Episode #007: Do you need to tip in Italy?

tipping in italy

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Tipping is a subject that confuses many visitors to Italy. This is because we each bring with us cultural expectations of what is and isn’t acceptable when giving tips. In this episode we explain tipping in Italy compared with the culture in the United States, Australian and the UK.

Show notes

If you’re worried whether you’re going tip the right way in Italy then this episode is a must listen. Tipping in Italy is a topic that comes up often in our Facebook group with many travelers concerned they have not understood this aspect of Italian culture. We talk you through the differences in tipping culture in the main countries our listeners come from and explain how you would approach everyday situations when in Italy.

You’ll learn whether tips are expected, how much to tip (if at all) and a general rule of thumb to keep things simple. This is a short but important conversation that will help you plan your Italy vacation with confidence.

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What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. Italian cultural expectations about tipping
  2. Is the restaurant coperto or cover charge a tip?
  3. How much to tip when appropriate

Resources

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Transcript

Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian accents however!

Click here for full episode transcript

Intro: 00:04 Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie and I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy. Between us, we have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy. Each episode you’ll hear practical advice, tips and ideas to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes, and a whole lot of pasta. We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about travel in Italy. Thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to our show. Now let’s get started on your regular dose of Bella Italia .

Josie: 00:51 Ciao and welcome to episode seven of Untold Italy. In this episode we’ll be talking about tipping at restaurants, hotels, and for tours.

Katy: 01:00 and taxis too. This can be quite a controversial or misunderstood topic because travelers are coming to Italy with the customs they have at home.

Josie: 01:08 So in this episode we are going to demystify tipping in Italy so you can confidently go about your travels.

Katy: 01:15 Yep. So, I guess for me, being Australian, I wanted to explain something about tipping when we go abroad to say the United States where the tipping culture is very different as an introduction, because I feel like in the United States that I was always told to double the tax in restaurants, which usually ends up being 15 to 20%. on restaurant bills and for other services, maybe one to $2 for a bellhop, one to $2 per bag for bellhop and you know, a certain amount for concierge. Now for Australians, this is a very foreign concept and we don’t have that tipping culture in Australia. So maybe we can explain some of the tipping culture in Australia. So we can contrast that. Josie,

Josie: 02:02 Katy, look coming from my hotel background, there is no need to tip. Okay. So it is not, our wages are at a level where we don’t need to supplement the wage of a bellhop or a receptionist in a hotel. So it’s really comes down to the service you get. So if someone has gone out of their way in a restaurant – so in restaurants you can definitely give a tip that is at your discretion. It is not something that you’re made to do or expected to do. And also through hotels and travel and taxis. It’s not something that tipping is not part of our culture and is not something we’re expecting to do.

Katy: 02:46 Yeah. And I think, you know, so when we go to easily and we’re coming with these different perspectives, it can be a little bit confusing. So I also lived in the UK for many years and over there tipping, it’s not part of the culture, but it is, it’s more expected in terms of if you’re going out for a drink, you would usually round the tab up, or if you’re going to a restaurant, you would give a fairly decent tip. And again, I think it’s related to wages because the wages in the UK for that type of staff is not as high as as it would be in Australia. So here we all are with all these different expectations about tipping and we’re all headed off to Italy and it can be quite controversial and people get quite confused about what they should do in Italy, but in fact it’s actually quite simple. So from my perspective, I would say there is no culture for tipping large amounts in Italy and that’s because the wages are reasonably high for those professions in Italy.

Josie: 03:46 Yeah, I agree. So I think just, yeah, loud and clear. No tipping culture in Italy. But we were talking, I do a couple of ’em I like to do free walking tours, a different cities just to see something different. In that case I would definitely tip the person because it is their time. It is like something they’re doing. So I do tip in that instance.

Katy: 04:11 And how much would you tip on a, on a free walking tour?

Josie: 04:15 Probably no more than a couple of euros. I’m up to five euros even depending.

Katy: 04:20 Okay. I’ll probably do 10 to 15 euro. We’ve all got different expectations. So for a free walking tour, I would do 10 to 15 euros per person. Because yeah, once again, that’s their main income generator. But yeah, I think it’s a different, different horses for different courses.

Josie: 04:37 Yes. I mean, I’ve never been told I just go with, as you know, now that you probably do more of this. You know, it really depends I suppose. And then really around restaurants. Again, I would always, if there’s really good service I would give you know, the 10, 10%, 15% depending on and if I was just going for a drink, I would probably leave a couple of euros depending on you’re really depending on the bill and the service that I got, but there was nothing. It’s not that I need to leave it or I want, it’s more I want to leave that, you know,

Katy: 05:09 I think the culture in Italy is really, you know, like you would give a couple of euros per person in a restaurant or a cafe. And then if it was exceptional service, then you can generally pay a bit more. So how about in hotels? What would you think the expectation for tipping in hotels would be?

Josie: 05:26 No, I don’t tip in hotels in Italy to be really honest because I get quite a good wage. They looked after yeah, no, it’s more independent restaurants. I would tip again, look, if they, if you’ve got lots of bags and you’re struggling and you know, someone’s there helping you or they’ve done something extra to get you a taxi, or have gone out of their way. Then, you know, maybe one or two euros a bag. But it’s not expected at all of that.

Katy: 05:54 I think that’s right. And you know, in restaurants you know, I think you could get, it’s a really a professional service over there. So they take a lot of pride in the service that they provide. And, I always like to reward it. Exceptional service and an exceptional meal as well, to be honest. The chefs are slaving away behind the scenes. But how about the coperto?

Josie: 06:17 Yeah, so I think we need to talk about that because the coperto is like a cover charge. So when you sit down at a restaurant, it’s not for the service. It’s literally to sit down. It’s a cover charge and they give you bread. Whether you eat the bread or you don’t eat the bread, it is part of the charge that you are given. Rome, Florence major cities have that. We, I find that when you’re out in some of the littler towns, it’s not so prevalent, but definitely in the major, major towns.

Katy: 06:48 So the, the money from the coperto goes to the restaurant, not the server. So if you’re wanting to reward the server, then you will need to add an additional tip on top of that. So look, I know it’s confusing. It really is. And I think that, you know, you have to go with just some general guidelines and, and really you know, use your own judgment. And I think if you use the principle that exceptional service deserves an extra reward, then that’ll stand you in good stead in Italy. And I think we definitely found that with paid tours. So you can pay a lot for paid tours. You know, if you’re doing a small group tour, you’re paying, for a couple of couple of hours it’s going to be at least 70, 80, 90 euros. And they really don’t expect a tip. But if you wanted to reward them with for an exceptional day out then absolutely go right ahead.

Josie: 07:43 Yeah, I agree. And I think also you’ll find when you go some of these restaurants, they’ll tell you they’re quite Italians are quite forward in telling you what they think. So they’ll tell you the, the coperto is for the restaurant. But you can still leave a tip for me. So that they will, they will sometimes. Don’t feel that they, you know, you might be confronted by it. It’s just the way they are.

Katy: 08:06 Yep. So I think you know, your finances best and how you want to budget for your trip. But what we’re saying is that you don’t need to be budgeting 15 to 20% tip or for all your meals into your budget. So if your paying for a meal that’s say 45 euros, then you’d probably round it up to 50 euros. So I think please, just tipping is very, for some reason it’s very controversial, but I think this needs to be simplified to the fact that if you get exceptional service, feel free to tip, otherwise leave a handful of euros. I do think with the free tours, I think 10 to 15 euros per person is about right. And if it’s a paid tour, then use your discretion. If you’ve got exceptional service, then absolutely feel free to tip your guide.

Josie: 08:57 Yes. So Katy, we’re gonna put some put the link on the show notes to an article about travel tips for Italy. That includes all the information that we’ve been talking about.

Katy: 09:07 Yup. And you can also ask any more questions you have on tipping on our Facebook group and we’d love to see you there. We have experts and friendly travelers ready to answer your questions about itineries, where to eat, what to see and much more.

Josie: 09:21 And coming up in episode eight, we’ll be talking about accommodations. Hotels, apartment, Airbnbs and all the best tips on where to stay in Italy.

Katy: 09:30 Well, I know that you’ve got so much knowledge to share on that, Josie, because of your background in hotels and I think that getting your accommodation choices right is one of the most important ways to plan your trip. So tune in next time for all our tips on booking accommodation. And don’t forget to subscribe to Untold Italy podcast for all the latest episodes. Grazie and thanks for listening,

Josie: 09:53 Ciao.

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