Arrivederci Roma

Or, How Do I get My Coins Out of Trevi Fountain

For the first time in my life I am embarrassed to be Italian.  It was my idea for Mike and I to travel to Rome, excited as I was to share the amazing history and beauty of this city with him as we transitioned from Croatia to Spain.  Anyone can simply fly from one country to another but I had the thought that we had the time so we should take a week and explore Rome since Mike had never been here.  It is a week I will not forget.

On the second day of our stay here we took a walk to see the old Roman Forum and the Coliseum.  We spent several hours walking and taking pictures to give Mike time to absorb the history that is Ancient Rome.  It was while leaving the Coliseum that we decided to take the subway back to Termini Station instead of walking the mile back to our hostel.  It was while attempting to board that subway that a group of gypsy kids swarmed Mike and stole his wallet while distracting him.  He didn’t realize it but 12 seconds after they blocked my entrance into the subway I knew something was wrong and I asked him if he had his wallet, he didn’t.  It was too late; the doors to the subway had closed and the kids stood there, still in their circle waiting to speed away with his driver’s license, his credit cards, a little cash, and his pride.   It is humiliating and depressing to be targeted when you feel that you are not target material.

What made things worse in my opinion was that we were told by those who watched this happen how these kids steal; how others in this city keep their wallets and purses chained to their persons; how and where these kids hide to watch for their next victim; and that the police do nothing to stop them.  We were still told to report the theft to the local police department and twice we tried to comply.  We went to a police station after we had called every bank in the US to report the theft and the first station we went to was closed because they had a big case happening and all manpower had been put on that case.  Really?  One of the largest cities in the world and the police department is closed because there is a really big event happening?

The next day we went to another station to report the theft and again we were told to wait and someone would come to take our report.  An hour of watching men walking around the station slapping each other on the back and chatting and doing nothing we left disgusted and more aware than ever why the crime in this city is so high.  There is no one leading this group of people in uniform and this is why gypsies steal on subways and on the streets; there is no one to stop them.

If I had been thinking faster I would have begun to take pictures of those little thieves; tons and tons of photos and then plastered them all over the internet.  Having their mug shots spread all over the internet will help to get their thieving to stop.  It is clear that the police in this city are worthless and ending the crime has to happen with the common man.

Look around Rome the next time you come; if you do; and realize that there is no economy except tourism.  You drive the shops and the restaurants and the hotels and the tourism companies.  Everyone in this city works for you.  It is time to either stop coming here or to demand that you be safe while here.  If they want our money to keep this economy going they had better do something to earn it; like make sure the thieving stops.

Until that time I will no longer look at Rome in the same way; nor will I return.  Thousands of years ago structures were built in this city that are still standing; monuments to past greatness and of those who led this once great country; today there is high crime and graffiti and vandalism everywhere.  For the people of this country to tolerate these facts makes me sad and embarrassed.  It is time for the real citizens of Rome to take their city back and to rid it of the crime and vandalism that Rome is sadly known for.  It is time to fight back against a police department derelict in its duty to those it was sworn to protect.

Rome fell once due to greed and corruption.  Will the citizens of modern Rome let history repeat itself?   Do not let the fiddle play…

Florence Lince

One comment

  1. Florence, so sorry that you and Mike had that experience in Rome. What a pain! We had a very similar experience on our first trip there 20 years ago (we’ve since been back several times). Fortunately we managed to catch the kids in the act, so we didn’t go through what you did. But I guess it was our wake-up call on traveler security and we totally changed how we protect our belongings since then. Hope that you are settling into your new home in Spain and that all is well. ~Terri


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