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Italy's PM Giorgia Meloni pays unpaid bill for tourists in Albania: 'Italians respect the rules'

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni offered to cover the bill for a group of Italian tourists who had left a restaurant in Albania without paying,
Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni offered to cover the bill for a group of Italian tourists who had left a restaurant in Albania without paying, Copyright AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
Copyright AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
By Giulia Carbonaro
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The prime minister paid over €80 for a group of Italian dine-and-dashers who had left a restaurant in Berat, Albania, without covering the bill.

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Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has ordered the country's embassy in Albania to cover the bill for a group of Italian tourists who had walked out of a restaurant in the town of Berat without paying what they owed.

The Italian embassy in Tirana, Albania's capital, confirmed paying the bill for the dine-and-dashers in a press release published on its website and on Facebook on 18 August: "Under direction from the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, we covered the bill left unpaid by a group of Italian tourists in a restaurant in the city of Berat."

It added: "Italians respect the rules and pay their debts, and we wish this kind of incident will not be repeated."

🇮🇹| Su indicazione del Presidente del Consiglio, Giorgia Meloni, abbiamo provveduto a saldare il conto lasciato non...

Posted by Ambasciata d'Italia a Tirana on Friday, August 18, 2023

The embassy added that the tourists' bill had been paid using Meloni's personal funds and not public money. 

Meloni's decision to cover the bill for the dine-and-dashers came after the prime minister was told about the incident by her Albanian counterpart during a visit to the country with her family last week. 

Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama complained of a group of four Italians bolting without paying the bill after eating in a restaurant in Berat, a city on the Osum River in central Albania. The bill was around €80.

Surveillance footage showing the four tourists leaving the restaurants without paying has since become viral on social media, making the issue unavoidable for the premier. 

Italy's newspaper La Stampa said that Meloni then told the embassy to "go and pay the bill for these idiots."

"I felt ashamed because the country I want to represent isn't a nation that makes people talk about them abroad because they do this kind of things, they don't respect the work of others, they think they're funny not caring about others," she said, as reported by La Stampa. "So I asked the ambassador to go and pay the bill, and I paid with my personal money. But even this has caused controversy in Italy."

While the gesture of the prime minister was praised by some in the opposition, many added that the leader should also feel ashamed about other issues - like the tens of migrants dying at sea trying to cross the Mediterranean into Italy, high inflation, and unemployment.

"It's not enough to pay the bill to wash your guilt away," Emiliano Fossi, a lawmaker from the opposition party Partito Democratico (PD), said of the episode.

An increasing number of Italians have chosen Albania as their summer holiday destination this year, local media reported, while ditching the traditional spots in the southern regions of their own country, considered more expensive.

Last year, some 610,000 Italian tourists spent their summer on Albania's beaches, according to Corriere.

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