“Do You Tip in Restaurants in Italy? Let’s Pizza-sition this Dilemma!”

By John Goldsmith •  Updated: 11/03/23 •  4 min read

Do You Tip in Restaurants in Italy? Let’s Pizza-sition this Dilemma!


In the realm of international dining etiquette, one question that often perplexes travelers is whether to tip in restaurants while visiting a foreign country. This article aims to shed light on the tipping culture in Italy and provide insights into the historical context, traditional views, modern attitudes, local customs, and tips for handling gratuity. Understanding tipping etiquette is crucial for visitors to have a pleasant dining experience in Italy.

Historical Context of Tipping in Italy

To understand the present-day tipping practices in Italian restaurants, it is important to delve into their historical roots. Tipping originated during the Renaissance period when wealthy patrons would tip servers as a sign of appreciation for their service. However, unlike many other countries where gratuity became customary and expected over time, tipping culture did not evolve significantly in Italy.

Comparing Tipping Practices in Other Countries

While tipping culture varies across different countries, it is interesting to note that Italian tipping customs differ greatly from those found in North America or other parts of Europe. In countries like the United States or Canada, leaving a 15-20% tip is customary. In contrast, Italians traditionally do not leave substantial tips and may only round up the bill as a gesture of gratitude.

Understanding Italian Service Charge (Coperto)

One aspect that can confuse tourists when dining out in Italy is the coperto – an obligatory service charge that is added to most restaurant bills. The coperto includes charges for tableware and bread provided by the restaurant. It should be noted that unlike tips which go directly to servers as additional income, coperto goes towards supporting operational costs of running establishments.

Traditional Views on Tipping in Italian Restaurants

Cultural perspectives play a significant role in shaping traditional views on leaving tips within Italy. Italians tend to view restaurant prices as inclusive of service charges and therefore feel less inclined to leave additional gratuity. Furthermore, factors such as the availability of a fair minimum wage for service staff, cultural norms of equality in service, and a different concept of hospitality influence these traditional views.

Modern Attitudes Towards Tipping in Italy

As Italy continues to welcome millions of international tourists each year, modern attitudes towards tipping are evolving. The influence from countries where tipping is an integral part of restaurant culture has led to some Italians adopting the practice. Additionally, social media platforms and exposure to global influences have also contributed to changing tipping customs in Italy.

Local Customs: To Tip or Not to Tip?

It is important to note that regional variations exist within Italy when it comes to tipping practices. In some regions like Rome or Milan, leaving a small tip may be more common due to the high influx of tourists. On the other hand, in smaller towns or rural areas, tipping is less prevalent and rounding up the bill may be sufficient. It is advisable for visitors to observe local customs and adapt accordingly.

Tips for Handling Gratuity While Dining in Italy

Navigating the decision on whether or not to tip can sometimes be challenging for visitors. However, experts suggest that it is essential to respect local customs and adhere to traditional views while dining in Italy. If one feels compelled to show gratitude without leaving a tip, alternative ways include complimenting the chef or writing positive reviews online.


In conclusion, understanding tipping etiquette is crucial when dining out in Italy. The historical context sheds light on how tipping practices evolved over time while comparing them with other countries helps put things into perspective. The coperto distinguishes itself from tips as it supports operational costs rather than being additional income for servers. Traditional views on leaving gratuity differ due to cultural perspectives and various influencing factors. Modern attitudes are changing due to tourism and global influences; however, respecting local customs remains important. By considering regional variations within Italy and following expert advice on handling gratuity decisions, visitors can navigate restaurant etiquette with confidence.

John Goldsmith