Taxes, tipping, and service charges in Italy are an ever fluid subject that never fails to befuddle visitors. No matter how many times you’ve been, these things are highly subject to change, and just recently, the city of Rome dramatically upped their hotel taxes, so I wanted to talk to you about how these work.

Hotel taxes apply even if you are not stay in something that would be strictly referred to as a hotel. They come up at:

  • hotels

  • B&Bs

  • rental homes and apartments

  • camp sites

  • guest houses


The only exception is hostels, and the prices of the tax depends on the level of the establishment. 1- and 2-Star hotels stars carry a 3 EU per night tax, 3-star hotels a 4 EU per night tax, 4-star hotels a 6 EU per night tax, and 5-star hotels a 7 EU per night tax.

Agriturisms are taxed 4 EU per night, camp sites 2 EU per night, and all other types of accommodation 3.5 EU per night. And all prices are per person.

As hotels do not want to constantly raise their prices to reflect these taxes, you must pay the taxes separately from your room rate, typically on arrival. The hotel taxes go toward services for tourists, as well as tourism marketing, in addition to city developments that affect tourists, such as street improvement.

DSCN2647It might have been Under the Tuscan Sun that really jump started the craze, but there is something about spending a day on an olive grove helping out with the harvest that has always appealed to visitors to Italy, especially outdoorsy types exploring the small hilltop towns of Tuscany.

If you are in search of your own harvest experience, you’re in luck.

You’ll be one of the most welcome kinds of visitors to Italy!

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No matter the season, staying on an Italian winery is always an eye-opening experience. From the simple beauty of repetition as row after row of wine grapes undulates over the hillside to the earnest passion of Italian winegrowers, Italian wineries are usually stunning, serene places.

But during the fall, wineries explode with action. Grapes are picked as fast as possible to capture the peak of flavor and just as furiously pressed into juice.

While wine preferences are a deeply personal matter, there are a handful of winery inns and hotels that I love share with my clients because they cannot fail to impress.

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While we may complain about sales tax in the U.S., as a member of the European Union, Italy must charge a whopping 20% value-added tax on most goods. Not such a big deal on a bottle of water, but when you're buying some Prada sandals - even at the outlet - that's a steep fee.

Fortunately for those of us travelers looking to pick up some luxury goods to bring home, you can actually get a refund on a portion (about 10-12%) of your sales tax if you spend over €155 in one shop in one day. Unfortunately, like many bureaucratic things in Italy, it takes a bit of work.

How to Get a VAT Refund in Italy - At the Store




To be eligible for a refund, request an IVA (VAT is called IVA in Italy) invoice for customs at the register at the time of purchase. You'll need to show your passport at the store to demonstrate that you are not an EU-citizen to get the paperwork.

If you don't have it with you or forget and are able to return to the store at some other point during your trip, you can sometimes get this form later, but you must return to the exact store in which you made your purchase, not another outpost of the same chain.

How to Get a VAT Refund in Italy - At the Airport




On your way home, take all of your invoices and head to your departure airport a little early to get your paperwork stamped at the customs office. These are usually pretty easy to spot in the check-in area, but sometimes they are downstairs in the arrivals area near the rental car desks and currency exchange booths. You must get your papers stamped in you last EU departure point, so if you head somewhere else after Italy, save your invoices till then.

Reap the rewards of your organization with a refund in cash or as a credit on your credit card!
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2008 - 2012 CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER ITALY SPECIALIST

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