Subject: Theft in Rome & Train Travel
Dear Sherry, We have been in Italy many times and have NEVER had any problem with theft. Americans are the largest targeted group for theft, due to stereotypes. In Rome, you do need to be cautious of the groups of children that distract you while they try to put their hands in your pockets (or so I've read). However, I don't feel any less safe than if I were walking in downtow San Francisco or New York City. My husband always keeps this wallet in his one front pocket and his cash in the other front pocket, just to be safe. I carry a backpack-style purse and keep the zippers to the bottom so I can feel for them occasionally. The only problem we've had with Gypsies in Rome are the one's who try to wash your car windows!

Obviously, any main tourist area or crowed place requires some caution, especially the bus from the train station to the Vatican - very popular line with clueless tourists to rob. We usually do not travel with lots of valuables and try to blend in so they can't tell we are Americans - the most targeted group. Rick Steves always talks about his money belt, but we find it unnecessary. I say do what makes you feel comfortable.

Regarding train travel, we have usually had luck buying tickets the day of travel and not making reservations, but we choose second class and save the extra money for shopping. You can buy a special ticket in Italy, from the railpass section, then step 3):

The flexible-but-complex Italian Kilometric Ticket (Biglietto Chilometrico) allows 1#5 people to split up to 3,000 kilometers of travel within 2 months for about $105 2nd class or $160 1st class. Buy it at a major train station or travel agency in Italy (not available at airport or border stations, not sold by ETBD).

The #ticket# is a book of 20 coupons, each good for a one-way journey for any or all of the listed travelers. You need to validate each trip at a local train station or travel agency before departing. The ticket agent will subtract kilometers for each person. (Kids 4 to 11 #cost# your pass only half as many kilometers as an adult.) Supplements of a few dollars per segment will be charged for high-speed trains such as IC and EC, or up to a maximum of $15 for Eurostar Italia trains. You can reserve places (when desired or necessary) a few days in advance in the city of departure, if ticket agents aren#t too busy. Despite the supplements, this pass saves money if you use up the kilometers. Use our map to estimate distance.

You also punch each coupon in the yellow date-stamp machine in the station. After the date-stamp, you have 6 hours to complete journeys of less than 200 km, or 24 - 48 hours with unlimited stops for trips longer than 200 km.

Having looked into this before for ourselves, it does seem a bit more economical and worth the extra time. The site also gives info about the flexipass and it does say you pay a supplement for Eurostar trains and reservations. So, depending on where you are going, how long you will be on the train, and how you like to travel, it may be just as expensive to buy the pass and pay the supplements as it will be to just buy tickets individually. Hope this helps. Kristy S.F.