Tourist targets dwindle for Roman bandits

Click to follow

Cheating tourists is so common in central Rome that the police are constantly on the lookout for it. It is not unusual to find patrols of the Guardia di Finanza (tax police) and the Carabinieri as well as local police, lounging against their vehicles and studying the crowds through their sunglasses.

Cheating tourists is so common in central Rome that the police are constantly on the lookout for it. It is not unusual to find patrols of the Guardia di Finanza (tax police) and the Carabinieri as well as local police, lounging against their vehicles and studying the crowds through their sunglasses.

But according to a report in the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero yesterday, outrageous overcharging is still routine. At a drinks kiosk in the centre of Rome, a half-litre of Coke will set an Italian back €4.50 (£3.10) but a foreigner may have to pay €8. A small bottle of mineral water, €3 to €4 to a local, shoots up to €5 for a foreigner.

And at a souvenir stall by the Colosseum it seems there is a three-band tariff in operation for the miniature marble replicas of the Colosseum on sale. An authentic Roman, with the twang to prove it, pays €10. An out-of-town Italian: €45. And that nice young lady in the short pants, sandals and white socks, so obviously foreign? The price for her is €105.

Perhaps it is desperation that drives the vendors to these extremes. Romans have vanished from the city, fleeing to the seaside or the mountains for a holiday that can last more than two weeks when all the public holidays are joined up. Their place has been taken over by strangers, including many of the non-Roman Italians whom war and Sars and impending recession have persuaded to take their holiday in Italy – 20 per cent up on the usual number – as well as by foreigners.

But for the same reason that so many Italians have stayed at home this Easter, numbers of foreign tourists are also disastrously down – 25 per cent in terms of hotel rooms sold. And most conspicuous by their absence are the tourists that the sellers of Coke and mineral water and miniature replicas of the Colosseum are always the most pleased to see: the Americans and the Japanese.

Comments