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Deciphering Your Restaurant Bill In Italy

You may have heard by now the confusion American travelers to Italy endure when looking at their dinner bills. It doesn't have to be that way if you know in advance what to expect.

Here are a few words that may show up on your restaurant bill in Italy and a brief explanation of why it is on your dining ticket.

Coperto (covered)

This is a fixed fee that is charged by restaurants in Italy on a per-person basis in addition to the cost of food and drinks.

It is traditionally considered to cover expenses for washing or replacing cutlery, plates, napkins, and tablecloths used by customers.

Receipt of DInner Bill in Florence, Italy
DInner Bill in Florence, Italy

Pane (bread)

The bread charge is relative to the bread and breadsticks basket you’re given right after taking a seat at your table.

You can refuse this offering to avoid being charged for it, but do it as soon as the bread basket arrives (if you can resist). Wave it off and say “No grazie” with a smile.

Receipt of DInner Bill in Florence, Italy
Hard to Resist a Bread Basket

Servizio (service)

The service charge refers to the services performed by the waiting staff. Similar to the states, some restaurants only include this for larger parties. Expect to see it in any size group. As in the photo below, service was charged for only two of us in a Milan restaurant.

If you see servizio included in your bill, then no need to tip unless you feel more comfortable doing so.

Receipt of Dinner Bill in Milan Italy
Lunch Bill in Milan, Italy

TRAVEL TIP: Remember: just like the coperto, pane and servizio fees must be included on menus or price boards in order for restaurants to be able to charge them. You can find the fee list usually on the front of a menu and/or at the bottom of each page.

In the photo below (see the bottom right corner), it was good to know ahead of time that the pane (bread) was included in the coperto (cover) so, we didn't have to refuse it. when the basket arrived on the table.

I hope the explanation of these three words helps you when you read your first of many restaurant bills in Italy.

Read more in a blog I wrote about Tipping in Italy


The Way To Italy has been providing fee-based, custom travel planning for travelers to Italy for 23 years. I handcraft once-in-a-lifetime Italy experiences down to the last detail.



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