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Encounters: Do Visitors Pay More In Roman Bars?

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March 21, 2010 Culture & People, Encounters 1 Comment

Do visitors pay more in Roman bars and restaurants? Er, yes. Of course they do!

I remember a sunny afternoon when my visiting father said to me, “I’ll just meet you at the bar opposite your apartment for a coffee in half an hour”. Secretly, he went there early, to take in all the italianit√† (and coffee) he possibly could, before leaving again for his cold home country.

l coffee campo rome Encounters: Do Visitors Pay More In Roman Bars?

A coffee bar on Campo de' Fiori

And so I found him there, sitting at a table, people-watching and a slight bit dumbfounded Рhe had just been charged 4.50 EUR for his cappucino. When I joined him at the table, this being my local bar, I saw the waitress scrambling behind the counter, seeming rather uncomfortable.  All I was curious about at this point was whether they would charge me my usual 1.50 EUR, and therewith admit to inflating their prices for my father, the apparent tourist, or whether they would stick with the 4.50 EUR and lose me as a regular customer. She charged me 1.50 EUR, and ran back behind the counter, too embarrassed to speak.

We both found this quite amusing, but only after my father had gotten his head around the idea that he might be recognised as a tourist. We did it the italian way, had a little rant and a big laugh about it, and needless to say that I was back in that bar the following morning, for my usual cappuccino.

This is not to say that I don’t think that this issue warrants a discussion. On the contrary! Charging three times as much for a cappucino is forgettable enough, but charging three times as much for dinner (in extreme cases) crosses the line many times over.

Visitors come to Italy not just to experience the culture, but to be a little bit italian themselves. And if they are ripped off so blatantly, they might conclude that the privilege of drinking coffee with italians comes at price that is just a little too inflated for what it is worth.

Read more about overpricing in Roman bars and restaurants here: Diner Beware: Turisti Pay More in Roman Restaurants

Has it happened to you? Care to share your story? We’d be thrilled to read about it in the comments.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. SDay says:

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    I am not so sure. It is not that Romans charge Tourists more. They charge more “when they can”. This is the real philosophy – it is not anti-tourist (the article from the NYT is shaky with evidence.

    1. They say that restaurantuers claim others do it, but not themselves – this identifies simple marketing – ie, they are all crooks, we aren’t.

    2. The black economy relates to overcharging tourists… How?

    3. I have been with a group of Italians who where overcharged at a Restaurant (and it got nasty). He sites one example of this same thing, but thinks it could be thinking the person was from Overseas (not just up north).

    But that really misunderstands Italians. Italians find foreigners (especially Anglo-Saxon and norther european) much more trustworthy than fellow Italians.

    I don’t doubt that the coffee shop saw your dad as an opportunity. But they would do the same for any person they think they can get away with. Look at the way they deal with workers (plumbers, electricians etc) and shops – they always say “they have a person they can trust”, (una persona di fiducia) not necessarily good at what they do. Getting a little bit more when possible is the game, not directed at tourists.

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