The indignant patron at Caffe Lavena happened to be Juan Carlos Bustamente, a politician, originally from Chile, who ran as a Five Star Movement mayoral candidate in elections in Fiano Romano, a town in Lazio, in 2016.
Bustamente was charged €20 for two bottles of water and €23 for two espresso coffees.
Outraged at the hefty sum, he posted the receipt on his Facebook page, alongside the note: “I don’t know what you think but 43 euros for two coffees and two bottles of water!”
The café’s management argued that customers do not pay attention when told they will pay more if they choose to sit outside the historic establishment. Nearby cafés, such as the famous Café Florian, charge similar prices, which are clearly stated on menus.
“We are always clear: for those sitting at a table outside, the prices are higher. But many dismiss this, and then get offended,” the management of Caffé Lavena told the local newspaper, Corriere del Veneto.
“Those who simply want to drink a coffee can do so at the bar for €1.20. But if you decide to sit down and enjoy the music from the orchestra while looking at the bell tower and St Mark’s basilica, then you pay for a different experience.”
Earlier this year, Venice authorities pledged to take action after a group of Japanese tourists were charged €1,100 for a meal at a restaurant in the city.
In November 2017, a British family complained about a €500 bill for lunch near St Mark's Square. They accused the waiters of taking advantage of their lack of Italian skills to bring them expensive dishes they did not order. That came shortly after a Japanese couple was charged €120 for a plate of lobster at a central Venice trattoria, though they were able to get the bill reduced by 40 percent, with the help of another customer.