Italian Tipping Protocol, Italian Gratuities, & Italian Culture
- DO dress formally when invited to business and social gatherings. Ties and suits are acceptable for men, while a simple but elegant dress with accessories is suitable for women.
- DON'T wear shorts or tank tops/singlets at church.
- DON'T leave the table during dinner as it is considered rude.
- DO keep your hands above the table, even when you are finished eating.
- DO place your fork and knife on the right side of the plate to indicate to your server that you are done eating.
- DO insist repeatedly that you don't want more food once you are full. Otherwise, you will be offered more.
- DO keep your wine glass relatively full if you do not wish to drink anymore, otherwise your glasses will be topped off if it looks only half full. Do not refuse when you are offered a top off.
- DON'T eat with your fingers. Use a fork and knife, even for food that you may normally eat with your hands, such as a piece of bread or pizza.
- DO give gifts such as chocolate or flowers, but gift-wrap them, and not in black and gold. Those colors are reserved for funerals.
- DON'T give chrysanthemums or roses, unless you know the meaning behind them. Chrysanthemums are for funerals and roses indicate romance.
Visting Someone's Home
- DO give your host a nice gift.
- DON'T decline an invitation to go to dinner. It is considered rude, unless there are extreme circumstances that prevent you from being able to attend.
- DON'T be late to business engagements. Punctuality is not a priority, but as a guest to Italy, you will make a far better impression if you are on time.
- DO check the hours for the business you are working with ahead of time. Many businesses close for the entire month of August, and office hours can vary on the weekends. However, office hours will usually be 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM Monday through Friday, with morning hours on Saturdays.
- DO dress semi-formal for business meetings. Attire should be immaculate and clean, without scuffs, rips, or stains. Dark suits are most common for men, with expensive ties, cuff links, and watches. Women should dress stylishly with make-up and jewelry. Perfume and cologne is also acceptable.
- DON'T discuss politics, religion, the Mafia, or family with business associates.
- DON'T offer a gift in a business meeting until one has been given to you.
- DON'T point with your index finger and pinky finger at the same time. It is called 'la corna' and it is considered extremely vulgar in Italy.
- DO shake hands upon meeting someone.
- DO use titles and surnames unless you have been invited to use first names. Use "Signore" for "Mister" and "Signora" for "Mrs." along with the surname, unless they have a specific title such as Doctor.
- DON'T pull away or get offended if an Italian associate wishes to hug you. Embrace him or her in return!
Tips (la mancia) are customary in Italy, but not essential. The tradition of the tip remains impervious to change, even though cafe or restaurant prices now more and more often include both cover charge and service. On paying the bill, if it is paid in cash it is a matter of leaving a few notes from the change, or saying to the waiter "va bene cosi" ("it's all right"), when the difference between the amount paid and the actual bill automatically becomes the tip. When using a credit card, there are two possibilities: if the total on the credit card slip is the same as the bill, again leave some notes as a tip; but if the amount or the total are blank, simply round up the total to include the tip when signing the credit card slip. Tipping in bars and discotheques is not expected and very rare.
Our Italian Tipping Recommendations
- Taxis and Limos: Tipping optional, EUR 1-2
- Airport Shuttles: Not required
- Hotel Shuttles and Carpark Shuttles: Not required