The Roma

Can anyone tell me the truth about the ROMA in Italy.. I hear some bad things.. But I think it wrong to classify or stereotype.. Who are they really??

Posted by Michelle
Valrico, FL, USA
120 posts

Thank you Frank I posted both questions at about the same time. Just used different terms to describe the same thing I was asking about.. I dunno if it polite to call them gypsies or Roma or something else.. Yes Ken gave me good information.. I did not know such people still existed to be honest.. I thought it was something of the past.. It sounds like they are in fact somewhat mistreated to be honest.. To have to resort to stealing as they do not have any other way to feed themselves or are being exploited by others.
I shall be careful. But thank you for the information.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

I think you're better off actually reading a book on their history and origins, including their fate in WWII, than getting perceptions off a helpline which may be too limiting and probably slanted toward the negative (I'm trying to be neutral here and also sensitive to a culture I don't fully comprehend myself). Of all the RS tours, I think the Bulgaria tour does the most comprehensive job educating folks about them and giving them first hand experience. I will offer one positive outlook (which will hopefully counteract some of the negatives you're likely to hear - not to say they are not valid)...it is that they are incredibly diverse and have a rich and noteworthy culture of music and dance - whether in Romania, Bosnia, Spain, Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria, etc.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

Not sure what you want with "the truth about ROMA in Italy." You asked the same question early with excellent responses from Ken. Was that not the truth, in your opinion? Romas, gypsies, etc., are nearly world wide (don't know about the middle east) and are loose bands of an ethnic minority who SOMETIMES organize for illegal activity. What they do varies from country to country. We have them in the US under a common term of Travelers. In the US they tend to engage in construction/repair scams - roof repairs, driveway coatings, etc. There have been a number of expose stories on national TVs. Haven't heard much about them recent but I am sure they are still around. My experience in Rome with Romas, gypsies, (whatever you want to call them) is petty crime - pickpockets, petty theft, etc. A very common tactic is a older women or two with a fake baby and several small children. The woman attempts a distraction with the baby and the children tend to surround you and quickly grab anything in pockets or bags that is not firmly attached. Also seen them working train and bus stations with a similar format. Seen them going through train cars (generally Regional trains - more people and more crowded) soliciting donations or selling something but again it is mainly a distractions so that they can grab something else. They are only a problem for you if you allow them to engage you. Be stern and firm.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

To continue briefly Have said all of the above. I have found them to be less prevalent in the last couple of years, than in previous travels. I had read reports that local governments are cracking down, mandating school time for the kids, etc., and it could be having a positive effect. On the other hard, they are just part of the background noise when in Rome and elsewhere so maybe I don't notice them as much. During nearly a years travel in Europe over the past 18 years or so, have only been slightly bothered by the "gypsies" twice and both time it was basically my fault. Lost nothing other a little inconvenience at the moment. Basically they are not a problem for the average tourist.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Michelle, "To have to resort to stealing as they do not have any other way to feed themselves" In many cases this is not an activity they engage in to "feed themselves", but is rather a well organized criminal enterprise, with the "kingpins" living in luxury in Romania (or elsewhere). The documentary program that I linked in the other Thread showed the palatial mansions built by the proceeds of the street crime throughout Europe. In some cases the kingpins have two or more mansions built in the same town, as that's a "status symbol" for them. Of course, they're all driving Cadillacs, Mercedes or other luxury vehicles. I'm sure there are some in the Gypsy / Roma culture that are just trying to "make a living" by begging or pickpocketing. I doubt that regular means of employment are available to some in that group. I believe I've found a YouTube link for the entire documentary. If you're interested, have a look at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGDj0B5WQaA Cheers!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

....To have to resort to stealing as they do not have any other way to feed themselves or are being exploited by others. ...... That is a very questionable statement. They have choices or least the leadership does. In many ways they are an organized criminal element by choice. Perhaps some people on the edges do not but as an organized group they are pretty good at they do. Michelle, you are coming across as being a little naive. The Travelers have worked Florida hard so am surprise you have heard about them. Gypsies is considered a negative word since it tends to be apply to about anyone who engages in petty theft. Roma is probably a more acceptable word but it needs to be applied to the correct group. Again, they probably will not brother you. PS Looks like I was composing about the same time as Ken. He stated it better as I was trying to watch the America's Cup race at the same time.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

I just watched the entire program again, using the link I listed earlier. It's even more grim than I remembered it, but still very interesting. The squalor of the camps is not likely something most travellers will ever see in Europe, but it's still the reality.