The Italian Almanac

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japanese tourists

Reparatory Pizza

A Japanese tourist who made headlines when a top Rome restaurant landed him with an outsize bill has agreed to a reparatory pizza in Tokyo after Yasuyuki Yamada, 35, said he would meet Rome Deputy Mayor and Tourism Chief Mauro Cutrufo in one of Tokyo`s best-known pizzerias. He said he had accepted Cutrufo`s offer of a dinner of buffalo-mozzarella pizza to make amends for the 700-euro bill he and his fiancee were handed by the Il Passetto restaurant.

Yamada, the owner of a small propane gas outfit near Tokyo, received the offer from the Italian embassy in Tokyo which told him Cutrufo would be in Japan next week to promote Rome and attend an international tourism fair. The stung tourist had initially turned down an offer to return to Italy as guests of the Italian tourism ministry, saying it was a ``useless`` way to spend taxpayers` money. Speaking from his hometown of Tsukuba, 70 km from Tokyo, Yamada said Tuesday he wanted to ``clear up the whole affair`` after seeing Internet reports claiming he had ordered the most expensive items in the famed eatery only to report it the police to get compensation. He also said he wanted to stop people ``writing bad things about Italy``. Despite turning down the tourism ministry, Yamada said the rest of his time in Italy had been ``great`` and he`d like to come back at his own expense. ``People who swindle you exist all over the world,`` he added.

The bill that sparked the row came to 579 euros plus a 115-euro service charge at the 150-year-old restaurant near Piazza Navona where VIPs such as Grace Kelly, Leonardo DiCaprio and Harrison Ford have dined in the past. Il Passetto defended itself by saying the couple had ordered ``exclusive`` food including two kilos of lobsters, fine wine, 1.5 kg of seabass and 12 oysters. A few weeks earlier, another Japanese couple were stung for 352 euros at the same restaurant for five slices of prosciutto, two pasta first courses, a shared fish course, four porcini mushrooms, wine and coffee. In both cases the tourists reported the restaurant to the police. It was shut down by health inspectors after the second incident but reopened a few days later.