ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e ARCHITITTURA: Roma, luglio-agosto 2014: turisti americani combattono con venditori ambulanti illegali, borseggiatori, furti, e innumerevoli camion-bar nel tentativo di visitare la Piazza Navona. THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (17|08|2014).
— Rome mayor hits back at Foreign Office warning over pickpockets – Ignazio Marino says British advice to tourists about crime in Italian capital is misleading, and London is more dangerous. THE GUARDIAN U.K., (17|08|2014).
The mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, has hit back at a Foreign Office warning over the perils of travelling to the Italian capital, branding it “misleading and false” and insisting that London is “much more dangerous” than the Eternal City.
In the latest move by a capital that sometimes struggles to preserve its image as a premier tourist destination, the centre-left mayor said the FCO’s warning over bag-snatching and pickpocketing on public transport and crowded areas was an insult to the local people, claiming they felt offended by advice that had “the whiff of inexistent superiority” about it.
“The advice of the British Foreign Office on the dangers for tourists from the United Kingdom on holiday in Rome is misleading and false,” Marino said. “In reality, as I pointed out last year to Britain’s ambassador to Italy, international data irrefutably show that London is, from the point of view of crime, much more dangerous than Rome.
“And it is because of this that the Italian government, rightly, points out the danger of certain London neighbourhoods to our tourists. Rome welcomes all tourists from the United Kingdom with joy, but the Roman people feel offended by warnings which have the whiff of inexistent superiority.”
In the travel advice section of its website, the FCO says that while crime levels in Italy are “generally low”, petty crime – often involving “co-ordinated gangs including minors” – is more common in the big city centres.
Singling out Rome, it urges tourists to take care in and around the main Termini railway station and on the number 64 bus which, often overcrowded, takes passengers from Termini to St Peter’s Square. Visitors are also advised to “be particularly vigilant on trains to and from the main airports in Italy (especially [Rome’s] Fiumicino airport) and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches. Targets are often hassled and jostled to distract them, while other members of the gang go into action.”
Marino’s comments are the angriest he has expressed on the subject, but they are not the first. Last August, after the British consul in Rome warned tourists about the “high risk of personal theft” they faced in the capital, the politician snapped back by saying the city did “not deserve to be the victim of alarmism”.
On Saturday, the semi-militarised carabinieri police in Rome said that in the course of a week this month, officers had arrested 32 suspected pickpocketers and bag-snatchers who were “surprised in action on public transport, at stops and in underground carriages … and in the areas of great touristic interest.”
They added: “The thieves’ favoured victims are tourists, Italian and foreign, whose attention is easily diverted by the beauties of the Eternal City.”
The latest row will not surprise some of the millions of tourists who in recent years have swarmed around the Trevi fountain, packed into the Colosseum or gazed at the Sistine Chapel. In 2009, TripAdvisor declared Rome one of the worst cities in the world for pickpockets.
The complaints have continued this summer. “Don’t go to Rome unless you don’t mind thief’s [sic],” reads one post on VirtualTourist.com, a travel website, dating from June. Another visitor describes having their money, phone and camera stolen by a man posing as a fellow sightseer near the Colosseum.
And tourists are not the only ones who are annoyed. Writing for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Sunday, journalist Paolo Conti responded to Marino’s statement with irritation. “The Roman people, dear mayor Marino, are certainly not offended by the Foreign Office, which is doing its job, but by those lowlifes that make Termini, Fiumicino and too many buses unusable,” he wrote.
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— THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (17|08|2014).
— FOTO FONTE | SOURCE:
Rome, American Troops fighting to capture the City of Rome in 1944.