Travel

How To Avoid Getting Scammed In Italy

In a 1970s Italian cult lm, the famous actor Totò—mainly known for his roles as a creative crook— conned an Italian-American tourist in Rome by selling him nothing short of the Fountain of Trevi. The victim was hooked into thinking he could collect all the money that had been thrown to the bottom of the fountain. This is obviously an extreme scenario but, unfortunately, it is still very true that cheating travelers is a thriving business in every country. It is also true that Italy’s famous creativity can be particularly unpleasant for vulnerable people like tourists who hardly know the language and local customs, and might easily trust someone offering help. This doesn’t mean that tourists always have to be on the lookout, but it is important to be careful to avoid problems that could ruin their vacation. And we are not just talking about scams and deception, but about knowing your rights in general. We’ll make some suggestions on how to best avoid unfortunate surprises. In this regard, it is immediately worth mentioning the Italian consumer association Altroconsumowww.altroconsumo. it (take note of the site and keep it with you at all times: www. altroconsumo.it). They offer free legal assistance in case of complaints, and have excellent and trustworthy knowledge of how to handle certain situations.

Taxi & Co.

To begin with, as soon as you arrive at your destination— whether at a train station or the airport—avoid anyone offering one-to-one taxi services. Stay away from those who approach you directly, offering to take you wherever you want to go at a lower price and by helping you jump the usual lines. Even once you’re in an authorized taxi and are taking a standard trip like from the airport to the city center, ask if there is a at rate (and make sure to check the rate chart posted in the cab). This goes for “characteristic” means of transportation as well, such as the Venetian gondolas, Roman carriages and others. The rate must always be agreed upon before departure. Once you arrive at your destination, take as long as you need to check your change, making sure to count it carefully.

Currency Exchange

As is the case with taxis, be sure to check that the money- exchange places are legitimate. It may seem like a redundant warning, but newspapers have reported many trusting tourists who found themselves with banknotes that are no longer in circulation. In general, keep in mind that paying by credit card is preferable and safer even for small purchases.

Hotels

Naturally, we hope this never happens to you, but if anything gets stolen from your hotel room, the Italian Civil Code (Article 1783 and the following) says that the hotel is responsible and must reimburse you within a predetermined amount of time. This means that any eventual waivers of liability are null and void from a legal standpoint.

Water

Environmentally friendly and a bargain: urban fountains supply drinking water and it is silly not to take advantage of them. Carry a water bottle or any reusable bottle and ll it up with water from these fountains—called “the mayor’s water” in Italy—without spending a fortune at bars and kiosks, which are often overpriced in touristy cities.

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