A well-seasoned traveler will tell you that one of the keys to an enjoyable, safe and unforgettable vacation is the art of blending in.
Prime vacation destinations with booming tourism industries, such as Florence, bear an unfortunate downside of furbi (a word that can mean smart but also sneaky/dishonest) that sometimes take advantage of the distracted, or otherwise uninformed tourists.
Don’t be one of those tourists.
Being aware of these 4 common ‘tourist traps’ will help ensure your vacation is memorable for the right reasons, and not the wrong ones.
For the cultural and historical relevance of gypsies in and outside of Italy consult the Wikipedia page here.
The local opinion of the gypsy culture is less than shall we say, favorable.
The gypsy women are hard to miss with their floor length skirts, long unkempt hair, the beggar’s cup plucked from the garbage can & the body odor to match it.
As a tourist, you will undoubtedly encounter one of them at some point during your stay, and so long as you keep a close eye on your belongings, they’ll likely ask you for money & then wander away.
However while most are harmless, others are not and have perfected the art of pickpocketing.
Be aware of your surroundings
- Gypsies often intentionally bump into tourists in the streets in order to pickpocket them while the tourist is disheveled.
- Especially arrogant gypsies often approach travelers holding out maps, signs, or trinkets for sale as a distraction while they, or another gypsy attempts to pickpocket the tourist.
- Public transportation is a very common place for gypsies to strike, often grabbing a tourists bag moments before the bus stops and then dashing out into the busy streets.
Be aware of your belongings
- Avoid carrying valuable objects around whilst sightseeing. IPads, large cameras, and purses, all serve as red flags to people like the gypsies and could paint you as a target.
- If you absolutely must carry valuables with you be discreet, a small purse or hidden travel wallet and a small camera with a wristband is much safer.
- Always keep your eyes on your valuables, especially when sightseeing. Remember, while you’re looking up there could be someone looking at you.
Italian cuisine is arguably some of the finest in the world, and it would be a real shame to travel all this way and fall into one of the most common tourist traps in the country.
DON’T eat bad food while you’re vacationing in Italy, there’s just no excuse.
When deciding on whether or not to eat at a particular restaurant consult this checklist and if you answer ‘yes’ to 4 of these, you’ve likely found a trap.
- The restaurant is in a busy, tourist-filled area near a major sightseeing attraction
- The menu is entirely written in English
- The menu resembles a novel (most Italian menus are 2-3 pages)
- There are dishes like hamburgers, French fries, or Fettuccine Alfredo (No it’s not Italian)
- There are pictures or display cases of food
- There is a large menu on a stand, or posted to the glass in front of the restaurant
If you’ve answered ‘no’ to at least 4 of these you might have just found the needle in the haystack.
Next we recommend asking the host or waiter if they bake their own pizza dough or create their own pasta from scratch. It’s not terrible if they outsource the job to the bakery around the corner but if they tell you ‘no it’s frozen’ run for the hills.
Once you’ve found the perfect restaurant our last piece of advice is to pay attention to your itemized receipt at the end of the meal. Make sure you’re only paying for what you ordered and that the ‘coperto’ or ‘service charge’ (which is standard at most Italian restaurants) is not more than around 3-4 euro per person.
Illegal Travel Companies
Cities with rich histories and captivating beauty are always prime real estate for the ever-growing tourism industry; Florence is no exception to this rule.
Unfortunately not all is fair in the tourism industry and the uninformed travelers may find themselves in a sticky situation.
Unlicensed and even entirely illegal travel companies exist in Florence and thrive on the uninformed travelers.
Do your research
- Choosing to travel with an uninsured or unlicensed travel company means that if anything happens to you or your loved ones during your excursion, you will be held accountable- not the company.
- Many of these illegal travel companies, due to their nature, must operate in a discreet manner. This means they must resort to attracting clients in person such as in the streets or at busy cruise ship ports.
- They will be willing to negotiate prices on the spot. While this could turn out to be convenient, financially-wise, you might get exactly what you paid for and be disappointed.
- If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is. At Tuscany Heritage we pride ourselves in offering luxury tours at the fairest possible prices, no hidden fees, no dishonesty.
First time and frequent travelers alike are often overwhelmed with options and confusing, or even misleading information about their destinations.
At Tuscany Heritage we aim to eliminate all of this with our entirely customizable, luxury, guided tours. We take you where you want to go and tell you what you want to know in the fairest most comfortable way possible.
Our staff is licensed and insured, offering a professional and pleasant experience at all times. Don’t fall victim to another ‘travel companies’ schemes.
Gelato: a staple of Italian cuisine, an art form, a daily afternoon ritual.
Or you can read the ‘official’ definition here.
During your Italian vacation you will undoubtedly stumble on a gelateria at every corner and every crosswalk. The trick lies in being able to decipher the ‘real’ gelato from the ‘fake’ gelato just like the locals.
Knowing what to look for when seeking out a ‘real’ gelateria is a good place to start.
- The best gelaterie are small, family owned, and thus hidden away from popular tourist attractions.
- Similar to the restaurants mentioned above, gelaterias with flavors written in English are typically not your best bet.
- Gelaterias with more than 20 flavors are usually a sign that they’re not homemade. Additionally if each flavor is displayed in a large mound with an elaborate, decorative fruit display are typically not crafted in-house.
- If the smallest cup is more than 2-3 euro, the gelateria is most likely a rip-off.
By taking the extra time to seek out a true homemade gelateria, you’re sure to have an experience that both your wallet and your taste buds will thank you for.