During our first trip to Italy last summer of 2015, my husband and I explored the city and got the chance to see museums for three full days and it was an awesome experience for me. This year, we got another chance to explore the country with some of our friends and relatives and this time, our experience taught us a lot of things that we hadn't experienced during our first visit.
Italy is one of my favorite countries. Every city that we visited - Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Siena, Pisa and Montecatini Terme – is oozing with the Renaissance charm, from the small streets, restaurants and even the architecture of its buildings.
Despite reports of stealing, burglary and scams, tourism in Italy is still good as I noticed the streets are still packed with tourists. I definitely learned a lot from my second experience exploring Italy. Let me share with you some tips that you might find helpful if you want to explore Italy…
1. Always wear crossbody bags!
Avoid using handbags, backpacks or even shoulder bags. Rome is full of thieves and pickpocketing is quite common. According to TripAdvisor, Rome comes in second after Barcelona in terms of pickpocketing and stealing.
It would be a good idea to put a lock or chain on your bag's zipper just to make it more difficult for the thieves to open it. They are very quick and creative in their scams so always be careful and wary.
2. Always hold your bag while getting off and on a bus or the train.
We were warned and are very much aware of pickpocketers but it was so easy to let go of a crossbody bag when you are getting pushed inside a train. Thieves come in groups that's why it is so easy for an unknowing victim to be surrounded by thieves in a public place.
When I stepped on the train, I immediately covered my bag with my hat but my mother-in-law and our friend were pushed inside. The natural response was for them to let go of their bag and find something that they can hold on to and that was the time the thieves started to open their bags. Fortunately, they didn't succeed getting anything because a Filipino saw what was going on and told us "Mandurukot yan!"(“They are pickpocketers!”) and so the six thieves got off on the next stop.
3. Do not entertain questions.
If you are a tourist, what could you possibly offer in terms of direction or information? Nothing.
Thieves come in groups and some of them don't look like your typical gypsy thieves. From what we experienced, one or two of them will ask you something, point to something, ask you to write something, give you something or just anything that can take your attention away from your bag.
In this type of situation, just say no to anyone who may come to you for anything.
4. Leave the glove compartment in your car open.
I learned this lesson the hard way. We parked our car rental in an area where we thought was safe. After dinner, we found out that someone broke into our car and took some Ray-Ban sunglasses, spectacles and three bottles of wine.
It's advisable to keep the compartment glove open so that they will see what is inside the car without having the thieves to break the window.
5. Italian Police does not care about the petty crimes.
Reports of pickpocketing incidents, stealing and scams are very high but still, tourism is good. When we reported about thieves breaking into our car rental, my sister-in-law went to two police precincts and both refused to write a police report and just said that they are busy. We were also told by a local that the police don’t really do anything about these incidents.
As a tourist, it is your responsibility to get more information on safety. The TripAdvisor travel forum has been helpful with these things. Ask for prices and plan your trip ahead of time.
I must admit though, even if our second trip to Italy wasn’t as pleasant as the first one, if I have another opportunity to visit Italy again, without a doubt I would still go. But this time, I will make sure to be more cautious and wary of thieves and scammers. I hope you are too!