Help me not get robbed in Rome.
April 15, 2011 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Rome and concerned about getting robbed/pickpocketed. Help me have an unstressful vacation!

I'm young (23), female, clueless and have never been to Europe before. I'll be travelling with my similarly young and clueless friend and I feel like this might make us pickpocket magnets...especially since EVERY website I read warns about robbers and pickpockets in Rome and it makes it sound impossible to avoid.

I bought a money belt and I'll put everything important in there, and just smaller amounts of money and less valuable stuff in my bag. I figure that I'd notice if someone stuck their hands down their pants or up my dress but I'm still kind of paranoid.

(I like to think I'm not totally un-street wise but...I grew up in a nowhere small town and now live in Vancouver where seriously nobody gets mugged.)

Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!
posted by vanitas to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (35 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You could always sew zippers/velcro into your pockets to make it more difficult and apparent that someone is trying to pickpocket you. Or even go for the honeypot pocket with a 1 euro coin in it, and keep everything else more secured away. It's much easier to relax and enjoy your vacation when you know everything is on your person and well secured.
posted by msbutah at 4:14 PM on April 15, 2011

Seriously, a money belt is more than fine. Lots of backpackers don't even bother with the money belt, but I think it's probably a good idea for you.

If you're staying in youth hostels, that's where you should be careful and take advantage of lockers/safes provided, and not leave anything lying around your bed.

Remember, getting pickpocketed is not a disaster; it's an inconvenience. Keep a credit card, some extra cash and your passport in your money belt at all times; anything else that gets stolen can be replaced easily. And even if somehow they get your passport (which they won't), it's more likely to turn in to an amusing anecdote than a horror story. You'd just have to spend some time sitting around the consulate.

Have fun!
posted by auto-correct at 4:15 PM on April 15, 2011

I am the same age as you and spent time in Italy earlier this year. The same would apply the whole way across Europe - you should be OK if you don't make yourself a target. Keep your valuables secure, don't walk around with your bag flailing (carry it cross-body and always closed), and don't walk down dark streets at night if you can avoid it. It is all mostly common sense. Also, don't put your bag on the floor or trust strangers to carry your bags for you.

I got almost all the way through Europe without any trouble, until my mobile phone was stolen out of my hand. So be careful where you pull out your flashy gadgets. If something does get taken, don't try to chase the thief - they know the area much better than you do. Travel Insurance should replace anything valuable. Also, back up your photos regualrly in case something happens to your camera (use the wrist strap!).

Have fun!
posted by cholly at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2011

I have not been to Europe in a while, but one ploy that was often used, was for someone to put a paper or map up close to you, while smaller (kids often) rummaged your pockets for loot. Do not let yourself get distracted. Make noise and call attention to yourself if this happens. Also on stairs, escaltors.....crowded areas, keep your bags in front of you, not on your side or over your shoulder. No purses on backs of chairs, keep them on your lap. Good common sense will go a long way, keep your eyes open, be wary of kids, sad but true. And I was going to write what auto-correct wrote, being pickpocketed it is an inconvenience, not the end of the world~and makes for a good story........ in time.
posted by jennstra at 4:19 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I figure that I'd notice if someone stuck their hands down their pants or up my dress but I'm still kind of paranoid.

Don't wanna make you more paranoid, but ten years ago I took the overnight train from Rome to Nice at the end of a month-long trip around Europe. Shared a private compartment in a carriage with my girlfriend. We slept. Later, I woke up, confused, to see a guy leaning over me with my passport and tickets in his hand. Still in dreamland, I thanked him, taking him to be the ticket inspector, took my passport back, and he left. About a minute later I woke up for real. My passport, tickets and cash had been in a money belt safely around me under my shirt. The pouch had been slit open with a razor blade - the blade's paper wrapper was on the floor beneath my seat. He'd managed to come into the compartment, lift up my shirt, cut open the money belt, take my stuff out, and it was pure luck I woke up after that and in the weirdness of the night retain these things whose loss could have ruined my whole holiday. I never felt a thing. It took a few minutes to notice that prior to getting next to my skin he had - of course - gone through our suitcase, and the camera containing everything was gone, as well as some other things.

Obviously this could have happened anywhere. And you should be fine! I guess you should be aware that thieves are aware of the existence of money belts, and that you ought not to put all your eggs in one of them.
posted by cincinnatus c at 4:24 PM on April 15, 2011

I traveled on my own around Europe a bit and found that my best solution was to keep my valuables in a zipped-up hidden inner pocket of my battered old coat. This was a good solution for me because the coat was so old it was unlikely to be the target of theft. However, this also worked for me because it was winter and I never put my coat down anywhere, since I was outside 95% of the time, so depending on the season that might not be a workable solution for you. When it was warmer I wore a long, relatively tight dress with jeans underneath, and put my necessary stuff in my front jeans pocket. Anyone quick-fingering me would have to peel up several feet of skirt right in front of me to get to it, PLUS I looked stylish and modest at the same time.

The trips when I'd be on foot for several days and wanted to carry a purse and backpack, I ended up using the pocket for important stuff. I made sure the purse was a shoulder-strap, so that someone would actually have to cut it off of me if they wanted it instead of just yanking it out of my hands. As an additional measure I rested my arm on the top flap of my purse and kept a thumb hooked through the ring that attached the strap to bag itself (like in this picture, only with a flap.) This increased my likelihood of noticing if someone was trying to lift the flap and it's a really comfortable way to walk!

If I were really, really, REALLY concerned, like in the Brussels train platforms late at night, I always kept extra carabiners clipped on my backpack so I could pull one off and use it to attach my purse, by the metal ring, to the strap of my backpack. This let it "ride" in a natural way but meant someone trying to steal my purse and/or backpack would have to somehow get my backpack straps over my shoulders AND my purse strap over my head all in one go.

Lastly, if you want to take off your backpack and rest, put it on the ground in front of you with a foot firmly planted through each shoulder strap.

I know that seems like a lot of precautions but I was clearly an American woman traveling alone who didn't speak the language in a lot of places, and honestly, none of it's inconvenient-- it's easy to walk with your arm like that anyway for comfort and putting a leg through your backpack shoulder straps becomes habit after the first 5 times. I never had a lick of trouble, even though several of my friends ended up getting things stolen/pickpocketed.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:31 PM on April 15, 2011

If you're using a money belt, make sure you have enough cash in a purse or pocket for purchases. Nothing screams "target" like someone rummaging about in their money belt.

Have an extra copy of your pertinent passport pages in a separate secure location. Take extra photos with you should you need to have it replaced. I have a scanned pdf of mine in a secure location online.

Leave a copy of your credit card numbers and the toll-free service numbers online (securely) or with someone at home ... you'll need them if you have to report them stolen. You might also think about having Visa gift cards in small amounts if you're not using cash. That way if one gets nicked, you're only out the amount of that card.
posted by cyndigo at 4:37 PM on April 15, 2011

If you're going during "long pants" weather, I loved this product: Eagle Creek Undercover Leg Stash

I hate stuff around the waist as it get sweaty (for me at least). Also, it's mildly less awkward to take something out of your "sock" than lifting up your shirt/etc.

I also really like PacSafe Walletsafe 100 Tri-Fold Travel Wallet. I bring this whenever I go travelling - even if it is to safe places. The reason is because it's so easy to become distracted when you're not doing your usual normal routine - having a chain on your wallet ensures you won't accidentally leave it in a cab or a counter. Also, it's roomy enough to fit international currency.

I'm a city person - my biggest tip is to always walk with a purpose - with determination. Don't make eye contact. Always keep moving. And, if you see someone walking without a purpose, and isn't obviously a tourist, watch out!

The key to watching someone walk is to look at their feet - not their body. (Same rules as with soccer from what I've heard.)
posted by veryblue1 at 4:40 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's been almost 20 years since I was in Rome, and this may have changed, but the friend that we stayed with there (they were natives) warned us about the groups of children that would crowd around tourists and pickpocket them. While it is counterintuitive to suspect cute children, the reality was true. We were swarmed a couple of times (once on the boulevard from the Piazza Venezia to the Coliessium and another time by the Trevi) by children asking for money. They were shouting and trying to cause a distraction, while grabbing at our clothing and bags. The friend we were with started shouting at them to back off and go away. It was tragic and really hard for us to believe that little kids would do this, but there you go.
posted by sundrop at 4:49 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I last traveled internationally, I always kept my largest bill folded up tiny in my bra. It only helps if you have a chunk of money that you can afford to keep sequestered and sweaty, but I felt better for it.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:52 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a quick 3 day trip in Rome last Oct, but I didnt notice/encounter any questionable characters during my mostly-walking adventures. There were more than a handful of street vendors, and alot of private-tour hustlers (that, surprisingly, worked out well) that approach you.

I carried my wallet etc in the inside pockets of my jacket (zipped up) as a general rule.
posted by edman at 4:53 PM on April 15, 2011

It was always obvious to me who was targeting me for potential theft when I was in Rome. It didn't help that I was a photography student and frequently had my camera out. The worst incident was a group of about seven gypsy children headed by a teenager with a newborn. The teenager DID try to hand the baby to me, but I'd been warned about that ploy and kept my hands on my camera bag. So the kids swarmed me and had their hands all over me and for the first time ever, I slapped someone else's kid (on the hand) in order to make my way through the screaming crowd.

She slapped me back, which made me feel better about it, actually, and I got out with all my possessions intact (though I was shaken and burst into tears almost immediately). I had learned to be somewhat aggressive from one of my older professors who had no compunctions against yelling, stamping her feet, and waving her arms to keep from being swarmed. Rome and Florence were the only places where these tactics felt necessary due to pickpockets working in crowds instead of alone.

You've been given all the best advice - wear your bags cross body (they can still have the straps cut), be vigilant on trains, money belts are helpful but not foolproof, and keep your eyes open. I've never had anything stolen from me while traveling and I'm young, small, female and usually travel alone. In Greece, I noticed young men staking out areas on the sidewalk and watching the tourists walk by, then using cellphones to notify cohorts further up the street. The tactics are different everywhere, the best advice is to not be flashy and try your best to look like you know where you're going. If you need to use a map, try to find a cafe where you can sit down with an espresso and look over your route instead of standing distracted in the middle of a walk way.
posted by annathea at 4:57 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are many scams that tourists fall for every year. Here's a list of some relevant to Italy.

And keep in mind that if someone approaches you in a tourist-rich location, odds are dramatically higher that a scam is going to be attempted. Be alert. Don't allow yourself to be swarmed or isolated and led somewhere.
posted by VikingSword at 5:01 PM on April 15, 2011

I'm feeling bad for calling out gypsies in my last comment, and since I can't edit it, I want to clarify that while these particular kids were gypsies, I had a lot of great encounters with gypsies on the whole during my travels in Italy and Greece and felt lucky to get to know them a bit. It's the two combined tactics of using newborns and small infants to get you to move your hands away from your body (by trying to hand them to you or worse, pretending to drop them - or actually dropping them, which I've also seen) and using children to swarm you that you should be aware of.
posted by annathea at 5:06 PM on April 15, 2011

annathea mentions something which I was reluctant to do, on account of not wishing to perpetrate stereotypes, but be extra careful if approached by certain groups (Roma, North-African) - obviously, not all members of such groups are scammers, and also there are plenty of scams perpetrated by other groups (f.ex. the seemingly lost American blond tourist who asks you to give her some money toward a ticket because she's just been robbed etc.). But don't let fears of appearing non-pc to get in the way of your safety.
posted by VikingSword at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2011

Keep some money in your pocket, but hold you pocket when talking to strangers. You want enough that if you get held up they will be satisfied and not violent. People do get robbed- I saw someone who got their passport stolen on a train, and a friend of mine got her stolen from a hostel in Budapest (and had to pay to take a later plane, which was an extra 400 euro) but it really isn't that common. Everything can be replaced, but you may miss a train or plane if you have to replace it, so perhaps be aware that you may need some emergency money. Take your money belt into the shower with you in the hostel (or leave it with your non-showering friend). Don't dress too nicely, leave the jewelry of any value at home, and bring as little luggage as possible (Rick Steves has a great packing list on his website).

Remember that you are much more likely to get shot in the US than to suffer violence in Europe [citation: Rick Steves' Europe through the Backdoor lecture]
posted by jenlovesponies at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2011

About five years ago, I was on a trip through Europe with my wife, our daughter, and a couple of my wife's friends from school, one of whom is Roma, originally from Europe. I can't recall what city we were in when this happened (it was either Brussels or Paris), and a woman in brightly colored clothing attempted to pull the "baby" scam, where they try to hand you their baby to distract you while their other children rifle through your pockets. Our friend stopped, pointed her finger right in the Roma woman's face, and said something to this woman in I'm guessing a Romany language. The woman visibly paled and quickly backed away, shooing the kids away, who were already moving in.

As we were walking away, I asked our friend what she said, and she said that she had said "People like you are the reason they hate us."

The moral of this story: It sucks to say this, but Annathea and VikingSword are absolutely correct, and you're right to be wary around Roma. Sometimes, stereotypes develop for a reason. The Roma as a group have been persecuted for centuries in Europe, but that doesn't mean that Roma individuals get a free pass on criminal behavior.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:31 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

My standard strategy is the combination of a money belt and a decoy wallet, which contains an old expired drivers license and a few random business cards, just basically enough to make it look like its a real wallet.

The decoy wallet gets enough money in it at the beginning of each day to make whatever purchases I will need to for the morning. At lunchtime, I go into the bathroom and transfer additional money from the money belt to the decoy wallet. Putting your decoy inside a zippered pocket is also a great idea.

Never ever do I open the money belt in public. I also have an extra stash of money well-hidden in my hotel room just in case both money belt and wallet get stolen.

If you get robbed, look upset about losing your wallet and you should be fine.
posted by zug at 5:41 PM on April 15, 2011

I have used the PacSafe CitySafe 200 purse on two Paris vacations, where there's a need to watch out for pickpockets, etc. I felt completely safe with it, wearing it across my body. I bought it in black, and it's actually a nice looking purse that I use every day here too.

It has stainless-steel wire mesh throughout the body of the bag, and stainless steel wire in the shoulder strap. The zipper can be locked, so no one can unzip it.

I would really recommend getting this purse -- I was able to relax with this as well as a money belt.
posted by la petite marie at 6:05 PM on April 15, 2011

The descriptions of typical scams that you've already received are helpful, but try not to let your guard down when you're in what appear to be safer situations. A friend of mine had her wallet and passport stolen in a Dublin pub after successfully navigating 6 months of backpacking all over Europe, despite being young (18), female, traveling alone at times and at other times with one equally young and naive female friend.

It was near the end of her trip. She was in a pub with a group of Irish kids her age whom she thought had befriended her. It was someone in that group her stole her stuff. I'm not saying don't make friends while you're traveling, that's part of the fun and potentially mind expanding benefits of foreign travel and a great resource for finding cool cafes or clubs that aren't in the guide books. And I hate having to be a little bit suspicious of people and their motives, but don't totally let your guard down. If you meet a group of people that seem nice and you feel comfortable hanging out with them for awhile, particularly in a busy public place, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but bring your bag with you if need to use the toilet or go up to the bar for a drink, don't flash a lot of cash, and it's probably a good idea not to get too tipsy, so that you can keep your wits about you.
posted by kaybdc at 6:27 PM on April 15, 2011

I would really recommend getting this purse

I would recommend against ANY purse for anything valuable, honestly. Mesh reinforcement just means it can't be easily cut open, not that it can't be easily grabbed, and easily stashed somewhere to wait for the friend with the tin snips.

Or, conversely, a handbag can be quite useful. Use it the same way as the decoy wallet above -- keep what you'd normally keep in a purse, but stash anything truly valuable in your money belt (cash, ID) or deep in your pack (meds, electronics). You can get to water or hygiene supplies without rooting through the whole pack, and if anybody swipes it, well, I hope they really wanted that toothbrush.

On similar lines, don't be afraid to take a camera. If you're like everybody else and have a digital, just be sure to back up your pictures regularly; memory cards are cheap enough that you can just bring a few extra and stash them in your money belt. If somebody swipes your camera, they don't swipe all your memories that way.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 6:40 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

When you arrive in Italy at the end of your really long flight, and you're at your most tired, frazzled, disoriented, going from the airport to the train to the train station, etc. ... that's when you should act the most alert, awake, and decisive about where you're going.

I'm sorry to say that the attempt at political correctness in annathea's second comment is not the most useful thing for your purposes. It would be lovely if all categories of people were the same, but that is just not reality.
posted by John Cohen at 7:09 PM on April 15, 2011

In many of the big tourist locations in Rome, the vendors selling water, food and souvenirs work with the pickpockets. When you go to buy something, the vendor will ask you to look at an item they have for sale, compliment something you're wearing, pull out a few different sodas and say "This one or this one?", or a bunch of other things to keep your attention on them. While you're looking at them, a thief will get to work on your wallet.

The area around the Trevi Fountain is one of the worst spots for petty crime. It's well worth a visit, it's quite beautiful, but when you go, leave everything but a few Euros in your hotel.

I've spent quite a bit of time in Rome, and I honestly didn't find the street crime there any worse than in other big European capitols. Don't carry a lot of cash, don't wear jewelry and stay out of big crowds (especially tour groups/mobs of other tourists) and you'll be fine.

Now Naples is another story for street crime...
posted by EvilPRGuy at 7:36 PM on April 15, 2011

I once got lost one August midnight in Rome with literally nothing on my body but a dress, heels and a teeny-tiny folded map in my hand that I refused to take out until no one could see me. I walked with great purpose, quickly and assuredly (though I admit that my mind was racing and it turned out I was walking in a large circle) until I figured out where I was and found my way back to the hotel.

Your best defense is to, whenever possible, look like you know what you're doing. Do not stand around looking lost and unaware of your surroundings. I never experienced pickpockets in Rome or anywhere else in Italy. Though one thief espied my brother's designer shopping bags on top of our stuff in the back of our car in Florence, and repeatedly tried to open the hatch. I warned my dad, and he stopped the car and we all got out and screamed bloody murder, which made him decide we weren't a good target. I told my brother he was stupid, and he threw a blanket on top of our luggage and that was that.
posted by RedEmma at 7:36 PM on April 15, 2011

Money belt = good idea. I was studying in Italy and someone tried to pickpocket me on the subway when there was a huge crush to get out. I felt him take my wallet out of my back pocket.
posted by wayofthedodo at 7:48 PM on April 15, 2011

I recommend the Pacsafe brand. I have a couple of their items. They have a wide variety of items, so you can likely find something that fits your taste.

I also recommend pre-booking a taxi (if you can afford it) from the airport to your hotel when you get in. You might get off the plane, feeling frazzled and it's nice to be greeted by someone friendly who will help you find an ATM and make sure no one bothers you.

Lastly, I want to point out that having your passport stolen isn't the worst thing in the world. My friend had his passport stolen in while we were traveling in Russia and getting a new one was as simple as going to the embassy and having a temporary one made. I used to worry a lot about having my passport stolen, but I relaxed after seeing how easy it was to replace.

(Also, make sure to make photocopies of your passport and write down the phone numbers of your credit card companies, so if your wallet does get stolen, you will be prepared.)
posted by parakeetdog at 8:17 PM on April 15, 2011

As a former resident of a city with a LOT of street crime, I have to respectfully disagree about the bags with wire in the handle. Let's think about the different scenarios.

1. Thug cuts your purse strap, takes your purse, GOES AWAY. Thug may be on a motorbike.
2. Thug brings KNIFE next to your BODY, possibly moving fast, encounters wire. Um, where's the blade going to be?

One of the stupider Bangkok moto-thieves grabbed a bag last year that the woman was wearing across her chest. He took her down, she hit her head on the pavement and died in hospital a few days later.

Let them take the goddamned bag. Just don't have any valuables in it.
posted by cyndigo at 10:11 PM on April 15, 2011

Um, just as a counterpoint, I've travelled a fair bit both as a single woman and in pairs, and never once had anything stolen - even in Rome! It's not inevitable so don't let precautionary anxieties ruin your holiday. The only reason I can think is that I'm pretty relaxed when abroad and am mostly ambling about looking at stuff rather than taking photos or exclaiming loudly (thus broadcasting non-nativeness to those in ear/eyeshot).

If you think you might be a target take heed of the tips above. Generally keep it low key, be self-aware, avoid high-risk situations (ie don't get fall-down drunk with strangers etc) and you should be fine.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:41 AM on April 16, 2011

My wife and I walked around Rome like this: me with a day's supply of bills/credit card/train passes in money clip and coins in the front pockets of my jeans, wife with camera in her front pocket, me holding travel guide in jacket pocket or, as necessary, hands. We didn't lose anything, and if we had been tried, they would have had trouble trying it unnoticed, and if they had succeeded, they would have gotten only so much.
posted by troywestfield at 5:21 AM on April 16, 2011

My iPod got snatched out of my front pants pocket on a bus in Rome. I really didn't think that I could miss a hand reaching into my front pocket. I had to at least respect the skill involved.
posted by thedward at 7:30 AM on April 16, 2011

I spent every summer in Italy from 2000-2008. For the record, I was never robbed or pickpocketed but I knew people who were. Lots of good advice above, but since it's not been mentioned:

In Rome you might be tempted to take Bus 64. It goes most of the places you will probably want to go. It also will be crammed to bursting with other tourists, pickpockets, and pervy gropers. Resist!
posted by Eumachia L F at 8:07 AM on April 16, 2011

I went looking for the type just now, but couldn't, but here's how I do travel: I have a neck wallet that is quite compact, just fitting my passport in height and width, but with a bit of depth. The strap on it is long enough that it hangs below my belt line when I'm wearing it, so it actually goes inside my pants while I'm about. As a guy, my pants are loose enough that this isn't noticeable, I'm not sure how this would work with a woman. But it's in a very secure place, a place I'd notice if someone was going into.

Nthing the don't take your money belt (or neck wallet) out in public, have a wallet with enough cash but no more on your person, be careful of the Roma (I hate saying this, but it seems the worse they are treated in a country, the more they have to turn to crime - my mother actually had a child reach into her jacket pocket and try to pry her wallet out of her hand), watch for scams, wear your bag across your body. Also, when I put my bag down in a restaurant or some place I always put my foot in the strap. A friend of mine (in the US) had her camera bag swiped right out from under her while she was talking to someone. Also, a shoulder bag is better than a backpack, and keep the side that it opens on toward your person. For paranoia about dropping it, not for theft, I always have my camera strap around my neck or wrist when it's out.
posted by Hactar at 9:59 AM on April 16, 2011

One suggestion that I read on the Rick Steves website before I went to Europe was to scan your credit cards, passport, and ID, then e-mail them to your Hotmail account. If they're stolen, you can find an internet cafe, access your account, and print them off, which should make dealing with the theft easier. I also put copies of our passports in our suitcase.

I used this PacSafe bag, which was really handy. I wish it had been just a bit bigger, but it was big enough for a wallet, iPod Touch, camera, lipstick, pen, notebook, headphones, and keys. I also got a wallet similar to this, which hooked to the inside of the purse. I had planned to bring a money belt, but found that I wasn't comfortable wearing it, and the one that hangs around your neck was visible through my clothes. My boyfriend thought all this was overkill, but I wanted to be able to relax and not worry too much about theft.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:57 PM on April 16, 2011

I think the most useful advice you've been given here is to try to walk with purpose. This, and keep your cash in multiple places. I've travelled a ton and never used a moneybelt; my strategy is to just distribute cash in as many feasible places as possible. I wear jeans 95% of the time and I'll keep folded cash and/or cards in every pocket, plus I'll have cash & other cards stashed in my wallet, city moleskine (best travel books ever -- you can check maps and transit info and it just looks like you're consulting and old-fashioned address book, plus it has a handy pocket in the back for some extra cash-stashing!). Always keep your purse closed and under an arm if you carry one (I do). I'll also leave cash stashed in various pockets in my suitcase and purse. This way, if you do get robbed, you are likely to end up with some cash b/c you have it stashed everywhere.

I'm also a photographer so I'm often wandering around in bad neighbourhoods with an expensive camera in hand; my advice on this is actually the opposite of what you've been advised although I suspect it only works in not-so-touristy areas. Make eye contact with locals, smile, be friendly -- I've been saved by locals warning me someone unsavoury had their eye on my camera more times than I can count!

Also do not be afraid to get angry if someone is aggressively panhandling or hassling you. I'm young-looking, blonde and have a real baby-face -- I get targetted all the time. I usually try to be polite (its the Canadian in me) but when I feel threatened I'm not afraid to YELL obscenities in multiple languages (the Quebecker in me ;) and people really back down when they realize you're not going to go along with it just to avoid making a scene.

Most of all though? Have fun -- don't spend all your time worrying about maybe getting robbed! Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings and you'll be fine. Have a great trip :)
posted by id girl at 6:17 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Followup: I had a blast in Rome without getting robbed a single time. After walking around the first day I didn't even bother with the money belt and kept my passport and stuff in my hotel safe. All I did was be sure to keep a firm hold on my purse while on the bus or metro. I barely even got approached by street vendors, I think walking with purpose and avoiding eye contact went a long way. My only annoyance was the creepy men talking to me and luckily I don't know enough Italian to know what they were saying anyway!

Thank you all. (:
posted by vanitas at 12:57 PM on May 10, 2011

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