Common scams to be aware of in Italy
October 21, 2019
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and that beauty makes it very popular with tourists. Like anywhere that is teeming with tourists, however, this can make tourist spots a target for thieves and con-artists on the lookout for their next target. While you want to relax and enjoy yourself on vacation, it is always useful to be aware of the most common scams, so you know exactly what – and who – to avoid.
You won’t be surprised to learn that certain areas in Italy can be full of pickpockets. Keep an eye on your valuables in busy cities like Rome, Venice and Florence – especially down narrow market streets – and keep your valuables secure in a zipped bag that’s close to your body.
Gladiator photo scam
If you’re taking a trip to Rome, you might spot men dressed up as Gladiators, offering a picture with you for a small price. While this may seem harmless, they have been known to drastically change the price after the photo is taken and behave aggressively – so much so that they were banned in 2015. Staying away is recommended.
The pizza scam
A cute child approaches with a pizza box and offers you a slice, during which time you’re unable to see below your waist and another child pickpockets you. They might also use newspapers or cardboard, but of course, delicious tempting pizza is the most successful. Don’t fall for it.
Fake car crash scam
This unpleasant and less common scam is still worth looking out for, especially if you’re hiring a car. The person waits at the side of the road, gets you to stop and claims they have been in an accident. The best thing to do is call the police; their reaction will indicate whether they are legitimate or not.
Fake luxury products
Whilst Italy offers an abundance of history and culture, it is also recognised internationally for fashion. If you’re looking for something to take back with you, be careful to spot counterfeit knock-offs, which are most often sold on beaches, street vendors, or by people who approach tourists directly. Italian authorities could fine you thousands of dollars if you’re caught with one.
Unofficial tour guides
Trips to historically and culturally vibrant cities often require tours to make sure you’re soaking up as much information as possible. If a tour-guide approaches you directly, gives unreliable information or asks for money before the tour has finished, the tour is most likely not legitimate. Ask at your hotel or hostel for tour information, visit the tourist centre or read reviews online to find the most accurate and engaging tours.
Whilst it is worth being aware of these common scams in Italy, it is also important to understand that people may try to manipulate tourists in any busy, thriving city. Italy is a country with a wonderful balance of history, culture, food and fashion and, provided that you are aware of such scams and avoid them, the beauty of the country will prevail.
This information is current as of 02/07/2019. This advice is provided for informational purposes only. This information is subject to change and you should always verify the most current information.
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