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Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves ... Italian Cons

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves ... Italian Cons

Sep 10th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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mdtravel, great report - very well done! Nice eye for detail.

I once "played the game" by letting a very aggressive Taxi Assistant carry my LW's bag a block or so to a taxi. It was risk, but the darn thing was so blasted heavy that I figured I could chase him down if he tried to flee.

I fumbled a bit as the bags were being loaded, fishing around in my tight biker's pants and then casually tossing the jerk a quarter as the taxi pulled away. The angry look on his face was priceless.

degas is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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"I was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show
My mama used to dance for the money they’d throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of doctor good

Gypsys, tramps, and thieves
We’d hear it from the people of the town
They’d call us gypsys, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Picked up a boy just south of mobile
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he’d done


I never had schoolin’ but he taught me well
With his smooth southern style
Three months later I’m a gal in trouble
And I haven’t seen him for a while, uh-huh
I haven’t seen him for a while, uh-huh

She was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show
Her mama had to dance for the money they’d throw
Grandpa’d do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of doctor good

Chorus chorus fades"
mdtravel is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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I'm sure in the 1940's and 50's there were a lot of people who didn;t see anything wrong with the N word - there are people who still don;t - as well as the equivalents for any other racial or ethnic group.

Yes - it is EXTREMELY offensive - not humorous - and if you don;t know better - as obviously others on this forum don;t perhaps they should try to learn something before they go. (And in any case - when is group stereotyping ever acceptable?)

FYI - if the term is offensive to the people to whom it is applied it IS offensive - it doesnt really matter what others think - or if they;re doing it only "for fun". Ask all of the "Gypsies" who were murdered by the Nazis if they thought that was amusing?
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:22 AM
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Speaking of stereotypes, the British are supposed to have the best humour in Europe. I guess that's not true either.
kleeblatt is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:30 AM
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Schuler, are you American?

If so, how would you know? ))
sheila is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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You're absolutely right NYTraveler, I and everyone else not bashing me are in fact saying that genocide is funny. Hats off to your superior intellect for being able to finally get the point of my post. You have an uncanny ability to do just that while offering plenty of priceless amusement, and still more fodder for stereotyping. To use your own logic and thin skinned approach, you have offended me so you must stop right now.
mdtravel is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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I was invoking #3:


mdtravel is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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Hi Sheila,

I just spent four weeks in London learning how to teach English. Most of my fellow students were British. I ADORED their humour. And, yup, I was raised in the states so I've got the typical American humour, which they enjoyed as well. It was a successful cultural exchange.

And, yes, they loved to tease me about "American stereotypes". Didn't bother me at all, cuz there is plenty to "tease" back.
kleeblatt is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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Nytraveler (and others) - you're really hung up with usage of the word "gypsy". Yes, Gypsy (capitalized) refers to an ethnic group but "gypsy" can denote a vagabond. The OP used the word in a correct context -- he capitalized it in the header consistent with the other words there. As far as saying the use of "gypsy" is on par with "nigger", I can find no dictionary that lists "gypsy" as a derogative/pejorative/vulgar slang, while all say "nigger" is.

Homosexuals were also exterminated by the Nazis, yet that term is still in use and I can't imagine any gay would find the use of the word offending -- I don't see your point with that comment about the Nazis. Do you also cringe when someone mentions a "Gypsy Moth" or "Gypsy Rose Lee"?
Nimrod is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 11:58 AM
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If someone is stealing from me I can and will call them and their mother anything I like.

Someone else can console them later if they are offended.

Mdtravel dont take the criticism to heart alot of Fodorites are overly PC.
peeky is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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Here’s a joke that, after reading some of the criticism above, I’m sure MANY of you will enjoy greatly…

It seems that two people of unknown ethnicity and unstated gender motivated themselves through the doorway of an unspecified establishment. (Remember, don’t say “walked into” because we don’t know if one or both might be somehow handicapped…oops, my bad, I meant to say challenged!)

Once inside, no one said anything. After a short spell of doing nothing both of the individuals left the establishment for points unknown. (Perhaps they had a non-ethnic meal along with a domestic beverage…perhaps they did not.)

The conclusion (“the end” might be considered too negative!)

Is that a hoot, or what??? For those of you oh-so-politically correct Europeans and your American counterparts, feel free to tell this at your next gathering, that is if there is anyone left who is boring enough left to hang out with you.

Lighten up, hey?

DiAblo is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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MD: I thought what you had to say was interesting. But as I read, I knew you were going to get attacked when I read your post. Don't you know that focusing on something negative in Italy will not be tolerated on this forum? Always think "happy thoughts" and you'll be well received.

I had never heard that gypsy was a derrogatory name either. Thanks for bringing that to our attention. (I wish it would have been done so more gently). I first heard the term from my Italian born and bred professor. He told us how to recognize the g-word by their dress and their tricks to separate you from your valuables. We were also told about the pickpockets and motor scooter thieves. He never described Romanies or the Italian thieves with contempt. His view was that this was their "work".

I just went to the Rick Steves site (thinking that he had used the term before) and copied this from his "Street Scams in Rome" page.

"And I have a great respect for Gypsies pleading on the streets. For 20 years they've approached me with newspapers and babies in shawls to distract. I recently met a tourist who was victim of a new trick: A Gypsy mother threw her baby into his arms. While he could only hold the little child, the mother grabbed his wallet. Then, making a commotion as if the tourist was taking her child, she grabbed her baby and fled.

There you go flanny, Rick Steves is another American that you can hate for being such a bigot. I think he'd be surprised at the accusation though. Isn't it possible that most U.S. travelers to Italy have been warned of "gypsies" not "Romanies"? Because in all of my trips there I personally have never heard the term Romanies until just now.

Intrepid: If eating can be the focus of a post, or the best hotels, or the best art, why can't thievery? It's a fact of life there. Your last paragraph is really out of line considering you've judged him completely, yet you don't know the first thing about MD as a person other than this one post.

The venom spewed forth by some posters on Fodors is mind boggling to me. I attribute it to the fact that we aren't speaking, but rather writing to one another. I can't imagine that people would be so confrontational if they were seated and having a discussion about this topic. I bet if you were discussing this, NYTraveler or Flanneruk would say something like "Don't you know that gypsy is a filthy term?" Those who didn't know this would say "Whoa! No! I'm sorry"......and the conversation would go on. I'm just suggesting that we think twice before attacking anyone on a personal level. What's wrong with that?

Pilates is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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md, I thought what you'd posted about various scams to look out for was very useful. Some that I'd not thought of but that I'll look out for when we finally make it to Italy and will look out for elsewhere as well.

I believe what you're saying that you'd not realized that the word was a slur. But it is though, so it's probably a good idea that others are starting to insert that note into threads, so that it's not carried on as a Fodors tradition, and thought of as a benign description. I saw and met Rom throughout Romania, where they hold a higher than usual pecentage of the population and they are simply working and living as anyone else would. Thier mere ethnicity doesn't indicate a motive to steal, in and of itself, from what I could see.

"Gypsies" are a specific group of tribes that migrated across from India. They often refer to themselves as Rom or Roma. But early speculation was that they originated from Egypt (hence the "gyp" part. Likely you've heard that bit used as a verb as well). Those tribes had a class structure, much like India itself. A craftsman class, a clerical class, a laborer class, a beggar class and yes, a prideful class of thieves (by birth).

However, the majority of Rom find the term offensive even though they may appropriate the "G" word themselves. The same happens in the US with the "N" word, but doesn't change what it is.

You'll note that in the song you quoted, that the townspeople were using it in a derogatory way, a way of name calling, and the songwriter was rejoicing in their hypocrisy when they'd come around anyway. So, those lyrics may not be the best evidence of the word's acceptability!

Anyway, taken at the intent in which it was typed, I did find the post both humorous and informative, the regrettable word aside.

Unfortunately, it also spawned this long, long ramble from me in the midst of it. haha

Clifton is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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MD Travel,

Your post was great. However, as soon as I spotted the title, I anticipated the tiresome firestorm that would follow, as any reference to pickpockets or other thieves who prey on visitors to Europe will inspire the same tired chants from a certain segment on Fodors, with a peculiar venom being directed at the victims or even mere observers of crime.

If you warn travelers of the dangers of pickpockets and other thieves in Europe, expect to hear the following responses:

1. If you weren't such an ignoramus, it wouldn't happen. You had it coming.

2. If you are specific in describing the folks who often make their living from stealing from tourists, you are a racist.

3. The incidence of pickpocketing is no worse than in any other city in the world. If you weren't such a racist, ignorant hick, you'd know that.

4. As a tourist, you should have no expectation that the government of the countries you visit should make any concerted effort to protect you from being victimized.

Your post was amusing, well-written, and valuable. I hope you will not feel defensive but will give the usual suspects a big BA.
Mary_Fran is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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I got sucked in to the debate / trolling.

Anyone have other street hustler stories to add? Assuming the use of the word hustler is not offensive to Larry Flint's family of course, please share.
mdtravel is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Clifton, what a lovely, well-thought-out and respectful way of getting your message across. I, too, thought about the allusion to the song as an indication of the word being a slur and I also agree w/you that I do not think md intended any harm in using it, however, harmful terms are often used w/o intent to hurt or malign, but they do nonetheless....
socialworker is online now  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Wow did this thread take a hard left turn from the original post. Anyhow, Mdtravel, you give some good observations. By the way, my first trip to Italy was with my friend and we stayed with her relatives all through Italy (Milan, Rome, Naples). When encountering these schemes, there response was also that they were "gypsies". I also agree with Thingorgous on this one. On our first trip, I was just out of school and dressed like it-jeans, shorts, typical American student fare and we dealt with way more scammer issues than our last trip 2 years ago when we made a more conscious attempt to blend in by dressing a little nicer. No, I didn't use the disposable camera but did have a very small digital that also takes movies. Not only was it less conspicious but way lighter and easier to carry around.
swalter518 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:20 PM
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Songs, like poems, can be interpretted many ways I guess. I see a woman at first shamed by names, then taking pride in the name and lifestyle. Regardless, the lyrics do support the 'vagabond' lifestyle that I thought fit the G-WORD. But maybe I'm confusing Cher songs and am thinking of Half Breed. Don't even get me started on the incredible depth of Cher's song library. And acting? All I have to say is Witches of Eastwick.
mdtravel is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:23 PM
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Yeah maybe, but what about Mask and Silkwood ?
Nimrod is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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Do gyspies = romany = travellers? I wouldn't classify the beggars/thieves as travellers. I wouldn't classify the gypsies that live near my sister as romany or travellers. Are these different things?
fairfax is offline  

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