Venice merchants continue to rip tourists off
Three months after a group of British holidaymakers were charged €64 (£54) for four ice creams in Rome, a bunch of Italian tourists were horrified to be charged the equivalent of £85 for four espr
Three months after a group of British holidaymakers were charged €64 (£54) for four ice creams in Rome, a bunch of Italian tourists were horrified to be charged the equivalent of £85 for four espresso coffees laced with liqueurs in Venice.
The visitors from Rome were handed the whopping bill after sitting down to enjoy the coffees in a café in Venice’s St Mark’s Square.
They had ordered four tiny espresso coffees which had a shot of ‘amaro’, an Italian aperitivo, added to them.
They were so outraged that they posted the bill on Facebook, prompting a fresh debate about the eye-watering prices that tourists are sometimes charged in Italy.
While an espresso normally costs less than one euro in a normal Italian bar or cafe, the seven Romans were charged six euros for each.
The liqueur shots they ordered came to €34.80.
They were then stung for a €42 surcharge for the privilege of listening to a five-musician string ensemble who entertain the café’s customers, bringing the bill to €101.80.
The managers of the Caffe Lavena were unapologetic, saying that all prices are clearly marked and that the visitors should have known what they were going to be charged.
The café is located in the sunniest corner of the piazza, opposite the extravagant façade of St Mark’s Basilica.
“The prices are there for everyone to see, there really is no doubt. It is for customers to decide whether they want to have a coffee standing up at the bar, or to sit down in the piazza,” Massimo Milanese, the manager, said.
“The café was established in 1750 so we are one of the most historic in Venice. It was patronised by Richard Wagner and many other famous people. It’s part of the city’s history.”
The steep bill was also defended by Ernesto Pacin, the local head of a federation of small businesses, who said tourists were charged a hefty premium for sitting down in St Mark’s Square, famously described by Napoleon as “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe”.
“If these Roman tourists had ordered coffees and liqueurs just 100 metres away, outside the piazza, they would have paid a very different price,” he told the Ansa news agency.
“I’m fed up with episodes like this which are used to continuously attack Venice and its supposedly leech-like establishments. What did they expect to pay in a café that is of a top level, both in service and quality, while sitting in St Mark’s Square and with an orchestra playing for them?”
When the four tourists from the West Midlands were charged €64 for four ice creams in Rome in May, the incident caused such embarrassment that the city’s mayor asked them back on an all-expenses trip by way of apology.