Wednesday, 2 December 2015


It's late Friday morning. It's a beautiful, sunny autumn day, I've got no classes until 5.00 and life is good. I've had a few chores to do around the town, and I find myself in Campo San Luca with a bit of time to kill. A coffee seems like a good idea, but where to go?

   BlackJack is a decent bar that we've made use of a couple of times (good spritz, good snacks), and Marchini is a splendid pasticceria. And then I think, Bar Torino. I've never been to Bar Torino. I've walked past it any number of times, sometimes late at night when there's been a band on, but never actually gone in. I'll give it a go.
   I seem to remember that it was once regarded as being quite hip, but it feels a bit shabby and run-down, and the Jack Vettriano prints on the wall give it a slightly sleazy feel. An American tourist is trying to gently prod a wandering pigeon back outside. I ask for a coffee. The barista smiles.

- Espresso?

   I nod. Si si. But this is a bad start. Nobody ever asks you if you want an espresso. He thinks I'm a tourist.

   My coffee arrives, a sad little brown puddle that cools instantly at the bottom of an outsized cappuccino cup. It's rare to get a cup of coffee over here that's actually bad, but this is about as poor as it gets.

   I've not brought a newspaper or anything to read, and I'm in no mood to linger anyway. I take some change from my pocket. I know that I'm about to get ripped off. The only question is by how much.

- One euro fifty.

I almost laugh. That's 50% more than almost every other bar in town. And given that the price of a coffee al banco is fixed by law, I suspect it's probably illegal as well.

- One euro fifty? For a coffee al banco?

He shrugs.

- It's the price in Venice.

- No, it's not. I've lived here for four years and I've never paid one euro fifty. I don't even pay that at Quadri.

We stare at each other in silence. I could, I suppose, make a scene but it's not worth it for fifty cents. In fact the sheer bare-faced, we-don't-give-a-!$£* attitude is almost funny. Although I suspect I'd find it less so if I were a tourist being scammed ridiculous sums of money for some dismal-looking food.

I slide the money over the counter.

- This is the tourist price, isn't it?

He shrugs again and turns away.

Whatever. I console myself with the thought that a cappuccino and brioche might have necessitated the use of a credit card. I walk back outside, into the sun, and check my watch. Still a few minutes left. Just time for a coffee at Marchini.


  1. Uffa!!! I may avoid that bar, they'd definitely spot me as una turista.

    1. To be honest Yvonnne, I'm not sure it would make all that much difference. If you look on Tripadvisor you'll see that it has any number of really terrible reviews, most of them from Italians. I get the impression it's seen better days.

  2. I found horrendous reviews for this bar, especially by Italians: "avoid it at all costs."

    1. Yep, it does seem to have attracted large numbers of entertainingly bad reviews!


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