• Michelle Mattke

3 Scams To Avoid While In Italy

Updated: Apr 15, 2018

1 - Train Station Attendant.

Tye and I were going to take a few day trips from Rome to a few other cities in Italy, and the best way to do so is by taking the train. We had looked up train schedules online so we knew what time we needed to be at the station at, but wanted to give ourselves amble time to figure out how to purchase a ticket and find our platform, all while not knowing how busy it was going to be.

We arrived to a busy and chaotic arena of people. There is just a lot going on, and the train station was a pretty big place so figuring out where to start was a little overwhelming. We decided first to just stand in line for a help desk. Had there been no line, this service would have been very helpful. But after standing in line for over 30 minutes, we didn’t move an inch. Since you are standing there not doing anything you can’t help but people watch. We saw everyone going up to these “self serve” machines to get there tickets. Almost like an ATM size machine. After fumbling around with it to no avail, our body language must have showed some distress after a while.

A young woman came to our aid. She was professionally pressed with slacks and tucked in polo, and a lanyard. She had great English, was polite and patient. She said she was with the train station helping tourists learn how to use the kiosks. She asked if she could show us how to use the machine, which we gratefully said yes to. She proceeded to show up step by step of what information we needed to enter, what to click on, and how to print your ticket.

She then said, “follow me, I’ll show you how to read your ticket, and direct you to where your train is”. We were right behind her, when a very large man yanked on Tye’s arm and whipped him around! “SHE DOESN”T WORK HERE! If they don’t have a badge, they don’t work here!” he scolded to Tye. By the time the gentleman could finish talking, I had turned around and the women was nowhere to be found. She disappeared into the sea of people without a trace.

The man explained that there are people in the train stations, that seem helpful, but as soon as they walk you to your train, they demand money for their service.

The sad thing is that, she was genuinely super helpful. Tye and I handled the trains like a champ after we were shown what to do. But who knows if she would have walked us to the right train, or how much money she was going to demand had we not been stopped by the security guard.

2 - Bait & Switch.

An evening stroll near the Spanish Steps, Tye and I were looking for a place to eat for dinner. At the steps it’s a little crowded in this area and then of course, the more people, the more panhandlers.

We were stopped by a man carrying an arm full of roses. He said “You two look very much in love. This is your first time to Rome, no?” To which we nodded yes and he continued, “AH! Welcome to my city. You are a very beautiful woman. Please, take this rose as a sign of my gratitude for coming to my city, and to wish you luck on your travels”. How sweet right? Of course, I thought this was super nice, and accepted the rose with thanks. We started to walk away and the gentleman's demeanor completely changed as he grabbed Tye’s arm. “Money for the rose sir” as he rubbed his thumb and index finger together in Tye’s face signing that he wanted money. I exclaimed, “you said it was a gift?!” He completely ignored me and only looked at Tye to repeat, “money for the rose sir.” I was upset at this point, so I raised my voice at the man and sternly said, “I don't want your rose!” Then threw it at his chest because he refused to grab it.

Pissed off, he proceeded to yell some fast speaking Italian at me. Most likely swearing and something vulgar, but didn't bother me since I didn't know what he was saying!

Away we went. We stood at the top of the Spanish Steps looking down at the hustle and bustle below us, only to watch the same guy pull the same scam on couples passing by. Tye and I couldn't contain our laughs as we watched the couples fall for it just as we had. Roses being thrown and wallets being taken out.

3 - “Picturesque” Paintings.

I will say. I am a complete novice when it comes to observing paintings and paint quality, but I absolutely adore the picture that I picked up in Rome. I just consider it a scam because the vendors really try and sell you on the fact that its a painting and not just a very good quality print on canvas. If this is something that bothers you, make sure to have an eye for detail on what's genuinely real and what is a replica. If you aren’t too concerned with it then you are in luck because the “painters” are everywhere. All with the same drawings and paintings. Have to say though, I really do love the little one I picked up regardless of its real or not.

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