Venice authorities intervene in row over €1,100 restaurant bill

Japanese tourists were allegedly charged over a grand for four steaks and a plate of fish

The police chief and mayor of Venice have pledged action after four Japanese tourists said they were presented in a restaurant with a bill of €1,100 for four steaks and a plate of mixed grilled fish, washed down with water.

Another three women in the same tourist group had suspected they might be taken for a ride at the restaurant near St Mark’s Square and ate elsewhere, the Ansa news agency reported, but still ended up paying €350 for three dishes of seafood pasta.

"We will thoroughly examine this episode over the coming days; we'll make sure the complaint was justified," the mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said on Twitter. "If this shameful episode is confirmed, we'll do all we can to punish those responsible. We are for justice, always!"

It is unclear why the tourists, among the estimated 30 million people who visit Venice each year, did not refuse to pay the bill. They filed a complaint after leaving the Italian city and upon returning to Bologna, where they were on a study visit.


A spokesman for the restaurant, which according to local media is owned by Chinese investors and managed by an Egyptian national, reportedly told journalists he had “no recollection of any problems with Japanese customers”.

Action group

A residents’ action group, Gruppo 25 Aprile, jumped on the case as further evidence of the risk run by tourists of being ripped off. “We defend local residents and whoever puts the good name of Venice at risk harms all Venetians,” it said.

The group's spokesman, Marco Gasparinetti, said that, in the immediate vicinity of St Mark's Square in the historic city centre, only 1 per cent of restaurants were still owned and operated by locals.

With Carnival fast approaching, he said the group planned to publish “a user’s guide for visitors on how to survive in Venice, with details on the kind of situations to avoid”. Other associations are considering introducing a seal of approval for strictly local businesses. – Guardian service