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…

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.

36 thoughts on “Unwelcoming, Unfriendly Rome”

  1. 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.

    1. 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…

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  3. 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 !

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!?

    1. 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.

      1. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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 🙂

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. We visited Italy in 2016, and have never been treated as poorly, as by the Italians. So ironic, seeing Italy has made such a mess of its finances and really need the tourist dollars. Come on Italians, you all know that as a collective, you have a rotten attitude towards tourists. A lot has happened since the fall of the Roman Empire. Get off those high horses. We will not return to Italy. Although a beautiful country, the problem seems to be the Italians themselves. Likewise (and wrongly so, I admit), I have adopted a rather apathetic approach towards Italian tourists in my country.

  15. We spent a week in Rome during March this year (2019) and never once had any trouble and had a great time and enjoyed interacting with the locals. Now we are both well into our 70’s and walk everywhere, stopped and ate at many of the street food places as well as having meals in both a 4 star and 5 star restaurants, never once was there a problem with being over charged or short changed.

    1. Perhaps the fact that you were eating at 4 and 5 star restaurants, etc., Oldguy, contributed to an experience which sheltered you from experiencing the Italians as I and so many others on this blog experienced. I am just finishing up a first-time trip to Northern Italy, and can’t WAIT to get out of here. Yes, the old buildings and the art are nice, but I found Italians to be very unfriendly (at least compared to what I’m used to in the US), they smoke like crazy—making it difficult to sit outside and enjoy a coffee or a meal or glass of wine, and it is very dangerous here for pedestrians. Arrividerci!! I won’t be back. Ever.

      1. I was kind of happy to hear Oldguy75’s comment. It at least shows they respect the elderly. At the same time (I haven’t updated this post) I was on a road trip in Italy, between France, San Marino and Switzerland, with a stop at Pisa. We booked a hotel that had in the fine print that check-in had to be before 15:00PM which is nearer to the start of check-in with everywhere else in the world (so it’s just weird). We apologised and tried to cancel the booking but they refused and took the money. Goodwill and all that. We then stayed in another hotel in Pisa and woke up to find our car (with a British number plate) had been keyed and torn down the size (my parent’s car which didn’t help). So my visits haven’t been any better. And driving around Italy was a nightmare, as few people bother using indicators, the scooters on the coast, and I was just so happy to leave. I really need to update this post, as these things still annoys me to this day. Despite travelling pretty much half the year.

  16. We’re in Rome at the moment, we were previously in Singapore and London where we found the people to be very friendly and helpful so it was quite a shock when we came to Rome, right from the get go at the airport the people who were meant to be helpful like at the info desk or when we were trying to buy bus and train tickets were just so rude and unhelpful, they just stare at you like you’re dirt and do as little as possible to assist, even send you in the wrong direction. We get the impression they don’t like tourists here because they don’t seem to have anything to assist them like in other countries. We were planning to stay here longer but now we are leaving to go somewhere else because even though it’s a beautiful city, the people here have made it an unpleasant place to stay.

  17. Shane Travers

    Just back from Rome and had to Google to check if any e had the same experience as me and there is. The touristy things are cool and nice to see but everything else was s#*t. The people were arrogent, we felt as if we had to watch our bags the whole time taxi drivers tryed to cheat us out of money the hotel put us in a s#*t room than what we asked for, we had to change room 3 times we got over charded for everything. Never ever goi g back there hated it. Crap City. We felt so cheated by the city that on the last night there we decided to do a dine and dash at the restraunt we ate at just to make things a little bit even

  18. Just back from my Rome visit. ….Its not a place I want to go back to, or recommend anyone to ever again.
    Cultures are represented not by monuments alone, but also by the people who inhabit that land. What good are magnificcient monuments if the ppl there represent arrogance, unfriendliness and closed mindsets?
    Italians and Roman’s in particular need to travel the world to experience the ‘ rest of the world’. That will help them get off their high horses….alas, their economy does not allow them the means for such world view.

  19. I have just returned from Rome and unlike my other trips in other places, I have more than mixed feelings about the place and the people. The only astonishing thing about the experience are the fabulous iconic relics I saw. Really amazing history there to see, but unfortunately surrounded by tones of ungathered waste in the streets. All the big EU cities have the same or larger number of tourists, but the waste management is taken care of immediately. It is very sad to see the Vatican surrounded by piles of dirt wandering in the streets. Sadly so the locals are extremely unfriendly, bad-mannered and unhappy to see people who don’t shout in Italian like them, but speak in other language and in a normal tone of voice. Price range in restaurants is very big and extremely unexpected when it comes to paytime 🙂 The menus tend to show certain prices where in the end the total is increased by circa one third of the amount on top. It was quite an amazement to see that there were also some restaurants that did not overcharge you, but they were the exception ……
    Florence was a different thing. The place is far better organized and cleaner. I cannot speak about the people there because I spent only one day there and did not have a lot of time. Maybe spending a week in Rome made it possible to see all its ‘glory’…..
    Let’s hope that some Romans also read our comments and upgrade their services, although this is highly unlikely.

  20. Oh my Gosh, where do I start? Coming from Canada, one of the nicest and friendliest countries in the world, it is hard to believe that people can actually be this rude. Once we went to a restaurant in Erculano and the total bill came up to about $35 Euros and we were charged $78. The owner gave my husband this long explanation about all the extras we were been charged for. I was hospitalized in Rome with cellulitis of the ankles after a 14 hours flight. In the hospital was treated worst than a dog. Fisrt they sat me on a stretcher in the ER that was full of blood. Being a nurse myself, I questioned the Italian nurse and she didn’t even clean the stretcher, she just put paper on top of the blood. Then, they send me to a different hospital for an ultrasound of the legs and they forgot to treat me. They treated the other two Italian patients and sent them back and completely forgot about the tourist. Finally after 3 hours of waiting, I asked the nurse and I was treated but not without all three doctors fighting right in front of me about whose fault was. Total, I was there 4 hours with no pain meds, no water, no food, and septic with temp of almost 40 Celsius, I could have easily died. Then, after 18 days in Rome, we got to the airport to go to Greece. End of story, no help from anybody, and ended up missing airplane, even we were there early. We ended up having to buy another set or tickets for $ 367.00 euros per person, and
    we are a family of four!!!! Horrible experience. And there is much more, but I would be writing a book! In Rome, most people are short tempered, impatient, and unfriendly towards tourists in general. This is a impartial observation based on my own experience while in Italy.

  21. The mistake you made during first experience was not asking the question in Italian. This mentality is normal in stubborn Catholic Europe eg Spain France italy. Perception – Why should i respect your culture if you don’t respect mine? Because we saved your stubborn ignorarnt asses from a backwards dictatorship in WW2 and now our language dominates the globe. English speaking tourism industry keeps your has-been region afloat. Accept it or wither away in a crumbling city held back by a blind stagnant ideology. At least orthodoxy is a state of enlightenment.

  22. I am currently in Rome and cannot wait to leave. My husband and I came for a 3 night trip and each day have encountered rudeness and a general feeling if unwelcome everywhere we have gone. I feel stared at, mocked, ignored and have been blatantly insulted by someone in Italian who obviously thought I wouldn’t be able to understand at least the gist of what they were saying. I can’t speak Italian but had the decency at least to be able to say some basic stuff and have always said please and thank you and shown manners. The city itself is absolutely filthy and doesn’t feel safe in certain areas. This is my second time here;, the first being about 3 years ago with my daughter when Ialso thought the people were rude. I really don’t know why on earth I have paid good money to come back here for this appalling and uncomfortable experience. I actually thought forewarned is fore armed. I thought perhaps visiting with my husband would be a nice experience for him to visit what I remembered was a beautiful city, but also that maybe the experience could be different this time. Sadly I was very wrong and I will never come back. It is filthy, littered with bags of rubbish and puddles of urine and the people here treat tourists like something they have stepped in. You need your wits about you and to be on high alert for ripoff merchants trying to overcharge or scam you and thieves circling you to get at your bag by diverting yiur attention. It is far from a nice trip away; I just feel angry and can’t wait to get back to the UK.

  23. Glad to see that others have had the same experience. My wife finally broke down on our 3rd day in Rome and exclaimed “I am tired of being stared at”. We stayed in an apartment rental around the city center, but away from the tourist areas. We would go to restaurants and people would stare and laugh. It’s like a pastime to make fun of tourists who don’t speak Italian. I will never come back to Rome.

  24. Claudio sono mezza Italiana e in Roma. I was overcharged 6 euros for a coffee today. Even in front of the duomo, a coffee is 3.50. People are rude, arrogant and don’t give a crap. I speak Italian, French, Spanish, Greek and English. Some of the people in Rome have been nice because I make so much effort in Italian, but some police sent me the wrong way for a bus, and generally, there’s a rude, aggressive attitude which I didn’t find in the north or Tuscany. Yes, there are nice and rude people everywhere, but here, they are FURBO. NO MI PIACE.

  25. Oh what a bad experience! I came here for the « grandeur » of the city, the history, the architecture but the modern people just make the experience horrible!
    I came here with my mum for a long weekend. I am french (from busy Paris) but I live in Germany. I travel a lot including in Italy and this trip has just put me off Italy, Italians and especially Rome. My logic would tell me not to generalise but it’s hard. We have been overcharged everywhere for coffee. 6 € ? even in Café de la paix in Paris the coffee is cheaper! In every restaurant people expect a high tip, I hate it when it’s like that.
    This morning we wanted to visit the vatican, the bus was crowded but we decided still to get in as I am 3 months pregnant and walking in the sun is not optimal for me to do all the time. The bus was so crowded that none of the tourists who got in managed to validate their tickets. I managed after 2 stops. At the 3 rd controllers came in and asked me where did I get in, I was honest and explained the situation but they did not want to cooperate and charged us 56€ each. Same for another family of 4 in the same situation. They had a toddler crying as scared of the situation. The worst is that they let one Italian to go away with it.

    Coming from Germany I was really chocked that I was in a place that belonged to Europe. I am so happy to return to Germany get some sense and logic and when I need mediterranean vibes: portugal, Spain, grece,Morocco, croatia, montenegro… so many place to re-visit, where majority of people are warm and not feel cheated 100% of the time!

  26. I have been there once and won’t go back. Horrible experiences all around. First day in Rome I was cheated out of 90 dollars by a crook taxi driver. Nobody spoke English or tried to understand you. People in small towns just stared at you without smiling as if you are from another planet. Infrastructure is third world. The country is incredibly beautiful; unfortunately It has Italians in it.

  27. I was invited to Rome as a visiting scholar to do research for a university for a year. I hated living there so much that I requested to change my research lab so that I could live in a better country in Europe. I mean, I went there for a nice experience, not to live in a developing country with no infrastructure, filled with scammers. People there are just so uneducated, arrogant and ignorant that it embarrassed ME so much… I have never seen such rude people in my entire life. Everyday I would see on the absolutely-packed bus, an Italian who would block 4 seats by himself or herself, so that no one else could sit. I would see a girl who accidentally kicked an elderly and she would be worried about her shoe, not the fallen grandma. How can these people the same human being as us? They’re more like animals.

  28. Hi Bradley, I disagree I am able to judge after visiting for one week. We are 7 traveling to Rome and my wife is Italian (Canadian). And overall the Romans are Rude my 17 year old daughter was told move it or just pushed out of the way at least 5-6 times. People do not say good morning or hello. You are right it’s not everybody but in Canada people do not act this way I love Italy but sorry Romans are rude

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