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Italy is mired in a debate over price gouging and rip-offs after a restaurant charged extra for providing a customer with two teaspoons with which to share a dessert, amid complaints over the soaring cost of taking a summer holiday.
An Italian couple had requested the extra teaspoon so that they could share the crema catalana that they had ordered in the pizzeria near Alba, a town renowned for truffles, in the northern region of Piemonte.
A couple was charged more than $2.50 by a restaurant in Italy for providing an extra spoon with their crema catalana.Credit: iStock
They were taken aback when the bill arrived with a €1.50 ($2.53) surcharge for “due cucchiaini” or two teaspoons.
While it was not a large amount of money, it has added to a general sense among Italians that hoteliers, restaurateurs and beach club owners are unreasonably hiking prices as they seek to make money from the post-pandemic rebound in tourism.
Holidaymakers are reeling from the increased cost of everything from gelato and seafood to sun loungers and bottles of wine, particularly in popular locations such as the Amalfi Coast, Sardinia and the coast of Tuscany.
Sandwich cut in half? That will be €2…
Earlier this week there was a case in which a couple who asked for a toasted sandwich to be cut in half, so they could share it, were charged an extra €2.
Their bill had an unexpected item on it – “diviso in meta” – meaning “cut in half”. Indignant, they posted it on Tripadvisor.
A bar on Lake Como defended charging customers for cutting a sandwich in half. Credit: iStock
The owners of Bar Pace, on the shores of Lake Como where George Clooney has a house, justified the charge by saying they had to use a second plate, which would have to be washed, and that they served up the divided toastie with an extra handful of crisps.
“If the client asks me to make it into two portions, I have to use two plates and two napkins. Supplementary requests come with a cost,” said Cristina Biacchi, the owner of the bar in the village of Gera Lario.
The incident provoked a lively debate on social media, with one person writing: “No more holidays in Italy, the prices are crazy and out of control everywhere.”
While millions of foreign tourists have flocked to Italy this summer, Italians are feeling the pinch.
According to one report, 41 per cent of Italians have had to give up the prospect of a summer holiday altogether because of increased costs.
Another study found that 45 per cent of families say they have had to tighten their belts and reduce their spending if they do take a holiday.
On the island of Ponza, favoured by well-off families from Rome and Naples, the number of Italian tourists is reportedly down by 40 per cent.
Some Italians have reacted to the hike in prices by choosing not to take their holidays at home but to go to Albania instead, where costs are much lower.
“This summer has exceeded expectations,” said Edi Rama, the prime minister of the Balkan country. “We have had 35 per cent more tourist arrivals and the number of Italians has been really striking.”
He said that since he became prime minister in 2013, the number of annual arrivals at Tirana airport had risen from 350,000 to more than 6.5 million.
The Telegraph, London
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