When I first set foot in Rome in 2001, I’d already read countless reports of the pickpocketing gypsies around the Colosseum. I had heard that the city had made serious strides to clean itself up for the Jubilee Year (2000) and some of the cleanliness had carried over… But still. I was worried. At the time, I had no earthly idea there was something called travel insurance, and I guess I just feel lucky I didn’t have any problems on that trip.
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Truth be told, I didn’t see a single gypsy on that entire trip, in Rome or otherwise. In Florence, I did see someone running madly down a crowded street followed by someone yelling, “ladro!” (thief). I felt for the poor bastard, and was also relieved it wasn’t me who had to do the chasing. I’m generally hyper-aware of my surroundings when I’m in unfamiliar territory, at home or overseas, and so far (knock on wood), so good. The husband’s boss wasn’t so lucky on a trip his family took to Italy a few years ago – they were pickpocketed on the Rome subway and didn’t even notice things were missing until the thief was long gone. Unfortunately, that soured them on their Italian experience.
This advice holds true no matter where you are – be aware of where you are and who’s around you, keep your uber-valuables (passport, ID, plane tickets, Eurail passes) either locked up securely or on your person in a money belt so they’re out of even your reach, and insure yourself against losing the things that can’t be replaced.
Photo by: andrew.ince