Travel: Florence train station Santa Maria Novella tourist assaults (Corriere della Sera)

I read an article recently about tourist assaults at the Santa Maria Novella train station. Florence, as per any other Italian city with high traffic of tourists, is always crowded by people asking for charity or, worse, trying to get some money from you. Moreover, with so many people around trying to get something from you then you may react with a little temper. This wouldn’t help.

I have found a behavior that has worked for me to effectively deal with this issue. But please use your own judgment before using my suggestions:

Answer in Italian always No Grazie. If they insist, which they typically do, stare them in the eyes and show them that you do not fear them and, always very calm, say firmly: Ho detto No Grazie. If they still insist, then your last call is: Chiamo la polizia se non mi lascia in pace. With these 3 sentences, you’ll be able to go through with a lot less stress.

Never fear these people: they have absolutely no intention of having problems with the Italian Police.

English translation of excerpt from the article:

They run from one track to another like crazy, spinning tops. What links the tourists (usually Japanese and American ) is that they are required to hand over their bags and then abusive porters in return demand from 5 to 20 Euros . The station of Santa Maria Novella in Florence is held hostage to fifty "rom" that work from morning to night on the docks of the Eurostar and Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori ( Italo, for instance) in search of the «pollo da spennare» (chickens to pluck – meaning finding victims). As soon as the train doors open , they come on board in groups of three or four , eying wallets and handbags , and then with a feline sprint, run away with the loot . Tourists are exasperated the railroad is also. Some station police, stressed by the situation, have even asked for a transfer. There are eight people who control the station , which are very few to stem what has turned into a gangrene : "To keep an eye on the nomads we are forced to omit control services that are much more important, such as drug dealing and theft, which has dramatically increased " say the policemen while, for the umpteenth time , trying to ward off the "rom" on the rails.

Here is the link to the complete article from the article in the Corriere della Sera that was published on June 4th (in Italian):

Enjoy your Italian Trip with a nice smile of Italian Dolce Vita

Matteo Silvestri

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