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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

June 6, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Roman holiday: $94 for three coffees, cake

Carlo Rienzi, president of Italy's Codacon consumer group, buys a cappuccino at a bar near Rome during an earlier coffee-price protest. (AP photo, Corrado Giambalvo, 2004)

Carlo Rienzi, president of Italy’s Codacon consumer group, buys a cappuccino at a bar near Rome during an earlier coffee-price protest. (AP photo, Corrado Giambalvo,2004)

A family visiting Rome went to a coffee bar in the heart of the Italian capital. They enjoyed three coffees and three slices of cake.  But they didn’t enjoy the bill – a whopping $94 (72 euros).

 The family from Eastern Europe had gone to a café on Via Cavour.  Outraged by the bill, the tourists later contacted Codacons, an Italian consumer organization. “We were robbed,” they said, according to Italian news media.

  The café’s explanation: Each slice of tiramisu cake was 15 euros (about $19.60) and each cappuccino was 5 euros (about $6.50). The remaining 12 euros (about $15.70) was a miscellaneous service charge.

    The sky-high bill follows a similar event in Rome in May when four British tourists were charged 64 euros (about $83.70), according to London newspapers,  for four ice cream cones at the Antica Roma gelateria near the Spanish Steps.  

    Some Roman residents, politicians and newspapers have denounced the overcharging, saying it undermines tourism, the Italian capital’s major business.

     As a tourist, how can you protect yourself from such overcharging in the Italian capital (and beyond)? Clearly ask the price – best to see a menu – before you order.  Realize that the prices can double, even triple, if you choose to sit down at an Italian café instead of standing at the counter to drink your coffee or have a snack  (that’s why you see a lot of Romans standing at the coffee-bar counters).

    If you end up with a sky-high bill, as the Eastern European and British families did, make a stink. Rome’s mayor ended up apologizing to the British tourists and inviting them to return to the city  

 

 

 

 

Comments | Topics: Italy, Rome, tourists overcharged

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