Unveiling Scams and Deception Targeting Tourists on the Streets of Rome: Ways to Stay Protected


Rome, the eternal city, stands as a testament to centuries of history, culture, and art. Yet, amidst its grandeur, an unfortunate reality exists – the presence of scams and deceit that target unsuspecting tourists. While the majority of Rome’s inhabitants are welcoming and genuine, a small fraction engages in various forms of fraudulent activities to exploit visitors. This article aims to shed light on some common scams in Rome and provide practical tips on how tourists can protect themselves from falling victim to such schemes.

Common Scams in Rome

  1. Fake Gladiator Photos: One of the iconic attractions in Rome is the Colosseum, often surrounded by individuals dressed as gladiators, ready to pose for photos. However, some of these “gladiators” may demand exorbitant fees for a picture, becoming aggressive if not paid. To avoid this scam, politely decline or establish the cost upfront before taking a photo.
  2. Rosemary Bracelets: Street vendors might approach tourists with seemingly free rosemary sprigs, then quickly fashion them into bracelets and demand payment. To avoid this, firmly decline any unsolicited offerings from strangers.
  3. Friendship Bracelets: Vendors, often children, may offer to tie a friendship bracelet on tourists’ wrists. Once the bracelet is on, they demand payment and become persistent. Politely but firmly decline and walk away.
  4. Distraction Theft: Petty thieves work in pairs or groups, using various tactics to divert tourists’ attention while an accomplice steals valuables. Stay vigilant, keep belongings secure, and avoid engaging with overly friendly strangers.
  5. Fake petitions or surveys: Scammers might approach tourists asking them to sign petitions or participate in surveys, then press for a donation. Politely decline and walk away if not interested.
  6. Closed Attraction Scam: Someone might approach tourists claiming that a particular attraction is closed for the day, offering alternative, often more expensive, options. Verify information independently or consult official sources.

Ways to Protect Yourself

  1. Research and Awareness: Prior to your trip, educate yourself about common scams in Rome. Being aware of potential risks can help you recognize and avoid them.
  2. Confidence and Assertiveness: Projecting confidence can deter scammers. Politely but firmly decline offers or advances that make you uncomfortable.
  3. Secure Your Belongings: Use anti-theft bags or pouches to keep your valuables safe. Avoid keeping wallets or phones in back pockets, and use locks on bags when necessary.
  4. Group Travel: Moving in groups can decrease your vulnerability to scams. Thieves often target individuals who are alone.
  5. Ignore Unsolicited Offers: Politely decline unsolicited items, services, or conversations from strangers. Avoid eye contact and keep walking.
  6. Use Official Services: Stick to reputable tour operators, official transportation services, and authorized ticket vendors.
  7. Verify Information: If someone claims an attraction is closed or unavailable, independently verify this information through official websites or trusted sources.
  8. Emergency Numbers: Keep emergency contacts and the local embassy’s number saved on your phone.


Rome’s enchanting beauty should be enjoyed without the shadow of scams and deception. By arming themselves with knowledge and adopting a cautious yet open-minded approach, tourists can fully appreciate the city’s wonders while staying safe from opportunistic schemes. Vigilance, assertiveness, and a healthy dose of skepticism can go a long way in ensuring a memorable and scam-free visit to the eternal city.