Understanding the Tipping Culture
Much like in most of Europe, tipping in Italy is not as automatic nor generous as it is in the US. In many countries, tips aren’t expected at all. The proper amount depends not only on your country but also on your resources, tipping philosophy, and circumstances.
At restaurants, a 5–10 percent tip is normal if service is not included in the bill. In most places, 10 percent is a big tip. As a matter of principle, if not economy, the local price should prevail. Tipping 15 or 20 percent in Europe is unnecessary, if not culturally ignorant.
Tipping is an issue only at restaurants that have waiters and waitresses. If you order your food at a counter, don’t tip. European servers are well paid, and tips are considered a small “bonus” — to reward great service or for simplicity in rounding the total bill to a convenient number.
For taxis, just round up to the next euro on the fare. For a long ride, round up to the nearest 10. If the cabbie hauls your bags and zips you to the airport to help you catch your flight, you might want to toss in a little more. But if you feel like you’re being driven in circles or otherwise ripped off, skip the tip.
At hotels with porters, pay the porter a euro for each bag they carry. It’s nice (but optional) to leave a small tip in your room for the housekeeping staff when you depart.
Guides who give talks at public sights or on bus or boat tours often hold out their hands for tips after they give their spiel. If taking a group tour — for instance, a two-hour city walking tour — a tip of €2–5 per person is appropriate, depending on the size of the group. A tip of €10–20 for the group is fine for a couple of hours with a private guide.
In general, if someone in the service industry does a super job for you, a tip of a couple of euros is appropriate…but not required.
While tipping is appreciated, the stakes are low, and it’s no big deal if you choose the “wrong” amount. Don’t lose sleep over walking out of a restaurant in Italy without tipping. The most important thing is to enjoy your experience and not stress over tipping.