Florence Travel Tips: Beware of Getting Robbed in Italy
When I first arrived in Florence, Italy in October of last year, I couldn’t have been more excited. I finally was in the country I’d been dying to revisit, immersed in a language I’ve always wanted to learn and eating carbs I love everyday–oh, the carbs! I couldn’t get enough. The grand adventure scenario played out in my head, and walking past the beautiful, historic landmarks only confirmed the picture. Life was good.
I came to Florence for a TEFL certification program, and I figured it would be a great way to travel to Europe and possibly make money at the same time. My family cautioned me about traveling alone, especially because I am a young, single female. My mom even went so far as to make me download and read information from the State Department website about pickpockets and what to do if you get robbed, as apparently Italy is just ripe for petty theft, according to them. She also made me register as a traveler with the State Department and sign up for travel alerts. Whatever, I thought.
While we were trying to help one of my friends home when she had had too much to drink, someone came up to me and took my clutch directly out of my hands.
I went through the motions but didn’t really worry about it as I’d had a perfectly safe trip during my last visit, and I also had that invincible mentality that usually accompanies teenagers and young adults. (Note: The travel alerts are indeed useless, at least to me. So far, I have received seven emails from the mailing list, and each were welcome emails for the countries I’d signed up for. Unless world peace and a stabilized world economy happened and I missed the memo, I highly doubt everything is completely hunky dory.)
Fast forward approximately four weeks. While I was out with my friends celebrating the end of our program, I was openly robbed on the streets. I was completely sober and with three other people, one of whom was a guy. While we were trying to help one of my friends home when she had had too much to drink, someone came up to me and took my clutch directly out of my hands. Even though I recognized that someone was approaching me, I was distracted by being with my friends and making sure everyone else was safe. And I paid the price–literally. Everything I had was in my clutch, including my debit card, driver’s license, cash and my passport. I can’t begin to describe the inconvenience, pain and hassle of getting my identity back in order, particularly since I was stuck overseas, not to mention the incredible anger and frustration I felt at myself. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me!
However, despite all that, I found out things actually could’ve been much worse and now I also get to share with you my Florence travel tips. While I was giving chase to my thief, with my guy friend hot behind me, my other two friends, both women, were left alone on the streets at 4 AM. I was later told that another guy had immediately started to approach them in a threatening way after I took off. If both of them had been drunk, I can’t imagine what harm might have come to them. Thankfully, they were able to get to a safe place with other people, and nothing happened. But those are the kinds of close calls I don’t care to repeat.
The moral of the story? Listen to your mother (because really, she’s right), and always think that something can happen to you. But learn to let go of your personal possessions, because even though it completely sucks to lose them, they can easily be replaced. Friends, on the other hand, can’t.