So says many of the papers here this morning. it seems that 4 British tourists ate ice cream at a cafe near The Spanish Steps and were charged €64 for them . This has re-ignited the ripoff charge that as a city ( citta) Rome has had for some time. Now I have to say that eating ice cream near the Spanish Steps is really a pleasure reserved for company paid American Express Platinum card holders and Italian politicians though not necessarily in that order.
A year ago the satirical TV show here Striscia La Notizia (literally Strip the News) did an expose on restaurants ripping tourists off. They sent in on separate nights first a Japanese couple, then a visiting Italian tourist couple and finally a couple of locals. Each ate the same and each got a different bill. No guesses for who paid the most. The TV show then went in to confront the owner. Now normally when they do these exposures they end up chasing the owner of the business around the streets but this was the first time they had done tourist restaurants. Not only was the guy not contrite he seemed genuinely confused as to what the problem was. He patiently explained that he had three menus and the people had paid what was on them. It was only right he said that the foreign tourist paid more than national tourists and that locals needed a good deal.
Monty Python had a take on holidaymakers
Can it happen here in Puglia ? Well yes it can and does on occasions especially where tourists gather like the centro storico of towns. It seems to mainly happen in bars rather than restaurants . You will have heard of the Big Mac Cost of Living index well I have my local beer index and judge rips offs against the price in my local bar €1.80 for a 660ml bottle. Now I have a bar near here where the price is €1.30 but I will never give up the name of the town. Even under torture. Though I have always thought if ever I was faced with torture my inquisitors could forget the thumb screws and just feed me a few beers and a load of gin and tonic then I would tell them everything . After a good night in the bar I tell the world every secret so share none with me ! Back to the index, I have to take into account ambience, nice tables, chairs, sunshades but after that it is clear if I am paying over the odds. Three rules of thumb, if the barman greets you in English you are in trouble, if he gives you draught beer you are in real trouble and if the receipt isn’t itemised he has probably taken you to the cleaners. It works for coffee as well. Restaurants aren’t as bad as you can clearly see the prices and can beat a hasty retreat if it looks silly.
On a lighter note the papers are delighted that Kate and William have chosen for their nanny an Italian Antonella Fresolone. The Royal couple are hugely popular here and the idea that the future King or Queen will be brought up by an Italian is great news.
Better play a lullaby hadn’t we. This used to close the BBC home service. at about 10 p.m.