Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan at their wedding in Palo Alto, Calif. (Allyson Magda / Associated…)
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Right, Mark Zuckerberg?
The Facebook CEO and co-founder was recently in the capital city of Italy celebrating the wedding to his longtime girlfriend on their honeymoon, but on the Web, the young billionaire is getting grilled for his tipping habits -- or lack thereof.
Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, stopped by Nonna Betta, a kosher restaurant in Rome's Jewish Ghetto, where they spent 32 euros, about $40, on a meal that included fried artichokes, fried pumpkin flowers and ravioli stuffed with sea bass and artichokes, the Telegraph reported.
The couple thought the meal was "very good" but not good enough to tip, according to the Italian publication Corriere della Sera, which posted the story Monday.
Waiters at Nonna Betta were surprised no tip was left behind, not only because of Zuckerberg's wealth but also because they are accustomed to generous tips from American tourists, according to the Telegraph, which reported Zuckerberg also did not tip at another Roman establishment the previous night.
But should Zuckerberg really be blasted for not leaving a tip? If Zuckerberg hadn't left a tip at a restaurant in the U.S., that would be pretty lame of him, but in Italy tipping isn't exactly expected.
That's why context is important. Last week, reports surfaced that Zuckerberg had shortchanged his wife by getting her a ruby ring rather than a diamond ring. But as we later learned, Zuckerberg probably spent more on the ring than what was initially reported because rubies can be quite expensive.
If you do a quick Google search of "Do you tip in Italy?" you'll see a general consensus that while tipping isn't shunned, it also isn't expected.
The first result I got says that tipping generally only happens from about 10% to 20% of guests and describes tipping as "something exceptional." One of the next results I got clearly states in bold, underlined letters "you don’t need to tip in Italy." And if you search the topic on Facebook, as Zuckerberg probably did, the first result, via Bing, starts with "Italians don't generally tip huge amounts, that's if they tip at all."
So yes, Zuckerberg may wear hoodies and flip-flops and he might not tip when he's in Rome. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's cheap.
And even if he is, can you really blame the guy? Two weeks ago his Facebook fortune was worth more than $19 billion. Now it's down to $14.5 billion.
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