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Tip advice in Italy

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Just got back from Venice, so am asking advice a bit late.... Usually, I just look at the check in Europe to see if I need to really tip. There will either be a service charge added on, or a note saying that service is not included. This time, I was in many restaurants that gave bills that showed no clue if service was included. I assumed that this meant it was not, and so tipped 10-15% - but the look on the waiters' faces made it clear that we had overtipped. Any advice?

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  1. The total on the bill always include tip/service. For some places, the prices on the menu does not but there should be somewhere printed on the menu (sometime very discretely placed) that service of a certain percentage, usually around 15%, will be added by the management on the bill. No additional tip/service is necessary though a small percentage (5 or less) is ok. This last point is up for debate and sometimes very heated on this board. In Italy, most often there will also be a coperto charge per person that should be stated on the menu (usually on the top)

    1. like the other responder said, service is included in the bill. you just round up or leave a small amount, nothing like 15%. In heavily touristed places like Venice it has happened that waiters will try sometimes to extract some more money from insecure tourists (like us), including by putting the notice that service is included on the bill or being dishonest when you ask.. It helps to know the general rule.

      7 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        1) Don't tip in Italy.

        2) Don't feel guilty.

        It is that simple. If there is a charge for coperto or an added gratuity, it will already be on the bill.

        1. re: VILLAFAVOLOSA

          We echo the above, its not the accepted habit in Italy to tip at restaurants. Oh boy we are in for problems if we ever visit N. America!!

          1. re: Villasampaguita

            Just to be clear, are you both agreed that the norm is to leave no tip at any eatery, from local trattorie to high-end urban restaurant? Throughout Italy?

            I often notice locals rounding up and leaving change at bars...thought that this was the correct thing but am eager to sort this out once and for all...

            1. re: erica

              not messing with change - rounding - makes it easier for everyone.

              1. re: erica

                The norm is to leave no tip at any eatery, Erica, throughout Italy, from local Trattorie to high-end places. Hospitality workers do earn a full wage - though low - they are not supposed to earn their living on tips.
                That said, if the service is good, my friends and I always leave a 10% no matter if high-end or local Trattoria.

                Ciao

                Irene

                1. re: erica

                  If I think the service has been very good, I will leave a few euro or the change, but never 10% or more, I got weaned of this habit years ago!

                  Mostly I don't pay the waiter, but pay at the cashier when leaving so I can chat to the owner, most Italians seem to do this too.