Welcome to the city that's ripping you off - and isn't even sorry.

The mayor of Venice, which has been struggling under the weight of mass tourism over recent years, has taken aim at "cheapskate" tourists who weren't prepared to "spend some money".

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro's comments come after restaurants in the iconic Italian city were accused of ripping off tourists with eye-watering bills, news.com.au reports.

Last week a tourist from Britain said he was hit with a whopping $900 bill in Venice after he and his parents shared a plate of oysters given to them by the restaurant, Trattoria Casanova, in St Marks Square.

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One angry TripAdvisor reviewer shared their exorbitant bill unknowingly racked up at Venice's Trattoria Casanova where staff spoke little English.
One angry TripAdvisor reviewer shared their exorbitant bill unknowingly racked up at Venice's Trattoria Casanova where staff spoke little English.

The tourist said they did not order the oysters, and accused the restaurant of "taking advantage" of them.

It sparked a flurry of complaints from other tourists who said they had also been charged at Venice restaurants for expensive dishes they didn't order.

But Mr Brugnaro defended his city's restaurants and accused the British tourists with the $900 bill of being "cheapskates", The Local Italy reported.

"What they paid was fair," Mr Brugnaro told Italy's Sky TG24.

"In fact I applaud the restaurateur who issued the bill, it shows once again that in Venice things are done legally.

Tourists have come under fire in Venice recently, as the city struggles with the negative effects of mass tourism. Photo / 123RF
Tourists have come under fire in Venice recently, as the city struggles with the negative effects of mass tourism. Photo / 123RF

"If you come to Venice, you should know that you're Venice, you have to spend some money. In fact, leave a tip for all the people who are there working for you."

The British tourist had sent a letter of complaint to the mayor office, complaining the restaurant took advantage of the fact he and his family didn't speak Italian.

That letter was "returned to sender", Mr Brugnaro said.

"Someone eats and drinks, then says they don't understand the language," he said.

"But if you come to Italy you should learn Italian, a bit of Venetian wouldn't hurt either."

Anti-tourist sentiment has been building in Venice, where protests have been held over recent years blaming mass tourism and overcrowding for pushing residents out.

Venice locals protest against mass tourism in their city. Photo / Generazione 90, Facebook
Venice locals protest against mass tourism in their city. Photo / Generazione 90, Facebook

The population in Venice is 55,000, but some 70,000 tourists visit a year. Last year the city discussed an annual limit to the number of tourists who could visit.

The city has also recently cracked down on misbehaving visitors and banned swimming in its canals.

Last week, the Italian government approved plans to ban cruise ships from the centre of Venice.

But in his latest comments, Mr Brugnaro said tourists were welcome, as long as they were prepared to throw their money around.

"You're welcome but you have to spend," he said.

Earlier this month, a Japanese couple said they had been charged $204 for a plate of lobster pasta at another trattoria in Venice and accused the restaurant of taking advantage of the fact the price was calculated by weight in order to overcharge them, the Local reported.