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Italy sounds so scary - illusion?

Old Sep 5th, 2003, 12:51 AM
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Italy sounds so scary - illusion?

I've read various forums and books about Italy and heard people's stories.

I get the impression that all of the following events are at least somewhat probable:

You will be pickpocketed at a train station or tourist attraction, even if you have gone to some lengths to protect yourself.

Your hotel will overcharge you above and beyond the rate you agreed.

Even if your hotel bumps you and disregards your reservation, they still might charge your card.

You might come back to your room and find you have been moved against your will to some location you know nothing about.

If you buy something at a shop, the clerk or shopkeeper will fail to give you the proper change.

If you go to a restaurant, expect numerous charges to which you did not agree.

As you walk down the street, someone on a Vespa might come along and grab your bag.

If you are a young woman, you must expect to be aggressively harassed.

Conmen/women all over the place will attempt to shove babies at you, sell you fake leather jackets, etc.

The trains will NOT run on time.

Other than all of these, my husband says that when he was a kid and went on a car trip with his family in Italy (they lived in Denmark then), some gypsies started jacking up the wheels as his family sat in the car. His dad drove off, but who knows what they had in mind. I seem to recall a young American boy who was killed in some sort of carjacking a few years ago also.

BUT - clearly people travel to Italy every day and love it. So it can't be as horrible as all of these various events indicate. What are some realistic risk scenarios that a female solo traveler would face in Italy? I hate the idea of having to spend every second being vigilant, as someone tries to steal from me or assault me or rip me off. I would be traveling in a low-moderate budget range, which might or might not increase my risk.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 01:12 AM
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You clearly have quite a vivid imagination and perhaps a slower than usual day at the office...I suggest you travel in Latvia!
 
Old Sep 5th, 2003, 01:12 AM
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You forgot taxi drivers charging 100€ for a 5 miuntes ride and oversized women with unheard italian surnames trying to overfeed your children with huge servings of pasta and meatballs.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 01:21 AM
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How right you are - I forgot the taxi drive ripoffs.

Actually, I don't have a vivid imagination. All of the items on the list are complaints that people have made on this forum or others. Italy seems to draw a lot more of these complaints than any other location. You could argue that this is because Italy has more tourists than most of the other destinations, but I don't have objective figures.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 02:35 AM
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Have taken 5 trips to Italy and have had none of the above occur. Maybe we were just lucky but I'd like to think some like to be alarmists.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 02:40 AM
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Dear WT,

Absolutely every one of those things will happen to you, not once but twice a day.

Seriously, you have compiled a list of horror stories that covers years of travel by millions of people.

All of those things happen in any country.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 03:00 AM
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Well now. In the United States you don't just get pick-pocketed, you get robbed at gun/knifepoint.
While you are driving along, fellow motorists are likely to lean out of their cars and shoot you.
At school/workplace or in a restaurant a gunman will come and open fire, gunning down staff and diners.
When you walk in the country, rabid chipmunks will leap out at you. In your house, black widow spiders will be lurking in the crevices.
I'd forgotten that you can be struck by lightning if you walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon.
I lived in the USA for two years and never met any of these hazards. Perhaps I just wasn't trying
 
Old Sep 5th, 2003, 03:22 AM
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Yes, all of those things happen every day in any popular tourist destination, including Italy. But most tourists never experience any of them.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 03:24 AM
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From my experience, I will tell you that many of the things you list ARE true. You really do need to beware of pickpockets in major European cities. If you are an American woman alone, there is a good chance you will be approached, and sometimes overly aggressively. Italy does not have the consumer protection and "customer is always right" mentality that Americans are used to, and it can lead to disappointment in dealing with businesses. Having said all that, Italy is my favorite travel destination in the world, I keep going back, and I can vouch for the fact that those things you list, while true, won't stand in your way of having a fantastic time!
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 03:39 AM
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I have traveled extensively in Europe and we are leaving in two weeks to return back to Italy for the 4th time. I have heard stories and seen some incidents where people were robbed. In most cases it was due to carelessness. A gentleman on a train takes his suit jacket off after a long flight and hangs it on the hook by his seat. He falls asleep and when he wakes up his wallet and passport are gone. On an overnight train, a women in the bottom bunk was hot and opened the door to the couchette..fell back to sleep and woke up to find her purse gone...meanwhile my husband and I were in the top bunk with money belts on and our luggage chained to the rack. A women on a tour we were on had her purse string cut and the purse taken...all her valuables gone. Why would you bring anything valuable and why would you not protect it by keeping it in a money belt.

You have to use your common sense and be careful when you are in crowded areas. Violent crime is very rare unlike the USA and Canada. I have been overcharged to be sure on occassion but the many happy memories and life experiences I have gained from my travels out-weigh any of the small risks involved.

Why leave your house...you could be hit by a bus. Crime in my city is on the rise and I live in a small city on the east coast of Canada. You can't live your life in fish bowl out of fear.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 04:02 AM
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Yes, all of those things happen. The better question would have been "What are the ODDS of one of these things happening to me when I travel to Italy?"
(answer: about 1 in a 100)
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 04:26 AM
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The odds of any of those things happening is very low.

The best thing is that you are now well aware of them and can be prepared on how to respond.

Get on the plane and go. Being vigilant feels natural after awhile and doesn't need to ruin your trip.
 
Old Sep 5th, 2003, 06:33 AM
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You forgot to mention the biggest concern of all for female solo travelers:

the WAITERS !!!

(though not necessarily a bad thing)
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 06:37 AM
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Hi

My wife and I went to Italy in June and we didn't experience any major problems. I think that you can run into trouble whereever you go...but we didn't get pickpocketed, we didn't have any problems with our hotel reservations etc...we just had a pretty nice time and we got to see both Venice and Milan

Regards
Gard
www.gardkarlsen.com
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 06:42 AM
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Paranoid people might as well wear all white. They and their body language can be spotted a mile away.

If you're not smart enough to learn how to avoid and prevent crime, maybe you should consider locking yourself in your house and throw away the key.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 06:53 AM
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The USA is much more dangerous than any other European country. I feel much safer when I travel to Europe .
Can you imagine with all the violence, the shootings that happens pretty often here in America, how scared the Europeans tourists must be, when they travel here?
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 06:53 AM
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Yes, all these horror stories are true with one exception. There are no meatballs in Italy.

If you're a troll, you're not a very good one. If you're not, you should stay home, you worry too much.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 07:09 AM
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We didn't have one single problem in Italy this past July. I agree that I feel somewhat safer in Europe than in the US. I'd rather be pick-pocketed than shot at any day.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 07:12 AM
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Willtravel, That is not the Italy that I experienced at all. But I did do thorough research on hotels, restaurants and areas, etc.

I was very on guard with my purse on the street but never once felt threatened or uncomfortable. You just have to use common sense.

Italy was unbelievably beautiful and so are the people that live there. We are going back next spring because we loved it so much. Just do your research, that is key.
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Old Sep 5th, 2003, 07:28 AM
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Are we talking about a tuna-sized scam or only a sardine-sized one? That makes a difference on one's perception. Also, what recourse does one have if any of these things happen?

1. Have a budget to cover Life's Unpleasant Surprises. Withdraw as necessary. (Mine is about 500 euro, still largely intact after 5 trips.)

2. Put stuff on charge cards and keep the receipts. Get stuff in writing. Confer with vendors/waiters and understand about all charges before ordering. Otherwise, if it can't be put right on the spot, worry about sorting it out with your CC company after you get home.

3. Yes, we've been moved to an 'alternate' hotel. Annoying, but we lived through it. Avoid making your accomodation the priority of your trip, and you'll be less stressed.

4. Most times our transactions have proceeded smoothly. On occasion we've been short-changed. See "1" above.

5. Yes, a friend was pickpocketed in Italy. He lost the day's spending money. See "1" above.

6. Carry a spare pair of socks. Floss regularly. Breathe deeply. Expect nothing of your trip.

Then reap the rewards.



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