15 Italy Tourist Traps And Scams (And How To Avoid Them)

List Rules
Locals and travelers: vote up the worst traps and scams tourists should avoid.

If you plan to visit Italy, keep in mind that it is a very busy and touristy place, which means you need to know how to avoid tourist traps in Italy. Check out these stories to be on the lookout for Italy scams!


  • 1
    6 VOTES

    Tickets Outside The Vatican

    From Redditor u/TimeLadyJ:

    Don't pay attention to the people outside of the Vatican asking if you have tickets. They're just trying to sell group tours in the Vatican at an inflated price.

    Obviously, the best thing to do when visiting the Vatican is book ahead online.

    6 votes
  • 2
    6 VOTES

    Long Restaurant Menus

    From Redditor u/g*psyblue:

    Oh boy. There's probably no one single thing that says 'this restaurant is a tourist trap', but there are many red flags you can look for. The more of these flags you see, the more certain you can bet that it's a tourist trap.

    Located in an extremely popular/touristy area - like right on the main square, or right beside a tourist attraction. Not always a tourist trap, but usually a tourist trap.

    In my experience, the number and variety of items on the menu are inversely related to the quality. So if a restaurant has a menu several pages long, especially one that combines several different/unrelated cuisines (e.g. pasta + burgers), this is a red flag.

    If the restaurant has an employee stationed outside whose job is to rope in more customers, it's almost certainly a tourist trap.

    Menu in several different languages. This is not always a red flag - many good restaurants will offer menus in English and/or in common neighboring languages. This is just one more thing to take into consideration when looking at the place as a whole.

    If the restaurant has big signs outside, in English, saying some variation of "AUTHENTIC ITALIAN CUISINE"... it is probably not authentic Italian cuisine.

    Menus that have pictures of the food. Again, not always a red flag, but still a frequent indicator of low quality in Italy. Locals don't generally need to see a picture of the food to know what it is and whether they want it. This is usually a thing that touristy restaurants do.

    6 votes
  • 3
    5 VOTES

    Cafe Prices For Americans

    From Redditor u/alanz01:

    I am a Californian that has been to Rome 15 times in the last 22 years, so maybe I have some ideas about this. First, a lot of people, Americans maybe especially, don't know the quality difference. So it is just a convenient place to eat lunch or get a drink or whatever. Other times it might be considered more important to deal with staff who are more English fluent to avoid language hassles. Sometimes it is a "thing" to do, like having lunch in Piazza Navona. And sometimes it is a deliberate choice. I was in Rome this time last year and decided to just sit for 2 1/2 hours in one of the restaurants in Piazza Della Rotonda. I knew it was not a great restaurant, but I was more interested in sitting there and enjoying the sights and sounds rather than the food.

    I can also tell you I have been knowingly ripped of by cafes and bars near La Sapienza, where there are basically 2 prices, one for locals and students and one for fat Americans wandering in. I know it and I give them a knowing look when they do it so they hopefully know I know, but I don't do anything else, except remember it for next time.

    5 votes
  • 4
    4 VOTES

    Pickpockets On Public Transport

    From Redditor u/stbr164:

    Generally, Rome is very safe.  Of course, there are certain areas you might want to avoid at times, but as long as you stick to the beaten path, you should be fine.

    Always be aware of pickpockets! Make sure your bag is always closed and you don't keep things in your back pockets. Don't make it too obvious where you put your money/phone, e.g. if you use a backpack that has a smaller pocket inside, but it's there so it's not as easy to take. Stay alert when you're on public transport or in tourist areas.

    4 votes
  • 5
    4 VOTES

    Ticket Sellers And Irish Bars

    From Redditor u/martin_italia:

    I admit to frequenting a couple of "tourist trap" places myself, one of the Irish bars because they show every football game you can want to see. And also a couple of places in Trastevere, such as Baccanale, which due to their location I'm sure count as tourist traps, but they're nice places. I don't find them too expensive and I like the area.

    Beyond the restaurants, I really wish tourists would use a little common sense and do some simple research before coming here (or anywhere really). I see so many people being pulled in by the Africans selling bracelets, or by the ticket sellers in the street outside various landmarks, or blatantly being ripped off for something, its so frustrating. 10 minutes on Google before you get on the plane would save you that, if everyone turned their brains on a bit, then these sorts of scams would slowly die out.

    4 votes
  • 6
    5 VOTES

    "Helpful" People On Trains

    From Redditor u/_awaywiththefairies_:

    When I was in Rome I had a guy “help” me lift my bags onto the train and then ask me for money. I just laughed, thanked him, and went and sat down. Just be assertive. You’re not gonna offend anyone who demands money off you from a [grift] and if you are firm and it’s gonna save you a lot of money in the long run.

    5 votes