Is Rome Safe?

Feb 29, 2012 Comments Off by

Now Dating Symbol's blog is a fun filled and interesting blog. We love reading about all the popular places to visit and many of us have probably traveled to Italy and found out first hand the good with the not so good. I absolutely adore Italy – think I should have been born Italian – love the food, the place and the people. But…this is a timely article with the summer season and single travelers making a mass exodus to travel to beautiful Italy – more particularly Rome for a variety of reasons. Read through, get prepared and make sure you don't become a victim of one of the scams or thieves that think you're ripe for the pickings.

Every so often something gruesome happens in Rome and the press pounces, especially if it involves immigrants and/or tourists.  But despite these sensationalized accounts, Rome is much safer than most other large, metropolitan cities, with very little malicious, violent crime.  When it comes to safety, however, there are two sides to the issue:  there is the actual threat and probability of being harmed physically, and then there is the personal feeling of being unsafe, which varies greatly based on people's background, and the cities they call home.

trevi fountain rome, Travel section, Dating Symbol blogIt's important to know where the real, potential threats are, so you can avoid them.   The following is a list of common scams and scary sights to help set your warning bell correctly so it goes off when it should, without false alarms:

Pickpockets.  Although many tourists are victimized by this crime, it's not a physical danger.  Mostly it's carried out by gypsy families who go around in packs, sometimes just the kids, and find people who are easy to distract, particularly in crowded public places.  On buses and in crowded subway stations one ought to keep wallets in a front pocket or bags against your front where you can see it.  The easiest way to avoid getting pickpocketed is to not carry around anything valuable, and to be aware of your surroundings.  By projecting that you're not an easy target, you probably won't be targeted.

Homeless People, graffiti and drugs, oh my!  In most cities, homeless people, drug addicts, and graffiti are warning signs of a rough neighborhood.  In Rome, and elsewhere in Europe, the homeless and the down-and-out aren't treated as criminals and unless they are passed out on someone's door step, or in need of medical attention, will not be “removed” by the police.  The sight may be off-putting, but it's all bark and no bite.  Generally speaking, if you pay them no attention, they won't pay any to you.

“Gift” Givers scam. Someone approaches and motions to you to extend your finger or who says they have a “gift” (regalo) for you. They will make a “friendship” bracelet or offer some sort of cheap trinket and then you will be expected to pay for it. Best not to extend your finger or shake hands with anyone. They will and can get nasty if you refuse to pay.

colosseum-rome, Travel section, Dating Symbol blogThe “need gas money” scam.  You’re walking down the street and a man in a car with a map on the front seat pulls up next to you and says he is lost. He will say he works for Valentino, Armani, Gucci or any known designer. He will ask if you can help him with gas money and will trade you one of the sample leather or suede jackets he has in his backseat for the small price of 20 or 50. The “leather” or “suede” jacket turns out to be an extremely cheap, smelly, PVC jacket not worth 2. It’s an elaborate scheme, but the guy is persistent. Just walk away.

The pub bill scam.  Guys beware! A man walks up to you “looking lost” who says he is an Italian- American from New York. He says he is looking for a particular pub and cannot find the street on the map he is carrying and could you help him.  Once you have found the street for him he asks if he can buy you a beer at that bar.          Apparently when you arrive there is a big bouncer guy at the door and upon entering you notice it’s a pub/strip club type place.  Girls are issued to your table to sit with you, than the waiter brings a bottle of champagne and asks if you would like to buy the girls drinks. When you get the bill, you’ve been charged an exorbitant amount of money.   Beware of girls in g-strings “baring” gifts.  This one could get physical – in a bad way.

Creepy guys.  Many women, regardless of how attractive they are, will get unwanted attention.  If a guy is creepy, don't worry about being rude.  Any slight nicety will be an invitation to keep it coming.  If you want to be left alone, don't let them get a word in at all, as they can be relentless.  In the neighborhood south of Termini station there are many Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani men who mill about outside at all hours in packs.  Although this can be intimidating to single female travelers, it's just kind of a cultural thing – the men socialize outside the home with other men while the women stay with women inside.   They may look menacing, but are totally harmless.

Bad things can happen to good people, but general common sense goes a long way.  Follow your internal warning signs try to balance being vigilant with you and your surroundings and appreciating the beauty and uniqueness of all there is to see.

Dating Symbol's guest blogger today are a husband and wife team. Steve and his wife Linda are American expatriates who moved to Rome in 1999 to follow their dream and open a small hotel called The Beehive.  They can also book recommended apartments and B&Bs in Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Barcelona and London through their website Cross-Pollinate

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