An Argentine fashion blogger has provoked debate in Italy by denouncing expensive restaurants that hand women menus with no prices on the assumption that their male companions are paying the bill.
Agustina Gandolfo, 25, told her 875,000 Instagram followers that she was “indignant” when she was given a “blind menu” while out for dinner in Milan with her partner, the Argentine footballer Lautaro Martinez, who plays for Inter Milan.
“Did you know that in numerous restaurants in Italy they don’t put prices on the menus that they give to women? And what if I wanted to pay?” she wrote.
“The worst thing is that they justify this by saying it only happens in restaurants of a certain level. So does that mean women cannot pay if we are talking about a more expensive meal?” Gandolfo said.
She did not name the restaurant, which is thought to be next to Milan’s cathedral.
Her complaint revived a long-running debate over blind menus in Italy; managers in many expensive restaurants assume that male diners will be picking up the tab and that only they should see the prices.
Rossella Cerea, a manager at the three Michelin-starred restaurant Da Vittorio near Bergamo, said that she saw nothing wrong with it.
“If there is a couple at table we have the habit of giving the blind menu to the woman. It is not discrimination but a form of gallantry,” she told La Repubblica newspaper. “It is way to advise the woman to enjoy the dinner, the atmosphere and the good food without worrying about more banal matters.”
She was opposed by Alessandro Pipero, owner of the Pipero restaurant in Rome, who said that the practice showed a lack of respect.
“We are in 2021 and it is not possible to believe that a woman will not pay at a restaurant. And even if she doesn’t pay, why shouldn’t she know the prices of the meals?” he said.
“I am obliged by law to show my prices outside, so what does that mean? A women can read them outside but not inside?”
Opponents of the practice took to social media to point out that some waiters in restaurants in Italy continued to ask a male diner to taste the wine even if his female companion ordered it, and to hand the bill to the man even if the woman asked for it.