July 30, 2009

Japanese couple rejects free trip to Italy

A Japanese man says he does not want to cost Italian taxpayers money by accepting a free trip to make up for an astronomical bill at a Rome restaurant.

Yasuyuki Yamada told the Italian news agency ANSA he and his fiancee enjoyed their trip to Italy, except for their experience at Il Passetto. He said he would love to return some time, paying his own way.

The restaurant charged the couple 700 euros (almost $1,000) for dinner. After they complained to police, Il Passetto managers said Yamada and his fiancee had chosen expensive dishes like lobster and oysters.

The restaurant had already been the subject of another complaint from a Japanese couple who said they were charged 352 euros for a meal, including a shared main course. After Yamada's complaint, health inspectors forced Il Passetto to close, although it is expected to reopen soon.

Yamada thanked Tourist Minister Michela Vittoria Brambilla for offering him a free trip but said he would not accept. He said swindlers exist all over the world.

Asahi Shimbun reports the number of Japanese tourists to Italy has dropped by more than 50 percent in a decade, with inflated restaurant prices a major complaint.