so.”

Final Thoughts on Tipping in Italy

I think we, as Americans, should respect Italian customs on tipping. Tip for excellent service and food, don’t just tip because you are accustomed to doing so. Some Italians resent that tipping may become an expectation for all, not just Americans. Katie Parla at Parla Food weighs in on this topic by saying, “The small number of Italians I know who do tip leave a euro or two per person, regardless of how much the bill is. Please do not tip as you would in the US or other service based places. Servers in Italy are paid a living wage and though they do expect tips from Americans, they shouldn’t! Leaving a big tip perpetuates the expectation and double-standard placed on tourists and sets a very bad precedence.”

By all means, give your server or the restaurant owner a few euro as a tip if your service is wonderful. Just don’t tip because you feel guilty. Remember that waiters in Italy make a decent wage and are often compensated with a tip included in the check.

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One Comment on “Tipping in Italy, Am I Cheap if I Don’t Tip?”

  1. My husband asked a waiter here if the tip he was going to give him (a couple euro) was okay. He told us in Germany, whatever you want to tip (if you want to) is okay because they aren’t depending on them like in the U.S. He told us if we ever went to France to be aware there’s already a gratuity included in the bill so tips aren’t expected and that some places in Italy are the same way.

    As far as creating expectation, I would be annoyed if anyone expected a large tip just because we’re American. I leave 15-20% tips in America because the waiters/waitresses aren’t given a decent hourly wage and need tips to survive. I’m not going to do the same in Europe when I’m aware they’re making a living wage. I think the majority of tourists who do leave large tips are doing so because they aren’t aware it’s not expected or necessary.