Rome Crime Safety Terrorism & Tourist Traps

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Threat Of Terrorism in Rome & Italy

The Italian Government in 2004 announced that had assessed an increased risk of an attack by international terrorists. Domestic terrorism is also an occasional problem. Historically domestic terrorism has targeted Italian State or local government establishments. Incendiary devices and small bombs have been used in these attacks.

As a result of these combined threats security across Italy has increased in recent years. Security levels have been increased at the airports in Rome and Milan as has surveillance on the metro and railway stations in these and other cities.


Crime & Personal Safety in Rome

Be very wary of money exchanging on the street with persistent and aggressive people, Only exchange currency at banks or a bureau de change.. Ethical companies do not have to persuade people to use their money exchanging services. Do not exchange currency with any one in the street unless you are a collector of counterfeit euro notes.

Be careful of pick pocket’s operating around the Italian capital but in particular the crowded Metros and Popular Tourist venues

Beware of tour guides that approach you in the street especially in and around the Vatican city and some are more interested in ripping you off than showing your the sites.

Serious crime involving members of the public is low in Rome but the city has an increasing problem with petty crime – with tourists and visitors often the targets of bag snatchers and pick pockets. Bus no 64 is a particular favoured working environment of pick-pockets. Other places to take special care are around the Termini area and at the airport especially when unloading your luggage from trains and coaches. These thefts may involve children who work as part of a syndicate and often attract your attention by rowdy or bad behavior whilst someone else ensures you have no luggage to check in on your return flight. Luggage theft can also occur on train service particularly sleeper trains.

Cars should be locked at all times and luggage should not be left in them and visible. Visible luggage is an invitation to car thieves who may steal the luggage and possibly the car as well. Luggage should not be left in cars overnight.

In recent years there have been an increasing number of sexual assaults on women who may have had their drinks spiked. Do not leave you drinks unattended at any time. The tactic of spiking drinks is also used by petty criminals who want to rob you. British visitors should be aware that some drinks are stronger than those normally available in the UK.


Tourist Traps In Rome

As with many European cities you must be on your guard when it comes to Taxi companies as many are not legitimate businesses and will look to extort  you. Negotiate the price with your cab driver before proceeding with the journey you are taking.

For some reason this city seems to have a fair number of unofficial tourist guides (cicerone) who will approach you offering to show you around. They tend to be genuinely friendly and are not particularly expensive – especially if you agree a price before hand. We mention them as though they are quite well informed (as you would expect) some of them are unsure of or actually loose their bearings. The surprise here is that these guides are often tourists themselves!

Avoid costumed Gladiators who may look authentically Roman and charming who offer to let you to take a photograph  of them. Once the photo has been taken they are likely to demand a high price for the service.

Assuming that you are aware of the activities of petty criminals as mentioned above tourist traps in Rome are on par with other other European cities. The most tourist irritating traps have to be the offer of gift of flowers (often roses) from enchanting young children which if you accept will mean that you be will approached by an intimidating adult demanding that you reciprocate the gift in a much higher financial way.. Another mistake, particularly when you are in the or close to the Colosseum is to have your photo taken with someone dressed as a gladiator. This is likely to cost you a minimum of €5 and if you are not muscle bound it may cost you €10 or more.

Street vendors (and some cafes) , particular those selling water, have a thirst for tourist’s money and may ask €5 or more for bottled water. Bottled water prices seems to ‘peak’ in July when the combination of humidity and heat is very high and people are more tempted to buy from them. It is worth noting that in Rome free drinking water points (which is safe to drink) can be found quite easily – though if there is a notice with the words ‘‘Non Potabile’ alongside the water is definitely not suitable for drinking. Incidentally at this time of the year the queues to enter the Vatican can be quite long and very slow moving which can spoil thing especially of it is hot.

Rome has its fair share of unmarked unlicensed illegal taxis none of which have a meter. If you end up in one of these agree a price before you move. Some people also suggest this with the legal ones – particularly when travelling to and from the airports – please see the Rome airports page.

Eating out in restaurants (see Rome Restaurants) can be tricky. Food standards are generally good in Rome and restaurants serving poor food are not common. However prices can vary tremendously with restaurants in sight of or close to the Vatican frequently overpriced. As some of these establishments cater primarily for tourists and do not have a local customer base the quality of the food can be disappointing. When it comes to dining out you should ask the locals sitting in the cafe’s and restaurants where they would recommend rather than falling for the Restaurant signs offering supposed high quality cuisine.

Many of the street vendors are renowned for being persistent and abrasive and as soon as you see one approaching you it is best to walk away as if they have never entered your field of vision.


Jane Kerby (London) On Rome

Jane Kerby (pictured above at the Trevi Fountain on Christmas Day) wrote to us with a few notes about Rome which she thought might be of interest to any one travelling to Rome: ” I just spent 4 days in Rome travelling from Heathrow and had a few tips for travellers to the city. The cost of bottled water or pop is now €6-8 from street sellers supermarkets and hotels so be prepared for the high prices. If you are queuing for the Colosseum don’t believe the guides who say you will be waiting an hour and then try to charge you an extra €10 or even more to get you in quickly.  get in –

We were in a very long line but still made it inside within 20 minutes so don’t be disheartened its not as bad as it looks as the lines are quick moving.  Anyway your €13 ticket to the Colosseum gets you into Palatine Hill and the Forum so the regular admission is good value anyway.

Good value souvenirs can be found around the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps in the shape of sketches of the famous landmarks for a mere €4.00.  These sketches are good quality sketches in colour and good value when compared to a key ring which will cost you over €6.00.

Don’t be fooled by street sellers selling stuff off a blanket in the street they are not selling cheap stuff!  A belt can cost €30  which is quite a lot for a fake designer belt in the street.

Finally be prepared for all the graffiti because its everywhere in Rome so don’t think when you arrive at your hotel that you’ve picked a bad part of town because you’ll soon discover  that no matter where you go there’s graffiti!

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