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Japanese tourists refuse free compensatory trip to Italy

A japanese couple who were conned into paying €695 for lunch in a Roman restaurant (including a &euro115 tip) have been offered a free compensatory holiday in Italy by the newly appointed Minister for Tourism Michela Brambilla.

35 year old Yasuyuki Yamada has, though, refused the offer, saying that it wouldn’t be fair on Italian tax-payers! The valiant tourist has, though, declared that they will be return to Italy to see sites like the Vatican, and Capri.

The case which has caused no small amount of embarassment, made headlines when it was revealed that the two tourists had gone into a historic Roman restaurant, Passetto, for lunch, and where met by a waiter who brandishing no menu told them to trust him on the choice of what to eat. They did, and paid the price – €695, for a meal that should have cost at most a third of the price.

The tourists, courteously paid their bill, and then went to the nearest police station to investigate the matter further. The police found that the price did not correspond to the menu, and to make matters worse when an inspection was carried out health inspectors closed the restaurant for a breach of hygiene regulations.

The pity of this case is that it will make tourists ever more wary of something that is quite traditional and sensible – ie a restaurant without a printed menu, where the waiter advises on what’s best to order.

Go into half of the rustic restaurants in Romagna and this is the system used (unless they’re particularly organised and focussed on the tourist trade), and for good reason. The cuisine here is all about fresh and local produce – menus change depending upon what’s available, and that is a good sign. It’s also quite normal for the waiter to steer you towards various dishes, given that your average Italian family orders collectively.

So the simple tip? Don’t shy away from these types of restaurants – you may miss the meal of a lifetime if you do! But on the other hand do protect your interests – ask the waiter, as they propose different things, how much it will cost.

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