Venetian authorities are pledging to take action against price gouging after four Japanese tourists were charged €1,100 (NZD$1,843) for a meal consisting of four steaks, a plate of grilled fish and water. The tourists, studets on exchange in Bologna, piad the bill and complained once they had left the historic city.

“We will thoroughly examine this episode over the coming days. We’ll make sure the complaint was justified,” Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. “If this shameful episode is confirmed, we’ll do all we can to punish those responsible. We are for justice, always!”

A further twist in the story emerged when four women told authorities that they had decided against dining at the restaurant and went elsewhere, for fear of being overcharged, but still ended up paying almost $200 each for three bowls of pasta.

Venetian restaurants have recently come under fire for price-gouging in popular tourist areas like St Mark’s Square, including charging a family of four from Birmingham €526 ($881) for a lunch, including a €297 ($497) plate of grilled fish in November.