Welcome back and thanks for continuing to read my ramblings 😀
Continuing on from the previous (Part 1) a few more observations for visitors to this great country. These aren’t unique to Italy, however; I’ve seen a lot of it here. The over abundance of high pressure tat sales people on the streets. This isn’t designed to offend or stereotype people, but the reality is that most of these people are from Africa. They will generally be pretty easy to spot on the street as they tend to dress is what I think must be some kind of traditional clothing but it’s loud and at times quite garish.
Hard sell Hawkers
Here is an example of what I was mentioning above. These folks will be trying to sell any manner of products. This chap was trying to sell leather bracelets and leather belts. To be fair the products look to be a pretty decent quality, however; I’d never likely buy from them due to the brash and aggressive tactics they use. They aren’t rude, at least I’ve not encountered any as yet. They will eventually take no for an answer but it can be hard work.
Here are my tips to try and hasten an end to your experience with them:
1) DO NOT engage with them. They will seem very pleasant and polite (which can make it hard to just brush them off, but do it).
2) Stand your ground and say “No grazie”
3) DO NOT — I’ll repeat this point — DO NOT let them give you anything!!! They will say things like “It’s a gift for you my friend”, it’s free, etc, etc. Remember, NOTHING IS FREE!!! Once you have something in your hand they will refuse to take it back but will demand payment for the product. The best thing you can do is try to force it back to their hands or failing that leave it on the table or whatever and if possible simply walk away, or if you’re having a meal, leave it on the edge of the table then ignore the person and the product. It won’t take them long to snatch it up and move on.
One thing about these people that really struck me as odd is that they will come into cafe’s and restaurants and go table to table. In most places this would never be tolerated by the establishments and staff would act quickly to get them out, however; here it seems to be tolerated. In the evenings the thing you’ll be offered most will be to buy flowers. Same thing, simply say no thanks and then ignore them from that point on, they will move on quickly. Other items you’ll offered will be blankets, wraps (clothing sort not eating), sun glasses (all fakes), Sun cream (likely fakes, I’d avoid), pocket sized packs of kleenex (pretty odd), I’ve also seen BBQ lighters and on the streets at traffic lights I’ve even seen armfuls of wiper blades and air fresheners.
Again, just tell these people NO and be firm, progress to be a more aggressive if they persist. DO NOT EVER let them give you anything … FREE!!!
When you go to visit all the wonderful historic sites around the country such as the Colosseum in Rome, pretty much anywhere in Vatican City, etc. My Advice is anywhere you think looks good to eat you should do the following:
1) Check the place out on TripAdvisor and read the reviews from people and pay attention to the 1 and 2 star reviews and the warnings they post, in most cases they will not be wrong!
2) You’ve done the above and decide to chance it, make sure you see a menu with prices!!! Many places near tourist hot spots will not have prices in the menu or the menus and prices will be confusing. Keep a menu after the order or take photos of the menu and prices and verify before actually ordering. You can google countless stories of food bills for lunch running €200-1500 or just a couple of people. It is nearly impossible to win a dispute in the store with the owners, you will at times be physically restrained from leaving until you’ve paid the bill, there are even reports of restaurant owners calling in “friends” to help them. The only thing you can do in these cases is pay it and take as much evidence as possible like the bill and maybe even a menu with pricing then notify the police and file a report. Don’t expect much to come from it, but you never know.
3) Be sure what they deliver to your table is ONLY what you ordered! Usual extras such as bread shouldn’t be a concern but it’s worth asking, however; if you get a dish that you didn’t ask for either send it back and tell them you didn’t order it, or ask if it’s included free. This happened to one family, the article also provides some other great tips to avoid getting ripped off.
The best advice I’ve found and been told is to go several blocks off the beaten track and find somewhere to eat, you’ll get better, cheaper and more authentic food and most likely generally a much more enjoyable Italian experience.
I don’t mean to try and make out Italy to sound like a bad place, it’s most certainly not. I’ve experienced similar things elsewhere in my travels, for some reason I find some of it a bit more in your face here, the language barrier also makes it seem more … real or something.
I promise I’ll try to post more of the positives and keep the negatives to a minimum unless they’re important.
Thanks again for reading this and the previous post. Until the next time Arrivederci!