by Nick Squires, The Telegraph, January 24, 2018
Hoteliers in Venice are offering a luxury free stay to a group of four Japanese tourists who were ripped off when a restaurant charged them €1,100 for lunch.
The offer was announced on Wednesday by the Venetian Hoteliers Association, whose president said the case had done immense damage to Venice’s image.
The four tourists are studying in Bologna, less than two hours away by train, so returning to the World Heritage city would not be too onerous.
“The association has taken note of the fact that the episode did grave harm to the image of the city,” said Vittorio Bonacini, president of the association.
“After a high-level discussion, we’ve decided to offer the four tourists who had such an unfortunate experience a stay of two nights in a four or five star hotel.”
He invited them to get in touch with the association in order to arrange the return trip.
The four students had a meal of fried fish, steak and mineral water at the restaurant near St Mark’s Square and were then presented with a bill for €1,143 (£970).
On returning to Bologna, where they are studying, they filed an official complaint with the police.
They presented a credit card slip showing the amount they had been charged but said they had no receipt because the restaurant had not given them one.
Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice, has pledged to investigate the restaurant and promised that if the “disgraceful episode” was confirmed, the owners would be sanctioned.