33 Most Common Tourist Scams in Italy

Safety at Rome, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Turin, Venice, Amalfi Coast, Capri, Cinque Terre, Italian Alps, Pompeii, Taormina, Lake Como, Vesuvius, Lake Garda
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Burano, Italy

Burano, Italy

 

Besides being home to the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites globally, Italy also offers delicious cuisine, trendy fashion, jaw dropping coasts, lakes, mountains and many more!

A tourist mecca in Europe it is indeed, and one that every tourist must visit in one’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, tourists attract scammers and thieves, and there is a whole bunch of them in the country who target tourists for their valuables.

So read on to learn how to protect yourself in this beautiful country!

 

 

A. TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. Street pickpockets

 

How it works:

Crowded streets, markets, shopping malls, tourist attractions, hotels, night spots or anywhere tourists hang out at are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • Milan: Piazza del Duomo, Castello Sforzesco, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Rome: Colosseum, Parthenon, Via dei Fori Imperiali (between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia), Piazza di Spagna, area around St. Peter’s Basilica, (Trionfale, Via Emo, Prati, Piazza Cavour), Trevi Fountain, Trastevere (night spot)
  • Florence: Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi museum, Basilica of San Lorenzo, Pitti Palace, Battistero off San Giovanni, Market in Piazza di San Lorenzo
  • Venice: Ponte Rialto, Piazza di San Marco, Academia Museum, the Rialto Bridge, and smaller crowded bridges
  • Naples: Spanish Quarter, Piazza Garibaldi, internet cafes, Forcella (mobster neighbourhood)
  • Verona: Portoni della Bra, the City Gate, which is the entrance to Centro Storico of Verona
  • Bologna: Via Zamboni, Via dell’Indipendenza, Via Farini, Galleria Cavour, Piazza Maggiore
  • Pisa: in the area around the Leaning Tower
  • Public transportation: discussed in the next section

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelry / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround you and work like this:

  • One keeps a lookout and blocks passer-bys from seeing the scene.
  • Another blocks, pushes or distracts you (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it).
  • A third steals your valuable / slashes your bag and then passes it on.
  • The last hides the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Make it impossible for thieves to steal from you with these methods:

  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. Spilled liquid / stain scam

Street in Taormina, Sicily

Street in Taormina, Sicily

 

How it works:

This is a standard theft tactic that you will find everywhere around the world.

As you are walking along the streets, you may suddenly find white liquid spilled onto you that looks like bird poo.

Instantly, someone runs up to help you clean up.

What he is trying to do, is to steal any valuables he can get his hands on, or cause even distraction for his accomplice to steal from you.

 

What to do:

Firmly decline and push the scammer away.

Ideally, you should already have armed yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely.

 

3. Unofficial tour guides

Vatican City St Peters Basilica

Vatican City St Peters Basilica

 

How it works:

Another common scam around the world (e.g. China, Sri Lanka), you will find unofficial tour guide touts at tourist spots.

In Italy, you will see them at places with long queues such as at the Vatican.

They approach you, ask if you speak English and then offer a tour that is about to start. They claim this can help you avoid the queue, which is nonsense.

There are two ways you can get scammed.

  • You might have agree / paid a fee upfront, only to be asked for more money halfway through the tour.
  • Or it can simply be a low quality tour with your guide not being particularly knowledgeable about the place.

 

What to do:

Decline firmly.

Engage a licensed, reputable tour operator which you can find via:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • GetYourGuide: best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operators: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

To determine if an operator is legitimate, ask these questions:

  • Is the operator licensed and is there a professional website, physical office, business email and working telephone number?
  • Are there online reviews? Do they sound legitimate?
  • Is the price too low to be true? What does it cover (vehicles, guides, safety, insurance, hidden fees, etc)?

When paying:

  • Avoid paying in full upfront unless through a reputable platform / operator.
  • If using an online platform, do not make payment off the platform.

 

4. Pigeon scam

 

How it works:

This is a common scam across Italy especially in large spaces such as squares (e.g. Piazza del Duomo in MilanPiazza San Marco in Venice).

A random stranger grabs your hand, places some grain or corn in it and then whistles.

The pigeons fly over magically and the stranger will offer to take a picture for you.

Should you do so, he will hold your phone or camera hostage until you give him a tip.

 

What to do:

Decline firmly and do not let anyone put anything in your hand.

 

5. Rome gladiators 

Gladiator photo scam in Rome

Gladiator photo scam in Rome. Source: telegraph.co.uk

 

How it works:

Despite bans in 2015 and 2017 and a new law in 2017 where anyone dressed as a historical figure for photos and video will face a fine of up to 400 euros, you will still find these charlatans around.

These scammers dress in gladiator costumes and can be found outside the Colosseum.

Should you take a photo with them or of them, an outrageous payment will be demanded.

If you do not pay, they will get aggressive and simply snatch your valuables from you.

 

What to do:

Avoid, unless you wouldn’t mind paying and have agree a fee upfront.

 

6. Dancing cartoon cutouts scam 

 

How it works:

You will most likely encounter this scam in Rome, Florence and at other tourist attractions.

This scam has been done to death and perpetrated by street touts for years but it just never gets old.

As seen in the video, these paper cartoon characters will dance when the music is played from a cassette player just beside.

These touts with their PhDs in bullshitting, will explain that the big speaker magnets will reverse the polarity of the magnets in the feet and the back of the characters as the music plays 🙂

The truth is that these characters are attached by practically invisible strings (e.g. mono-filament fishing line) which is attached to the cassette player of the speakers.

So as long as the cassette tape is played, the characters will move. The magnets do not do anything, except to secure the string to the characters.

 

What to do:

Avoid, unless you don’t mind paying 5 Euros for two pieces of paper!

 

7. The string / bracelet scam

 

How it works:

This is not as common as in France, but still found at a number of tourist areas such as the Spanish Steps in Rome.

There are a couple of variations:

1. Standard set-up

  • They ask if you want a “friendship bracelet” or “friendship ring”.
  • If you say yes, they tie it so tightly around your wrist / finger that makes it impossible to remove.
  • They then demand money from you, or gather their accomplices to bring you to the nearest ATM.

2. Magic trick

  • They ask if you want to see a magic trick.
  • If you say yes, they tie a band around your wrist or fingers.

3. Targeting couples

  • They approach couples and offer the band to the lady for free.
  • Should the lady accept, another will pop out to offer the man.
  • Since it is assumed to be free, the man generally accepts. But once you do, they will hound you for payment.

4. Distract and steal

  • One will tie the friendship band and engage you, while another will steal from behind.

 

What to do:

When they approach, say no and walk away. Keep your hands well hidden in your jacket or somewhere.

For females travelling alone, watch out as they tend to target this group of travellers.

And as mentioned earlier, invest in a good money belt or hidden pouch and in a sturdy anti-theft bag that is slash resistant, lockable, and difficult to unzip by others to truly secure your valuables.

 

8. Fashion guru asking for petrol money

 

How it works:

There have been many reported cases of this scam, where a well-dressed man who speaks English approaches you while in his car.

It could be for any reason, such as asking for directions or making a random comment.

He will also ask where you are from and surprise, he has a friend / relative / family member there as well! This is a standard tactic to build rapport and gain trust.

Next, he lets you in on his big secret. Actually he is a manager at Giorgio Armani / Versace / Calvin Klein or what have you!

He shows you some of the latest designs of the season, and proceeds to hand you a coat or even a bag as a gift for telling him the directions.

However, he claims that his car is running out of petrol and asks if you could spare him some money. It can be a preposterous amount from €50 to €200, yet many victims still fall for it!

You can find this scam in other countries as well, but in different variations (e.g. USA, Netherlands).

 

What to do:

If someone tries to offer you a suit or something that sounds too good to be true on the streets, it is.

 

9. Gypsy stunts

Gypsies in Italy

Gypsies in Italy. Source: italylogue.com

 

How it works:

These gypsy groups tend to hang out around popular tourist spots, and they beg, distract and steal, so do be wary.

They used to be a common sight around the Colosseum in Rome, though that has improved with the clamping down by the authorities.

Also, they tend to be women or kids as tourists are likelier to let their guard down when facing them. However they do have adult / male accomplices lurking nearby.

Some of the tricks they use to distract and then steal:

  • Gypsy pizza: Gypsy girls present a pizza box (or map, survey or anything) under your nose. This blocks your vision below and their accomplices will swoop in for your wallet.
  • Unusual things: such as breastfeeding a baby in an exposed way to catch your attention.
  • The baby toss: As the name suggests, a doll resembling a baby, wrapped up in a blanket is thrown at the victim.

 

What to do:

Stay far away.

And as mentioned earlier, arm yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely.

 

10. Fake luxury products

Streetside stall in Italy selling fake luxury products

Streetside stall in Italy selling fake luxury products. Source: girlinflorence.com

 

How it works:

Fake designer products aren’t unique to Italy, but what is unique is that if you are caught with one, you can be charged with a €10,000 fine!

 

What to do:

Fakes are usually found on the streets and with prices that are too good to be true.

Learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, or only visit licensed and reputable dealers.

You can find these by doing some online research or by asking your hotel / hostel staff.

If you do not want to go through the hassle of researching, other options available include:

  • Using local connections: get a local to bring you around.
  • Multi-day tour through TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Shopping tour through GetYourGuide: best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.

 

11. The rose scam

 

How it works:

This same scam is common in France, where ladies with their husbands / boyfriends are usually targeted.

What happens is that the scammer will compliment your looks and then pass you a rose.

Should you take it, he will hound your husband / boyfriend for money.

It works as only a small amount of money is asked for and your husband / boyfriend is made to look like a jerk if he forces you to pass the rose back.

 

What to do:

Never accept anything from a stranger on the streets. It is never free.

 

12. Gold ring scam

 

How it works:

A gypsy will coincidentally find a gold ring on the floor, point at the “18k” hallmark on the ring and offer it to you (it is actually worthless polished brass).

There ARE people who take it. It can be very convincing and goes something like this:

Scammer: “Sir, did you drop this ring?”
You: “No, I did not”
Scammer: “Well, you can give it to your wife, why not? It will make her happy. They might also insist that their religion prevents them from keeping the ring.

If you accept, the gypsy will demand money in return. She will simply say:

Scammer: “Sir, I am hungry, could you give me some money / change for a croissant?”

When you give, they will ask for more.

Sometimes, the scammer might walk away and reappear 5 minutes later to demand your money. Whatever it is, they will stop at nothing to get money from you.

The most scheming ones will have an accomplice pickpocket you while you are protesting.

 

What to do:

Don’t engage. If it is not yours, don’t take it.

And as mentioned earlier, invest in a sturdy anti-theft bag and money belt or hidden pouch to prevent anyone from stealing from you.

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Public transportation pickpockets

 

How it works:

Crowded transportation hubs with confused tourists and crowded trains / buses to and from the airport and tourist attractions are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • Milan: Milan–Malpensa Airport, Stazione Centrale, Stazione Cadorna, Duomo station, Cairoli station, Lanza station.
  • Rome: Termini central railway station metro to any tourist destination from here, bus 64 (shuttles back and forth to St. Peter’s Square, also known as the pickpockets’ express), trains to and from Fiumicino (the international airport).
  • Venice: vaporettos / boat transport.
  • Cinque Terre: the Cinque Terre train across the 6 stops.
  • Florence: Santa Maria Novella main station, buses 7 (to Fiesole), 10 (to Settignano) and 12 / 13 (to Piazza Michelangelo).
  • Naples: Napoli Centrale train station.
  • Bologna: bus 20 from Porto san donato to Piazza Maggiore.
  • Livorno: trains to Florence (due to cruise ships passengers disembarking in Livorno for a day trip).
  • Pisa: on the train to and from airport.

They have a few ways of stealing from you:

  • One blocks you at the door (pretend to lie shoe laces / drop something), the other steals from behind and slips to a third who escapes, and one to block others from viewing the act.
  • Some are able to time it perfectly such that they can snatch your stuff and jump out when the doors are just about to close.
  • Other times, especially at escalators, they might trip you or bump into you. Next moment, your valuables are gone.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Make it impossible for thieves to steal from you with these methods:

  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. Airport baggage handler theft

 

How it works:

Not a unique problem around the world (e.g. Argentina, South Africa), you may encounter corrupted baggage handler at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

Besides Rome, airports in Bari, Bologna, Milan, PalermoVerona and Calabria have seen such cases as well.

What these corrupted baggage handlers do, is to either steal entire suitcases, or to break into and damage your luggage for specific valuables in it.

Night flights with inter-continental connections seem to be the favoured target, as these thieves will have the maximum amount of time to hide their loot before the thefts are discovered.

 

What to do:

With your check-in luggage, there are four key steps to protecting your property:

 

3. Overcharging water buses / vaporetti

Vaporetti in Venice

Vaporetti in Venice

 

How it works:

Happens in Venice, where taking the water bus is a must do experience for any tourists.

You may find street touts reselling tickets for an inflated price.

Another hot spot is at the Tronchetto parking terminal. There you may get surrounded by scammers who ask where you are headed.

If you mention the public Vaporetto dock, they will lead you instead to the private taxi boats which is much more expensive.

 

What to do:

Do not buy from streets touts or unofficial sellers.

Only buy a ticket through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like GetYourGuide: best in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.

 

4. Overcharging taxis

Taxis in Italy

Taxis in Italy. Source: walksofitaly.com

 

How it works:

Many of these can be found in Rome and Naples, though do be careful in other Italian cities as well.

Always ensure that the meter is on, unless you know how much a certain distance or journey should cost.

Also monitor the meter to gauge if it is running according to the KM / minute rates posted in the cab.

Travelling to the airport is an exception however as a flat rate is charged.

Do not be surprised however, should you face certain charges, such as:

  • Zone 1: historic centre; Zone 2: outside Rome’s beltway
  • Starting fare: €2.80 (7am-10pm weekdays); €4.00 (weekends, holidays); €5.80 (10pm-7am)
  • Surcharge from Termini: €2.00
  • Bag in trunk: €1.00
  • >5 passengers: €1.00

 

What to do:

Make sure that the meter is tuned in to the right zone and right starting fare! If not, get out or take down their details (can be found on the inside rear door).

Make sure you have small charge as well, as the driver can simply insist that he does not have small notes / coins and not give back change.

Also, if you travel alone, only deposit your bag when the driver is out of the cab, to prevent him from driving off with your belongings.

Alternatively, you can put your luggage beside you in the cab.

If all these sound like too much of a hassle, you can also consider:

  • Using a rental car from AutoEurope – over 60 years of industry experience, super reliable with best price guarantee.
  • Arranging private transport through your hotel / hostel or through day tour platforms like GetYourGuide (best in Europe).

 

5. Unofficial taxis

 

How it works:

These are cabs operating without license and are usually rip offs.

They may claim to offer a cheaper flat fare at the start, but halfway through, they will demand a higher fare.

If you do not pay, they will simply stop and leave you stranded on a highway or at some secluded spot.

 

What to do:

Never take an unofficial taxi.

Do also note that it is illegal to flag a taxi off the streets. Instead, you get one at an official taxi station or you call to make a booking.

However, do note, that the meter starts running once the booking is confirmed.

 

6. Horse drawn carriages

Horse drawn carriage

Horse drawn carriage. Source: marianneperry.ca

 

How it works:

Just like the tuk tuks in Thailand and Vietnam, nothing shouts SCAM more than this.

Be prepared for a €100 bill should you wish to take this mode of transport.

 

What to do:

Avoid.

 

7. Ticket helper

 

How it works:

At popular train stations such as the Termini station, there are unofficial “ticket helpers” roaming about helping tourists buy tickets.

They help you and will ask for a tip.

However, the nastier ones will simply grab your change.

The even more ruthless ones will have their pickpocket accomplices steal your valuables or luggage in the process.

 

What to do:

Never accept help from an overly friendly stranger when it is unsolicited.

If you need help, ask a fellow commuter / tourist or check with the official staff.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken, a good anti-theft bag or a money belt / hidden pouch will ensure that these thieves will never be able to take anything from you.

 

8. Bag helpers

 

How it works:

Never let anyone help you with your bag.

It could be a friendly stranger who steals your wallet from your bag.

Or it could be an “official” looking employee who shows you to your seat, stows your seat and then demands a tip of €5.

It might even be someone who runs off with your bag once he gets hold of it.

 

What to do:

Firmly decline any help.

Further, consider using an anti-theft bag with anti-theft technologies such as lockable or concealable zippers, as it will make it almost impossible for these scammers to steal from you.

 

9. Car break-ins

Carpark at Pisa

Carpark at Pisa. Source: athomeintuscany.org

 

How it works:

In Italy, car parks at Pisa (e.g. Parcheggio via Peitrasantina) have a particular infamous reputation with regards to the high numbers of car break-ins.

Rental cars / tourists are targeted, and one way they do so is to pretend to help at the ticket machines so they can mark you out.

They steal not just any exposed valuables, but your luggage or anything kept in the boot as well.

Sometimes, it’s not just your valuables that will be stolen, but the entire car may be pinched.

 

What to do:

Note that car break-ins do not just happen at Pisa, but really anywhere in Italy.

Ideally, park your car in a paid lot that has security cameras instead of in open car parks.

Also, back your car into the parking lot to make opening the trunk difficult.

Do not leave any valuables / items indicating that you are a tourist exposed in the car:

Finally, get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) for two key purposes:

  • Monetary compensation for any loss of valuables.
  • Medical coverage in case you are assaulted.

 

10. Tour group bus break-ins

Tour group bus that was broken into

Tour group bus that was broken into. Source: sina.com.cn

 

How it works:

Very similar to the car break-ins, even private buses used for tour groups may not be safe.

In 2013, a group of 26 Singaporeans had $50,000 worth of belonging stolen from their bus in Rome as they were having dinner.

In 2017, another group of Chinese tourists had all their luggage stolen from the bus after they were picked up at the airport and were doing a tour in Rome.

For the Singaporeans, it happened on the last day of their holiday.

For the Chinese however, it happened on their first day in Italy, and just like that, their whole holiday was destroyed.

 

What to do:

Do not leave your valuables in your luggage on a tour bus if you are taking one.

Instead, store them securely in a money belt or hidden pouch (smaller valuables) and an anti-theft bag (larger valuables).

 

11. Car rental accusations

Road in Rome

Road in Rome

 

How it works:

Just like in Mexico, you might find yourself charged for damages on a car you rented which were not incurred during your usage.

Some tricks of the trade:

  • Damages: the company notice certain light scratches / damages and demand that you pay a fee for it.
  • Chipped windshield: Again, similar to the one on damages.
  • Spare tire / other item swap: While returning the car, an employee might come out when you are distracted and swap the spare tire for a spoilt one. Other items in your car can be swapped as well. You will then be asked to pay to repair the items.

 

What to do:

Ask a local or your hotel / hostel to recommend reputable shops to rent from.

Or find them through legitimate portals like AutoEurope – over 60 years of industry experience, super reliable with best price guarantee.

Also, take photos of the car and inspect it thoroughly for dents or scratches and sound out before signing any forms.

 

12. Flat tire scam

Autostrada

Autostrada

 

How it works:

There have been reports of the flat tire scam along the rest stops or services along the autostrada between Naples to Salerno and also at Milan.

However, as along as you drive, you should be careful of this scam.

One variation of this scam is that as you are driving, a motorist / car asks you to pull over. They then tell you that you have a flat tire (or some damage to your car).

Should you come out of your car, the accomplice will head to the other side of your car to snatch any valuables he can find.

Another variation is for the scammer to slash the tires of your parked car. He informs you of it, and offers to bring you to a garage (which is basically a secluded place for them to rob you).

Else, if you prefer to work on fixing the tire on the spot, the scammer’s accomplices will simply steal from your car while you are distracted.

 

What to do:

Do not stop if asked to pull over by strangers but if you choose to, only stop at places with lights and in full view of oncoming traffic.

Should there be any damage, drive to a garage to fix it, rather than allowing the “good Samaritan” to help you.

Ensure that your car doors are locked and windows are up.

Do not leave any valuables exposed in the car:

Finally, get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) for two key purposes:

  • Monetary compensation for any loss of valuables.
  • Medical coverage in case you are assaulted.

 

13. Fake car crash

Driving in Sicily

Driving in Sicily. Source: wondersofsicily.com

 

How it works:

This is a scam that that has been reported in Sicily, Naples and in the Tuscany region.

There are drivers of old vehicles who intentionally bang into / pretend to bang into your vehicle so as to claim damages.

 

What to do:

Nothing much you can do, besides to stay alert on the roads and make sure you have auto insurance from your rental car provider.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. Snatch theft

 

How it works:

Snatch theft is a big problem especially in the Southern parts of Italy, specifically PalermoCatania and Naples.

Generally, there are two versions of snatch thefts – strike and run, or distract and grab, in many possible contexts:

  • Bikes / mopeds riding past, with a pillion rider doing the snatch.
  • Snatching from behind you, then running into a getaway car to escape.
  • At restaurants, stealing unattended bags / valuables on the chair or table.
  • Hotels airports, where distracted / tired tourists carry all their valuables out.
  • The beach where tourists are relaxed, or when they head to the water.
  • Nightclubs, where “prostitutes” pretend to proposition tourists by grabbing them but are really trying to steal your valuables.
  • Seats beside a train’s doors where a thief gets out just before the doors close.
  • Stealing of bags on overnight trains / buses.
  • Valuables snatched through a car / bus window.
  • Thefts around ATMs.

 

What to do:

At crowded places, even seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

While out walking / on transport:

  • Use a cross body anti-theft bag facing away from the road / windows of your vehicle.
  • Do not carry valuables in your hands when walking by the road or when beside a vehicle window / train door.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off.

Other protection measures:

  • Leave valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. Holiday apartment scam

Mountain house on the Italian Alps

Mountain house on the Italian Alps

 

How it works:

With the rising popularity of apartment rental sites like AirBnB which makes once exclusive private villas at Lake Como accessible to the masses, unfortunately the number of fraudulent listings have increased as well.

This is because it is really easy for scammers to pull off, very lucrative and difficult for authorities to catch.

Some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Prices that are too good to be true.
  • Illogical descriptions because they copy and paste without any edits.
  • Dodgy sounding reviews.
  • Difference in photos provided and pictures seen with Google Street View.
  • Payment only by bank transfer off the booking platform (note: they will use names that include the original booking platform to make it seem like you are still dealing with the platform).
  • Or payment to a foreign bank account or via Western Union / MoneyGram (sure sign of scam as transfers are irreversible).
  • Owner is overseas, insists on only using English in emails and emails are worded in poor English.
  • If the “owner” refuses to provide more details or to allow for a tour of the place.

 

What to do:

Only book via legitimate accommodation platforms such as:

  • Booking.com: Frommer’s tests have found the site to offer the best selection and rates amongst competing sites most of the time.
  • Homestay: if you are up for gaining genuine insights of Italy by staying with a local host!

Next, some due diligence to be done on individual listings:

  • Search online reviews and Google the names of the owner.
  • Call the phone number provided on the listing.
  • Grill the “landlord” by asking specific questions, such as room dimensions or something unique as seen in the photos.
  • You can even pretend something exists in the online photos and test if the “landlord” can call your bluff.
  • Search if the property has another online presence or contact number and engage that to see if they are consistent.
  • Test the owner by requesting for a visit from a local friend before booking – it doesn’t have to happen, you just want to test the owner’s receptiveness.

Finally, avoid paying in full upfront or making payment off the platform.

 

3. Currency switcheroo

Differences between Euro and Lira coins

Differences between Euro and Lira coins. Source: italyexplained.com

 

How it works:

The Lira is the old Italian currency that was in use till 2001 / 2, and the Lira 500 coin looks awfully like the €2 coin.

Hence, there are scammers who pass off the Lira 500 coin as a €2 coin when returning your change.

Also, in shops / money changers, there are scammers who drop your payment / change and then switch a big note into a small note.

 

What to do:

Always double check your change.

For big ticket items, always ensure you get receipts as proof in case anything goes awry.

The law requires stores have to issue receipts so do not worry about requesting for one.

 

4. The Guardia di Finanza (Tax Police) fake police

Guardia di Finanza

Guardia di Finanza. Source: batmagazine.it

 

How it works:

The Tax Police’s job is to ensure that shops in Italy give out receipts which serve as a record for tax collection.

How they go about checking is to ask you, the customer to produce a receipt when you exit from a restaurant or any shop.

The problem is that these police may sometimes be in plainclothes and not uniform. As such there are scammers who exploit this and pose as fake police.

Upon seeing your receipt, they claim that you have committed a crime and have to pay a fine.

 

What to do:

If you have not obviously broken the law, be very skeptical when a “police officer” approaches you.

Three steps you can use to shake them off:

  • Verify badges and identification. Threaten to call the police hotline (end of this article).
  • Never give your passport if asked. Show only a photocopy of it.
  • If they want to fine you or check your bags, insist to only do so at a police station (use your GPS to find it or check with a local) with a lawyer or someone from your embassy.

Next, you should have hidden your valuables in a money belt or hidden pouch and use a cheap spare wallet with not much cash inside.

This way, the scammers may simply let you go since you do not seem to have much cash.

 

5. Overcharging restaurants

Roadside cafe at Amalfi Coast

Roadside cafe at Amalfi Coast

 

How it works:

Always ask for a menu and check the prices. You do not want to pay €30-50 for simple pasta or pizza dishes.

Post meal, there have also been reports of extra surcharges, unordered items and shortchanging.

However, note that pane e coperto (bread and cover) is not a scam. Servizio (service charge) is perfectly legitimate as well.

There have also been reports (compiled by Codacons, the Italian consumer watchdog association), where different prices were charged to locals and tourists.

Something of note is that ordering fish which sells by grams is particularly risky.

Be careful of restaurants around the San Marco area in Venice as they have been to known to charge hundreds of euros for simple lobster / fish dishes.

 

What to do:

Avoid restaurants promoted by aggressive touts.

Do some online research or check with your hotel / hostel staff on recommended places locals go to eat at.

If researching is too much of a hassle, you can also consider a fun local food tour!

  • GetYourGuide: best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.
  • BonAppetour: join locals over a meal for an authentic dining experience!
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operators: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

Check the menu carefully before, do not eat what you did not order, and check your bill carefully after.

 

6. Naples’ phone scam

Spaccanapoli street, Naples

Spaccanapoli street, Naples

 

How it works:

You may find touts offering a brand new phone at a low price on the streets. This happens in other European countries as well, such as in Hungary and Poland.

This is reportedly common in Naples. Should you accept the offer, the seller and / or his accomplice will distract you and swap the phone / box the phone is in with a fake one.

Then, there are others who simply hawk a fake phone on the streets.

 

What to do:

Do not buy anything from street touts. These are most likely fake, low quality items with an inflated price tag.

 

7. ATM skimmers and thieves

Signs of a rigged ATM

Signs of a rigged ATM

 

How it works:

This scam happens everywhere in the world (e.g. Brazil, Canada).

ATMs can be rigged in two ways generally:

First, the card skimmer and pinhole camera / keypad overlay set up:

  • A card skimmer is installed over the card slot to capture your card details.
  • The pinhole camera / keypad overlay is used to capture your PIN.

Second, the card trap:

  • The card slot can be rigged with cheap tools to trap your card.
  • When your card is stuck, someone will come over and tell you that if you retype your PIN, your card will be unblocked.
  • Obviously, your card will still be stuck, but the scammer will now have seen your PIN.
  • Should you head into the bank / somewhere to seek help, the scammer will unblock your card and escape.

There have also been reports where a scammer can distract you by tapping you as are withdrawing money to claim that you have dropped a $10 note behind you.

Most people would turn, and at this point, an accomplice will appear out of nowhere to steal your card or grab your cash.

 

What to do:

Avoid using ATMs at dark, secluded areas. Use only at controlled environments such as in banks.

Scan the area for suspicious looking characters and cover your PIN when typing it in.

Also, although not directly relevant, consider using a RFID blocking wallet.

That will prevent your cards’ details from being skimmed by thieves with a mobile RFID reader / scanner.

 

8. Club 84 / sleaze

Italy nightlife

Italy nightlife. Source: livinginitalian.wordpress.com

 

How it works:

If you find a street tout offering you a free ticket to Club 84, do not go unless you are feeling generous on the day, as simple drinks will net you a €1,000 bill easily.

This goes for other sleazy clubs as well.

Another way touts of these free tickets approach you is to first ask for directions. Then as the conversation flows and rapport is built, drinks are suggested.

This scam is also found in other European countries, such as Greece and Turkey.

 

What to do:

Never accept an offer for drinks from a random stranger on the streets.

But if you do want to make new local friends, some questions to ponder:

  • Does the restaurant / bar seem legitimate? Are there customers?
  • Is the stranger reading from a script? Evasive about things?
  • Is he / she only bringing you to a particular restaurant or bar?

Some other tricks you can use:

  • Pretend that you have company by suggesting to go another place where you have a few friends at.
  • Ask for prices before ordering. Only drink what your waiter or you have poured.
  • Take a photo together.
  • Leave your valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured further with hotel safety tools.

If you fell into the trap:

  • Pay with a credit card but call the bank to dispute your charges immediately after leaving.

 

D. KEY SAFETY ISSUES

This is not a fear mongering exercise, as most visits are trouble free as long as you exercise some common sense.

However, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Information below has been compiled from:

                                                     

1. Violent crime, hazards, hotspots, terrorism, civil unrest

Map of safe and unsafe regions in Italy

Map of safe and unsafe regions in Italy. Source: smartraveller.gov.au

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Violent crime: rare. Watch out for petty crime and scams instead.
  • Hazards: migrant camps potentially (e.g. Cara di Mineo in Sicily).
  • Hotspots: southeast – Sicily, Calabria, Campania Apulia – sees higher levels of violent crime due to the drug trade and gang feuds.
  • Terrorism: risk of attacks.
  • Civil unrest: politically motivated violence by extreme left-wing and secessionist groups against official Italian targets. Transport strikes can be common.

 

What to do:

Stay alert, avoid secluded areas, travelling alone at night, and don’t look like an easy victim (e.g. looking like a tourist / flaunting valuables).

Monitor local media in case of any terrorist threats, and avoid participating in demonstrations.

 

2. Medical care

Rome American Hospital. Source: whererome.com

 

How it works:

Good medical care is available in urban cities but limited outside.

Diseases to vaccinate against / watch out for include:

  • Insect borne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, West Nile virus.
  • Food and water borne diseases: travellers’ diarrhoea, hepatitis.
  • Animal borne diseases: rabies, measles.
  • Human borne diseases: HIV.

 

What to do:

If you can’t afford travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads – our review), you can’t afford to travel, as:

  • Emergency health services can cost a bomb.
  • Insurance providers can make complex logistical arrangements to get you the best medical treatment fast.

Vaccinations to consider:

  • All travellers: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, flu shot.
  • Some travellers: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, rabies (outdoor activities, activities involving animals).

Prevent insect bites:

  • Protective clothing.
  • Insect repellents.
  • Insecticide treated bed / cot nets.
  • Plug-in insecticides.
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass.

Food safety:

  • Practise safe hygiene such as washing hands with soap.
  • Only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, ice cubes, uncooked and undercooked food.

 

3. Natural disasters

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Earthquakes: happens as Italy lies on an active seismic line, so several can occur and also trigger landslides and avalanches.
  • Volcanoes: a few active volcanoes such as Mt Etna at Sicily, Mt Stromboli on Stromboli, Mt Vesuvius near Naples and several other dormant ones.
  • Forest fires: June to August, particularly on Sardinia and Sicily.
  • Rainy season: September to November, flooding and mudslides can occur in Veneto region (north), and Calabria and Sicily regions (south).

 

What to do:

Effective preparation and prevention involves staying at the “right” place, travelling at the “right” time and getting travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) that covers natural disasters.

Check the latest media reportsweather forecasts and sources such as:

Reacting to one:

  • Earthquakes: drop (to hands and knees), cover (head and neck with arms), hold on (to sturdy furniture); expect aftershocks.
  • Volcanic eruption: avoid areas downwind and river valleys downstream of the volcano, do not drive in heavy ash fall, seek shelter (if no need to evacuate) or high ground if no shelter (crouch down away from volcano, cover head with arms).
  • Forest fires: make yourself seen (e.g. spread out something large and bright), find shelter with little vegetation, stay low to avoid smoke.

 

4. Transport safety

 

How it works:

Driving conditions can vary across the country, a couple of factors to watch out for:

  • Narrow and winding roads, both in cities and in mountainous areas.
  • Aggressive driving, speeding, not adhering to traffic rules.
  • Unclear or missing signage, traffic lights, road markings.
  • Weather conditions can make roads impassable.
  • Potential for fog to reduce visibility in the north during winter.

 

What to do:

Make sure your travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) covers travel accidents.

Driving:

  • Only book via legitimate platforms (e.g. AutoEurope – over 60 years of industry experience, super reliable with best price guarantee).
  • Check latest media reports and weather forecast.
  • Stay alert, wear seatbelts, keep doors locked and windows up.

 

E. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

Police in Italy

Police in Italy. Source: Wikimedia – Adrian Pingstone

 

  • Emergency number in Europe: 112
  • Police: 113
  • Fire engine: 115
  • Ambulance: 118

 

Join the community!

Get protected!

64 Comments

  1. Heather82

    I’m surprised I’m not seeing what’s perhaps the most popular scam, especially in Naples’area. You’ll get approached by someone in the street trying to sell you an item, usually a brand new, working smartphone, at a very good price. If this isn’t alarming you enough, know that if you do buy something from the person, they’ll manage to make a last-second swap of the bag/box they’re giving you (by attracting your attention on something else), and you won’t find anything valuable in there.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Thanks for sharing Heather! Have updated the list with your contribution 🙂

      Reply
    • Lora

      Ok I’ll share one to there was this guy who cane and he was like pretending to shout while talking to his phone then he started touching his *area* then he removed it then he started saying that it’s only 5 or 0ne euro I don’t really remember..in short he was an asshole and when I said no he moved to the other girls and I was like if he was in some other no nonsense country,bitch he could have been beaten or something even tougher to death..

      Reply
  2. Tan

    okay I’ll share one too. I was stupid enough to say yes to a guy who talked to me while I was sitting on the grass, not far from the Coliseum (about 5 min walk), enjoying the sun. I am a girl and the only excuse I have to say here for myself is I was trying to be more open with people so he said he would have loved to talk to me longer (so romantic) and went to a shop to buy some wine/champagne. Literally 2 minutes later he asked me for money for this cheap bottle of alcohol. I understood that I was scammed so to get away – gave him about 10 euro. Still very disappointed in myself.

    Reply
    • Admin

      It’s ok Tan, I myself have been scammed too, all part and parcel of travelling, and such experiences makes us better travellers in the future. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Reply
  3. CELENA

    We got a couple of hundred euros bill in st marco restaruant for ordering a fish which is on menu for 8.50 eruo, but they charged on grams of weight. The venice restaurants selling fish/lobsters are bunch of con artists and crooks. Be aware!

    Reply
    • Admin

      That’s daylight robbery! 🙁

      Reply
  4. Steve

    Just returned from Rome, florence and Venice. Three times, the taxi driver properly set his meter to”1″ and started at the correct starting price. However, the digits to the right of the meter were not zero, but some other number around 2-4 euros. When the trip was completed, the driver hits a button adding on that extra charge, which I believe would be for tolls or baggage. I complained each time and the driver immediately removed the additional charge. I was not impressed with how many times that happened to us. Beware!

    Reply
    • Admin

      Good spot Steve, thanks for sharing!

      Reply
      • CM

        use uber or taxify if it is existing. saves a lot of trouble!

        Reply
  5. Kieran

    Common scam I’ve seen in heavily populated tourist areas during the summer season is for a ‘scammer’ to shout “PICKPOCKET!”. The natural response is for everyone to check if their wallet/valuables are still in the right place, they are for now. Well done guys. You just alerted all the scammers in the area where your valuables are, and they know where and who to target!

    Reply
  6. Victor

    I was scammed on the first day of my Italy trip. It happened at the Bologna centrale train station in the evening. I was nervous that day because i could not find a correct platform to change train to Modena. I am still confused after i asked the train conductors for directions, then i was approached by a young man. He showed me all the directions to the platform and also advised me not to board the wrong train. Shortly after i thanked him, he asked me for tips. I refused to give him money but he kept on disturbing me. I had no choice so i gave him 2 euros to avoid any troubles. It was a horrible experience for me.

    Reply
    • f

      Doesn’t sound so horrible. He helped you out and it cost you a pittance.

      Reply
      • Jadzia

        I think it’s disgusting. I live in a touristy city in France and have often helped people with directions and information. Why would I charge for that? It’s just being a decent person.

        Reply
  7. Dan

    I am ashamed to admit it, but I just today for a variation of the petrol/gas scam in Milano. The line was that he was a rep from a watch company and he just finished a trade show. He had these left over watches he wanted to get rid of so he didn’t have to pay taxes on them when returning home to Zurich. He had a brochure and was quite good at the spiel. Of course he needed gas money and even offered to give me the watches when I tried to back away. I guess that is when he got me. The watches were made out to be worth hundreds of Euros. I looked them up and they are some cheap China made crap that looks nice when flashed in front of you. Wish I would have read about this scam before coming to Italy.

    Reply
  8. jijo

    Dear All,

    I had a very bad experience from Rome, I had to pay EURO 2140/- (fake bill) to save my life from a night club(Paris Roma) were I consumed alcohol worth 100 EURO max.

    Always ask the price in advance for whatever you buy /whatever they serve else you will be in trouble and they will not allow you to leave the place w/o clearing the bill

    jijo

    Reply
    • Cindybin

      Well you shouldn’t use alcohol at all! All these booze scams could be avoided if people would just grow up and set an example and have some morals and not use alcohol. Alcohol is a drug! Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right! And what gets me is that I have ranted against alcohol for 16 years online, typing my fingers to the bone!

      Reply
      • Ben

        Shoulda, coulda, woulda……. blah blah blah Miss Cindybin. This site is about helping to prevent not criticise like what your doing. Why don’t you do some traveling and gain some experience before you talk.

        Reply
        • Sally127

          IKR Ben, this is a travel site, no one cares about your opinions on alcohol use honey

          Reply
      • Gabe

        Oh stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

        Reply
      • Aaron

        And that practice has and will never get you anywhere. Feel free to take off the white wig at anytime and get a life so you don’t waste any more time on this frivolous internet crusade you seem hell bent on continuing.

        Reply
  9. Gie

    Published exchange rate in the airport or other money changer did not include 20% service charge/tax.

    Reply
  10. Jude

    Watch car rentals in Italy – highway robbery esp Hertz, Avis and Budget

    Reply
    • Frank Varga

      Hi Jude
      We are traveling to Italy in a few weeks flying into Rome and have already booked our rental vehicle through Avis at the airport, we booked it online in Melbourne via Auto Europe which is an Australian company and already paid in full. Do I still need to look out for a scam on pickup.

      Reply
  11. Alessandro

    Hi, I’m Italian, living outside Milano. I’m sorry with people had scum experience in my country. we have bad and good things.
    I think another scam is the gondola in venice, he asked us 150€ for a couple tour. ( same as horse scam). I mean if you came from far far away maybe you accept to pay but, you know…
    One scam you forgot is some people go on train and ask help for pay ticket, usually ask for same euros not mutch, but is a scam, I seen from my childage. another scam you have to know if you have a car is abusive parking helper, sometimes with worksuit too! He just help you find a park and ask you 1 or 2 euro, without really helped you.
    recently I have seen many people look at car engine in same commercial zones park, I have no figure out what scam it is yet, I’ll working on it. sorry for my english I use only abroad.

    Reply
  12. Nick A

    Today in Rome my wife and I were crossing the road down by the Tiber and were spotted by a well dressed guy in a small car who followed the EXACT patter described in 1 above. He started off asking directions “as he wasn’t sure which side of the river he was on”, talked about working for Gallery Lafayette in Paris. He then said he’d give us one of his samples, a jacket, and at this point, we made our excuses and he drove off. He was very convincing and it was only when we Googled “Rome Scams” and got to this site, that my nagging doubts were confirmed!

    Reply
  13. Rania

    Today I was in Rome going back to hotel and a guy who looks like a tourist asked us about where is the Vatican or metro station and then a guy in normal clothes showed up and claimed he is police and showed me a badge m. Then he asked us to show our IDs and our money. I got out my insurance Id and then he asked to show him all the money we have as this guy spoke to other tourists and he has fake dollars (both me and my husband) I told him let us go to police station and I shouted where a nearby group saw us and he told me it is fine go ahead to your hotel

    Reply
  14. Danny

    BEWARE, MILAN AIRPORT TAXI METER SCAM.

    Be sure to double check the meter rate or the agreed price for a trip from the Milan Airport to downtown Milan.
    We were charged 130eu for a ride that should have cost no more than 90eu

    Reply
    • Disappointed

      Happened to me here in Palermo tonight. Should be 45€ or so to the centro, was 73 of which i paid 70. Nice feeling to get ripped off 1st thing when coming to a city you’re long awaited to visit. Meter was running, guess it was his own kind of meter. Stupid not to ask for fee beforehand but i really didnt think the taxis in line outside this internationak airport were there to fuck u in the ass.

      Reply
  15. Marie

    Whilst travelling to Pisa Airport on the motorway we thought a stone had hit the passenger window although there was no vehicle near us to have caused this. We think this was probably a catapult or some such propeller. After this a car overtook us, pointing to our car and beeping his horn. He pulled into the next layby and signalled that we should do likewise. The passenger approached our car alongside the our passenger door claiming we had broken his wing mirror and claiming you could see the damage that had occurred on the side of our car. My husband who was driving got out and went to the scam vehicle parked some way behind us where the driver in the car showed him a broken wing mirror and a website on his ‘phone saying a replacement would cost E600. You pay cash he shouted – and at this point my husband said he wasn’t paying anything as we hadn’t collided with anyone and walked back to our car and we pulled away. They came up behind us again but when we left the motorway we lost them. When we checked our car on stopping there was a black ink line along the side of our car which had obviously been put on as the scammer approached us in the lay-by. It rubbed off with a tissue.

    It doesn’t help that hire cars are often easy to pick out because the hire companies mark them as such in some way. We had a smiley face sticker on the back window. So just beware.

    Reply
    • DeAnn

      Same thing happened to us on our way to Pisa. We didn’t follow the guy, but wondered what had hit our window. Glad you posted. I thought it seemed fishy.

      Reply
    • Kate

      This happened to us in Sicily – on the road between Ispica and Pachino. Driver kept trying to get us off the main road away from people – showing affected concern for the dangerous traffic conditions. We got caught out and are now incredulous that we fell for it. Just want to warn others.

      Reply
    • John w

      Something similar happened to us yesterday. We were driving back to our base in Syracuse from the nature reserve 30 mins away. Having spent a lovely afternoon on the beach, going for a swim and walking, we just set and a few hundred yards down the road there was a car parked at the side of the road (not the place to park on the single track country road), I passed the car with what I thought was plenty of room and as we passed we heard the thud (dull bang at the side off the car), well I thought we must have clipped wing mirrors though it wasn’t the kind of noise you would expect from a wing mirror collision but I thought to myself it couldn’t have been anything else. Anyway, I didn’t stop as I wasn’t sure but the guy (who was stood at the back of his car at the time) sped after us and signalled us off the road, to which I obliged. So moments later I get out of the car and he was polite , dicn’t speak any Engish at all but signalled that we had broken his wing mirror and indicated we should pay him some cash to avoid police and insurance. He didn’t mention an amount at this time and we shrugged our shoulder jesticulating that we had very little money and disputed that we couldn’t have done it. But he pointed to a black line of plastic type of smudge down the side of the car as evidence that we had hit his wing mirror and showed us the damage, so confused, I foolishly went to show that I had little money in my wallet (only 30 euros I thought I had even less) but he more or less said to give him that and he would accept it to pay for damage and avoid calling police etc), I gave it to him just to get rid of him. I was then surprised how quickly he just jumped back into his car and sped off before we had even got back into our car.

      We wondered if we had been scammed at all, and how did that black line get down the rear passenger side of the car ? It was like an uneven black line of plastic smudge (almost tar like substance). Surely if we had hit his wing mirror the impact would have damaged our wing mirror too not the rear side of the car. We wondered if he could have daubed that black stuff on the car as he got out his car behind us and clearly scammed us.?!

      Reply
  16. PercyRoma

    I am very mindful of these scams when i visit Rome or any place. I think if one keeps their antenna up and in every situation ask themselves if they believe there is an angle here, it might protect them from these horrible parasites… When I got out, I do not engage with anyone as I have no business engaging with people I know nothing about. I stay with my own group and do my best to ignore anyone coming into my company uninvited. It is a good tip to have the contact numbers of the Police in whatever country and also to photo copy official i.d. documents. Never carry too much cash at any time. If you see something you’d like to buy you can always return the next day to purchase something. I never carry a lot of cash when I am out sightseeing. I bring an amount that I could survive without If I have the misfortune of being robbed, I could survive it so it wouldn’t spoil my holiday!

    Reply
  17. merume

    I was just hit by the car rental scam by Budget/Avis in Italy – when I picked up the car there was a small black mark on the front bumper which I didn’t even notice.

    When I dropped off the car at Marco Polo airport, they charged my 207 euros for it(!) – see http://imgur.com/a/9bLKB

    So, always check and document before you even open the door.

    Reply
    • Cheryl

      Always, always use your mobile phone to take photos of every inch of the car when you are handed the keys. Let them see you taking the photos. Point out any tiny dirt spot or ding.

      Reply
  18. Russ

    This evening around 10:30pm we returned from eating out after a lovely day at the outdoor pool. Florence is lovely but just near our apartment while I was in a shop paying for icecreams a man had approached my wife and ‘given’ her and my my young daughter small wooden carvings. His patter was swift and he was insisting that these were gifts. He quickly statet that he had family in uk to hiuld rapport and that his wife was giving birth today! Presumably to gain empathy from me. I became quicjly suspicious that he wanted some kind of payment but he said not but contradicted himself and asked for a ‘contribution’.. he was saying that he co tell that I was a ‘good man’ and so on and procceeded to adirn me with some leather wrist bracelet. I became super concoous of my surroundings… my wife and kids had made it into out apartment main door and my pocjets had not been picked… Yet. The smallest note I had on me was 20 euros. I challenged him. I said i didnt want them. I offered thst he tske them back. I gave him my wridt to take back the bracelet. I said this is some kind of scam. He took the bracelet back and began to ask where are my wife and children gone. By niw he had realised i wasnt paying up. He was now saying that I wasa bad man. He had certainly changed his tune. If he took one step inside our apartment main door I thought to myself. I got the wooden carvings and gave them back to him abd shut the door on him. What an aweful feeling. My wife and I then had an argument afterwards and my daughter was in tears. Horrible experience. What a shame on our last night in Florence… off to Venice tomorrow… reading the comments and tips above I guess I had better remain vigilent… but I guess sadly it goes with the territory.

    Reply
    • Tate

      Same exact thing happened to my wife and I in Florence yesterday. Man with wooden carvings and string bracelet. We didn’t give him anything and he took the “gifts” back.

      Reply
  19. Sue and John

    Scammed on regional train in Cinque Terre by train guard- not only fined 108 euro but he also took all our train tickets for our next leg to Rome. When we reported incident, he was interrogated, denied all and others indicated knowingly that this was not unknown. We had to replace tickets and surprise- when we checked on train our previously allocated seats were occupied. In other words, not only did this rail official pocket the so-called fine but so sold the tickets he stole from us!

    Reply
  20. pat

    Italy has to realize that if it makes no efforts, tourists will get fedup and never return… Italy is surely not in a position to lose some tourism income!

    Reply
  21. damian

    the worst ever country scammer in europe

    Reply
  22. Carol Ann Murphy

    Beh, I got taken for 1 euro by a taxi driver and feel very lucky…that is the only $/item I lost last week. It was my third trip to Rome and I was extremely careful [zipped money pouch inside my buttoned blouse w/cord all tucked out of site] and aware of my surroundings. I know how to speak read, write and SPEAK Italian so perhaps that is why I did not feel too vulnerable traveling alone outside of my original travel group. Yes, I was ‘hit’ on by the rose, bracelet and neon sellers and I politely said “no, grazie 2x” if they persisted it went “up” and loudly to “NO, VA VIA” which means NO, GO AWAY! I wore a determined and unpleasant expression on my face when I walked with a brisk pace in the terminis, as if to say ‘do not even try to mess with me.’ I had a very FUN Trip!

    Reply
  23. mojopdx

    BEWARE! Another car scam in Italy. Rental cars are marked with neon yellow stickers, so everyone knows you’re a tourist driving. Man # 1 comes up behind on a bike or scooter, slashes your rear tire, then acts “helpful” telling you the tire is flat. When you pull over, he stays with you. Tries to convince you to go to a “garage” nearby with him. DON’T do it, they take you to an isolated place & rob you at gun point. When you refuse (as we did) Man # 2 comes along to be “helpful” & also tries to convince you to go to the “garage.” They’re both casing the car & your belongings. At some point, you’ll be distracted & they’ll get something from the car. In our case, it was my husband’s passport. So be forewarned. You’ll be charged for all the car damages, the police can’t do anything. However, there is a US Consulate in Milan, so you can get another passport if needed. The Consulate says this is the # 2 scam against tourists in Italy now.

    Reply
  24. Yadira Arellano

    Sat at a cafe in Cannes that had a well worn newspaper on it…got charged 2 euros for just sitting at that table. Oh well, nothing is free but I still get surprised once in a while.

    Reply
  25. Cheryl

    My husband and I were in Matera, Italy when an African tried the bracelet trick but I pulled away. He started begging for money. I firmly said no but he became belligerent. I said I would call the police. I am 63 years old and have traveled a lot so I know the scams. I did call the police since he had grabbed me. The police all pretended not to speak any English at all, so don’t expect any help from them with this street scum. The police are very lazy in France and Italy and don’t care what happens to tourists.

    Reply
  26. Manuel

    Haha, beware of the gas stations (Q8) seemingly having kinda cheap gas but they actually got two prices. The higher one, being like 25% higher is for being “serviced”, so we just paid like 20€ extra for having a guy fill up our vehicle! 😀

    Reply
  27. JP

    It’s honestly sad how many scams there are in Rome since it is such a beautiful place. Yesterday I was walking around Rome and an African started complimenting my pants and tried to give me something but the best thing to do is just keep walking (which I did and always works). Also, firmly saying ‘nein’ (no in German) works well too lol.

    Reply
  28. Hyder Gowher

    Tire slash / valuable belongs stolen attempt scam.

    On may 4th, we drove from Zurich, Switzerland to Milan, Italy. Our rental car had Zürich number plate and car rental graphics therefore it was straight up give away we are new in the city. Within 10 mins of driving inside the city, our passenger back tire started losing air. So we pulled inside a quite street to check the vehicle notification. (Catch: right when we pulled-in, a Roman/italian speaking man on scooter showed up and stated showing us area to get our flat tire fix.)

    He kept speaking in his native langauage and keep pointing figure at a direction and made every effort to get our attention; and we said “thank you” and drove in that direction. Within 3 mins on the road our tire was completely flat and we found parking on another street which was kinda busy street.

    Right when we pulled in, another guy on scooter with his phone glued to helmet pulled up and started pointing us to the same direction. He even assisted me to take my spare tire out and our bags from the back of trunk out and kept speaking in native language; kinda forcing us and showing direction and diverted our direction.

    Within that second another guy sneaked into front seat of the car and was going through my wife’s purse. Luckily my wife saw the guy and shouted by asking “excuse me, what are you doing in our bags;” and both the guys took off.

    Luckily the guy just picked my wife’s purse which had our passports, credit cards, cash; and he dint get away with anything.

    When we went to tire shop, the mechic pointed out saying that the tire had be slash on the side and the brand new winter tire is non-fixable.

    With rental company guidelines, we had to install not one, but two brand new tires worth 400€.

    Since this was our first impression in Italy, we were paranoid. Our trip taste completely changed and we looked at every person who approached us with a questionable face.

    This was a very well organized crime where these scammers slash tires, and when the car stops; they take their attention and steal their belongings.

    We left the city very next day since we dint feel safe and stayed at lake Como, Italy and made our way back to Zurich.

    We tried to make police complain but due to language barrier we couldn’t get through.

    Reply
  29. Andrew

    16/05
    Today we got scammed, luckily not too badly.
    We were walking along Via Bissolati towards the Villa Borghese gardens. A well dressed man in a car pulled over and hesitatingly asked if we spoke English whilst holding a map. I wen5 over and spoke with him and he explained he was slightly lost and was looking for Termini. Me being the good bloke I am talked with him then he said we were from New Zealand and his wife was from Hamilton and that the issue was he’d forgotten their anniversary and he was going to Termini to buy flowers on his Amex card. Then he told us he was with Ferrari as a senior manager in their accounts section and that was fine. Then he said ‘ look you’ve been so helpful I’ll give you this gift that we give all our drivers – it’s special and I’d like you to have it. I was a bit hesitant but he seemed genuine. He then asked if we had any money he could use to buy the flowers so I handed over several Euros and off he went. I’m picking the ‘gift’ cost a few Euros less than what we ‘paid’ for it but we got scammed👍😂. You live and learn. We’ve just looked on a website and sure as shit there’s an almost identical situation that was played out except the bloke was from Armani and gave someone some ‘fur coats’. No bloody wonder it works for them. He appeared to be a well heeled 60 year old who played us…… here’s a phot of my ‘gift’ – the watch works and keeps time, the pen works and I need battery for the torch😂😂😂

    Reply
    • Jannsaa

      Hi.
      Just met this guy today! But his wife was from Norway!. haha. Had to Google it to see if this was a scam. Amazing! But we didnt have any cash on us so we could not help him with the flowers. What a pro guy!

      Reply
      • Ana

        This happened to us yesterday, but his wife was from Puerto Rico and she was at the hotel crying because it was their anniversary and he wasn’t with her. So he wanted to get flowers. His Amex didn’t work so he asked for some cash and specifically wanted 50 euros. We suspected it was a scam and didn’t give him anything. He left angry.

        Reply
  30. Wennee

    We got scammed by an airport taxi driver who drove like hell, first timer and we didn’t research on these and charged us 90 euros plus 40euros coz he switch 50euros with 10 so total of 130 euros for a 40 minute taxi drive were just glad we arrived at our hotel alive, so sad how they feed their families by stealing money from tourist and leaving a very bad impression for their country, well what can you do with uneducated people who lives from stealing money and that’s what they’re going to teach their kids, very sad.

    Reply
  31. rod

    On a recent trip to Sicily: Lost in Enna and with limited Italian, we asked a man on the side of the road for directions. He told us to turn around at the bus stop down the road. As I was about to pull back out into the street, he came swiftly down the street on his motorcycle, and dumped it about 8-10 meters up the street from us. Seeing the bike out of the corner of my eye, I stopped before going out onto the street. The bike slid past the car about 2 meters away. The rider then got up limping and yelling and trying to claim that his crash was my fault.
    My best guess is that the rider was trying to create an “accident” as part of a scam. If so, he needs more practice and a less cautious driver.
    We spent about 30 minutes helping the police fill out an incident report which basically said that we had witnessed an accident. The police made a point of stating that there was no contact, then gave us very good directions for our intended destination.

    Reply
    • Andy

      As an Australian with an Italian girlfriend, even though I speak very little Italian myself, it’s been fun to watch my her really let loose at scammers, last night a smelly rose guy entered the restaurant we were in, he hassled the young Italian couple behind us till, in English I suggested he leave them alone, undeterred he tried to then push the rose onto my gf…. I beat her to it this time,,, funny thing was this nice rose guy tripped out the door while calling me “a f**k ‘, and actually flipping me the bird,, haha classic

      Reply
  32. Mike

    I parked on the street in Mazara dell Vallo. I thought I was lucky when find a free parking spot within white marks. Suddenly a guy rushed from near restaurant to our car asked €2 for parking I gave him €5 he brought change from restaurant. To play his role he attached piece of paper to rear wiper..then I realized it’s scam.

    Reply
  33. Anonymous

    My mother was scammed the other day when a guy at Napoli central train station came up and started pressing buttons and bought ticket reservations for 60 euro, instead of our tickets for like 350 euros. then he asked for 100 euros for helping us “save money” and she gave it to him. When we got on the train and left we had to pay over 800 euros for our seats over half the original price. 😑

    Reply
  34. A wee bit wiser

    We had a backpack stolen on the train from Rome to Florence, and unfortunately it had my laptop and camera in it. We had taken pics on our phones, but lost a lot that were on the camera. The laptop thankfully, was password protected, but I still spent a lot of time when we got to Florence changing a lot of passwords. We had the backpack in the overhead storage bin, directly over top of our seats. We were in the last two seats on the train car. Someone apparently stood behind our seats, reached up and grab the backpack – while we were looking out the window enjoying the beautiful scenery. Next time, backpack will stay in our laps the whole time, or at our feet. Rookie mistake, and will be more vigilant next time.

    Reply
  35. Helene

    We were in Rome a couple of weeks ago and went to visit the Colosseum. Disappointed by all the scammers and hawkers, we got the African guys with the so called friendship bracelets but we refused them and had to get quite firm to the point of yelling no at them.. They are persistent! We were also approached by a young guy who had a clipboard and explained that he was a reformed drug user, even went in to details of the drugs he used. He was asking for a signature for some sort of petition to get help setting up a so called organisation to help other drug users. I foolishly signed it just to get rid of him and then he asked for money.. I should have known! But I refused to give him any money and I asked him if I looked stupid.. He muttered a few choice words so it was obviously a scam to get money for drugs.. Reformed? I think not!

    Reply
  36. Sn Sh

    Me and my boyfriend were scammed right behind the entrance of Colosseum. It was dark when we reached and could not enter,so decided to stroll in the periphery inside the campus of course. In the darkness, two drunk men dressed as Roman guards forcefully asked us to click pictures together and we had to obliged. As soon as the pictures were clicked, we thanked them politely and decided to move away.The guys then held my boyfriend by his backpack and forced us to give him 10 euros!! We did and left for our hotel after that,not wanting to explore the city anymore that evening.

    Reply
  37. Sn Sh

    And of course there is this HUGE scam in vatican! We paid 100 euros each for a stupid guide who spoke all rubbish for 15 minutes and left us mid-way !

    Reply
  38. Tiph

    We were walking past the horse drawn carriages in Palermo! We would not use them anyway due to ethical reasons! The guy walked up pushed my partner and said you owe money for a ride! Which we hadn’t taken! He then followed us up the street still pushing him, he even got the other drivers involved! We had to run into a chapel nearby and pay 3 euros just to avoid him! If you see a guy with a carriage, with one only one tooth! Avoid him! He was aggressive and hopefully it was a case of mistaken identity but…otherwise a scam!

    Reply
  39. Barb

    We were scammed yesterday in Rome at the central railway station. We had just arrived and were tired. The taxi queue was being “organised” by a scammer. He would pretend to be official ( and asking for tips) but kept switching the ends of the queue so that everyone was yelling at each other. It was a horrible start to Rome.

    Reply
  40. Aleksi

    There is a sign-a-petition scam going on in Rome. While they ask your name to a paper, to distract the others empty your pockets.

    The same can happen too without others, but they ask for money after signing petition. The petitions can be anti-drug, or anti HIV et cetera. Keep your eyes open. This was tried on me and my fiancee – they got only few euros. We gave them those euros.

    Reply

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