Traveling to a new place always begets questions about cultural differences and customs. A common questions clients often ask us before they embark on a trip is something along the lines of, “What’s the deal with tipping in Italy? When, where, and how much?"
The short answer is is that it is not necessary to tip in Italy, in fact, Italians rarely do. Tips are reserved for truly exceptional service and are not customary, nor are they expected by wait staff, taxi drivers or bartenders.
In restaurants in particular, the American custom of tipping somewhere between 10 percent to 20 percent is unnecessary. On your check in Italy, il conto, you will see an area called coperto, meaning “covered charges.” The coperto is not a tip, but rather a charge indicating what's been included, typically a €1 or €2 fee per person. It is worth noting however that in order for an establishment to charge you this coperto, it must be indicated on menu.
Then there is the servizio, or “service charge,” which also works differently than a tip. Like the coperto, the servizio charge must be listed on the menu, but it too does not go to wait staff and is routinely applied to passing customers or tourists rather than locals or regulars.
Finally, the tip, or mancia - if you feel you just cannot leave the restaurant with a clean conscience without leaving a little something extra, tip Italian style. Round up your bill to the nearest 0 or 5, or empty your pockets of the €1 and €2 coins. However, If you have received incredibly extraordinary service it is nice to leave a small gesture of appreciation.