Everyone knows the lagoon city can be expensive, but seven tourists from Rome got a bitter surprise when their bill for four coffees and three liqueurs at an outdoor cafe topped €100.
The scene was the famed Caffe Lavena in St Mark’s Square, where 19th century German composer Richard Wagner, who died in Venice in 1883, sat to have his morning coffee every day when he lived in the city.
What the Roman tourists — who posted their receipt on Facebook — apparently did not notice when looking at the menu was the ‘music surcharge’ of €6 per person. It added up to €42, or nearly half of the bill.
The owners of the famous cafe, which opened in 1750 and where clients are served by white-jacketed waiters as a chamber orchestra plays, defended themselves.
They said all the prices (€6 for a coffee and €10 for a liqueur) as well as the music surcharge, are printed on the menus.
“If they found the prices too high, they could have got up and gone somewhere else, like many people do, or have the coffee standing at the bar inside, where it costs €1,” manager Massimo Milanese told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
A group of British tourists were similarly stung on holidays to Rome in May, when four ice-creams cost them €64.
Roger Bannister, 58, said he regretted handing over the €64 for the cones at the Antica Roma gelateria on May 5 but had been too shocked to query the bill.
“It was hot, I had ice cream dripping down my arm, the others were waiting for me,” he said. “It was only when I got outside that I said: ‘I can’t believe it, they just charged me €64 for four ice creams.’ ”
Rome city council invited the four Britons back to the city for an all expenses paid weekend in the wake of the media coverage.
“This is our way of apologising for what happened,” Rossella Cardarelli, from Rome city council told the Daily Telegraph at the time.
“Unfortunately there is no law to control the prices. That’s why the gelateria could charge €64. It’s not illegal providing it is clearly marked. The system needs fixing.”