The following article, written by Catherine Edwards, appears on The Local.
Venice’s mayor and police chief have promised action after a group of four tourists said they were charged €1,100 ($1,350) for a meal of four steaks, grilled fish and water.
It’s the latest in a string of incidents of tourists in Italy being overcharged for food, and made headlines across the world after the residents’ organization Gruppo 25 Aprile shared the customers’ story.
The four Japanese customers, who were studying at university in Bologna, filed a complaint with police about their meal near the iconic St. Mark’s Square.
“We defend local residents, and whoever puts the good name of Venice at risk harms all Venetians,” said the Gruppo 25 Aprile in a tweet. The organization also said it planned to publish a handbook on ‘surviving Venice’ ahead of the annual carnival which starts on Sunday.
The restaurant owner on the other hand told local daily Venezia Today he “did not remember having any problems with any Japanese clients”
Venice is a pricey city at the best of times, but tension between local business-owners and the steadily increasing number of visitors has contributed to some ill-feeling towards tourists.
In November 2017, a British family complained about a €500 ($610) bill for lunch near St. Mark’s Square, with one of the party saying waiters had taken advantage of their lack of Italian skills to bring them expensive dishes they did not order. That came shortly after a Japanese couple was charged €120 ($150) for a plate of lobster at a central Venice trattoria, though they were able to get the bill reduced by 40 percent, with the help of another customer.
At the time, Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro branded the group “cheapskates” and said: “I applaud the restauranteur who issued the bill. If you come to Venice, you should know that you’re Venice, you have to spend some money. In fact, leave a tip for all the people who are there working for you.”
However, after the most recent incident was reported around the world, Brugnaro said that if the “shameful episode” was confirmed to be true, city authorities would punish those responsible. Continue reading at The Local.