Here is my little but useful surviving guide to those of you wishing to have a good stay in the Eternal City: ROME.
I am not only a Roman citizen but also a Roman by birth, a so called “romano de roma” (real roman one!).
I love this city but still have earthaches when I see all you tourists/visitors/daily foreigners surrounded by those little girls and guys names ZINGARI (GYPSY groups) trying (and most time successing in it) to pick-pocket/steal/take your personal belongings (money money money and all you may have in your pockets).
I travel all day long, all week, 365 days per year on the ROMAN buses and undergrounds. I see every day scenes of “poor” tourist being jostled by this little hands, babies, stealers!
Most of the time, I happen to see someone being pick-pocket I act but it’s quite dangerous sometimes as I “know” this gypsy by looking at their faces everyday and they may even know I am the one breaking their planes!
By the way… as there is no chance in this capital major city, eternally not well organized and not able to prevento or control these gypsy gangs from doing their “work”, I would like to give you some helping info just to avoid critical areas, bus/underground stops, situations where you can face this unpleasant encounters.
UNDERGROUND: the DEVIL’S TRIANGLE
While visiting Rome you will be curious or will need to take underground. You will have a normal/even pleasant travel almost on the entire path with the exception of 3 “Bermuda-like” underground stops:
TERMINI (the central station)
CAVOUR (the long street connecting you from the Termini Central Station down to the Archeological site of Fori Imperiali)
COLOSSEO (no need to present the COLISEUM)
This is maybe the worst and unpleasant hub of ROME B-LINE (blue color) UNDERGROUND STOPS.
Here you may happen to receive your welcome to Rome greeting by being pick-pocketed (can I use this term?)
Huge masses of people getting up at Termini (direction Laurentina) expecially during rush-hours but for tourists, especially in summertime or during high-seasonal touristic events (visit to the Pope in special occasione, dates..) will intro you to this special 3 stops triangle where GYPSY gangs (most are females, pregnants or with babies on them, poor babies used to hide stolen things) but recently you can happen to meet even little male gypsy together with their female mates. You will not recognize someone pushing you by force into the train but at the same time you are maybe used to it in your native country…They get up with you and try to steal something from your back-sack, back-pocket or your front pockets, bags, jacket, camera bags…and so like.
If they managed to steal you they will get off faster than the speed of light and your pocket will be given to a mate outside… you can say goodbye to it. They will remain with you (especially if you are in a group maybe singing or speaking loud, why not … amusing being on holiday) if they did not manage to steal but understand they can still do it from termini station to cavour and then colosseo, where you will probably get off…..
Their technics is well-known by almost every roman citizen by the way there are several cases of persons stolen even if well aware of them (my mom used to be one their favourite host indeed but we waked up and know contrast them!!!!)
My suggestions, beside being aware of being a suitable “victim” to gypsy (but not only them unfortunately) while paying a visit to ROME, are the following:
– do not bring money and documents in places where a little gifted hands can arrive!
– bring documents and money in a secret place if you don’t want to pay attention to anybody while touring in the underground and buses/trains (see below)
– bring a fake pocket with you easy to access or to give “just in case” time… (very rare)
-forget about police/carabinieri/security help.. 1) not because they do not want to give it to you but because if you don’t pick immediately the little hand with your pocket/personal belongings they cannot do anything; 2 at Colosseo and Cavour most of the time you wont find anyone for this …3 the gypsy gang mates are all minors, underages and they will be released…
I cannot explain you here how hard is the situation in ROme with the ROM/GYPSY people (those stealing…of course) but it’s hard from many many many points of view (open-air camps, drug seller, dealing in stolen properties…. and so on) by the way I can suggest you to:
OPEN YOUR EYES, look carefully who is surrounding you. At present, with the exception of Roman by birth like me or frequent underground/buses users, it’s difficult to immediately recognize who they are as they changed dress code (they now dress well, like average italian girls and boys of the same age) but you have to see if they are a group not well compatted (like a tourist one) but LOCATED ALONG THE QUAY, with infant holders on their front, always looking at you, the victim of the day; a tourist, a group of students on a field trip, elderly peopole, absent minded business people… and so on.
I don’t want to tell you not to take UNDERGROUND/BUSES in Rome but TO PAY MAXIMUM ATTENTION when in those special targeted areas.
A part from B-LINE (direction Laurentina), you have to pay attention to the A-LINE (the red one) direction BATTISTINI especially when getting on/off the following stops:
-REPUBBLICA (station) .
They use to steal on the platforms as they are usually overcrowded and narrow if compared to the B-line ones. Usually you will find private underground guards in Termini station (blu uniform, black boots, gun holder..). They work usually in pairs and talk and walk. Feel free to ask their help if you need. If you need to take A-line to the center and you are not in a hurry, you can choose not to use the Termini hub (if you do not feel safe) and take the adiacent underground stops that are:
– Castro Pretorio and Cavour (for B LINE) . Both are 5 minute walking and less crowded when getting on/off ..
– piazza VITTORIO and REPUBBLICA ( for A Line)
As far as concerns COLOSSEO I would like to suggest to all not to use it if it’s your first day in the Rome, if you are free of your luggages or want to visit Colosseo, you can drop off at the Circo Massimo and see the Coliseum from its back side and have a good walk to it or choose to go on foot as from TErmini to Coliseum you just have to walk for km 1,6 (0.99 miles)!
Besides the Devil’s Triangle, you have to pay attention when leaving or arriving ROME by L. DA VINCI International Airport by train to TERMINI STATION (the same problem is not present at the moment for the TIBURTINA STATION, being a station situated towards the city boundaries… less tourists at the moments and a lot of inner passengers).
– Do not accept anyone to bring your luggage or help you when/while doing tickets. You don’t need it. Recently a new “rom/gypsy” like service started along the platform to take train from Termini Station to Airport or to Civitavecchia if you need to take Ferries (usually is the last platform… 24/25…). There are several man/girl gypsy/rom asking foreigners if you are going to “civitavecchia, aeroporto…” and so like… I can immagine they want to take your attention and try to steal you something. If you are in a hurry mind your stuff, don’t event look at them or stop to talk… if they are more than one and sorround you, locate a “safe person” in the station and ask for help… (this is not happening by the way … best to foresee it).
-Inside the train you may happen to see some of this gypsy/rom people going freely . They are there to beg of to use the train to their destination or finding lost properties… By the way keep up your mind especially when getting on/off the train with your luggage (by the way this is normal everywhere in the world when travelling).
Last but not least is the BUS. We have so many lines and they are quite crowded almost of the time but you have to pay attention to the lines going to the Vatican City/St. Peter and and all buse directed to TERMINI Station ( bus n. 64 is maybe the famous one as far as concerns stealers and those horrible straying hands) as this is the very centre of the city for tourist and for bad people too… They can easly drop on / off the from the Termini station and easily disappear into the crowd or getting into the underground.
Buses are the set for different stealers: usually from South-America and North-AFrica but they are not easy to recognize. Then we have the Italian too, but are fewer than in the past. By the way it not uncommon to see GYPSY girls/boys gangs going along the main touristic areas (FORI IMPERIALI, VIA NAZIONALE, TERMINI STATION…) with pieces of cardboards in their hands to sorround and steal from victims. This technique is not yet used by the way .. may you happen to see it… you can recognize the danger.
As far as concerns GYPSY/BEGGARS/TRAMPS/DRUNK and DRUG addicts, this is quite the same as in most of capital cities around the world! Keep safe! Pay attention. Gypsy are very smart and know very well they are quite free to do their work as the number of POLICEMEN/SAFETY GUARDS is not adequate to counteract them.
On the contrary there are many many foreigners living in Rome (from all over Europe, Africe, South America, Asia) there will be glad to help you as they can speak english and it is natural to them to help you as they have been helped when arriving in Rome. Do not feel scared of all people sorrounding you, this will be impolite.
FEEL FREE to ADD your personal COMMENT, EXPERIENCE or SUGGESTION to this article… as it would be only a way to best enjoy your stay in my city when visiting!!!!!
CIAO, a presto!