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Rome is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, receiving between seven and ten million tourists a year! It’s easy to see why: it is a magnificent city, rich in history, culture, and charm. With thousands of people visiting the Eternal City every day, it is unsurprising that tourist traps and scams have popped up left right and centre. In this post, I would like to advise you how to avoid the most common ones. I should preface this post by saying that Rome is not a dangerous city. Even if you do experience crime, it is much more likely to be petty crime rather than violent. I lived there for almost two years and never had any moments when I felt unsafe.

Good common sense is necessary whenever travelling. For example:

  • Making photocopies of your passport, visa and other important documents
  • Knowing the emergency telephone number (112 in Italy)
  • Being aware of your belongings and general surroundings at all times.
  • Having an offline map downloaded onto your phone so you can navigate your way without data or wifi. I use Googlemaps and Maps.me.
  • Knowing how late buses & trains run and having enough cash on you for an emergency taxi ride
  • Not leaving your drink unguarded (and making sure you don’t go over your limits)
  • Listening to your gut – if a person or situation makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid, get away as quickly as possible.

The citizens of Rome are kind-hearted, gregarious people who are generally welcoming and friendly to tourists. Unfortunately there are some bad apples who will try to extort (or steal) money from you. Follow my top tips and don’t give them the satisfaction!

Pickpockets

Let’s start with the worst offenders. Being robbed can seriously spoil your trip and dealing with insurance claims and police reports can be stressful, time-consuming processes. In Rome, many pickpockets work in groups using the distraction technique. Locals can recognise the gaggle of teenage, female pickpocketers by sight now! They mostly operate around Termini (the central train station which connects the A and B metro lines) along with stops along the A line at the major tourist attractions. The pickpocketing gangs distract you by pushing into you during the surge of people entering and exiting at different stops. While you focus on regaining your balance or finding something to hold onto, one of them slips their hand into your pockets. They immediately get off the train and blend into the crowd. However, solo pickpocketers also operate on the train (and buses and trams) so you should be aware of your belongings and surroundings whenever using public transport.

To protect against pickpocketing:

  • Don’t keep your wallet or phone in the back pocket of your jeans.
  • Keep your bag in front of you, with the opening close to your body. I usually stand with one hand over the opening clasp.
  • If you have a backpack, take it off and rest it on your lap (if seated) or hold it in your arms (if facing).
  • Leave your passport at your accommodation in a hotel room safe (or hostel locker) and keep a photocopy in your bag.
  • Buy a spare walletmoney belt or anti-theft bag.
  • Only carry small amounts of cash around with you – look into a bank account which lets you visit ATM/cash machines without incurring charges, so you don’t have to carry all your spending money around with you. I use N26, who offer free withdrawals around Europe, and can provide referral codes if you would like to sign up!
  • Put your money and cards in different pockets and wallets, not in just one place.

Street distractions

Here are some of the typical street distractions that you might encounter in Rome. The purpose is to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash… or distract & snatch.

  • A stranger approaching you for help with a survey (or to get your signature). While you are distracted, one of their accomplices snatches your valuables.
  • Asking for directions and blocking your vision with a map, so you can’t see a hand sneaking into your bag or pocket.
  • A street game / exhibition (again, taking advantage of your distracted state). In Rome, there are lots of street musicians, artists and performers, most of who are legitimate but it is good to be careful.

Street sellers

It is a universal truth that when in Rome, street vendors will try persistently to sell you things. Bottles of ice cold water, selfie sticks, scarves, trinkets and souvenirs to name a few. Generally you can dismiss them with a “No, grazie” or just ignore them. However, some vendors can be really pushy and determined. You will often see vendors trying to sell red roses, usually to couples strolling hand in hand. If you are offered one, don’t accept it unless you are willing to pay for it. Even holding it for a brief moment will result in the vendor badgering you for payment (usually a few euros).

An alternative to the red roses is ‘the friendship bracelet’ or ‘friendship ring’ scam. The vendor might offer it as a gift, but once accepted, they immediately put it onto your hand or wrist. Once you’ve worn it, even for a split second, they will try to guilt-trip you into giving them money. I made the rookie mistake of engaging a street vendor in conversation and before I knew it, I had a threaded bracelet around my wrist. After much pleading from him, and rigid refusal from me, he angrily cut the bracelet off with scissors and stormed away. He may have put a hex on me too!

Restaurants

As a general rule, if a margherita pizza costs more than €7-8 euros, it is probably a tourist trap. Keep that in mind, along with these other words of wisdom to ensure that you don’t get ripped off whilst dining in Rome.

  • If your dish is much larger than expected, or an extra dish arrives at your table that you didn’t order, question it before tucking in. It might be a mistake or even a present from the restaurant staff (listen out for the magic word gratis!).However, it could be a sneaky dish that you will be charged for. Many restaurants serve limencello at the end of dinner on the house… but a side portion of fresh oysters probably isn’t going to be complimentary!
  • Avoid menus that do not include prices
  • Ask for an English and Italian menu so you can check the prices are the same
  • Eat where the locals eat; check out the other diners and see if there are any Italians. If everyone looks and sounds like a tourist, it probably won’t be an amazing, authentic dining experience.

In Italy, it is illegal not to be given an itemised receipt. So if you are suspicious about the bill, ask for an itemised receipt and don’t accept a receipt that only shows the total.

There are some additional charges which might seem like scams, but actually aren’t. A cover charge will probably be added to your restaurant bill; pane e coperto (which translates as ‘bread and tableware’). This is normal. If you don’t want the bread, wave it away when it is brought over, or it will be added automatically. You may be surprised by water bottles being added to your bill when you thought they were complimentary. In Rome, it’s uncommon to ask for or receive tap water so you should expect to pay for water.

A little note about café culture – it is customary to quickly drink your coffee standing at the bar, rather than sip it slowly and leisurely at a table. If you want to sit down, your order will be more expensive. Cafés generally have two prices for each item – the al banco standing price and the al tavolo table price. Sometimes the difference can be quite ridiculous – like coffees costing two or three times more if consumed al tavolo. This is especially common in cafés surrounding the piazzas or near the main tourist attractions. Always check the menu before you order and don’t feel pressurised into sitting down if you just want a quick caffeine boost. 

Train station ‘helpers’

Nothing screams ‘tourist’ like someone wandering around a train station with a confused look on their face, or spending five minutes pressing buttons on a ticket machine. I have witnessed ‘helpers’ prey on tourists many times. These people don’t work at the train station, they are just opportunists. Be very aware that if someone offers to show you how to buy your ticket, they might not be doing it out of the goodness of their heart. Single journey tickets cost €1.50 in Rome, and it is very common for a friendly stranger to try to persuade you to hand over some of your change. I have seen tourists paying willing, grateful for the assistance, but I have also seen people hand over the cash, looking confused and uncertain, wondering if this is part of the Italian tipping culture. It’s not.

Hopefully these ‘helpers’ will just badger you for some small coins but it could be worse. Someone could steal your wallet or demand a larger tip after helping to carry your bags. Keep hold of your belongings, use a polite but firm ‘No, grazie!’ and ask official train station staff for assistance.

Taxis

Taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging unsuspecting tourists. I’ve heard of visitors paying €250 to travel from Fiumicino airport to the city centre. A staggering rip-off considering all official city taxis have fixed fares within the city limits. A single taxi journey from Fiumicino airport costs €48 and €30 from Ciampino airport. The city centre is classified as anywhere within the Aurelian walls. This map shows (in orange) which areas are included in this fixed fare scheme.

Use the official white taxis, rather than unmarked taxis whose drivers can charge whatever they like. If you do use a private taxi firm, ask how much it will roughly cost before getting in. You shouldn’t be charged extra per bag or passenger.

Make sure you have small change as well, so the driver cannot claim he doesn’t have any small notes and coins, and pockets your change.

Find one at a taxi rank or call a taxi firm. If you decide to book over the phone, be aware that the meter starts running once the booking is confirmed, not once you get inside the vehicle. At the time of writing, Uber Black is available in Rome and Scooterino is a popular alternative to Uber (the same premise except you whizz around the city on the back of a motorbike)

Other scams and tourist traps

Count your change before leaving the shop/till area. This is something I always had to check, especially when shopping in food and street markets. Don’t be embarrassed about slowly & carefully checking that you have received the right amount and question any discrepancies. Once they’ve been caught out, the vendors usually hand over the correct change with a half-hearted (or non-existent) apology.

There are hundreds of tour providers in Rome for the major sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Vatican. Do your research before arriving and use reputable tour companies with official names/ logos / T-shirt. If in doubt, ask for recommendations from hotel staff.

Near the Colosseum, you will see men dressed in Roman gladiator costumes. They are routinely banned from loitering outside, but often return to persuade tourists to pose for photos. Once the photo has been taken, they will hound you for cash.

Walking around the city, you will see fake luxury products, like watches and handbags, being sold at knock-off prices. These are often sold on the bridges crossing the Tiber river and outside metro stations. It is a crime to be in possession of fake goods in Rome, and if caught by the police, you may be fined several thousand euros.

You may see tourists travelling around Rome in horse-drawn carts. I personally don’t agree with these as the horses are often overworked, underfed and dehydrated from dragging people around under the hot sun. If you want to ride in one of these carts, get a quote before climbing in.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you! Do you know of any other well-known scams that we should be aware of?

Ciao for now

The Curious Sparrow

Photo credit: Skitter Photo / Pexels

The post How to avoid getting scammed in Rome appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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The University of California, Berkeley Wind Ensemble will be touring through Croatia and Italy from 15 to 25 may, providing concerts in Zagreb, Serra de’ Cont, Jesi, Lucca and Rome.

The U.C. Berkeley Wind Ensemble derives from the Department of Music at U.C. Berkeley, which has been ranked among the top music departments in the United States for several decades.

The ensemble, directed by Dr. Robert Calonico, is comprised of 50 students, age 18-23. The repertoire of the Wind Ensemble includes works from Holst, Lauridsen, Bernstein, Della Cese, Grainger, Gorb, Aquilanti and more.

Tour programme 2018
May 16 – Zaprešić, Zagreb – Zapresic City Hall
May 18 – Serra de’ Conti- Chiostro di San Francesco
May 19 – Jesi – Teatro Pergolesi
May 21 – Lucca – Auditorium San Romano
May 23 – Rome – Aula Magna University Sapienza

This international tour will end with a big concert at the Aula Magna of the Sapienza University of Rome, on May 23. What makes this concert even more special is that the MuSa Orchestra, the university orchestra, will open this concert with a performance of the 1st movement of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony in B minor.

Start concert 18.30h – Wednesday May 23
Aula Magna – Rectorate building
P.le Aldo Moro 5, Roma
Sapienza University of Rome

www.wenstravel.com

The post Italian tour for Californian Wind Ensemble University of California, Berkeley appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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Alessandro Satta, the 30-year-old Roman fugitive, resident in Phoenix (USA), arrested in recent days by the financiers of the Provincial Command of Rome near the Colosseum, where he occasionally would act as a travel tour guide in the Roman Forum. 

Wanted since September 7, 2016 because he was considered by the Pennsylvania District Court to be at the top of a criminal organization dealing in the United States for selling considerable quantities of marijuana coming from Mexico, transported through California and distributed in the Philadelphia area., which it had  direct involvement in the distribution of 450 kilos of marijuana, worth over 2.8 million dollars. 

It took place thanks to the monitoring activity carried out under the coordination of the Management the anti-mafia district of Rome, by the specialists of the Gico del Nucleo di Polizia economic financial center in Rome: exploiting the knowledge of the environments and the delinquent dynamics and, above all, analyzing social media, the financiers – in synergy with the Service for international police cooperation. They discovered his side job at the forum and after a few days , they arrested him while he was giving instructions to some American tourists.

The post Fugitive arrested near Rome Colosseum appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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The Rome Aquarium is near completion.

The President of Eur Spa has announced that it is pointing to the inauguration by June 2018. For the opening of the aquarium would still be “2-3 per cent of the work”, quantifiable in about 3 million euros investment.

Rome, the Romans and the numerous tourists who visit the Eternal City will therefore have to wait a few more months for the opening of the Aquarium.

The EUR aquarium, on paper, should be an entertainment center of great interest, with its 5 thousand sea creatures of 100 different species, the 30 themed tanks and over 1 million liters of water, the first in Italy to have a 360-degree tunnel to observe sharks and stingrays.

How much will entry to the AQUARIUM OF ROME cost?

Tickets to visit the aquarium will be around 17 euros for adults and 13.50 for children (0 to 3 years free), but “the offer of pre-opening – according to the note of the Merlin Group, society which takes care of the expertise of the aquarium – provides for everyone a promotional price of 12 euros “.

Friday, 1 June
Via delle Tre Fontane 24 

The post WHEN WILL THE AQUARIUM OPEN IN ROME – EUR ZONE? appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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Usually we suggest not to eat near tourist attractions with their horrible service and tourist prices, and low quality!! But we tried Tora Sushi & Asian Cuisine a few and found out this is NOT a tourist trap!

If it is possible to feel two strong passions simultaneously in a love relationship, as the poet Catullo wrote in the 1st century B.C. “Odi et Amo” (I hate and I love); it is certainly not possible with sushi: you love it or hate it, that’s it! Even while living in the ancient capital of the world, sushi lovers might feel a craving for the Japanese delicacy and wonder where to find tasty sushi and sashimi. We have been hunting for you and found Tora, a sleek and neat authentic Japanese restaurant next to Piazza Navona, on Corso Rinascimento 71.

The menu offers a wide variety of scrumptious choices. We had an assortment of uramaki rolls:  avocado, salmon & Philadelphia cheese, and also spicy tuna;  salmon & avocado hosomaki, Tori Kastu: a Japanese cutlet of curry chicken served with rice, a super tasty Tempura and Wok Calamari sautéed with asparagus, broccoli, ginger, Tobanjan chili with oyster sauce, and a hint of lime simply to die for.

All the entrees were fresh and flavorful and each had a pure Asian spirit. The renowned Japanese chefs, Koji Nakai and Ayako Shimizu take great care in selecting the best quality ingredients and proudly create both traditional and innovative recipes: to honor the Japanese tradition as well as to harmonize their experience with contemporary inspirations in new forms of cuisine. The service was truly remarkable;  the staff welcomed us with a complimentary prosecco and a sample appetizer. The waiter was very polite and friendly without being phony. It was a great dining experience, highly recommended. “Provare per credere” as Italians say.

Check out their facebook page here

Visit their website here

By Emanuela Laguardia

The post Japanese Restaurant in Rome – It’s not a Tourist Trap! appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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Last Sunday of the month Vatican Museums are free!! The free entrance time is: 9:00 – 12:30 Closing 14:00. It’s not possible to make reservations for the free entry.

Calendar 2018 of free day tickets:

Sunday, March 25th, April 29th, may 27th, June 24th, July 29th, August  26th, September 30th, October 28th, November 25th,  December 30th.

The world’s largest art collections since they exhibit the huge collection of artwork accumulated over the centuries by the popes.   The museum was founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century.

The Sistine Chapel and the papal frescoes painted by Raffaello are part of the works that museum visitors can admire in their path.

The Vatican Museums, which occupy much of the vast courtyard, were visited in 2008 by 4,441,734 people, confirming it as the most visited “Italian” museum, although it should be remembered that it is not exactly such that it is located in non-partisan territory Italian Republic.

Source: Funweek Roma
Link to original article in Italian

On every first Sunday of the month Museums are free! More info here.

The post Free Vatican Museums on last Sunday of the Month appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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On every Tuesday in Rome from 20:00 -22:00 there will be a legal representative available for free legal advice and assistance relating to Italian Immigration and Citizenship law.  Our multilingual staff assist Expats relocating to Rome and Italy with a variety of complex matters related to immigration issues like visas, permits of stay and citizenship.

Where to find us?

At Expats living in Rome meetup are on Tuesday nights. Location changes every Tuesday night look here. 

It’s best to reserve a time by emailing legal@expatslivinginrome.com

The post FREE LEGAL INFORMATION IN ROME – Helping foreigners get legal in Italy appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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Every First Sunday of the month all museums are free in Rome.

What to visit? Which museums are free? Here is the full list of free state and civic museums in Rome you can visit for free on the 1st Sunday of every month!

Free Museums in Rome, every first Sunday of the month

Before making a visit, it is best to call the museum to see if it is open.

The ‘Musei gratuiti a Roma’ event does not always include a visit to the exhibitions in progress, for which the special charge may remain in force.

List of free state museums offering free entrance 

MUSEUMS AND STATAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL sites

– Colosseo e Foro Romano / Palatino (ingresso contingentato)
– Museo nazionale Romano (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano)
– Galleria Borghese (sempre obbligatoria la prenotazione)
– Museo nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia
– Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna
– Museo Boncompagni Ludovisi – Museo H.C. Andersen

– Galleria nazionale d’Arte Antica Palazzo Barberini
– Galleria nazionale d’Arte Antica Palazzo Corsini
– Galleria Spada

– Museo nazionale di Palazzo Venezia
– Museo nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo (ingresso contingentato)


– Museo nazionale d’Arte Orientale “G. Tucci” – Museo nazionale Preistorico Etnografico “L. Pigorini”
– Museo nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari
– Museo nazionale dell’Alto Medioevo
– Museo nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali
– Terme di Caracalla – Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella
– Villa dei Quintili
– Santa Maria Nova sull’Appia Antica
– Villa di Livia a Prima Porta
– Area archeologica di Veio

– Scavi di Ostia Antica
– Museo Ostiense
– Castello di Giulio II
– Area archeologica del Porto di Traiano

– Villa Adriana a Tivoli
– Villa d’Este a Tivoli

Don’t forget on the last Sunday the Vatican Museums are free! More info here.

The post First Sunday of the month museums are free in Rome appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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PREGNANT INTERNATIONAL COUPLES (ONE AMERICAN-BORN, ONE FOREIGN-BORN) CASTING NEW TELEVISION DOCU-SERIES FOR MAJOR CABLE NETWORK

We are searching WORLDWIDE for PREGNANT INTERNATIONAL COUPLES (one American-born, one foreign-born) to tell your story on a new television docu-series for a major cable network!


Maybe you met while traveling, or where one was working, living or traveling to your country or vice versa?

We’re looking for all types of couples (unmarried or recently married) who will be due sometime in 2018.  One of you must be American-born, and the other can be from anywhere else in the world.

Parents-to-be can be currently living ANYWHERE, and DO NOT have to live in the same country (but it’s also fine if you do).

This show will document your journey of discovery as you plan for your baby’s arrival!

There is pay if selected for the show!

TO SUBMIT:

Email ALL the information requested below to:  BabyDuein2018@gmail.com

Be sure to include:
1.  Your name (first and last)
2.  Age
3.  Contact phone number
4.  Name and age of your significant other
5.  Marital status (married, dating, engaged, etc.)
6.  City/Country where you each live (can be separate, or together)
7.  Baby’s due date
8.  Brief story about your relationship – how you met, your current situation, and anything else interesting about your relationship, and why you’d be great for this show
9.  Recent photo(s) of you (jpg format please)
——————
Alicia Good, Casting Director & Owner @Damn Good Casting
iPhone: 310.666.3664    SKYPE: aliciagood

babyduein2018@gmail.com

Website: damngoodcasting.me

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Taxes For Expats has received many requests to explain the tax filing requirements for Americans residing in Italy.

Here are a few easy to digest guides covering what you need to know – and nothing you don’t.

  1. Please see our U.S. Tax Guide for 2018 for complete info on tax filing requirements as an American abroad.
  2. We’ve also put out an entire section of our website devoted to the recent tax reform and its effect on expats – TFX on Tax Reform

Expat Tax 101
  • Although filing is compulsory – most don’t have to pay. The good news is that most expats don’t end up paying any taxes to the IRS. There are many tax deductions available which allow taxpayers to deduct more than $100,000 from their taxable income. But – they must continue to file. Failure to do so can lead to penalties.
  • FBAR & FATCA filing requirements (treasury). Aside from filing returns, you may also be subject to FBAR and FATCA (Form 8938) filing requirements. These forms do not generate tax due, but are simply informational — do not ignore these! Failure to file these informational forms may generate large penalties. FBAR is filed with the treasury and is required if the sum of your non-US accounts exceeds $10k USD at any point in the year.  FATCA (form 8938) has higher thresholds (depends on where you live and what your marital status is – see our full guide link above), and is filed as part of your tax return to the IRS.
How do the requirements differ from stateside taxpayers?
  • Two extra months to file:: The first and most straightforward difference is the date when your tax return is due. If you reside abroad on tax day, April 15, you are eligible for an automatic extension to file until June 15. If you would like, you can also apply for an additional extension to file until October. Now – although you can file later with the extension, if you do wind up owing tax, interest will begin to accrue from April 15. 

 As of last year (2017),, the date for FBAR is April 15 as well.

  • Unlike a U.S. employer which will issue a W-2, which will be sent to the IRS and to you, your foreign employer will not provide you with such a form (and even if there is a local tax declaration, it does not get forwarded to the IRS). As such, you should keep accurate records of your finances.

Self Employed in Italy – Read Carefully!

Like many other western countries, Italy has a Totalization agreement with the US. What this means in plain english is that if you pay into the social security system of the foreign country as a self-employed individual, you do not have to pay into the U.S. system as well Ie – you won’t have to pay Self employment tax.

  • What makes Italy different, is that this only applies to Italian citizens. Non-citizens of italy must pay into the US Social security system. Exemption from SECA tax for self-employed US citizens/green card holders residing in Italy is granted only to Italian citizens. Non-citizens of Italy must pay self-employment to the US Social Security system.
  • Most people make contributions to the Italian system (INPS) – to receive social benefits and medical coverage – yet, those contributions cannot be claimed for exemption from US SECA tax – unless the taxpayer is a citizen of Italy.

Ines Zemelman, EA is the founder of www.taxesforexpats.com  She can be reached at ines@taxesforexpats.com

The post Expats & Tax Reform – Expats In Rome appeared first on Expats living in Rome.

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