Common Scams in Italy that you should know

Common Scams in Italy that you should know

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Common scams in Italy sound bizarre. You’d think that Europe is pretty safe!

And it is! Nevertheless, there are almost always some things that are fishy. Especially where there are a lot of tourists.

You may be surprised at how some people go through a long act to get some money out of you.

Now, you need not be too alarmed. But a little carefulness goes a long way. You wouldn’t want to return from such a beautiful country with bad memories right?

So here are some common scams in Italy that you may encounter during your travels.


This is quite a common scam everywhere, but be more careful since the influx of tourists in Italy is far more than in other countries. It can get really crowded in the tourist attractions during the summers.

Split up your cash and keep it in two or three different locations inside your belongings. Carry the backpack in front of you when traveling via subway. Carry very few valuables when out for sightseeing and prefer cross-body slings with a flap for closing so it’s hard to reach the cash.

Bus number 64 in Rome that passes through most of the major tourist attractions is notoriously known for this.

Pickpocketing in Italy

Gladiator Photo Scam

This is common in Rome, especially around Colosseum. There is a guy dressed in Gladiator attire and suddenly stops you and asks if you would like to take a photo with him.

After you take the photo, he will most certainly ask you for money. If you seem confused he will nag you for a long time over it.

Just refuse when asked. Sometimes they even may want to charge you a price several times more than what they quoted earlier. This practice is illegal now so do not entertain it.

A similar incident is when some people call a trained pigeon to sit on your hand and offer to take a photo. Expect them to ask you for a lot of money afterward. As a general rule of thumb, never take anything that’s offered for free.

Gladiators in Italy

The Designer Coat

Now this one can only happen in Italy (or maybe France). The scam involves a well-dressed guy standing outside his car looking extremely confused about directions to a place or something similar.

If you happen to know what he is looking for, he tells you that he works with one of the famous fashion houses like Gucci.  He also has a branded coat that he would like to offer to you for your help. You just need to pay up for the gas.

Don’t fall for that or even if he offers the coat right away for a cheap price (unless you are too cold). It’s a fake.

Roses and Bracelets

This technique involves a person or two where an innocent-looking girl will come over to your girlfriend to give her a rose. If she accepts it she will ask you for money. Since it would be a small amount, you wouldn’t want to haggle at the moment.

Another way is when someone comes and ties a friendship band or bracelet on your hand and it’s very difficult to take off. Naturally, they will ask you for money.

It may also happen that they may put a band on one of you for free.  And another person does the same to your friend. But his ti,e they ask them an enormous amount of money.

Again, don’t accept anything free. Don’t feel shy to say NO!

Bracelet scam in Italy

Museum Ticket Scams

Now if you are in Italy, you probably will be visiting a lot of museums. This is where some scammers hang around to lure in tourists unaware of the ticket regulations.

To enter most museums in Italy, you need to book your ticket ahead and choose a time slot. So you may “accidentally” find an individual or a lady who was in the queue to enter the museum with a ticket.

However, she has an emergency and needs to be somewhere else. And now she is trying to find someone who wants to buy her ticket with a great time slot.

Don’t fall for it. The ticket is probably fake. If not, it could be the most basic one and you wouldn’t want it either. Buy tickets only from the regulated counters or online.

A museum in Europe

Romeo Rats

If you are a single lady or in a pair traveling with a female friend, you may find a certain ‘romeo’ near the popular tourist attractions in Rome. These guys usually look around for traveling babes and start an innocent conversation by asking the time.

The conversation will probably steer towards ‘where are you from’ and if you are a tourist then you are the one for them – probably for the night. Expect yourself to be invited for a dinner and be charmed yourself to the clouds. You know what follows afterward.

You will probably find them again at the same spot the next with the same lines trying to woo another woman.

I wouldn’t necessarily ask you to stay out of trouble on this. But let him pay for the dinner at least.

Out of Menu

This is not only common in Italy but in other countries too. It involves you choosing a restaurant especially if you are tired after a lot of walking.

Once you are seated comfortably and look for the waiter, an especially charming waiter comes and tells you that they are out of menus. So they either give you some options orally or you order something popular from your memory. Of course, you have no clue about the price.

Needless to say, you get a big fat bill and you are now confused, ready to clarify with the waiter. Don’t get into that soup. Always check the prices and ask for a menu.

Restaurants in Italy

Helping Scam

If someone offers you any help like taking your suitcases or helping you with tickets on the automatic ticket machine, they will usually ask for a tip later. Refuse unless you really need help and are ready to pay for it.

There are no help services for free available around trains, buses, or metro stations. The individuals are offering services on their own.

Ticket machine in Italy

Fake Police

At times when you are leaving a restaurant, someone impersonating a police officer may come and ask for the receipt of your bill.

This is actually okay since many police officers sometimes dress like civilians to check if the owner of the restaurant is adding the tax to the bill.

In case he asks you for money, ask for his badge number or insist to go to the police station and pay.

Taxi Drivers

The easy and most vulnerable is when taxi drivers pick up tourists and overcharge them in all possible manners.

To avoid this, take a taxi from a taxi stand or via an app. Check the rates of all the routes and tourist destinations written on a chart behind the driver’s seat.

Agree on a price beforehand or agree to travel by meter.

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Snigdha Jaiswal
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