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Pickpockets in Florence and elsewhere
Pickpockets are fewer in Florence than in Rome and Naples but they are here. Gypsy kids are pretty obvious but tourists miss the real pros who look just like everyone else. Actually, the drunks and drug addicts who accummulate outside SMN at night have no interest in tourists, but there are pickpockets in any crowded art of the station and near and on the Ponte Vecchio.
Contrary to some of the fanciful posts I have seen, I strongly advise against carrying pepper spray and similar. Only very low doses (10%) are currently legal in Italy and they are more likely to enrage a thief that disable him (or her). Furthermore, laws in Italy change rapidly and at the very least you would lose a lot of your precious vacation time if arrested for carrying or using an offensive weapon (which is what a can of pepper spray is).
More to the point, mugging is rare in Italy but pickpockets are common and extremely skilled. It's more than likely that you won't use your spray because the thief will be long gone before you realise what's happening. Much better to organise your valuables so that pickpockets can't get at them. There's a very useful article on anti-pickpocket strategems here: http://www.bella-toscana.com/pickpocketsinitaly.htm and a bit more in relation to Naples here: http://www.naples-napoli.com/pickpocketsinnaples.htm
Be smart about your surroundings and aware of the people around you. The little pickpockets are fairly obvious and can be deterred but have no problem coming around again. We were approached as we walked near San Lorenzo and again on the bus to Fiesole.
Just be smart and alert.
Pickpockets at Terravision Bus, Florence
Terravision bus offers the cheapest/most direct transportation between Florence's A.M. Novella train station and Pisa airport. Often they overbook, and the driver calls the names of those who have reservations to board first. Instead of lining everyone up at the side of the bus so every hopeful passenger will have some space, the driver usually stands guard at the narrow bus door, making everyone pack into a tight semicircle, hoping to be the first on the bus in order not to miss his flight (taxi to Pisa airpport is Euro 140 one way). Be careful while you are being pressed and pushed by increasingly desperate passengers. While you are watching the bus driver struggle with the pronunciation of names on the reservations list, it is easy to miss someone unzipping your bag. One of the passengers in the melee slipped our airtickets out of my wife's tote bag during a crush to board the bus in March (it took 30 minutes to board about 30 people).
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Florence is not a dangerous city so you can walk safely by its streets and piazzas, just be careful with pickpockets, they use to stay near to the main places and attractions, keep your belongings on safe.
Florencia no es una ciudad peligrosa y puedes caminar tranquilamente por sus calles y plazas. Lo que si tienes que gastar cuidados es con los carteristas, suelen estar en los alrededores de los principales lugares.
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I was warned before my trip to Italy and Florence for pickpockets. It is true, they probably is in there, but this time fortunately our roads didn't cross.
They are everywhere, pickpockets, not only in Itay. They are moving on places, where usually is very much tourists, who watching the sights, forget all around. Then they are easy target.
I think you can't never be too beware with hideing you money and travel documents.
I was pleasantly surprising to see at the known tourist-traps (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Palazzo Vecchio, Basilica di San Lorenzo) much of policemans and carabineers.
Watch your back
Pickpockets are everywhere, but it's especially a problem in some of the larger cities in Europe. Gypsies operate in and around the train stations. They will wait for passengers to disembark the train and in the chaos, they will rip you off. They will also come up to you quite directly and ask for money and will get on and off the trains at random points looking for luggage that is easy to grab. Since there aren't so many train conductors who come and check your ticket, it's an ideal area for thieves to operate in and it's really something travellers should be mindful of. In Florence, pickpocketing is such a problem that the police have made significant efforts combat this problem (both as visibly dressed uniform officers parading up and down the historic district and as uncover officers). This should alleviate any worries but always be street-smart because pickpocketers are everywhere. Another method pickpocketers will use is by setting up an vending area (often a simple cardboard box with fake sunglasses or scarves or handbags attached). They try to sell you something and as you pull out your wallet, they snag it. Selling in this manner is illegal and they try to avoid the police but you will see them everywhere....just stay away from them, be firm with saying 'No' and don't pull out any money around them.
Around the Ponte Vecchio area, and train station
Around the Ponte Vecchio area there were many gypsies hanging around especially in or near crowds of tourists. They pass over a baby or a doll to distract you, and also they use the little children to steal and pick pocket from tourists who are busy looking at other things to notice.
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San Lorenzo Market be careful!!!
The San Lorenzo Market is in one of the most beautiful blocks of central Florence. Unfortunately this block is becoming more and more the dormitory of gipsies and illegal immigrants who do not have any respect of the ancient monuments (there is an awful stink all over the streets, because these people probabily do not even know that streets are not public toilets!!!), and of tourists as well! And the problem is that our local government does not care about what these "animals" do to the San Lorenzo Block and to tourists. So be careful and when you go to visit the San Lorenzo Market (which is very nice), pay attention to your wallets, watches and whatever precious you have. I would suggest you not to walk through the San Lorenzo block during the night unless you want to be hit by some illegal immigrant.
Basically I have never encountered being pickpocketed,
Although many other people have been
I would only say to warn you that when In big crowds around popular cities and areas
in such like FLorence to watch your bag and trousers for pickepocketters!
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Do not give gypsies money! We were approached by several women in shawls that were holding out cups, almost chanting, asking for money. As soon as you give them money, they will hold it up and persistently follow you, asking for more. When my husband naively gave one of them a euro, the only way we shook her was when a woman, speaking in Italian began to walk with us, all the while scalding me to keep my purse close. I think they might work in groups to distract you while another one pick-pockets you.
I researched for our trip and heard a lot about pickpockets, especially in train stations. In our 2 week stay in Italy not once did we feel in danger of being picked. Use common sense, don't leave your bags unattended, be aware of your surroundings and you should have no trouble! Gypsies may come up to you asking for money, pay no attention to them, they will not bother you. I brought a money belt and never used it, the pants I wore happen to have an extra pocket that is hard for me to get into. This is where I kept all of our valuables at all times.
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Tourist photo shows pocket being picked, Florence
I teach art history in a university. When I show architecture images, I always get a kick out of looking around at the people who happen to have been snapped in the scene along with the building in question. Long story short, I took a beautiful image of the Florence Baptistery, Cathedral and Campanile off of -- if I remember -- someone's vacation pictures website. After perusing the crowd standing in front of the monuments, I blew up one section of the digital image and it reveals a woman lifting up the hem of a man's shirt just above his pocket. The man is arm-in-arm with his girlfriend, admiring the facade of the cathedral. This third party reaches across his back, while he's oblivious, and lifts the shirt hem. It's mind-boggling. Take a look...
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San Lorenzo's area
San lorenzo's area and all the area of the market is a great place where to make shopping during the day but during night it's not the most quiet area of Florence.It's better that you go around in couple or in group,'couse you can find some foolish,so,i suggest just..pay attention and take a look about the people you have around,also 'couse there are lots of extraeuropean people in this area(expecially northafricans)
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Stay Alert, Watch Your Pockets and Purse
MAY 21, 2006 UPDATE: I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH SINCE I HAD MY WALLET TAKEN OUT OF MY PURSE THE OTHER DAY. AND I THOUGHT I WAS BEING SO CAREFUL. FORTUNATELY I HAD ALREADY STARTED CARRYING MY CARDS AND MONEY IN ONE OF THOSE TRAVEL POUCHES.
You must be absolutely alert and awake at all times for pickpockets. The most obvious, of course, are the small groups of women with their children in tow and a baby in their arms. They work as a group and they usually carry a newpaper with them. I never found out what they do with it, but it plays a roll in their thievery. Don't let them intimidate you. I even yelled at them to get away (learn how to do this in Italian) and they scrammed.
They are not the only ones who earn their living this way though, so, in general, just be careful. Nothing is worse than having your money and your passport stolen.
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Beggers and Pickpockets
Beggars (gypsys) in Florence (and all of Italy) are widespread and will come right up to you. Treat it as you choose, but just be ready for it.
Pickpockets in the center of Florence are a pretty well-known danger. Be careful! Keep money either directly on your body (like a little change purse around your neck and down your shirt) or if you carry a purse hold it directly in front on you. I've known people to carry purses but keep important things (like cash, credit cards and passports) in a sparate change purse just to be safe. Too many stories already, so don't make yourself one of them.
Travel in groups as much as possible when in the center. Things are much safer, though, when you move to the outskirts a bit.
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Florence Travel Guide
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