First Time to Italy

Old Mar 4th, 2006, 01:47 PM
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It's 3.50E per bag per day to keep bags at Malpensa. It's on the arrival level (fairly sure). It's open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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Old Mar 4th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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I just read that Madrid is having problems with gangs that are originally from South America (forget which country). Guess they have managed to arrest some of them. But we have gangs in CA also, as do other states. No getting away from crime, it behoves everyone to try to not get overtired and overwhelmed when travelling. And the great majority of travellers do not have any problems thank goodness.
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Old Mar 4th, 2006, 05:55 PM
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Believe me, it's by no means unfair, nor silly: I didn't say it's impossible to cross Piazza San Marco without getting your purse snatched. What I am saying is that your purse won't be snatched unless you take a serious effort to show the thieve were you've put it, and that's naive. I know what I'm talking about. As I've already posted several times on this forum, I'm in Venice about three times a year, at all varying seasons, and only once we were victims of a pickpocket: when my wife took out her purse on Piazza S. Marco in Carnival to buy something, and then put it back on the very top of her bag - she just felt too much at home, as we are that often in Venice, and so she just didn't think about what she was doing. And believe me, ever since, she is VERY angry about her - as she herself puts it - naivety on that certain day... Otherwise, we were NEVER in any situation in Venice with a pickpocket coming only near us, and none of our Venetian friends and acquaintances has ever had the slightest problem with a pickpocket - it's just typical tourist behaviour that makes you become their target.
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Old Mar 4th, 2006, 06:20 PM
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And yes, LoveItaly, you're absolutely right that northern Italy is no safe heaven - but, I repeat, it the issue here was the safety of your belongings in your hotel room. I've never made use of any hotel safe, and nothing has ever been stolen from me; and I usually travel with plenty of cash, as I'm not a fervent credit card user. But don't think that I'm incautious: when I come to the region of Naples, my first way is to the next Carabinieri station, and I ask THEM (and not the tourist office) for a SAFE hotel. Once, in Pozzuoli, the policemen looked at each other, "a safe hotel? do you have a car?" - yes - "follow us". They drove more than 20 kilometres outside Pozzuoli with us to a small, very simple pension. The owner didn't have a hotel safe either, but there, I knew I wouldn't need one, and so it was... Or in the Puglia region, for example, I'd never leave anything of any value in my hotel room, I carry everything with me (hidden well enough that no pickpocket, as professional as he or she might be, could ever grab it). Or in Sicily, as well... But in the north, the hotel owner is your ally: as LoveItaly has put it quite correctly, the locals are VERY eager to fight the thieves problem, which means that you don't need to fear anything in your hotel, as humble as it might be. Certainly, you can't leave anything in your car (in Umbria yes, in northern Italy never), and certainly you have to watch out a little - but a good common sense is just enough to avoid problems. Only correction to LoveItaly's view: it's not only the illegal immigrants who are "importing" crime to northern Italy; it's also coming from southern Italy, and partly also "homemade". But the important thing is that the communities of northern Italy are strong enough to fight crime and to organize themselves, with or without the assistance of the police; e.g. you find safe, guarded parking lots everywhere. In the south, decades of overwhelming, all-mighty crime have brought down civic pride and moral to a degree that people have numbed themselves to crime, and initiative against it is generally low.
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Old Mar 4th, 2006, 06:27 PM
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Zoo, if you want to see the most, consider sleeping on trains. In March, these should be pretty flexible - I had an Interrail pass and when I was tired, basically hopped on a train to anywhere 8 hours away (get a sleeper berth when you can). Not the most restful way to sleep, but with only 6 days, spend as much of the daylight hours as you can not traveling.
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Old Mar 4th, 2006, 06:37 PM
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What I meant by a purse is a handbag. A man ripping a bag out of the hands of a woman not as strong as he is. It happens. And it happens in Venice just like it happens in New York City, and it not because the victim is doing something wrong. It's because that's how some men make their living in Italy and New York.

Your personal experience is interesting. My personal experience in Venice is that two women told me on two separate days that their bag was grabbed in December in Piazza San Marco.

Nobody is going to stop going to Venice because of such experiences. But people should know that in Italy, as in Times Square or Holy Week in Spain, you shouldn't carry valuables around in places that are known to be for tourists.

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Old Mar 5th, 2006, 07:13 AM
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So we are no more talking pickpockets now, but street robbery instead? But then, we are definitely NOT talking about Venice.
I don't of course doubt that those two women told you the stories you've told us, nessundorma. But that means that the single two women who have experienced that in Venice during the last century, have both crossed your way... no, just kidding. Seriously: it may be, as it obviously happened to both of them more or less at the same time, that these days, a gang from outside had made their way to Venice in order to engage in street robbery; if so, the Venice police certainly will have stopped them one or two days later.
I really don't mean to be arrogant, but there are not that many foreigners who know Venice as well as I know it, and hardly anyone on this forum, excuse me - all my visits summed up, I have spent there, conservatively, six months during the last fifteen or so years, maybe even eight months. And I assure you there is no street robbery in Venice. It's as likely to be experienced as snow in Palermo: not impossible, but a chance of 1 to several millions.
As this is a thread for first-timers in Italy, I don't think it's a good idea to arouse unnecessary fears by telling there wouldn't be a difference between Times Square and Piazza S. Marco. My goodness!
I remember vividly that I didn't dare going to Italy for many, many years, though living near enough to go in my own car - but I simply feared terribly for my car, having heard so many nasty stories about crime in Italy. When I decided to overcome my fear for the first time, and go for a journey to Southern Italy with a friend, we bought a car (actually, a wreck) only to make that journey, and we kept it until we made another journey to Central and Northern Italy...
And I swear you, for Southern Italy, I'd still do the same what I did then; for the Center and the North, however, it was just ridiculous to drive in that half-broken old car: no need to.
Regions in Italy, and I know that nessundorma agrees with me on that topic, regions in Italy as extraordinarily diverse, and this is also true for crime. Generally spoken, the Center of the country (Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, northern Molise) is a true safe heaven with almost no crime at all. The north plus Tuscany and Lazio have their criminals, but know how to deal with the problem; but the south is helpless against crime, and you really have to watch out. The Molise (a totally unknown region of Italy south of Abruzzo), though small, is sharply divided in a "central" and a "southern" part; in northern ("central Italian") Molise, there's hardly any need to lock your car (yes, of course, we did it nevertheless!); but a few miles further south, you suddenly get that Puglia feeling, and a town like Larino (Venice being about ten times bigger) is certainly a thousand times more dangerous than Venice. In southern Molise, we walked into churches separately, the other one of us, respectively, staying in the car to guard it...
Of course, there are exceptions to the general rule. Sicily, especially Palermo, has greatly improved over the last years, and has become gradually more "northern" (for Catania, this is not as true). Puglia, Basilicata and Campania (Naples, above all) are the peak of the "south" in safety respects; Genova, though in northern Italy, is quite "southern" and Milan, too, has a certain tendency towards the south; in the north-eastern Friuli region, you are as safe as in Central Italy, apart from Udine - in Friuli, I stress, but not in Venezia Giulia (Trieste), though belonging to the same administrative region. And so on ... you'll soon get the right feeling about how to behave in which place.
Car parking is what may give you a good first impression: if I don't know a place, I always check what the locals do with their cars. If they don't lock them (yes, there ARE regions of Italy where they don't), everything is tranquil; if there are guarded parking lots everywhere, there is obviously the need to use them, but using them will be perfectly safe; if there is broken car window glass here and there on the street, most cars heavily worn, the locals taking their car radios with them, but no guarded parking anywhere, then you are in the "safety south", be it wherever in geographical respects; and that's where I wouldn't leave anything valuable in the hotel, too, with or without hotel safe (or why should a hotel where I don't trust the staff and the owner enough to leave my goods in the room, why should a hotel like that boast SAFE hotel safes?).
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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Wow! I have to hand it to you: You are (collectively) a wealth of information! Your vast experience is to my benefit, over and over! Thank you so much for sharing it with me!

Now, anyone have any suggestions about the weather and choices of clothing to take? I want to travel light, of course, but will I need a heavy coat? I live in southern California, and not usually in the snow, but I hear there is snow in Switzerland now...we will be going to Bern for a day...and what's the weather forecast for northern Italy? Is there a great website where I can check this out?

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Old Mar 14th, 2006, 03:56 PM
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I don't know if this is helpful info., but here goes. While I always feel better about booking my hotels. A few friend of mine backpacked Europe a year ago and they found hostels as they arrived in each city. They had no problems at all with low costs or finding something. Good luck and have fun!
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