The service charge and IVA, or value-added tax (V.A.T.), are included in the hotel rate except in five-star deluxe hotels, where the IVA (12% on luxury hotels) may be a separate item added to the bill at departure.
Many, but not all, Rome restaurants have eliminated extra charges for pane e coperto (a cover charge that includes bread, whether you eat it or not). If there is such a fee, it will be €1 or €2 per person. Unscrupulous places sometimes add a service charge—this is only ever written in English and is not legitimate; if you see this on the menu, it might be best to find another place to dine.
Always ask for an itemized bill and a scontrino, or receipt. Be advised that the vendors selling imitation knock-off purses, sunglasses, and other accessories are unauthorized street vendors. If caught buying from any of these street vendors, you could be served with a hefty fine by Italy’s tax police (Guardia di Finanza).
Value-added tax (IVA in Italy, V.A.T. to English-speakers) is 22% on luxury goods, clothing, and wine. On most consumer goods, it's already included in the amount shown on the price tag; on services, such as car rentals, it's an extra item. If a store you shop in has a "euro tax free" sign outside and you make a purchase above €155 (before tax), present your passport and request a "Tax Free Shopping Check" when paying, or at least an invoice itemizing the article(s), price(s), and the amount of tax.
To get an IVA refund when you're leaving Italy, take the goods and the invoice to the customs office at the airport or other point of departure and have the invoice stamped. (If you return to the United States or Canada directly from Italy, go through the procedure at Italian customs; if your return is, say, via Britain, take the Italian goods and invoice to British customs.) Once back home—and within 90 days of the date of purchase—mail the stamped invoice to the store, which will forward the IVA rebate to you.
Global Blue. 866/706-6090; 800/32111111; www.global-blue.com.