Lonely Planet Writer

Holidaymaker billed a whopping €43 for two coffees and waters at Venice cafe

A holidaymaker was shocked to discover he was charged €43 for two coffees and two bottles of mineral water at a cafe in Venice.

Caffe Lavena alfresco seating Image by Jo-Ann Titmarsh/Lonely Planet

Chilean national Juan Carlos Bustamante, who lives in Italy, was charged €11.50 for each cup of coffee and €10 for each 25cl bottle of water when visiting Caffe Lavena, a historic baroque cafe in Piazzo San Marco (St Mark’s Square). He posted a photo of his €43 bill to Facebook last week, where it has been shared almost 10,000 times and attracted over 1000 comments as it prompted debate about Venice’s tourist prices.

Juan Carlos Bustamante’s bill from Caffe Lavena. Image by Juan Carlos Bustamante

Commenting underneath his Facebook post, Bustamante said: “I don’t know what you think but €43 euro for two coffees and two bottles of water is unbelievable.”

However, a spokesperson for Caffe Lavena has defended its prices and told The Telegraph that the extra fee is stated clearly on the menu and those looking for a cheaper caffeine fix can purchase a coffee at the bar inside for just €1.25. He added: “If they want to sit outside and enjoy the music of the orchestra, look at the bell tower and the Basilica of St Mark’s, then they are paying for an entirely different experience.”

The Venice cafe’s high piazza prices have attracted a number of complaints on Trip Advisor. Just last week a customer complained that his family of five had been charged €78 for coffee, milk and water, which included lattes at €11 per cup and €9 for a glass of milk.

However, many customers have also taken to Trip Advisor to argue that the high prices are worth it. The cafe is located in the sunniest corner of the piazza, directly opposite the Basilica di San Marco – Venice’s most popular site. In June, a customer added that he would gladly play the high prices just to soak up the cafe’s atmosphere.

Interior of Caffe Lavena Image by Jo-Ann Titmarsh/Lonely Planet

He wrote: “No trip to Venice is complete without seeing San Marco. We loved the music in the evening and yes I paid 15 euros for a glass of wine and a second one after. I could have sat at [Caffe Lavena] for the rest of my life. We visited both nights we were in Venice and I teared up as we left on our last night. We found the service superb, the waiters polite and cordial.”

Established in 1750, Caffe Lavena was popular with European elite, including the 19th Century German composer Richard Wagner.