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The Ruined trip to
From impossible transfers to breaking the language barriers, backpacking in
Europe can build stress and heartache. While I backpacked for a month, the
journey was exciting, whimsical, and amazing. But, only one problem haunts
me today and I swore after it occurred, I would inform future backpackers about
the so called "Italian Transportation System" that failed,
disappointed, and pissed me off.
Italy has a lot to
offer travelers, but if there's one thing they fail to give tourists is the
benefit of the doubt. After arriving in Rome on May 31, 2002 we purchased
our metro ticket and were informed that the ticket was also good within its time
limits on the busses as well. While riding the busses or metro trains, you
are instructed to validate the ticket to ensure the ticket can be used for the
ride. The bus drivers never check the ticket, nor do any workers at the
station. We thought the city was running on the honor system. When
we discussed this with travelers at our Rome hostel, the informed us that they
never bought a metro or bus ticket, they took their chances and saved the money.
However, as we understood from signs on the buses and metro trains, the tickets
will be looked at on random times and places and their will be penalties.
We didn't want to take our chances, so we always bought a ticket and we always
Through our 2 days in
Rome, a ticketing man never entered the metro or buses to examine it.
Upon our departure from Rome, we bought our ticket and boarded the Rome bus.
We validated it, and patiently waited for our stop at the metro station.
As I stood next to the validating machine, it kept shaking, rattling, and
bouncing off of its hinges. It was annoying me, so I just put my arm
on top of the validating box to keep it from making the loud banging sound.
We then exited the
bus in order to catch a metro train to the Rome Termini for Florence. As
we made our way to the train, several tables were setup and men in suits stopped
us and asked for our tickets. We quickly took them out and handed it to
the man. He then asked for our passports. Strangely, we took them
out. I thought it was some sort of customs check for some strange reason.
He then said in
broken English "this ticket is dated for yesterday, you do not have a valid
ticket for today, 51 euros fine."
I never felt my heart
jump nor so shocked in my life. I said "What?! We just got off
the number 32 bus 3 minutes ago, honest."
The man turned his
head and repeated, "51 euros please."
I then shouted (and
thinking in the back of my head, I could get arrested for my angry outburst)
"That's bullshit, you need to call the bus right now, we have bought
tickets every single train and bus ride since we got here just to avoid this!
You have to call the bus, because I'm not paying for your cities shitty
My friend then
started crying and saying "The machine looked like it was broken, it kept
shaking and rattling. You have to call the bus cause we bought new
He completely ignored
every word and said that we should of checked the ticket and seen the date was
I then told the guy
"Why should I have to check the ticket? Shouldn't the machines be
The guy wouldn't
listen and if we stayed any longer to protest we would miss our train. I
then gave him the last of our money and told him to write down his name and
employee number because I was going to contact the embassy and report how he was
unethically stealing money from paying tourists and I hope he could live with
the fact that he just robbed 2 innocent travelers of the last of their
money." He simply ignored me, took our money, and gave me and my
friend both tickets.
around us waiting for the bus, shouted at the ticket man also protesting at
their lack of care and ability to check the busses validating machine. Two
local Rome residents told us that their doing this because we're not from there
and they would surely have checked it for residents of the city. They told
us to inform other people of this injustice so that they don't steal other
peoples money. I agreed, and hence this article.
Upon boarding the
train completely mad, I told the ticketing men that they should be doing an
honest job for an honest living and I would deter all people from visiting the
city ever again. I then said that "your city surely depends on
tourists, I will inform every traveler I know of your swindling, robbing, and
thieving, of innocent people looking to enjoy Rome. I'll have you know, I
will never return and this is the shittiest place I've ever visited."
With that the doors closed and there the man turned, robbing more people, and
giving Rome a bad name.
I wrote this article
and hope to pass it on to more travelers. Rome does have great sites, the
Sistine Chapel left me speechless for hours, but please apply the knowledge I've
given you here when you visit. I don't want you to feel the way I did when
I left Rome, completely tainting any vision of a spectacular cathedral or the
unique sites of Rome.
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