Eating near San Marco in Venice

By | Category: Travel rumblings

St Marks – an area where some restaurants practice the art of wallet assassination!

A few day’s ago a story broke about four Japanese tourists in Venice being fleeced for nearly £1,000 at an un-named restaurant in Venice.

Later the restaurant was named as the Osteria de Luca which has a 1.5 star rating on TripAdvisor and, of the 320 reviews, 83% of them brand the restaurant as “terrible.” On Yelp there are eighteen reviews and a rating of one out of five.

To make it clear, this relates to Osteria de Luca in the St Mark’s area of Venice. There are other restaurants called Osteria de Luca in the Venezia region so don’t confuse them.

The area around St Mark’s is one of the most visited areas of Venice and some nearby restaurants have garnered a reputation amongst visitors for overcharging, having high cover charges or ambitious service charges. Regular visitors know enough to eat elsewhere because you are paying a premium for the location. The advice for decades has always been to see the prices before you buy.

But the authorities haven’t covered themselves with visitor praise by cracking down on this practice in the past. The current mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said only last November when some tourists were charged £463 for lunch that they were “cheapskates” and giving the impression that he had little sympathy. This time he has taken a different tack. (National elections are due in a few months but this is probably a coincidence.) This time, in a tweet on January 21st, he said that he would investigate and, if confirmed, he will punish those responsible.

No news from the mayor yet about how his investigation is going but a resident’s group, Gruppo 25 Aprile, has taken up the cause and yesterday, a local paper – La Nuova – ran a story about it which drew 34 comments from readers some pointing out that the owners were not locals or even Italian. Margherita Basso from the university wondered why in the light of the comments on review sites about ripping customers off that the authorities hadn’t investigated earlier.

And therein lies the real point of this story. This practice has been going on for years and the authorities have turned a blind eye to it. Rome is trying to resolve the problem. Will Luigi Brugnaro examine the whole business of restaurant charging rather than this one incident? All it does is give Venice a bad name.

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