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Venice Restaurant charges

Beware of the entertainment charges that will be on your bill if you stop for a cup of coffee or wine at the St. Marks Square restaurants.

But also be watching on menus in many Venice restaurants where they charge you seating fees. It's noted in very, very small writing and usually in Italian. I consider such charges to be very unethical and a method of thievery.

Posted by
3171 posts

Neither one is a scam. It is well known ( and probably stated in the menu or posted price list) that drinks on Piazza San Marco cost more when the music is playing. You can stand nearby and listen for free, but if you want to sit at a table and enjoy a beverage, you pay. For some it is part of the Venice experience and well worth it.

As for the cover charge ( coperto) it is not the least bit unethical. It is standard practice in Italian restaurants, and clearly stated on the menu.

Posted by
8293 posts

Are we to believe that in Italy the menus are in Italian? Tsk tsk.

Posted by
11507 posts

I too think a seating charge is bogus.. you can defend it all you want but what the heck,, you pay for the food , the drinks and now for the seat.. a bit grasping if you ask me, .. but yes I know it is a common and legal practice in Italy( one reason it is not my favourite country.) so not a "con" or"scam" .
I do however think that if you seat anywhere with a view or somewhere famous like St Marks Square( and in any well touristed city , in any country) then you absolutely should expect to be paying a lot more for anything you order.. that in itself is what I can "view rent" and thats ok..but then to pay a seating or coperto charge on top of the 10 euro coke,, lol .

Posted by
23411 posts

What is the difference between a "cover charge" in a US restaurant when entertainment is provided and the charge in Venice? It is not unethical or thievery when it is common practice in much of Europe. Anyone who has done any research or have travel experience in Europe knows that table service is more expensive than standing at the bar. You go to Europe for a different cultural experience and then complain when it isn't like the US.

Posted by
2081 posts

fee/charges/tax/ whatever.

the consumer always gets the shaft.

to me its just another way to separate you from your $$.

i dont mind as long as its posted somewhere or printed somewhere as in a travel book.

When i was in Paris, i didnt sit at any sidewalk side table. the waiters/waitress gave me a funny look too. But i can people watch in places for free.

happy trails.

Posted by
2829 posts

Ray, your complain of the charges for coperto is unwarranted. It is a customary practice in food establishments in Italy. It is not a scam, it isn't something focused on foreigners only, it is not something illegal.

A good comparison would be an Italian tourist in New York City baffled on knowing taxi drivers expect to be tipped on top of the meter fare. Many Europeans indeed find the whole tipping culture in US insane, irrational and borderline extortionist. A "way to separate the person from their money".

My point is this: certain business have their own ways of being transacted in different countries. Italians find 15% tips on taxis absurd, Americans find the idea of paying to use a seat irrational.

Same goes for things like not serving tap water (or charging for it handsomely), not having ice machines on roadside hotels or charging lodging on an adjusted per-person rather than per-room based.

Posted by
23411 posts

I have often wondered how our European cousins look at the US business practice of adding lots of taxes and fees after the stated price. The lodging industry in the US is notorious for this practice. We were just in South Beach in Miami at a hotel that offered an internet price of $199/night PLUS taxes and fees. (The emphasis is mine.) At the end of the day the rate went from $199 to $237.86. The taxes were - 7% sales tax, 3% county tax, 3% state tax AND then a resort fee of $12.99. What the h... is a resort fee? It wasn't a resort. Just a run of the mill hotel on a street in South Beach. I will bet David pays those fees without a second thought because it is standard business practice in the US. Just another method of thievery by the hotel industry in the US.

Posted by
7480 posts

Although I don't miss it a bit, the Jeckyll and Hyde Club (Sixth Avenue near W 57 St., NYC) always had a line outside it. (Now closed.) Due to city consumer protection laws, they had a sign outside saying that there was an "Entertainment Fee" (I don't actually remember, but maybe around $8.95 p/p) that would be added to the checks. All of the entertainment was arranged by the facility, and was interior to the building. This is particularly ironic since I don't think many patrons went there for the quality of the food!

Posted by
10283 posts

David, Was listening to the Italy travel lecture video on this site. The RS tour leader mentions the entertainment fee in St. Mark's Square cafes when music is playing. I would never have retained that info except that this thread was on here.

Posted by
11613 posts

Frank, South Beach is a resort area, even if the property is a dive, they have to collect the tax and pay it to the gov't. I lived in South Beach for many years. Lots of other US cities have this tax as well. In the last few years, Italy has rolled out the City Tax that is additional to the hotel bill.

Posted by
7377 posts

I will gladly pay the coperto charge to sit at an outdoor table on a Venetian canal or piazza that a restaurant has purchased in beautiful Italy where you may enjoy the evening and are never pushed to quickly finish your dinner or beverage.

Posted by
1048 posts

OK so everything isn't perfect (to your liking) in Italy! But how many of us keep going back year after year, decade after decade, because we aren't looking for perfect. . .we're looking for Italy and all the glories she has to offer. Even if some are a bit expensive. Still beats Tokyo!!! I like diet coke but when in Rome do as the Romans do! Vino! Gelato! Pasta! More vino!

Posted by
15967 posts

The extra price for sitting versus standing is common throughout Italy and not just in Venice, and applies to locals and tourists alike. It covers the cost of waitstaff - who are usually paid more than they are in the U.S. - and changing/laundering of linens (tablecloths and napkins) which are more commonplace at even casual cafes than in the States. That's why you see most Italians having their morning joe standing at the bar.

Consider that it's a pittance compared to tipping percentages expected here as well?

Also, prices are ALWAYS going to be highest at prime spots such as St Mark's in Venice. We have a coffee break several times a day in Italy to rest our feet and use the 'facilities' but we choose cafes away from main attractions. Besides being less expensive, they're usually more pleasant, and waitstaff tend to be less hurried and more amiable.

And oh yes, soft drinks are usually more expensive than wine, coffee or sparkling water so when in Rome…
Anyway, we've come to love those daily breaks, and have no issue with paying a little bit more for the experience. It's certainly beats the long list of taxes and extra fees attached to many U.S. hotels these days.

Posted by
715 posts

A coperto charge of a couple of euro is well worth it in my book. You never have to tip and you get to sit at the table all night long with out the wait staff hovering over you because they want to turn the table over for more tips. I love it personally. To me it is civilization at its best.