You think withdrawing money from an ATM machine is safe business? Think again! Here in Italy, you may be robbed and not even know it.
Something quite curious happened to us TWICE in Florence in the past two months, and now I am convinced some Italian banks are totally corrupt... Either that, or their computer systems are often malfunctional. In either case, the result is a robbery: the ATM machine did not give us any money, only an error message, while the amount we requested was taken out of our U.S. bank account!
Luckily for us, I work with the internet and I do everything online: work, pay bills, talk to friends, email photos of our two adorable little monkeys (kids, that is), look for info and advice on the VT site, check our bank account... You get the picture. I did not fail to check our online bank statement after the ATM did not respond favorably to our request for money - and so I discovered that the money was actually taken out of our bank account. We called our bank and they reimbursed us (at the bank's own expense), so no money loss for us after all.
Less than a month later, it happened again. Again I checked online and discovered the mischief, and I reported it to our bank right away.
It is a big enough inconvenience to be left for a whole afternoon without money in the narrow streets of Florence; but to return home thus frustrated and to discover that the money you might have used well but could not, has actually been liberated from your bank account - that hurts. So, take my advice and be sure to check your online bank statement as soon as you can if you meet with an error at the ATM machine!
On our first morning in Florence, I inquired where I might cash the American Express Traveler's Checques that I had brought with me. She directed me to the bank and my son and I were off to get the cash. Upon arrival at the bank ( and get ready to lock your purse and other items in the safe before you enter the sealed tube to the bank lobbyl) the lines were slow and when I arrived at the teller's window with the AMEX checques, eyebrows went up, frowns were passed around along with lots of Italian between the tellers. They told me "We cannot help you...machine is broken...go to center of town and cash there." Machine broken? So, my son and I walked several blocks to the city center and entered the bank they directed us to. After waiting 15 minutes for 5 customers , we were immediately greeted with heads shaking and arms motioning us to go to the bank across the street..."go there, they help you." We were bounced to five banks in the same manner and I decided to go back to the original bank with the "broken machine" as they had said their machine would be broken all morning but would be working by the afternoon. Several hours later, our morning tours we had planned were now ove , we had missed them and had still not cashed a checque. One of the male tellers waved his arm and said"machine broken all day today". I got in line and again awaited my turn. When I was the next to be served, the teller who became available immediately closed her window. THis was repeated by the next teller! Finally the third teller was available (the one who originally "helped" me). I had several hundred dollars in Euros and no one in Florence wiould cash them! Finally, she filled out a slip, charged me a stiff fee and cashed 2 of the checques as other customers in the bank looked on with expressions of confusion and maybe some amount of empathy.
if comming from the uk and using cash get all your euros in the uk the rates are better than the change offices that you past in florance, i got 1.39 euros in the uk ,the rates in florence 85cents per pound rip off
If you have Thomas Cook TC's please dont change them in Florence at the TC outlet, they have a huge commission and the least rate in the city, very bad
We found that Florence gave us the best exchange rates for the Euro against the dollar, on the road from the Duomo to the Ponte Vechhio there are many dealers