How to tip in Italy?

Old Jan 12th, 2003, 08:54 AM
  #1  
jc
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How to tip in Italy?

In US, I guess the convention is that if the server brings you the bill WITHOUT a tray, you walk up to the cashier to pay and leave a tip on the table. If the bill comes in a tray, you pay the server, including a tip.

Is that the same practice in Italy?
 
Old Jan 12th, 2003, 09:09 AM
  #2  
grinisa
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The only time you are going to pay a cashier is at a cafe or gelateria before ordering your coffee or ice cream and then consuming it standing up, not at a table. If you are sitting at a table for a meal and are waited on, the server will bring you a bill, and it could be anything from a formal bill in a little folder or some quickly handwritten notes on a scratch of paper (frowned on by the Italian fiscal authorities) and you will pay the server directly. Tipping is another issue. In many places, the tip is included and will state that on the menu or the bill itself as "servizio incluso". You can still leave a few small bills on the table for exceptional service. If not included, leave the usual ten to twenty percent. "Coperto", which you may see on some menus and bills, is not the service charge but a cover charge, for bread, water, table linens etc. and is not optional.
 
Old Jan 12th, 2003, 02:49 PM
  #3  
rar
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If there is 'coperto' listed then you do not tip. I've never seen coperto not listed actually. Italians rarely tip, only for great service.

Some restaurants will have you pay at the cassa (register), as will some cafe/bars. But they aren't the norm.
 
Old Jan 12th, 2003, 02:53 PM
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Monica
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I always heard that you weren't supposed to tip (because of the coperto) but that it's cheesy to pick up the small change from your bill--that you leave that as a small tip.
 
Old Jan 12th, 2003, 03:40 PM
  #5  
Grinisa
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The coperto is not a tip! It is a cover charge, not a service charge, and you will see something like "Pane e coperto" on the top of the menu, at something like 2 Euro per table. There will be another entry on the menu saying "servizio" if service (tip) is included. If there is no entry on the menu or bill for servizio, the tip is NOT included. The Italian government recently passed a law whereby restaurants were supposed to get rid of the coperto charge because all of that should be part of the restaurant's overhead. Some have complied but others have not. In any event, coperto does not equal tip. And it is nice to leave something on the table anyway, even if servizio is incluso because many times, the management of the restaurant just keeps that and the waiters get nothing.
 
Old Jan 13th, 2003, 08:47 AM
  #6  
Alice Twain
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Unlike in the Usa in Italy waiters do not receive smaller wages because they are supposed to earn more money from tips. In Italy a waiter erans a full wage and is supposed to acta accordingly. Tipping is thought of only as a further sign of particular appreciation of a service that went far beyond what's regularly supposed to be. In this case, in case you are treated particularly well, you may want to leave a _small_ tip to the waiter, usualy this tip is the small change after you paid your bill or something of the same size. Large bills (5% or more) are not customary and may sometimes result offensive for the waiter.
 
Old Jan 13th, 2003, 09:04 AM
  #7  
jc
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I thought I had it all figured out but now I'm confused as in day 1.

Grinisa's comment is that if it is not servizio incluso (that is, service charge NOT included), you pay the usual 10-20%. But Alice Twain's answer implies that regardless of servizio incluso or not, you don't tip (OK may be the small change, less than 5%) because it may be inferred as insulting to the waiter.

Can someone clarify?? But in any case you either leave the change or tip on the table, or include the tip when you sign the credit card receipt. Am I correct on this one?
 
Old Jan 13th, 2003, 12:03 PM
  #8  
rar
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It's simple: do not tip.

Unless...

your service is very very good. Then leave a small amount.

Coperto vs servizio, ok I guess you are right on that one. But I rarely see servizio when I eat out, and always see coperto. Never am I expected to tip, regardless of whether servizio is listed or not. I only do tip when I do not see a coperto or servizio, which has been rare.
 
Old Jan 13th, 2003, 01:24 PM
  #9  
Grinisa
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Although it's true that waiters are paid a decent salary in Italy, in over 30 trips, I have never come across one that was insulted by any tip that I've left. Rather, I was warmly welcomed by both waiter and management upon subsequent visits. If you have no plans to return to a particular restaurant, don't tip. But I will continue to follow the example of the many Italians that I have dined with in every region of Italy and leave 10 to 20 percent when service is not included in the bill, and leave some change on the table when it is.
 
Old Jan 13th, 2003, 01:35 PM
  #10  
xxx
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Despite all the replies here:

1) I defer to Alice because she lives in Italy and her posts are always very detailed with sensible explanations;
2) I live in France. Years ago, one would see here and there "service compris" or "service non compris." Now, service is included everywhere. This is French labor law. 15% is automatically included in the price in a restaurant or cafe: everywhere. You never have to leave a tip.

Once more I'll add this system is a double-edged sword. The waiter is guaranteed his 15% so he is not dependent on the customer (the socialist government has ensured he will get paid regardless). The down side is he can give you rude service or hardly any service at all (in which case the service was not compris for you. Get it?). So it can go both ways for customer and waiter. I almost never leave any change in France anymore unless the service was so outstanding, it is way beyond the call of duty. And in the event I have a meal in an upscale establishment or even coffee -- at Deux Magots for example in Paris (a nice cafe but certainly not as nice a place for coffee as, say, Le Ritz) -- why would I leave a tip? Do you know the prices for a cup of coffee there?

Those who want to tip in addition to what the bill says: more power to you. In addition, when I sit at the cafe, am served and the waiter expects me to pay right away (which is becoming more and more the norm) all the while hardly acknowledging my existence, I'll keep my spare change.
 
Old Jan 13th, 2003, 03:55 PM
  #11  
rar
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20% tip? My roomates would think you're crazy =p
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 10:59 AM
  #12  
Alice Twain
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jc:

It is very simple service is not included because the service is not something that the customer pays for, the waiter's wage is fully paid by the owner as a regular restaurant cost. While you see ervice as sometihng that is offerend somewhat in addition to the dinner or lunch we just see it as part of the restarant's offer, if you see things this way you can also see why often there is no "service included" on the menu. The waiter is there not in order to offer you something more, his work is just part of what the restaurant does for you, it is included in the restaurant's offer! If you are in very touristy area, wiaters have seen many foreigners leaving them large tips, so they do not take offense, but if you just go somewhere that is not so touristy (and you have reasons, lots of reasons to do so, I assure you!!!) you may happen to hit a waiter that is not glad of a large tip at all.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 11:53 AM
  #13  
tommy
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Alice et al- How about tipping other service industry employees - bellmen, concierge, housekeeper, etc. Any advice?
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 02:24 PM
  #14  
ewri
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I tip the bellman EU1 per bag; taxicabs in Italy: just round up to the nearest Euro. Taxicab drivers will be surprised if you tip more than that, but you can tip them for helping you with baggage (see above); otherwise, no. Hotel: I leave about EU3-5 per day and then total at the END of the stay (and only when the room service was satisfactory) and leave it behind in the room upon checkout. Concierge: tip for exceptional service; if you didn't use his services, then no need to tip. Doorman: I tip off and on but always if he gets me a cab and then it's EU 1.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 02:51 PM
  #15  
xxx
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I'm American and used to wait tables so I find it very difficult not to leave a generous tip. My question is why would anyone, anywhere ever find this offensive? Seriously, I don't get that.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 02:55 PM
  #16  
john
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Different countries, different cultures.

In Japan, you don't leave a tip anywhere. At least that's how things were when I was there 10 years ago.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 03:09 PM
  #17  
in80days
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Italy isn't Japan, and tipping is part of its culture. Unless service is specifically included, I always leave about 10 percent unless the service has been horrible. That has rarely happened. I even leave a few lira (now Euro) on the table when service has been included and no server had taken offense, even in the smallest of isolated, non-touristed hamlets. Are you saying if you eat in some mom and pop pizzeria in Abruzzo for 8 Euro and you leave a 1 Euro tip, or about 12 percent, that that's too much and the waiter is going to be offended? Come on.
 
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 03:14 PM
  #18  
rar
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I have ate out with many Italians, ranging from friends of mine, to my roomates. Never seen one of them leave a tip.
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 03:30 AM
  #19  
Alice Twain
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in80days:

You are right, Italy is not Japan, but tip is still not part of our culture. Corruption and bribing is. And Itlians often do not perceive much of a difference between a tip and a bribe. In good and bad. You may hit some (few) people who will withold services that are due unless you tip them generously, you might find people who will feel offended by a tip (large or small), you might find people who just do not care. In all areas. Still, to Italians a tip and a bribe are not so far apart.
 
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:33 AM
  #20  
Cristina
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One little area of grey on the tipping front. In restaurants in very touristy areas (main piazzas and the like), tips are the norm. The wait staff normally are people working "under the table" and many are not Italian. I remember working in a restaurant here in Siena and the pay was Lit. 50.000 (around $25) per shift but then it was because we would make around $100 tips per shift. At other restaurants, fine dining and away from the main tourist areas, staff was contract staff and they made more as well as having all of their taxes etc.

When with Italians we never tip but then we don't go to tourist places.
 

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