So you’ve booked your flight to wonderful and historic Italy and you’re looking forward to seeing the Colosseum, the Vatican, eating lots of gelato, tasting real pasta cooked properly and maybe fitting in a bit of sunbathing? If you want to know how to avoid some of the usual scams that target tourists read on.
I’ve placed it first because security always comes first. Never put your handbag over one shoulder. There are a plethora of unemployed Italians on scooters who have nothing better to do than speed by and whip away your personal belongings. It is not limited to scooters either, cars also pass with someone in the passenger seat ready to grab your strap and speed away dragging you with them. If you walk near the road with your bag over one shoulder you are sending out an invitation to a mugger to snatch it. You could be left with damaged finances and a sore rear end.
This scam is usually carried out by non-Italians but you never know. The scenario is this: a love traveller, usually a woman, is walking down the platform with a suitcase and a smaller bag around her. She enters the train and places her suitcase in the luggage area and goes to sit down. Some men appear on the train shouting in an unknown language and proceed to take out her suitcase. She gets up to ask what they are doing. They leave. She sits down to find that her handbag which she left in her seat for a moment is now gone. An accomplice has made off in a different direction with it.
If you sit down for a cappuccino you will pay double. If however you drink it at the bar, it’s only three mouthfuls anyway, you will pay normal price which is about one Euro. This applies to food also so if you are not thinking of sitting for at least half an hour don’t bother at all. If you order ice cream or coffee near a famous site in Rome expect to pay five times the going rate. Italians know how to make money.
Sometimes, especially in the south of Italy, people will hand out images of saints randomly on the street. Because in modern society we are used to picking up flyers and then dumping them in the nearest rubbish bin, many accept these cards. The distributor will then hound you for money up and down the street. This applies to various other items that are handed out so accept nothing unless it’s for a bar or restaurant.
If you eat at a restaurant where the menu is printed in four languages you will generally be inflicted with a very average meal. This in Italy may well be a good meal to the undiscerning tourist but to the local it will be low quality ingredients cooked badly and pawned off on the gullible visitor.
One final note, as a tourist in Italy everyone knows you are a tourist. Even if you think your ‘I love Italia’ T shirt excludes you from this think again. Tourists stick out like a big piece of salami so be ready for the scams.
Check out my blog about Italy
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