Subject: Re: Pickpockets Italy
My husband and I have travelled in many parts of the world, but the only time we were attacked by thieves (gypsy children) was in Florence. It was mid-morning and we were walking from the train station to our hotel near the duomo on a busy street. We were both carrying backpacks so it made it more difficult for us to deal with the situation. About five or six children mobbed us, and while I was shaking some off, one of them managed to get my husband's camera from way up inside his winter jacket where he had it stored in an inside pocket. How this happened we still don't know as he didn't even realize it was gone. For some inexplicable reason, they handed it back. It was quite a cheap camera and so perhaps they realized they wouldn't get anything for it. The incident happened so fast that we really didn't have time to take stock. Since then we have been extra vigilant. However, I do carry a fanny pack in front with a few bills of the local currency and have never had any problem with this.

You should take particular care in Rome near and inside the Termini railway station, and on the subway lines out of the station. Also, the bus from Termini to the Vatican is supposed to be bad, but we have never had any problems with this trip. If children approach you, I would recommend crossing the road if you can or taking up a defensive stand; don't let them get near you. When a couple of gypsy women started to chase us once, I turned around and yelled at them; this made them stop. In Florence you should be extra careful around the main railway station and near the major tourist sites (duomo, Uffizi, etc.). We usually leave our plane tickets and extra travellers' cheques in the hotel safe once we find our lodgings.

Ann Widdowson