Travel: Making sense of an Italian restaurant bill

Vincenzo capuano pizzeria Naples

What it means on your restaurant bill in Italy

Different countries do things differently, and in Italy you may be confused with some terms listed on your restaurant bill. Like what the heck is a coperto?!

Vincenzo capuano pizzeria Naples

The Coperto

This is a cover charge. A bit like a fee for using their table and chairs. Instead of factoring this into the price on the menu, it is an added charge.

The Coperto must be listed on the menu. Check the price before sitting down or you may get a surprise at the end of your meal. Generally, the cost is between €1 and €2 per person, including children. This can mount up to a hefty charge.

The Coperto usually costs more in touristy areas and is included in bills for even a coffee. This charge is seemingly illegal in the Lazio (Rome) region now but may still be listed on the menus!

We had a “discussion” regarding the bill above following a delay receiving our food and a missing item so the coperto was removed, or was at least reduced to zero euros each.

Top tip

Check the menu for Coperto to find out how much you will be charged.

Vincenzo capuano pizzeria Naples The Servizio

The Servizio or service charge is another charge you may see on a bill. This is not like a tip and goes to the restaurant and not the staff. This is a mandatory charge, however if not listed on the menu you can have it taken off. Again, this charge is generally found in touristy areas.

Top Tip

Check the menu for the rate of Servizio.

Vincenzo capuano pizzeria Naples

The Mancia

A general rule of thumb – don’t tip! Staff in Italy a paid a decent wage and don’t need to live off tips. If you feel Service has been amazing, helpful or you just can’t leave without tipping, then do it the Italian way – round up your bill to the nearest 0 or 5, or empty out your pocket of spare € coins.

Buon apetito!

Restaurant bill Italy what it means 




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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