Police Behavior, Rome
I just returned from a 23 day European trip through Spain, Italy and France. While I wouldn't recommend driving anywhere in Europe, Rome was the worst and since I've returned, I have received 6 charges on my credit card for tickets they have issued to me. I don't even know what they are for, but I will likely end up paying them at $53 Euro's each. The 6 days I spent in Italy were overall, terrible with Venice being on top of my places I plan on never going back to, with Rome a close second. From what I've read, the police don't police the pickpockets because they are busy picking your pockets as well.
I was sad to read so many critical comments about the carabinieri. My experience was so different. On the way to my hotel, my purse and passport were stolen. It was really my own fault and a moment's lack of vigilance that allowed a thief to come up behind me, open my bag (resting stupidly on my wheelie bag) and be away. I did not discover the theft until I was in my hotel. Panic! I dashed out to see if I had dropped my belongings. A man came towards me carrying my purse etc. It transpired that he and his colleague (both in plain clothes) had seen me being followed from the railway station. The thief had been caught and my possessions returned to me all within a few minutes. I could not believe how lucky we had been. In addition the carabiniere spoke excellent English. Making the report at the station was quite easy and I really had quite a pleasant time with rides in police cars and pleasant, good humoured advice on how to carry my bag in the future.
The next day I bought a new handbag with a shoulder strap and internal zip and thereafter carried it in front of me. That is my tip for enjoying a theft free Rome. Also take especial care on the 64 bus which is, apparently, notorious for pickpockets. If you do travel on this bus from the Termini and it is very crowded, I suggested waiting for the next one and getting a seat. They arrive every few minutes and it is easier to look after your bag if you have a seat.
For me Rome and its Carabiniere are both wonderful.
I was photographing the Trevi Fountain at night with my college classmates, for which you need a tripod to mount your camera on as there are slow shutter speeds used. There was absolutely no problem using them during the day time and for the first 20 minutes of the night shoot, then all of a sudden this little police man with the worst attitude imaginable starts blowing a whistle and shouting at us that we could not use tripods. He was especially rude towards me because of the position of my camera equipment, I tried to explain to him that I meant no disrespect to the monument, but he was extremely irritable & argumentative. I was told that I would be fined, I tried to explain that the picture was for an upcoming exhibition, to which he replied "I'm a policeman, shut your mouth". I was really taken aback by this shocking behaviour towards a photographer. It seems that ALL the police in Rome are like that & could not care less about YOUR safety while you are visiting the city. They spend most of their time talking with each-other and ogling women who walk past them. Manners are in very short supply in the city of Rome, will not be returning there ever again.
My husband got his wallet stolen in Rome and our hotel told us to file a police report just for a record even though we had no expectation anything could be done. So we went to the Termini station detachment and regretted it. The police heaped abuse on us and told us not to bother them and then heaped abuse on our hotel. We have never been treated so badly by police anywhere in the world and believe me, we have been in some challenging countries. We felt victimized twice. You would think, given all of Italy's financial problems, that they would be nicer to tourists who account for a lot of the economy. We didn't expect anything except respect and we are respectful and law abiding people who did nothing wrong. What we got was incredible rudeness and as far as we are concerned, Italy will never be the recipient of our tourist dollars ever again and we travel a lot. Getting a wallet stolen was a minor hiccup - being abused by the Rome police when we were the victims was unacceptable. Anywhere else in Europe is where we will go next.
Yes, DON'T! I have to say it the other way around, "Don't Do What the Roman's Don't!"
You can see Odessa standing on the steps of the King Vittorio Emanuel II monument. You will be able to see Mother Lily and Myself on other pictures also standing on the famous Steps highlighted by the Monument. Yes, do not make a mistake of sitting on the Steps no matter how tired climbing the many staircases, or no matter how you feel that it is more artistic taking pictures while sitting. On the contrary, the Italian police officers manning or safeguarding the monument think otherwise. They will ask you to move your **tt out of the stairs. I have witnessed two incidents on a very short stay in this structure. For whatever reason, nobody knows. I did not see any sign at the foot of the monument to this effect. If there is, it should be posted on strategic location. In fairness to the police officers and the regulations of the city, let us abide with the procedures. I thought maybe, standing in front of the monument where unknown soldiers tombs is being housed, will show our respect to them. You have no time to rest and sit or your tour guide must have given or warned you on this tip. Let us enjoy the Steps, and keep on standing!
Unfortunately you won't find the local police on the buses where the pick pockets are. But here is a tip: if you carry a walllet, put it in your front pants pocket and use a safety pin to close your pocket. Pick pockets go to back pockets first. If you feel someone reaching into your pocket or purse, use a loud voice and say something like, "get your hand out of my pocket!" Continue to talk loudly at this person. Make sure that other people on the bus know what is happening. They probably won't step in because the pickpockets don't get physical.
It is also interesting to see the reaction of the locals when this happens. They are so used to it, that they just stand and watch.
Don't leave your bag or camera alone on a wall, bench or set it down and step back for a photo if there are children nearby. They are good at grabbing things and running like the wind.
In a restaurant, put your camera where you can see it.
At the train station, NEVER leave your suitcase where you cannot see it ALL the time. If you turn your back for a moment, it may not be there when you turn around. Watch your bags of shopping things. Be alert. Count your change. Don't leave valuables in your hotel room. (This is why you travel lightly)
To see what police look like see the photo. They are also good for asking directions and getting advice. Use your best smile and "buongiorno..."
When attending a Vatican event you will go through a metal detector. In my back pack I had my trusty cheese pocket knife, and it now lies resting in the vault of the Vatican. The police will ask you to unload any sharp items, etc. and give them up before being allowed entry.
So to keep from being embarassed, leave it at the hotel.
There is good security during the Easter services. I notice several plain clothes security men acting like tourists in my area at Easter.
I cannot advice any particular warning here beside the basics of keep your wallet in a safe pocket and watch your belongings. Anyhow, the police was presence in many tourist locations, not sure if they are there to protect the tourist or, maybe to protect Rome from the massive tourism volume here.
If you decide to go to Rome to watch your team in action at the Olympic Stadium, be warned that the police treat you like criminals. The police advised Middlesbrough supporters to use the offical transport from Villa Borghese. We followed our tour operators and advice and met our coach there. We were actually sat on the coaches for two and a half hours before we were taken to the Stadium. The police did not tell us what was happening or what the delay was. For future visiting fans, I would advise making your own way to the stadium if you want to see the kick off.
When we arrived at the stadium we were herded in like sheep and then searched. Our handbags were searched as well. Thankfully I had left anything that might be removed on the coach but other female supporters even had their make up taken from them. Such was the delay that we missed the first seven minutes of the game. Inside the stadium Roma fans were letting off fireworks and flares, plus when Middlesbrough scored various items were thrown at us. The police just let them throw the objects and didn't seem to be bothered that many of the supporters affected were families with young children. One law for the home fans and one for the visitors.
After the game we were held in the stadium for 1 hour 35 minutes (the streets outside were already deserted in under an hour). We were then herded back to our coaches and returned to the airport at a snail's pace.
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." However, this is not the case in Roman subway stations. Most locals possess a monthly subway pass or something and don't have to swipe it when entering the subway. On my first visit to a subway, I had difficulty operating the ticket machine, so the security guard motioned for me to just go ahead without a ticket. The next time I entered a station, I noticed that most passengers just waltzed through without buying or swiping a ticket. My friend and I followed this routine and on the third day of our three day stay, we were busted for not having a ticket upon exiting the subway. The police officer spoke little English, only enough for us to understand that we owed 50 Euro each or we'd be spending time in an Italian jail. After paying the fine, we discussed this with the desk guy at our hostel. Apparently, if you cannot pay the fine, they aren't allowed to take you to jail (the police officer lied to us), but the fine is doubled. How can they force a fine upon a foreigner who's leaving town the next day? The hostel worker is like 2,000 Euro in debt to the "subway police" and said that the police rarely track down locals. Word to the wise: Always buy a subway ticket. If you forget to and get caught, tell them you don't have the money.
Police promises to reach you in emergencies within 45 seconds if you are in a central area, and within 3 minutes in the suburbs. We never had big problems, killings, shooting, sexual violences... it all is very rare. Just pay attention to pickpockets. That's all!
Do NOT sit on the Typewriter stairs. My 15 year old son did this to give his feet a break, and some armed military guards with big guns came over and made him stand up. I don't know what they would have done if my son decided to get smart with them. Is it a felony to sit on those stairs? Is it a capital offense?
My son very intelligently decided not to test the waters. Somehow standing up doesn't seem like such a big deal when you're being ordered to do so by a tough looking military guy with a gun.
Never saw my son so quickly obedient before...
I got pickpocketed one day in a metro downtown in Rome. Then i walked to the nearest police, in my case it was at the train station.There were at least 10 police officers in the office and we are the third group waiting there. We waited for 20 minutes, the first group walked away because they haven't been attended to. Then a few officers (smoking) and walked away from the office. The others chatting with each other. When i jump the queue and asked how long do we have to wait, one of them just ignore me. All i want was just a piece of report to claim back my documents and licenses to the authority in my home country. And suddenly everyone disappeared from the office and we were stunned. What is happening? Then one officer came back and told us to do the report at the airport???? We were wasting our time almost an hour in a cold winter nights and hungry. I was pissed and decided to head back to the hotel and make a report he next day when we are leaving Rome.
You don't have to pay fines if you are going by metro/bus without ticket. Some of my erasmus-friends stayed at Rome for 1 year and never bought a ticket. Up today there is no agreement between EU-states that enables police to charge the fine when you return to your home country. It's the same with fines which you get for inappropriate car-driving.
No Joke! Three people of my group were charged for traveling on the bus without a ticket, although they had valid tickets. Each one of them had to pay a € 50 fee! But there's nothing you can do, unless you speak fluent Italian!