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Posted by
18930 posts

This is just the latest in a very looooong string of taking advantage of American tourist by pickpockets and other scams, and the police never seem to do anything to stop it. Apparently the entire population of Italy views Americans as sheep for the shearing. I think we should just boycot Italy until they clean up their act.

Posted by
53 posts

This is horrible. This is also a very isolated incident. Lee - We cannot assume that "the entire population of Italy views Americans as sheep for the shearing". That is a gross over-generalization and inappropriate. It is also not true. This could happen anywhere, even Denver. Taking advantage of others is not limited to any nationality or ideology.

Posted by
2207 posts

Lee - I'm not Italian but I am an American living in Rome, and even as an American, I find your comments inappropriate.

I have many Italian friends who are extremely supportive and helpful - as are most Italians! To make this BROAD, IGNORANT comment galls and frankly as an American living overseas, embarasses me!

Are all tourists marked by a "SMALL MINORITY" as targets - YES. Are Americans seen as better targets - PROBABLY, AS WE HAVE MORE.

I've traveled all over the US and Europe... I feel safer in almost any European city than I would the same size city in the US. I lived in Atlanta where the first 25 minutes of news was who... killed/raped/robbed/beat up.. who. Those things DO NOT happen here.

But if you feel that strongly, as it appears you do - PLEASE DO NOT COME! Your narrow "perspective" is not something I want to have to explain to my Italian friends.

Posted by
401 posts

Here, here Ron!
Please, if you don't feel safe coming to Italy please stay home.
The only time I have ever been "fleeced" as you put it was in New York City, go figure!
I can tell you as an American living in Italy that I feel much safer living here than I do living in the States. You can't even go to the mall in the States now without worrying about someone going postal and firing off some rounds.

Posted by
1317 posts

The fact that this happened in Italy is simply a geographic fluke. It could have happened in Germany or the US or England or India or you name it.

It's a tragic event, but anywhere you go there will be someone trying to take advantage of unsuspecting people--tourists or otherwise. The best defense is some common sense. Mama always said 'don't accept drinks from strangers'.

I, a young woman with a hearing loss, walked around Rome alone after dark (8pm in winter) and never felt unsafe--except when a Vespa decided to drive on the sidewalk instead of the street! I would NEVER do that in my hometown of Seattle.

Posted by
2 posts


The Golden Scooper is yours

No one has made such a horrific statement on these
boards in a LONG time.

Cheers to Ron!

Posted by
1455 posts

Thanks Frank for finding that. It is awful, but I agree with what others are saying.. it could be anywhere.

What's more scary is how the stranger was able to gain the couple's trust in such a short amount of time. Either the couple was very naive and trusting, or the drug man was very manipulative and suave.. or both!

I don't think this should be an "Italian" thing, Lee. It can happen anywhere, including here at home.

Posted by
186 posts

I got chills when I heard this story over the weekend. About 10 years ago a woman I chatted with while getting my nails done told a similar story about her son and his girlfriend (but with a non-fatal ending). They'd been befriended on an overnight train and had arrived at their destination so early the next morning that food wasn't available at the station yet. Their "friend" disappeared and came back with drinks and sandwiches. Hours later they woke up in a ditch with their money and passports missing. It's been long enough that I don't recall which country (but I'm fairly certain it was in eastern Europe). But since we started travelling four years ago that story has stayed with me and I remind my husband everytime we're about to leave the country that I don't want to be accepting food or beverages from strangers!

Posted by
4555 posts

I don't think you'd want to accept food or drink from strangers in San Pedro, either.

Posted by
2023 posts

Right, the lesson is buy your own drinks and food. No reason to have strangers (who aren't actual waiters in a restaurant) get stuff for us.

Posted by
102 posts

I agree, stories like this can happen anywhere in the world. I'll be visiting Italy at the end of august and I'm so excited about this trip. Every morning I download podcasts from italian radio stations because I'm trying to understand the language. When I go, I will enjoy the rich culture, and beautifull areas of these countries. We just need to use common sense if approached by strangers.

Posted by
186 posts

Re: accepting food/beverage from strangers at home.

I think when we are in our own environment we have a certain "groundedness". Because we are in our own familiar surroundings I think our guard goes up quicker when something seems a bit off, or someone gets too friendly too quickly. When we are somewhere new and different a lot of our senses are taken up with the sights, sounds, smells of the new place. When we are in an exciting new city we are perhaps more approachable than we are at home.

I remember pulling into the parking lot of a Big Lots near my home and as I was gathering up my keys and purse to exit the car I noticed two young men walk across the parking lot towards the entrance. Something in their body language (hand gestures to one another) made me take a second look and I believe they were up to no good -- possibly targeting the woman walking into the store ahead of them for a purse snatching or some sort of scam. Whatever it was I decided it was not a good day for shopping. I never would have felt the danger signals except for being in my own neighborhood where I wasn't distracted by unfamilar surroundings.

Posted by
1717 posts

I read about that in the Herald Tribune. An American man in Rome, drugged by a robber, experienced reduced cognition of his environment, and was hit by a train. The man died. Do you think Rick Steves should mention that incident in one of his books ? ("Rick Steves' ITALY", or "Europe Through The Back Door").

Posted by
808 posts

I totally agree with not accepting food or drinks from strangers. I don't even do it at home. I often have strangers present me with Coffee while on Duty as EMS...I don't even accept that. I know most people do it as a kind gesture out of appreciation but it can be unsettling to have a total stranger in a crowd hand you a drink. My collegues, on the other hand, never pass up a drink.

I politely excuse myself and dump it. If it's not sealed like a bottle of water, I don't risk it. They somehow figure it should be "safe" b/c we are here at home. I tell them I'm a traveller and they still scratch their heads...

Posted by
225 posts

I hate to admit it, but I bet my husband and I would have accepted drinks from a nice European local. My husband is very talkative and outgoing and makes friends wherever we go very quickly. We always think the best of people and I doubt that we would have given any thought to NOT drink something someone bought for us. My husband lived in Germany for five years and thinks Europeans(Germans) are the nicest people he has met. In fact he says that locals he has met have invited him home to their house for dinner. He went on several occasions and became good friends with many of them. Maybe things have changed!

Good lesson for us to learn, but too bad at the expense to someone elses life. We'll keep this lesson in mind on our next trip!