Reading the story :- The Ruined Trip to Rome by Allison Herbon in your Travel stories, brought back bad memories of my own trip in Italy in 1995. This story is just to show how unfeeling Italian Authorities can be towards tourist who does not understand their language!!
I was travelling with my 2 young children(7 and 11years) for a trip to recover ourselves from their dad leaving us at the time. Strugggling with our baggage from one of the hostels, we had to catch a local bus to the center of Florence to catch our connecting Eurobus.
We have never travelled by local bus before and did not realise we had to buy our tickets in advance at the tobacco stall. Our other Eurobus pass was pre-booked from Australia so we did not have any problems with that.
When we boarded the bus, we saw everyone showing their tickest/passes and so we tried to tell the bus driver that we do not speak Italian and that we do not have tickets and if we can purchase them from him. He waved his hand to hurry us along and told us to get in. Unable to understand the language ,we told him we are Australians and did not know where the tickets are sold.
Nevertheless , we thought maybe we can pay him later when we get to the destination.
To our surprise, just a few minutes later 3 inspectors boarded the bus and came straight to us and asked me to pay a huge fine for not having tickets.
I tried to explain to them that we are tourist and if you can imagine how my children were reacting to the very intimidated approach by these male Italian inspectors. They refused to listen and everyone on the bus was looking at us at this stage. I feel that some people looked sorry for us. To end the anger and frustration and disgust I just gave them the money as I know they will not let me get away.
I feel we were robbed at that stage and that money was shared between them as I don’t remember getting a receipt either!! I felt at that stage that our holiday was ruined. It was about AU$250.00 for the 3 of us!!
If it was in Australia, the inspectors would have been more understanding and perhaps give us a warning or even help us being tourist. We go there to visit their country hoping to bring home happy memories of the people and the place but unfortunately that left a very bitter taste in our mouths. So beware when you go to Italy, make sure you fnid out these details before you get caught as they have no sympathy towards tourist.
One other lesson that I learnt travelling through Italy(Rome this time), is to use safety pins your backpack zippers!! I took this advise from a travel guide book and boy did it saved me from getting my video camera pinched. We always walk around with one of the kids sort of behind a me bit as I carry the backpack with our stuff(travel guide tip).
One day our guard fell as we had to run and catch this train . At the bottom of the stairway to the platform was this gypsy lady(watch out for them in Italy. Lots of them) with a baby in her arms. We passed her and my children ran into the train ahead of me and I just manage to get in before the door shut. The train was pretty packed. The man in front of me was shouting at someone behind me so I turn around and saw the gypsy lady (baby in arms and all) struggling to open my backpack!!!!
I was shocked and then the door shut!!.
I could not believe it and thank god for my safety pin , it saved my camera.
So be wary people.
-By J Jalil
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