Restaurant etiquette in Italy


Elite member
Reaction score
Ethnic group
Excellent information here. I would only add two things.

First of all, there is no tipping. That's included in the "bread and cover" charge.

Second of all, some friends of mine whom I sent to Toscana on holiday remarked that the waiters and other service staff were "rude" in comparison to people in the south because they didn't greet them with a smile and a good day. In my experience, people in a "lower" position do not initiate an exchange with the person they're serving. It's considered rude to impose yourself in that way in case the person might not wish it. If you say good day and smile you will receive a warm response.

This is a good example of how you should do your homework before you travel to another country, so there won't be any misunderstandings.

Oh, about the cash, Italians are not the only ones who prefer cash. I have a German descent friend who goes to Germany frequently, and she says everyone uses cash, even for quite big amounts, and there it's mainly a question of frugality, so you don't spend more than you have.

I'm just going to take a minute to address something else about Europe. Ex-pats in Italy are perpetually whining about the fact that Italians are so medieval about the dangers of air-conditioning and the detriment to your health because of the dreaded "drafts". It's true that's the belief. Till the day she died my mother believed she got sore throats from drafts and air conditioning, the latter of which she hated,even in the car. My father, of mountain stock and totally not adapted to heat and humidity, embraced air conditioning as if it were the second coming. I'm just like him. I only sleep well in basically cold rooms, and that means I spend a LOT on air conditioning my house, even with our much cheaper prices.

I'm happy to report that Germans almost uniformly, at least according to my friend, believe the same thing and also don't like air conditioning their homes.

Watch out in restaurants: if they know you're American, they'll put you in the path of the drafts! :) Their Italian patrons would refuse to sit there.

In Italy, if a Waiter is not nice to customers, is because the owner/supervisor is not present, or it’s just a family member helping out.
Waiters in Italy are paid a regular salary, but they will however accept Tips.
Besides the professional service, the important duty of an Italian Waiter, is to sell/convince customers to order items that the “House” is pushing at that moment.
If they spot an empty glass they will come and ask you if you would like some more. A good chunk of the money are made by selling alcohol.
At the end of the meal, many restaurants in Italy offer for free a choice of Espresso, Amaro (digestive liquor), limoncello, or similar. Not always and only if they like you.

Almost half of the population thinks they suffer from “Cervicale” lol.

“La corrente d’aria” (draft) is the enemy, If you are in the car with them during the summer, you will suffer unbearable heat, as they protect their neck to prevent “La Cervicale”, (Slightly On-Off windows, just the minimum requirement to prevent a stroke, and absolutely no air-conditioning.) :)

This thread has been viewed 6261 times.