The summer of 2023 will be remembered in Italy not for its scenic beauty or delectable cuisine but for the surging prices and high-profile cases of tourist rip-offs that have shaken the country’s reputation as a favored travel destination.

The Skyrocketing Prices

From casual dining to luxurious hotel stays, prices across Italy have seen a steep climb. Some instances are downright shocking, like a couple charged €60 ($65) for two coffees and water in Sardinia or €2 ($2.20) for cutting a ham sandwich in half at Lake Como.

The underlying causes are multifaceted, ranging from the war in Ukraine driving up energy and fuel costs to disrupted supply chains making importation of goods and services more expensive.

Tourist Rip-Offs: From Annoyance to Scandal

Beyond the high prices, tourists have found themselves targeted by unscrupulous practices. The incidents range from seemingly trivial, like a €2 charge for cutting a sandwich, to more serious matters, like a young mother charged €5 ($5.50) to heat a baby bottle.

These scandals have drawn the attention of Italian officials, including Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche, who has pledged to take firm action against such deceptive practices.

The Crossroads of Italian Tourism

The summer’s events have brought Italy’s tourism industry to a defining crossroads. There are concerns that the surging prices may turn away potential visitors, particularly budget travelers, while others argue that luxury tourism will remain unaffected.

The stakes are high, and the long-term impact of these issues is yet to be fully understood. What’s clear is that the country must act decisively to preserve its status as a top tourist destination.

Tips for Traveling Smart in Italy

For those planning a visit to Italy, awareness and preparation can go a long way in ensuring a pleasant experience:

  1. Research Ahead: Read reviews of restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions to gauge the prices and authenticity.
  2. Know the Common Scams: Familiarize yourself with scams targeting tourists in Italy and learn how to avoid them.
  3. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to inquire about prices or policies if something is unclear.
  4. Be Ready to Walk Away: If a price or situation feels wrong, trust your instincts and walk away.


The summer of 2023 in Italy has served as a wake-up call for both tourists and the Italian tourism industry. The events have exposed vulnerabilities and challenges that need to be addressed to maintain the allure and integrity of one of the world’s most beloved travel destinations.

By being informed, vigilant, and assertive, tourists can still enjoy the rich experiences Italy has to offer. Meanwhile, industry stakeholders and the government must work together to rebuild trust and ensure that Italy remains synonymous with hospitality, culture, and value.