It is our strong belief that Rome is a very safe city, even if there is a petty criminality. The presence of the political world and their strong influence, the top government officials, give the police more resources and most of all, more power to take protection measures.
The problem is only in the pick pocketing as the bag snatching is disappearing in the central part of the city. ( The worst area in the whole city is the Tube or underground. By the way recently it has been on national TVs in the case of Milan tube. Rome is no better. I have uploaded part of the video in Italian on YOUTUBE ( click here ) and it is ESSENTIAL you watch it. In a few words the first video shows the action of a pocket picketer raising his arm to have an accomplice to stop the escalator and whilst the victim walks upstairs he acts. Then they show a place where stolen wallets are thrown away and then the sundry styles of stealing.
Check this map in one of our article. The huge nonstop flow of tourists has turned the central part of the city into the heaven of professional pickpocketers. To avoid any problem, there are some simple rules to follow.
- Rule number one is that your convictions might be wrong and therefore examining other solutions is advisable.
- Unless you need to cash travelers' checks (you do not do it every day) you do not need the passport with you. It is sufficient you make a color photocopy of the 2 pages where there is your picture and the details, you plastify it and you can go around with it. Should you be stopped by the police, for special cases it is unlikely you will get involved with, you simply explain the reason why you do not have the original and offer to go back to your hotel to get the original. They understand it.
- Pickpocketers are professional and specialized people, capable to open a zip in a fraction of a second. Zips are not reliable. The customary to embrace your bag as a life belt whilst the Titanic is sinking a few meters away, is not always applicable and pickpocketers do know that and wait for that fraction of time , coming or provoked.
- Front pockets of jeans, unless you are sexually frustrated and love strangers poking around, especially when they are tight and, are very good. They should be the ones where you yourself have problems in getting something out of. You do not need to use your shoes.
- Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, however is standard to ask for an identity: that is the vulnerable moment if you have to open your bag. You do not need a passport for that, a driving license with photo, or any other document is sufficient.
- The copy of your passport , the credit card in one front pocket and cash money in the other: you are perfectly equipped.
- Any hide belt pocket must be covered by clothes which are not loose.
- 90% of pocketing people can be spotted immediately in central Rome: they are young gipsy girls as by law there is very little you can do with them if they are under 18 years. REMEMBER, they are never alone and the one operating, has a baby or a young child, a scarf, a piece of cloth or hard paper covering the operating arm.. The next point will give you more information.
- 90% of the dangerous area is the tube and the bus 64 leading to saint Peter's. The tube approach is the following: they sit or stand near to the entrance to the track, scanning each person going through. When the train comes in, they stand and at least in two of them, come behind you. At the moment of getting into the carriage, when everybody is pressing you, they press and get into your bag or external pocket, giving immediately the stolen to their comrade and often without getting into the carriage.
- We strongly recommend to avoid getting into confrontations, which are useless, if you see them approaching and you are 50% sure, start shouting at them in your language, in order you draw the attention on them. If you shout in your language you can use sentence like: To be or not to be, that is the question! or Wall street is recovering last month's loss, and so on. But you have to shout!
- If you are in a group, it is enough whilst queuing or entering the carriage, one person ahead and the other, closing the group, turned totally around, bottom to bottom with the last person of the group. REMEMBER, Romans are very understanding with you, as we are their victims too and we live here, so we would look at you with admiration. Do not be ashamed. Cameras attached to your neck.
- If you are a young lady travelling by yourself this could be a unique chance to ask an handsome young fellow to help you and stay bottom to bottom with you. It might be prolonged even out of the tube, you never know.
- If you need a bag, by all means, an old wallet you were about to throw away, well closed sinking in old nose towels, lipstick and other makeup and all the rest, filled up with dimes and pieces of paper wrapped around with fake monopoly notes or photocopy of money, could help, whilst you keep everything in your front pockets. It could be your travel companion.
Another minor problem in statistics could be unbelievable prices from restaurants, bars, taxis, and so on. Do not protest but do not pay. One person remains there and the other gets out to call any person in uniform. They risk a lot. If you are by yourself, call 112 , no prefix. Surfing the net you will find that for an European directory, you are immediately connected in an emergency roaming procedure. The Carabinieri will answer and there are surely English speaking officers and they do not play around , especially in supporting foreigners. It is very helpful if there has been no previous discussion, so the person involved is taken at surprise. If he spots you and push you to "talk" this only implies a 10% discount on a 200% increase. Go through the call and never handle your phone to the person. Be relaxed, we are talking about being fraudulent not criminal. Most likely you are dealing with staff and their getting limited. if it is the owner, he knows he has to keep it low, as he does not risk any longer the license but heavier burdens.
I have to clear something very important that help you to understand completely the matter and not to overestimate it or underestimate it, with an example all people over 16 understand totally: by safe sex it is not meant that your girlfriend is always in the fertile period or can have got aids during the last 2 days you did not see her. Safe sex is not either to suggest to use a prophylactic with prostitutes in Nigerian ports ( in that case you must avoid it totally ). No: safe sex is a bundle of few rules, so enjoy your sex next trip to Rome and if possible together and when in Rome, do as Romans do: if you are married or engaged but by yourself, follow the advice given in the sixties by the English mothers to their daughters: be good, but if you can't.. be carefull!!
Following is a map ( click to enlarge )of what is considered "central part of Rome, for safety. We advice single ladies to avoid back streets in the area surrounding the Central Station , after 21.00- Inside the station no problem-
Area black dotted, totally safe 24h a day -