Here are some “adventures” I highly recommend avoiding in Rome:
~Letting street kids usher you into the wrong carriage, screaming that you’re holding up everyone on the train… which is believable as all the passengers seem to be looking and shaking their heads in your direction. In the noise & confusion of the rush to get you seated the children “help” put your luggage on the racks while the littlest pickpockets for your passport & money
~Embarking on the wrong train carriage with multiple large suitcases (as a result of aforementioned helpful children). All suitcases are too wide to roll down the aisles, so you drag them sideways down the middle of each carriage, one at a time, bumping every passenger’s elbow along the way & apologising profusely all the while. If you happen to be wearing winter clothes, the inside of the train will be sweltering so you’ll lose about 4 kilos getting the bags to the right carriage.
~Unwittingly passing too close to a woman with a baby while walking through the paved high end shopping part of Rome. The wan child is unceremoniously dumped into your arms & as you hold the baby and look around helplessly, the perps run off with your handbag. Much later on a small child will come collect the baby from you.
~Accidentally taking a photo of a living statue or gladiator/barbarian. They ask for money & when you refuse they’ll bluster and gesture before forcibly taking your camera & deleting the photo.
~Looking at sleeping puppy dogs in trolleys. Then you realise that they’re not cute, they’re actually drugged and a little piece of your soul dies.
~Giving money to a crone hiding her face under a black hood. When you put coins into her excessively shaking hand you’ll realise it’s actually a young, nice skinned woman trying to avoid a night of prostitution.
~Accepting roses as a pretty “welcome to Rome” gift for pretty ladies. They’re not gifts or any kind of free because the gift giver comes to you a block later & loudly proceeds to embarrass you as if you’ve stolen the flower, yelling at you until you die of shame or hand over money… or walk off with the rose and hope the hawker “learns a lesson”*
~Jumping into a cab in the rain without asking a price first. Suddenly you’re expected to pay a euro for every individual bag, handbag, jacket (that you’re wearing) & umbrella.
*What you could choose to do instead:
~Remind yourself there has been a GFC and if it affected the affluent in our lucky country then imagine how terribly the lowest classes in poorer countries are suffering.
~Think about whether you would actually like something from the hawker – walking around Rome holding a red rose & having a photo with it on the Spanish Steps can be very romantic. Having a photo with a highly complimentary Roman Centurion at the Colosseum may give you happy memories. Struggling through train stations with luggage & lifting suitcases on to carriages can be difficult alone.
~Tell the person offering services that you need help/goods & would like to pay them a specific amount. Calmly & firmly decide the dollar value & item/service to be provided – eg for being led to the right carriage on the correct platform in a timely manner.
~Remember every show you’ve ever seen that reveals magician’s tricks… look the opposite direction to any commotion, don’t fall for diversions, keep the important things in deep, inaccessible places & never bring your passport out in public.