Unwelcoming, Unfriendly Rome

Arriving from the hospitality of Thailand to the hospitality of Rome is like walking from a massage to the boxing ring. An extreme contrast. This was Fanfan’s first trip to Europe, long in planning, starting with her dream destination Rome. Two days later we leave Rome completely disillusioned. Not the best of experiences… While I assume locals in Rome are friendly and welcoming we were unlucky to find the percentage who are not. Weirdly they were all found in the tourist industry. OK I understand how living in a city littered with tourists can be irritable to locals. At the same time it seems idiotic to recruit those irritated to work directly with tourists. If you don’t want to deal with tourists then don’t work in the tourism industry. Simple? So is Rome tourist friendly? In 2 days we had 3 bewilderingly bad experiences.

Roman Gladiator. Is Rome Tourist Friendly. Unfriendly Bad Experiences

Terra Cafè at Roma Termini (Terravision)

OK this bad experience was just bizarre. I accept it as the misfortune of crossing an out-of-place oddball, far from the stereotypical Italian more of a new breed hipster. In no more than a few words he lies to me, is rude and gives wrong information. Impressive? Scenario. Early our first morning in Rome I arrive to the Terra Cafe counter for information on Rome Bus Tours. At the time (06:00) I am the only person queuing. I start “Hi! Do you speak English?” Answer “No”. He turns his back to ignore me. I search through information on pamphlets sat on the desk. He turns to me, grabs the pamphlet from under my nose, flips it and slams it on the desk. Says nothing. Goes back to ignoring me. With no communication or pamphlet I reluctantly ask “Do you know about bus tours?” Finally he answers “Counter opposite, 9 o’clock”. I walk out. He shouts out to me “08:30”. Obviously he did speak English. Later in the day he uses perfect English to scold me for photographing the Terravision booth (snigger).

Terravision Café. Is Rome Tourist Friendly. Unfriendly Bad Experiences

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Our second and final day in Rome. We call to Basilica di Santa Maria a must see on Fanfan’s attractions list (an amazing building). With luggage in tow Fanfan enters the church wheeling the smaller bag. Within steps of the door a curator gestures with his hands and repeats something from a distance. Not a clue what he said. We expect the bag to be the problem so Fanfan turns to leave the bag with me at the door. She turns to be confronted by the curator. Berated and belittled. “Don’t you dare turn your shoulder on me….. rude girl…”. It went for a while. In one ear and out the next. We were too shocked and baffled by the reaction to comprehend words. Apparently to wheel a bag in Santa Maria you must stay on the white tiles. Sorry we missed it… There just seems to no room for cultural faux pas in Rome. Fanfan leaves the building and only returns after takes a lot of convincing. Well worth it in the end. A beautiful building.

Santa Maria.  Is Rome Tourist Friendly. Unfriendly Bad Experiences

EasyJet at Rome Fiumicino Airport

The scenario; the bag passes the luggage gauge after check-in and we continue to board at the boarding gates. “Sorry sir your bag is too big you will have to check it. 50 Euros”. I wasn’t worried. I put the bag into the gauge (pictured below) and explain how it passed earlier. “Sorry sir it didn’t fit ‘easy’ you have to pay 50 Euros”…. What?!?? Complete disbelief. Of course I refuse to pay. “If you don’t pay you won’t fly.” Next follows a 20 minute standoff. It included threats “Do you want me to check the second bag that will be 100 Euros,” (the second bag was tiny in the gauge). The f***er had me by the balls and wasn’t letting go. Humiliated in front of hundreds of people. “Cash or Credit Card?…. Cash or Credit Card”. Snide. Whatever happened to goodwill and service with a smile. It ended with a lie “Last chance to board the doors are closing”. I had no choice but to obey. My testicles rolled to the luggage hold alongside my perfectly sized hand luggage and 50 Euros. Robbed. Of course the doors weren’t actually closing. I was met in the gangway by queues ready to tell of their own experiences. The ‘funniest’ an Asian lady was asked to put her passport wallet from her belt to her luggage. Just to make sure it fits. Would have been hilarious to have sent it with checked baggage…

Baggage Guage. Is Rome Tourist Friendly. Unfriendly Bad ExperiencesEasyjet Fiumicino. Is Rome Tourist Friendly Unfriendly Bad ExperiencesBaggage Fees. Is Rome Tourist Friendly. Unfriendly Bad Experiences

No I am not whinging about a no-thrills airline. Surprisingly I actually quite like easyJet. This was a completely isolated incident. An incident at Fiumicino Airport forcing us to leave Rome with further bewilderment. Following the incident at Rome Airport we board 3 further easyJet flights with no problem whatsoever; London Gatwick twice and Belfast International. By far the worst of our bad experiences in Rome. An experience we planned to avoid long in advance. In April we would travel to 8 countries, with 4 easyJet flights and only hand luggage. We choose the perfect bag for our 56 x 45 x 25cm carry on luggage limit. We travel light. Nothing could go wrong… until we meet Rome Fiumicino Airport. Thankfully we won’t be seeing you for a while.

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  • I feel your pain

    hi guys sorry to hear bout your bad experience in Rome. Unfortunately tourists are taken for granted in this city so I’m not surprised about what happened to you. Localites are rather kind with tourists and willing to help but not many speak english. I know what I am talking bout…I’ve been living in rome for 5 years and I am italian. Believe me..life is veeery tough here for locals as well..the city is a jungle. Not a wonder it is hard four tourists to get a decent service. Add to that bad work conditions, lot of stress and some bad italian attitude and you will see why people are “somehow” rude here.

    • LiveLessOrdinary

      I like the people outside of Rome 🙂 Been to Italy incl. Rome a few times and never had problems in the past. Maybe we caught them on a bad day…

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  • Maximiliano Herrera

    It was not an unlucky experience. 99% of people get regulary robbed or cheated in that garbage country called Italy. In Rome one guy was trying to steal me 20 euros while changing money to buy in a supermarket. Later I bought a Sudoku puzzle book and the lady in the cash tried to steal 2 euros change . Than, few japanese people were charged almost 30 euros for 2 capucchinos and 2 croissants. Taxi drivers in Rome are the worst scum on earth.Inmates in jail are probably more honest. Airport personel in Fiumicino, Malpensa and Palermo airports are all thieves, there is the highest percentage of missing items from bags in the world. Italians=scumbags. You can consider yourself lucky if you can get out from that country without having been cheated,specially if you transit through Rome, every single barman, taxi driver, cashier try to cheat or overcharge you.

    • Hi Max. Sounds like you had terrible experiences. I wrote this at the same time as press reports on a British couple being charged 64 euros for four ice-creams and a string of bad experiences started to surface. To be fair this was my 1st in 3 visits which I had bad experiences. The first time visiting was on a road trip through Italy and we met some great people. Remember a jolly old Italian fellow at our campsite came to greet us with a bottle of wine. Admittedly this was not in Rome. One incident does really stick out from my first visit to Rome. An elderly man on a bike was sided by a car and knocked onto his ass. The car driver flipped him off as if it were his fault then drove on.

    • Claudio

      What the hell is this boring rant? “garbage country called Italy” “Italians=scumbags”. Unfortunately of scum in Italy we have enough and so we are happy that guys like you go elsewhere! criticism can be accepted, the hateful racist insults send back to the sender.

  • Truthwillsetufree

    I am currently in Italy for holidays , omg what a horrible experience I cannot wait to go back to my country . The people here keep laughing at me , how rude ! They would say something in Italian and laugh at me . I am naturally thin , I’m guessing they are saying something about my legs because they would look and laugh at my legs . I do not recommend to visit Italy , the people are horrible , I still have not met even 1 nice Italian . The service at the restaurants are shit as well . They have very nice buildings but that’s all really. Italians are racist too , majority are !

    • J_Robit

      They are jerks, that is for sure. Italy was a drag during my times there. I would not put it in my top 10 now for any european-bound vacationing.

  • Jeroen

    I dont think its a typical Rome thing. You can experience this in Paris or Amsterdam to. Bigger busy cities where people are in a hurry and dont have the time to be at some ugly tourists service all the time. Many black-white thinking not respecting rules ‘Sorry we missed it…’ and not taking just ‘no’ for an answer. I get the impression of an oversensitive spoiled fat American thinking the whole world excists out of servants.

  • Guest

    First of all I dont think this is a typical ‘Rome’ thing you can experience this in Paris or Amsterdam to so why bashing this beautiful historic city been there myself times. Yes people may be more used to tourists and somewhat short of to talk but youre story is full of black-white thinking us against them. Also you dont really dont respect local rules ”Sorry we missed it… ” and get frustrated when youre adressed to it.(in italian first because youre there TOURIST). Dont take a short ‘no’ for an answer. You must be very unattractive yourself otherwise people would help. I get the impression of an oversenstive ugly American who thinks the whole world ex…ists out of personal servants. Oops thats rude!?

    • I’m British live in Asia I travel for a living, now sitting in Suvarnabhumi Airport flying to Xian China reading this. During that month I travelled to 10 capital cities including Paris and London where I expected to be the least friendly. This was written from the perspective of tourism and the tourism service industry which I am qualified in. Rome was by far the worst city I’ve been to as in attitude towards visitors within the tourist industry. Ever. It is very unusual for me to talk bad of any destination but on this occasion I was dumbfounded. Note I am average build and rather attractive.

      • Miggzzz

        i am currently in rome right now and yes this place tends to be very rude to tourists, which is explains why i am in this forum/post and no I am not american

  • Bradley W

    I’m not so sure about the people saying that “Italy is a horrible place” have ever been outside of the tourist cities… I lived in Italy for two years and was immersed in the culture. 9 times out of 10, the people I met were super nice. I never went to Rome as I shied away from the larger cities in favour of the outdoors. All our experiences are different, and it’s important not to judge an entire country based on a one-week experience in a city that gets 30 million tourists per year.

  • Lizle

    I am a foreign live and married to italian i live here in italy for almost 7 years believe it or not italian manners a rude and arrogant they are no good system for everythings i experience a lot of job here are opposite inside the company all of them they used a lot of bad words they heve no rule to the right conduct even a student i think i need to tell all the truth but i have not enough time to tell the story of my experience so thats why lot of here at delinquent mostly Who work in goverment

  • sally

    Although the historical part of the city is beautiful I don’t want to go back to rome!
    The way they receive tourists here is beyond horrible! Its been a huge disappointment!

  • Guest

    I onced travelled to Rome via Rome Fiumicino Airport and i never saw scumbags anywhere else in the world like the Italians.My advice for all of you is to avoid them as much as you can 🙂

  • Rod Gaset

    Rome is horrendous, dirty, unkept, extremely dangerous. Watch out at all times! Don’t wink too slowly cause they’ll take what you are just wearing!
    I experienced theft and a big disappointment in this city I decided to give a second chance. I was coming from visiting Barcelona. Simply put, it was like coming from Liechtenstein to Somalia.

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  • Laura

    Just came back from 2 nights in Venice,2 nights in rome and 2 nights in Florence. Italy is run down, and the Italians we encountered were rude and unhelpful. Full of con artists, pick pockets and beggers every 15 meters. Would not recommend Italy. Will not be going back and no wonder the country is on its knees.

  • Gabe

    Italians – in general – are bullies, are rude, are aggressive, are arrogant, and too often stupid. They will stand in doorways talking to each other, thus blocking people. Talking LOUD on phones. Will try to open a locked bathroom stall door instead of knocking first. Will block sidewalk wheelchair ramps with their car. Will park in handicap parking spots although not handicapped. Will get on elevators clearly going down although they want to go up, and then make drama that it is not going up. Will bud in front of you in a line. Too much profanity. And on and on. My gosh, the drama is prolific. Being in Rome reminds me literally of being in high school. I am not impressed. Of course I am generalizing. But rudeness, especially by Italian women, is so common to go unnoticed.

  • maxwell

    Im in Rome right now on my first trip here. Ive been here for 4 days and this has been a horrible experience. Each day brings a new level of stupidity. 3 of the restaurants Ive attended, have charged me more then what the price was in the menu (and not a small amount either). In all three cases I caught it and confronted them and was told ‘that is the NEW price’. Ive also had 2 times when I ordered a cafe (coffee), and was told the machine was broken. As I was there eating a dolche (desert), an Italian would come in and oder a cafe and have it delivered to him. I would then ask ‘I thought it was broken’. ‘Oh, we just fixed it’. This exact situation happened 2 times in 4 days. Wow. I also found the food to be kinda a mixed bag. I used to be a sou chef in a 4 star restaurant, so I know a little bit about food. Now some of my meals were great and others were down right horrible and almost inedible, as in, I would pay and leave after two bites. As if that wasn’t enough I was accused of bank robber (I’m totally being honest here). One of my Euro’s had a stain on it and I was told “This only happens when you steal it from ATM’s”. Me “It looked fine until my wallet got soaked earlier today in the rain, see my american bills look the same.” Waiter “No. I don’t think so. I think you stole this from an ATM.” Me “Wait, you mean me, as in, I personally robbed an ATM.” Waiter “Yes.”

    And this is all JUST my experiences’ eating, Im not even going into everything else. I should also point out the fallowing.
    1. I speak some basic itallian (enough for greetings and dealing with ordering food, buying tickets, shopping…ect. I don’t go to a country and expect to make a good impression by only speaking my language.
    2. Im an experienced traveler for work. and go out of my way to go to act as a guest in a country and want to get to know the PEOPLE, by being friendly and trying to have conversations with them.
    3. This is MY experience in ROME and only rome, and Im sure there are plenty of friendly people in the city.

    In conclusion I would never recommend more then a day or two in rome they clearly don’t want you there. So I say go somewhere else and spend your money.