One of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in Italy has championed the lot of tourists by expressing "indignation" over the "excessive" prices charged at cafes and restaurants in Venice. Renzo Rosso, the unconventional self-made founder and sole owner of Diesel, the fashion label, said that his growing irritation turned to wrath when he took his wife, Erica, and their three children to Caffe Florian, one of the most celebrated historic landmarks in the city, on St Mark's Square.
Mr Rosso (52), who comes from nearby Padua, said that they had enjoyed the orchestra that plays at Florian's but had been stunned when they found that the bill included an extra charge of €5.80 a head for "entertainment".
"My wife and I had a spritzer each, for which the charge was €22," he told 'Il Giornale'. The price of the drinks was steep enough on its own, "but it's the music charge that scandalises me most of all", he said.
Mr Rosso -- a farmer's son who studied textile technology before creating not only Diesel but also, with the Genius Group, the labels Katharine Hamnett, Goldie, Martin Guy and Ten Big Boys -- admitted that he could afford to pay. Diesel, has an annual turnover of €900m and has 220 shops in 80 countries. But he said that cafes in Venice should offer entertainment free of charge."At least I didn't have have to pay for the children -- otherwise I would have paid a total supplement of €29." Carlo De Pari, the manager of Florian's -- founded in the 18th century and frequented over the years by luminaries such as Casanova, Lord Byron, Marcel Proust and Henry James -- said the musical supplement had been added to the bill for many years. He said that the supplement was indicated on the menu and waiters were instructed to draw the attention of customers to it.
Mr Rosso's protest comes as the Venice council -- with the aid of the police -- is cracking down on tourists who picnic on or near St Mark's Square, with on-the-spot fines of €25 for those caught eating takeaway food. Many visitors complain that they have no choice, in view of the "astronomical" prices charged by cafes or restaurants, with or without music.