Paying for entrance to a church in Rome?

Jun 7th, 2007, 07:50 AM
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Paying for entrance to a church in Rome?

I spent a week Rome at the beginning of May. I visited several churches before going to the church of Sant' Ignazio di Loyola. I had heard a lot about the ceiling there and was anxiously walking in when a man dressed in what looked like a black uniform stopped me at the door and held out his hat. It was lined with $5 bills that had been taped to the inside (I guess to indicate that he was asking for money). He acted as if I needed to pay for entrance to the church. I did not have cash in small bills and it struck me as odd that I was being charged. He did not have reciepts or tickets to give out and there was no concert going on inside (I hear they sometimes hold concerts in this church). When I held out my hands and shrugged to indicate that I had no money, he pounded with his fist on the door and yelled "Signora!" I entered the church without paying. Was I wrong in doing this? He did not come after me.
When I left the church, I got a good look at him, and he was just wearing all black clothes. No uniform.
Jun 7th, 2007, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,166
Hi P,

>Was I wrong in doing this?

Of course not. He was a scammer.

In "Innocents Abroad" (1869), Mark Twain tells how he bought discount train tickets for his party of 10, saving hundreds of dollars.

After boarding the train, they discovered that he had been given used lottery tickets.

ira is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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Sounds to me like it was someone trying to scam tourists...everywhere I've been in europe, including italy, when you have to pay for entry they have a little wicket and signs...
BikerScott is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 09:01 AM
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I fell for that in Venice. I knew that the churches were free in Rome. Then we went to Florence, where they charge admission to some of the churches (acutal ticket booth, printed tickets, etc.) Then I got to Venice and paid a little lady 5 euro for our family of 5 to visit a church. I thought it was a "suggested donation" type of thing. Everyone ahead of us was paying. A ways behind us we heard some raised voices, where a lady was refusing to pay. The little lady pursued her quite a ways into the church, then gave up. We had been scammed. My kids couldn't believe that Mom, the educated tourist, had fallen for it.
missypie is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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Sorry, but the admission fees of many - not all - churches in Venice are not scams; they are official. There is something called a Chorus Pass that costs, if I recall correctly, 8 Euro for admission to about 16 churches.

Zerlina is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 09:15 AM
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This was not one of those churches covered by the Chorus Pass. I had even READ that it was free, but when I saw the lady, I thought that the church was requesting donations, which I'm always happy to give. It turned out that it was just HER requesting donations...for herself.
missypie is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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No official fee would be collected in a hat.
elina is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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Some churches do have an entrance fee for tourists, but that's pretty obvious with official signs, places to pay, etc. I don't think it is "odd" to be charged for that, although I guess most European churches do not.

You don't seriously think a real official would be walking around with dollar bills taped to a hat do you, as the sole means of requesting an official entry fee?
Christina is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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I'm a little mystified by this. Is everybody thinking it's free to enter churches?

While nost churches don't charge I always assumed everyone knew that if you visit a church that has no fee you're supposed to make a donation to the poor box - or roof fund - or whatever official means are available to contribute.

These old buildings cost a fortune to maintain - and if they're worth a visit they're certainly woth a modest donation.

To me, not giving would be the same as going to mass and not making a donation to the church.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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See, that's what I thought I was doing at the church in Venice...making a donation to the upkeep of the church. The lady taking money looked like a "church lady." I was more than happy to make a donation. But after her argument with another tourist, we realized that she was scamming all of us. When we left the church, she was no where to be found.
missypie is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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nytraveler, it's quite different to be asked to pay in a hat at the door than making a donation of your choosing once you are inside. It was obvious that the person was being scammed at the door. We all know that donations should be made to help with the upkeep of the church.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 11:21 AM
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True! No official fee would be collected in a hat. I am glad that I did not give this man $. Thanks for the replies.

Of course I noticed (and used) the donation boxes in the churches I visited. And the coin operated lights. I thought those were clever.

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