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Tourist rip off? Lake Como

Tourist rip off? Lake Como

Old Jun 30, 17, 5:05 am
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Tourist rip off? Lake Como

At the station bar in Varenna this week I was charged €2.50 for a regular cappuccino 'al banco' (consumed standing at the bar)!!

I queried the charge and was told that it was correct. I asked to see the bar's official price sheet (which was located in a partially obscured, inaccessible place a couple of meters from the 'banco'), but was told that the list was blank. (It was just about too far away to check if this was indeed the case.)

Is it possible that there's one price for locals and another for tourists? (Of course the relatively common practice in tourist areas of charging different prices for being served a drink sitting down at a table as opposed to standing at the bar has been well documented in the FT Italy forum.) Am I justified in feeling ripped off?


On a separate note, I noticed at a bar in Milan that they were offering cappuccini in three different sizes: Italian regular size; and what looked like the equivalent to 'Starbucks tall' and 'Starbucks grande'. (Thankfully there were no 'Starbucks Venti' equivalents on offer.) I'm not sure if this is a recent development–but it was the first time I'd seen it in Italy.

Last edited by Perche; Jun 30, 17 at 9:23 am
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Old Jun 30, 17, 5:35 am
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As a Londoner, I love how you think €2.50 is expensive!
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Old Jun 30, 17, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
As a Londoner, I love how you think €2.50 is expensive!
Your post reminded me of the huge yellow sign I saw in the Geneva train station three years ago, waiting for my train to Milano to depart: Special discounted price for expresso plus croissant 4.90 Sfr. Back then, in Perugia where I lived at the time, the double espresso and cornetto where 2,70 €.
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Old Jun 30, 17, 7:25 am
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
Your post reminded me of the huge yellow sign I saw in the Geneva train station three years ago, waiting for my train to Milano to depart: Special discounted price for expresso plus croissant 4.90 Sfr. Back then, in Perugia where I lived at the time, the double espresso and cornetto where 2,70 €.
Well....Geneva
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Old Jun 30, 17, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
As a Londoner, I love how you think €2.50 is expensive!
I'm a Londoner too, but can claim to have visited nearly all, if not all of the 107 Italian provinces–and have enjoyed a cappuccino 'al banco' in most of them. I don't think I've ever paid more than €1.60 or so (at MXP?), and nowadays the standard price is around €1,30–so having paid €2.50 in a station bar sticks in my craw.
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Old Jun 30, 17, 9:32 am
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Moved from Need help-Lake Como!
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Originally Posted by Up In The Air View Post
I believe I cynically got ripped off yesterday at the 'Il Binario' bar at Varenna station: €2.50 for a regular cappuccino standing at the bar!!! Tourists beware.
Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Yes, that's expensive. I paid that for a cappuccino with table service right on the lake at Caffe Varenna.
But that place at the station has kind of a captive clientele and can set their own prices - unless you're willing to hoof it back down to Beretta. As I recall, everything is expensive there.
And no, I don't think the cab drivers are paying no 2.50 for a cappuccino there.

Last edited by Perche; Jun 30, 17 at 9:45 am
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Old Jun 30, 17, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by Up In The Air View Post
At the station bar in Varenna this week I was charged €2.50 for a regular cappuccino 'al banco' (consumed standing at the bar)!!

I queried the charge and was told that it was correct. I asked to see the bar's official price sheet (which was located in a partially obscured, inaccessible place a couple of meters from the 'banco'), but was told that the list was blank. (It was just about too far away to check if this was indeed the case.)

Is it possible that there's one price for locals and another for tourists? (Of course the relatively common practice in tourist areas of charging different prices for being served a drink sitting down at a table as opposed to standing at the bar has been well documented in the FT Italy forum.) Am I justified in feeling ripped off?


On a separate note, I noticed at a bar in Milan that they were offering cappuccini in three different sizes: Italian regular size; and what looked like the equivalent to 'Starbucks tall' and 'Starbucks grande'. (Thankfully there were no 'Starbucks Venti' equivalents on offer.) I'm not sure if this is a recent development–but it was the first time I'd seen it in Italy.
I have found restaurants with different tourist menus, including in Italy. I had a check come out different than the menu price, turned up he had handed me the local menu and did honor the prices.

I've usually found prices of €1.50 for a single espresso, so €2.50 doesn't sound unreasonable for a cappuccino - but I see your post that you typically pay less, so I dunno.
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Old Jun 30, 17, 3:02 pm
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Ditto for San Francisco! I wish it were that cheap....
Just finished dinner at the hotel restaurant here in Santiago de Campostela (Spain), my generous glass of white wine was 3 Euro. Same glass in SF would have cost me 14 Euro easy.

Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
As a Londoner, I love how you think €2.50 is expensive!
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Old Jun 30, 17, 3:05 pm
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Cool

Everything is more expensive at airports and, I suspect, train stations.
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Old Jun 30, 17, 4:55 pm
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On Swiss trains a small coffee served at your seat is generally 4 SFr.
So a Cap for 2.50 EU (even though you weren't seated) is a relative bargain.
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Old Jul 1, 17, 2:04 am
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Many thanks for the replies, but I hadn't intended to do an international survey on the price of a coffee.

Although I'm a Londoner, I speak Italian (with a marked Piemontese accent) and (some would say) look a bit Italian. I am not always identified straight away as a tourist, but my American wife, with whom I was with at Varenna the other day, often is.

I suppose the original question was more along the lines of whether or not there is differential pricing in some Italian establishments for tourists as opposed to locals.

There is also the question of the legality of not displaying a price sheet (or at least not showing it when requested).

At the station bar I of course wasn't given a tax receipt until I asked for it ... but that's one for another day.

Back in the UK now, where the usually undrinkable, oversized cappuccini can set one back much, much more than €2.50.
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Old Jul 3, 17, 10:51 am
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Yes, there are price differences in many Italian cities for tourists and locals. Basically anywhere that has significant tourist traffic is going to do it. Usually the posted prices are the tourist prices (if it's not one and the same), and locals just get a discount. Fewer places have the balls to actually print up two price lists, but some do. I'm not sure whether it's legal, but that doesn't seem to matter.

It has nothing to do with how you look or speak I don't think - maybe if you speak the local language rather than a locally accented variant of standard Italian it could be assumed (but then that's only the older folks in many places). A local isn't a local because they're from the same region, they're local because they live and usually work in the same town/city. Either they know you or they don't, and if they don't, you have to know how to ask. At least, that's my experience.
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