The Great Roman Ice Cream Scandal Returns: US Couple Charged $19 For Gelato Call Police

You’ll pay more to sit down and eat in Rome, compared to standing at the counter, especially if you just want coffee and gelato. Photo: Simon Thomsen

Forget truffles and caviar, ice cream is the new luxury food in Rome.

English-language Italian paper The Local reports that an American couple called police after paying 42 euros ($60) for 3 gelatos and water this week at a cafe near the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

The gelato cost €13 ($19) each. The couple, James and Mariann Luciani, hadn’t checked the menu before sitting down at Bar il Caffè. They even got a discount, because they didn’t cop the €2.50 per person cover charge, but not believing the price, having just spend €59 on dinner, including wine, returned the following day with police

“We’ve been careful in watching out for pickpockets in Rome, but I never thought I would get scammed here,” Luciani told The Local.

The cafe’s manager blamed them for not checking the menu first. “Italy isn’t like other countries. Here there’s always a different price at the bar and sat at a table,” he said.

This latest kerfuffle over Rome’s gelato prices follows a major diplomatic incident last year when four English tourists were charged €64 ($92) for four gelato cones near the Spanish Steps. The incident led the mayor of Rome to apologise and invite the two couples back to Rome for free.

While the bill was steep, it’s still cheaper than if the tourists wandered over to the nearby Trevi Fountain to eat their gelato. Under a council by-law introduced two years ago, tourists are prohibited from eating pizza, gelato other snacks around historic monuments in the Eternal City, and if caught, face fines of between 25 to 500 euros.

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