Four Japanese tourists were reportedly charged nearly $1,700 for lunch by a restaurant in Venice. The students each ordered a steak and a plate of fried fish and drank a bottle of wine between them at the restaurant in a busy tourist street close to St Mark’s Square.
The incident is being seen as the latest example of Italian tourist-area restaurants issuing overpriced bills to unsuspecting visitors, The Times reports.
“Their tourist guide arrived to pick them up from lunch, saw the bill and tried to argue with the management but to no avail,” Marco Gasparinetti, a spokesman for a Venice residents’ group, is reported as saying.
“Things didn’t go much better for three other Japanese tourists, who were part of the same group but had decided to go to a different restaurant nearby,” he said. “They were handed a bill of over $460 for three plates of pasta.”
After lunch, the tourists returned to Bologna, where they are studying, and filed a complaint to police.
It’s not an isolated incident, coming after a complaint to Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro by Luke Tang, a university lecturer from Birmingham, who was charged over $700 for a meal with his parents. Tang wrote that a trattoria “blackmailed us and ruined our holiday in Venice.”
The mayor responded by calling him a skinflint and criticizing him for not speaking Italian, according to the newspaper.
Gasparinetti said that his group, which represents Venice’s shrinking number of residents, was battling against “cowboy” restaurateurs who prey on tourists.
“We regret that our city has these episodes, and the Venice restaurateurs’ association appears to do nothing about,” he said.
Gasparinetti said that his group was planning to issue an online alert in different languages to warn tourists about inflated bills as thousands of tourists make plans to visit Venice for the annual carnival, which starts on Saturday.
“One trick is to list on the menu the price of the fish by weight, not by portion, which means you don’t know how much you will get and what the price will be,” he said.