Please sign in to post.

Pickpocket attempt in Venice

So I'm calmly buying my Vaporetto ticket at the machine when four people come up. A woman on my left asks "San Marco" and gets very close. I turn around and say "back up"

In the few seconds it happened, one of the people behind me unzipped a pocket on my bag--which I realized later--but it was empty. I think they may have gotten a five euro note out of my pocket but don't see how as it was mixed in with a bunch of papers and all the papers were still there. . (More than likely it fell out of my pocket.). My wallet and phone were in my "personal item" bag that was clipped shut.

I watched them afterwards and they didn't seem to want to buy a ticket.

Posted by
226 posts

I'm glad you are ok, and didn't get fleeced!

My only gripe with Italy, is this petty theft crap. It's so frustrating.

Posted by
8638 posts

What's really frustrating is arriving at my hotel, recommended by family and in the RS book, only to find it a dump. It gets rave reviews but I don't see why. The furniture is old, the room is stuffy, you can't turn the radiator off in the bathroom, no A/C until June....and no place to set up a lap top.Very grumpy uncaring desk clerk. I'm scheduled to stay four nights but I may check out after one or two. Not sure where to go but I have to be in Padua on Saturday.

Posted by
11575 posts

The good news was that secured personal bag, eh?! Glad they didn't get much, Frank.
Bummer about your hotel, though. Which one is it?

Posted by
1846 posts

Well, that is a bummer, Frank. I bet you'll recover your always (at least on the forum!) positive attitude soon. I'm happy to hear you didn't lose anything of too much value but sad to hear the hotel isn't all you hoped. I'm sorry this happened to you!

Posted by
633 posts

Frank, I'd forward it on for you, but as I'm not sure which hotel you're referring to, please do let us know here (if you haven't already):

https://www.ricksteves.com/forms/guidebook-feedback-form

Hotels do change staff or make other adjustments that don't sit well with customers (or us), and it may be time for us to end the recommendation. We can look into it if you let us know.

Sorry to hear that you were the target of pickpockets. :/

Posted by
1573 posts

Frank,
Thanks for posting the pickpocket incident, it is so helpful to read these so I am aware and can be better prepared to fend off these attempts to steal my valuables.
Sorry about your hotel. The hotel we stayed in in October last year on the 17 Days in Italy tour, I had a single room that was so narrow the bed was smaller than a twin. The wardrobe could not hold hangars at a right angle, there was only enough space for them to hang at an angle to the side!! Rather amusing and charming. My desk was half a desk and had only one outlet. I had to choose between charging my phone or watching TV. Sometimes I charged my phone in the bathroom so I could watch a few minutes of BBC news. It was late Oct. so it was quite cool and rainy when we were staying there. I can imagine this time of year, it might be warm and humid. We were only there 2 nights which was entirely manageable, 4 would be a lot. The breakfasts were delicious. Overall, I think it was a good place to stay, a short walk to St. Mark's Square.
Best,
Judy B

Posted by
11575 posts

Hotels do change staff or make other adjustments that don't sit well
with customers

That is such a good point, and one of the reasons I sometimes hesitate to recommend places we've stayed at: I don't know what may have changed since we last checked in. I'll often taken a run through very recent reviews on booking.com and whatnot to see if they're still getting mostly thumbs up before passing along.

Posted by
8638 posts

The strange thing with the pickpocket incident is that I always look around before putting my money in. There was no one, and I mean no one within 100 feet of me. Within seconds, they pounced.

It took me a couple of seconds to realize something wasn't right. I had been traveling by train all day and was tired.

As for the hotel, I asked for a fan and they reluctantly found one. They told me I should keep my window open. Well, I've been hearing sneezing and coughing for awhile and then when the sun went down, the bugs came out. That's when I shut the window. The fan is helping.

Funny story about that.....the fan is about four feet high. The bartender actually found it and was going to bring it to my room. The hotel elevator is so small he, the fan and I could not fit in it together. I'm not kidding.

I wish I had half a desk. I have no desk. I have to work on the bed. They have a sign to use the safe. It's so small my smartphone hardly fits in it. The TV sits on a wall shelf and it is about 15" diagonally. I can describe the decor as early, far from modern, grandma's house.

The funny thing is my parents stayed at this hotel 20 years ago and raved about it. I know them, if this hotel was like this then, they would not have been raving. Surprisingly, on Tripadvisor and Booking.com it gets great reviews.

Posted by
8638 posts

I admit I'm tough on hotels. I'm paying and I want to be comfortable. If I'm on tour, I have to accept what I get but on my own, I expect a hotel to try to make me happy. I don't demand extras, just the basics.

I don't want to mention the name of the hotel, but I'll give you a hint. The hotel's name is in Italian. While it is found here in Venice, the name could also mean the things found at Kew and Butchart. It's located near Piazza San Marco and high up in the RS book.

I can now hear the people upstairs from me and next door.

Time for the earplugs.

Posted by
4031 posts

Hmmm, I just pulled out my 2017 guidebook, and there is a hotel that fits your hints, with what the book describes as "sparse but classic-feeling rooms." Maybe it feels classic because your folks enjoyed it years ago and it hasn't been updated since?

I'm sorry about your pocket picking experience, but I'm glad you posted about it. So many people say "It couldn't happen to me!" Well, it does happen to experienced travelers, even those making a point to be discreet and cautious. We've been picked twice (both times in Paris,) and thwarted an attempt in Palermo.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by
8638 posts

When they say "classic feeling" room, does that mean Julius Ceasar stayed here.

What's funny is that I was in Innsbruck for a few days prior to coming to Venice and my hotel there was built in 1390. Everyone from Mozart to Ludiwg I to Maximillian stayed there. It has kept the charm but has been modernized.

Posted by
2353 posts

Any chance of canceling the rest of your stay and finding other accommodations?

Posted by
95 posts

Why the secrecy with the name of the hotel Frank? At least put it in the reviews section here. I'm staying near San Marco myself in a few weeks.

Posted by
30971 posts

Frank II,

It's good to hear that you were able to avoid losing anything important to the pickpockets. Your post is a good reminder that the scammers are out there, and it's important to be vigilant. Sorry to hear about the hotel. The guide book listings are usually so reliable.

Posted by
8638 posts

The birds started chirping, loudly, before 6 AM and the windows, even with the shutters "closed" don't keep out sound. My window faces the inside "garden" with lots of tree and a few fake owls I guess are intended to scare off the birds. They don't.

I'm looking for another hotel but at the last minute my choice is either not the best or very, very expensive.

I'll post a review of the hotel, and the name, after I leave. I don't want to leave anything out--good or bad.

Posted by
7693 posts

Frank, sorry about your picking experience. It is always interesting to watch them in action -appearng out of nowhere then vaporizing. There is a trick to that!

Posted by
8638 posts

This morning I go down to my hotel to see if I could leave one day early. They said yes but I would be charged half the room rate. I lost it. I told them I would stay but let the internet know about my experience.

I was then asked to speak to the manager. When I told him I was not happy and why he said this is the first he heard of it and wanted to help. He said they would be happy to offer me another room. I was shown two and he said two more will be available after checkout and I could have my pick.

The difference between the way I was treated the night I checked in and the morning was, well, like night and day. I've seen two of the rooms--the first, two floors above mine facing the courtyard and another facing the front. Since guests have to walk down a narrow calle about 100 feet to get to the entrance of the hotel, and there is nothing else down the street, I doubt it would be very noisy.

I'm still waiting to see the other ones.

This time of year is difficult for them, he explained, because while it is cool outside, they are not allowed to turn on the a/c. But, at night, with the windows open and the lights on, the mosquitos come in. (It's rainy and humid.) They supposedly have electronic mosquito repellants but it doesn't help. And, he admits, the bathrooms get terribly hot because they can't control the radiators.

Both bathrooms in the new rooms don't have windows nor radiators but do have towel warmers. (Something my room doesn't have and with the humidity, my handwashed clothes aren't drying quickly. The towel warmers will help. )

Someone needs to go into the screen business in Italy.

Posted by
8638 posts

Just around the corner from my hotel is a jewelry store and outside was a young guy, in uniform, with a gun. (Security Guard.) Perhaps I could hire him as my bodyguard in Venice to protect against pickpockets?

It's actually funny, if looking, I could spot the pickpockets. Yesterday, at Venezia Santa Lucia, I was watching a group of guys. They had no luggage and moved from one side of the station to another eyeing people as they walked by. There were 3 or 4 of them and they would separate, then come together, separate, then come together. Too obvious and not a police officer in sight.

Posted by
11613 posts

Sorry you are having some negative experiences, Frank.

The police are probably on the lookout for possible terror-related activities than pickpockets.

Posted by
2432 posts

Frank, Aren't you just experiencing Italy? I don't see that you can blame the hotel for birds chirping in the morning or, being in Europe, for no screens. Could you still be jet lagged making these things harder to handle? The pickpockets have been there through the ages and that won't change until money forms change. It sounds like you need to go have a few glass of wine in some backstreet little corner to help you relax and enjoy the ambiance! I'm hoping things look up for you soon!

Posted by
8638 posts

Sorry, Wray, that you don't get the humor in my posts. Yes, I did have an attempt at pickpocketing and at first I had problems at the hotel, but I think everyone else realizes that I am exaggerating everything else.

And since I have been in Europe for over two weeks, I don't think it's jet lag. I think it's more reporting on life in Italy.

One other thing....I've been hanging around the hotel and have listened to other people request new rooms for the same reason I did. So, I guess it's not me.

Posted by
11575 posts

As Frank is more well traveled than I have any hope to ever be (yep, Frank, I've browsed your website) if he says the hotel has issues, I'm inclined to take his word for it. :O)

Posted by
2762 posts

I only have the 2013 guidebook, but the only place that matches the description of The Hotel Which Shall Not Be Named is described as "formal" with "grand public spaces", rooms with "homey warmth" and a "garden oasis" which is a "sanctuary". If that is the place, it is a venerable Venice institution---can it have fallen so far in four years?

By local law the air on be turned on until a certain date, maybe mid-May? You would face the same problem at any hotel.

I cannot fathom complaining about the sound of birds chirping in the morning. Best not visit Alaska in the summer, when they start singing at 2 or 3 in the morning.

Posted by
8638 posts

It's all relative. AT about $275 a night, even for Venice, I expect better. If this was a budget hotel, there would be nothing to complain about.

About the birds....I was pointing out the irony that the hotel put out photos of owls to try to scare away the birds......I never blame hotels about outside noise when there isn't anything they can do about it. In fact today, I went into the breakfast room/lounge in the middle of the day and a pigeon sauntered in. I helped the staff shoo it out. Then it came back. Finally, we shooed it out and I pointed the way to San Marco where it belongs. We all had a good laugh.

The description in the current RS guidebook sounds like it was taken from a promotional piece printed by the hotel.

As an example, the hotel I was in before Venice, the Goldener Adler in Innsbruck, has been around since 1390. They did a wonderful job of keeping that old world feeling and ambiance but bring the hotel into the modern times. They kept the Tyrolian feeling yet allowed guests to feel comfortable. I would think that some of the public spaces might look the same as it did hundreds of years ago yet it quietly added extras for today's world. I highly recommend it.

Posted by
1846 posts

Frank, I have certainly had some moments while traveling when the chirping of birds really, really annoyed me, too. It seems some days, almost nothing goes right :)

Posted by
8638 posts

I leave on Saturday. I will write a report on the hotel, and name it, when all is done so my report can be fully honest. Things might get a lot better.

Posted by
2762 posts

I will bet the owls are there to keep away the pigeons----they are a real menace. Don't ever sit down on a bench in the shade without checking the tree above you. My husband got pigeon-bombed that way---yuck. I got hit just walking on a narrow street, so no place is totally safe. That stuff is really caustic and even though we cleaned it off right away, it ruined my favorite silk sweater.

Posted by
8638 posts

Nothing fazes the pigeons in Venice.....I think if you try they'll just flip you the "bird."

Posted by
2432 posts

OK, Frank, I guess I need a little ;) as I can't hear the tone of your voice. We all have grumpy days and I assumed you were having one of them!

Posted by
752 posts

I wish I could be comforting, but I got punked twice on the same trip, in Roma and Napoli, classic bait and switch, both times Managers took me to a nice room, then waited for me to leave the building when they moved all my belongings to a dump room. One had No heat in mid-December and the other was the Manager's bedroom where I was told I had to share the bed. The booking website refused my review cause "it was too outrageous and nobody would believe it."

And even though I wear No bags and No purses and my pockets are empty, I still have to deal with the machine gals and pickpockets. So I don't know, nothing has changed since Mom traveled in Italy 40 years ago. She dealt with pickpockets too and No screens.

Posted by
11 posts

I for one have been having quite a chuckle at Frank's posts

Some much needed humour today! Thanks Frank (sorry for laughing at your expense) :)

Posted by
11575 posts

...and the other was the Manager's bedroom where I was told I had to
share the bed.

NO!! For real? Seriously?
Holy Hotel Horrors, that one takes the biscuit!! How did you get out of that?

Posted by
8638 posts

I'm glad people are laughing.

At first I was tired and not happy. But then I finally remembered......I'm in Italy. It's not supposed to make sense.

Example: Tonight I really wasn't hungry so I thought I would take a walk. Venice is the perfect place to wander and explore.

My hotel is west of Piazza San Marco. So, I took off west away from San Marco. Over small bridges, past statue laden piazzas, and after 30 minutes of walking, I wound up in...... Piazza San Marco.

Only in Venice do you head west and end up east.

Posted by
490 posts

Sorry that this happened...I assume that you were a solo traveler....it is always best to have a look out facing away from the machine and in close contact with your back...

Knowing the word for " thief" in the language of the country that you are traveling to, or yelling the word for police usually makes the pick pockets back off quickly...but by then they usually have taken something.

Be safe!

Posted by
4506 posts

Hi Frank II,

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experiences...

My wallet and phone were in my "personal item" bag that was clipped shut.

It's a good thing the pickpockets didn't get anything valuable.

Is your "personal item" bag a 'Pacsafe bag' or what kind of clips do you use to secure your bag?

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by
8638 posts

My personal item for this trip is an Eagle Creek Small Gear Tote that I modified to turn it into a shoulder/messenger bag.

It has locking zippers so I just put a carabiner through the zipper to keep it shut. I think I will switch to a cable key ring which is harder to get open since it has to be unscrewed.

I have a couple of pacsafe bags but found them too difficult for me to even get into.

Posted by
4031 posts

Okay, your mention of being west of San Marco switched my attention from sparse but classic rooms to "formal, with uniformed staff and grand public spaces..." Not that it matters, but you've been teasing us for days now.

Posted by
6243 posts

If chirping birds are annoying, do stay away from Kauai---- the roosters at 4AM will hold no charm for you-- and the ones that start at 3AM are truly obnoxious

just trying to find some silver lining for you

Posted by
741 posts

Sorry you're having a bad experience, Frank. We'll be in Venice in less than two weeks and I really want to know that we're not staying in your hotel. If you're going to b****h about a place, say the name.

Posted by
55 posts

Stoutfella,
I think Frank is being prudent so as not to make his situation worse while he is still staying there. He's promised to fill us in as to the identity after he leaves.

Posted by
8638 posts

Before anyone thinks my current hotel is a hellhole, it is not. Most people seem to like it and the reviews are excellent. Perhaps it was my first taste of the place that sullenned my attitude.

As of now, I would give it three out of five stars. Mostly because of the price I'm paying.

Last night, with the fan moving at just the right angle, the earplugs and eyesade on, I got a decent night sleep.

Posted by
741 posts

A good night's sleep does, indeed, go a long way toward changing one's perspective. Enjoy your trip, Frank!

Posted by
240 posts

Sorry to read about your experience, Frank. Head over to Suso, everything will look better with gelato !!

Posted by
8638 posts

Doctor's orders......stay off the sugar.

Oh, wait, the doctor's not here........Gelato, per favore!!!!

Posted by
741 posts

Frank: You mentioned in your initial comments on the hotel that there was no A/C until June. Do you know that to be correct? As someone else said, the date for air conditioning would be the same at every hotel, I presume. While it looks like comfortable temperatures when we're there May 17-21, I'm just wondering what to expect on the A/C front, should the weather suddenly turn warmer.

Posted by
30971 posts

Frank II,

I assume you're now at your new hotel and hopefully the accommodations are an improvement over the last place. I'm sue many here will be looking forward to reading your review of the hotel in Venice.

Posted by
2762 posts

Yes, where is that review? Inquiring minds want to know. . .

Posted by
8638 posts

Sorry, my hotel in Padua made my Venice hotel look like the Ritz with little to no wifi. Will write when I can.

Posted by
30971 posts

Frank II,

Now you've really piqued my interest. Perhaps you could also do a review on the hotel in Padova. If you want to change hotels, I can offer an alternative that's not too far from your present location.

Posted by
401 posts

I got punked twice on the same trip, in Roma and Napoli, classic bait and switch, both times Managers took me to a nice room, then waited for me to leave the building when they moved all my belongings to a dump room.
Blockquote

Wow. Now that would really make me angry. When we went to Venice we stayed in a Crowne Plaza hotel off the island. We are a family of 4 plus my sister and most of the hotels can only sleep 2-3 people maximum not to mention the cost. Yes it was a western hotel but the rooms were nice and really huge by Texas standards. The train station to Venice was right there is was about a 20 minute ride and only cost us $100 a night. The other funny thing is that the hotel was in the middle of a nice residential neighborhood. Very different zoning laws.

Posted by
8638 posts

The hotel in Venice was the Hotel Flora.

The daytime staff was very good and really tried to make me comfortable. The evening staff went through the motions. The stay got better as the days progressed.

Upon checkout, guests can't check out with reception. They have to wait to talk to the manager.

However, compared to the hotel I was in In Padua, the Hotel Flora was great.

In Padua, I stayed at the Albergo Al Fagiano. This is a Rick Steves tour hotel and my room was absolutely terrible.

--the tile floor was softer than the bed;

--there was a stain on the bedspread,

--the pillow was literally flat when I put my head on it

--wifi was virtually non-existent

--the towels were so thin that when held up to the light, it would shine through

--on my last day, as I was drying myself after showering, the only bath towel in the room literally split down the center. (On a positive note, the shower pressure was good and there was plenty of hot water.)

--the bar of soap provided was the smallest thing I"ve ever seen. It was about twice the size of a mentos candy.

--breakfast was paltry.

--I never saw anyone at reception smile or act as if they cared.

--the room was dark and had no place to plug anything in. I had a choice of charging my phone either in the bathroom or by unplugging one of the two small lamps.

--the location was good and convenient to everything.

Posted by
4031 posts

I think Al Fagiano is the hotel our Vilage Italy tour is staying at this summer. Frank, did you report your experience to RSE? DH and I are arriving in Padova several days early, but we're staying at the Al Santo until the tour begins.

Posted by
3537 posts

Frank,
I wish u a much better trip with better experiences going forward.
Somehow I truely hope that that u can put all the bad experiences in venice and padua behind u.
I too have had to deal with a rude, noisy, buggy hotel with no recourse but a tripadvisor review. It upset me for days, and that was last summer in Switzerland.
Italy can be wonderful. I hope u can experience that.

Posted by
11613 posts

I routinely have to unplug a tiny lamp to charge my phone or ipad, I laughed out loud at your comment!

Posted by
15578 posts

We stayed at the Fagiano a few years ago and as luck would have it, the RS group was staying there as well. In fact, the RS Tour Leader was sitting behind the front desk with the clerk, and she kept coaching him in Italian, "Now smile" "OK say in English 'Thank you for staying with us', "Have a nice day". Hilarious. The room was just as described in the guide book. "creatively" decorated. The bells in the nearby shrine of St Anthony woke us up at 6 am. And yes, the breakfast was spare and all the tour members kept coming to the desk telling them they were out of this or that. But we had a good time. It was easy to get to on the tram from the train station.

Posted by
30971 posts

jane,

I stayed at Hotel Al Santo on my visit to Padova and was very pleased with the accommodations. The rooms weren't luxurious but were clean and functional, and I thought the breakfast was good. I believe it's a family operation and the staff were wonderful and very friendly, although some seemed to have limited English language abilities (which provided a good opportunity to work on my Italian skills). The hotel is in a great location, only a few minutes walk from the Basilica of St. Anthony and convenient to Tram stops.

Posted by
4031 posts

Thanks, Ken. It sounds like just the kind of place we were looking for.

Posted by
752 posts

Consider buying the RS Micronet towels. I pack all three sizes - regular, king, and super - in my carryon, they add little or no weight, they slip in between the cracks and you don't even know they are there.

They are Amazing, they are soft and supple and feel plush and luxurious on the skin, it just takes a pat to dry off. Hang them from a rack and they dry fast. They wash up fast and easy with a dab of laundry or dish soap.

They are very strong towels but soft and flexible, and I've used them to sleep on, cover up, or warm up in a cold flight cabin. And they are beautiful, sleek and shiny with a sheen that never dulls. I have the turquoise towels, and they travel everywhere with me.