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Gladiators in Rome

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Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Gladiators in Rome

My girlfriend and I were sight seeing in the city center of Rome, and was approached by two men wearing Roman Soldier uniforms. They insisted we take a photo with them which we did. I knew they do this for tips and just took it for granted I would give them a couple of Euro.

After the couple of photos were taken, one of the men told me he wanted 20 Euro for the photos. I explained that was way too much money and suggested he should have said something about the price when they approached us with their photo request. I further explained, I wasn't going to give them 20 Euros.

Both men became angry and started using abusive language. I was really surprised and felt threatened by their demeanor and tried to walk away. They followed us continuing with their abusive remarks where I thought this was going to develop into a physical altercation. I gave them change that amounted to about 5 Euro. After receiving the money and a few more insults by these two guys, they finally left us alone.

I am 70 years old, and I was in Rome to enjoy the sights with my girlfriend who also felt threatened by these two men. I don't think it is in the best interest of the Italian Tourist Board or the city of Rome, to have people like this running around the Rome City Center threatening tourist.

Rome is an interesting city with a lot to do and see. However, when approached by guys dressed as Roman Soldiers wanting to take a photo with you, it would be best to ignore these idiots or get a firm price of what they want before you take any photos.

Saint Marys, Ohio
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1. Re: Gladiators in Rome

They're a problem and are often dealt with by police. Some people say that many of them are former convicts. You should have found a policeman, Carabiniari, and told them about it. The police have been very obvious around the Colosseum, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, and other sites.

Llanelli, United...
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2. Re: Gladiators in Rome

Not an uncommon occurrence in many parts of the world unfortunately when one gets coaxed into a seemingly friendly photo and then harassed for cash !!! Got chased by a member of a steel band in the Caribbean once for taking a pic of the drummers.

Just a small point. Roman soldiers are not gladiators they are legionnaires or centurions. Had a shocked reaction from ten fellow cruisers one evening over dinner after a day in Rome when I told them. Some didn't appreciate the history lesson....lol.

Australia
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for Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples
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3. Re: Gladiators in Rome

Oh I am SO sorry this happened to you. I've seen these guys and their tactics. My friend and I were taking a 'selfie' on the stairs to the left of the Colosseum. Some of these gladiators were on the stairs and thought we were trying to take a sneaky shot of them in the background and they started to get snarky. They were particularly pushy with a group of Chinese tourists who were trying to get up the stairs. I hope this doesn't cloud your holiday.

San Diego...
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4. Re: Gladiators in Rome

I actually had a good exchange with a couple of "Senators" and "Centurions" at the Colosseum in Rome. I'm a big, hungry and burly person and turned the tables by asking if they wanted to have their picture taken with "Bacchus". They all laughed and wanted to know how much it would cost? My grandson and I then had a great picture taken with all of them really hamming it up. For something like E5, we now have one of my most favorite pictures.

Chiang Mai, Thailand
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5. Re: Gladiators in Rome

I have sent their photo along with a letter of the incident to the Italian Embassy in Bangkok, Washington DC, and the Italian Tourism Board. The tourism board told me they had forwarded the photo and letter to the Rome Police Department. I never received a response from either embassy.

I wasn't aware of this problem until it happened to us. This nonsense has been going on for a long time. I'm surprised the Rome City Managers haven't got involved and put a stop to it. It isn't good business to allow ex-cons dressed as Roman Soldiers shaking down tourists for ridiculous amounts of money for taking a couple of photos.

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Gladiators in Rome

I saw a show about this issue, and apparently laws were put in place to ban them from the Colosseum, but I think they just moved elsewhere.

The show was called Scam City, and it's available on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZBU-vMDefk

Nottingham
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7. Re: Gladiators in Rome

Thank you for the warning, my sister and I are visiting Rome in sept for the first time, and it would upset us very much if it happened to us. I will avoid taking photos of anyone dressed up.

Staten Island, New...
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for Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
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8. Re: Gladiators in Rome

This is an issue everywhere. Come out of the Duomo subway in Milan and before you know it, you are wearing a bracelet. Outside the Verona arena there was a "Roman General" who was extremely friendly and fun until the time came and he turned into a collection agency.

Although I wonder what happens when you ask them for a price in advance. Do they give you something fair

San Diego...
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9. Re: Gladiators in Rome

The Original Poster's last sentance in his first posting says it best "it would be best to ignore these idiots or get a firm price for what they want tbefore you take any photos".

San Jose, California
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2,330 posts
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10. Re: Gladiators in Rome

There used to be legitimate people(centurions) doing this business with actual business licenses and such (and there still are), but it seems that it has become such a lucrative business over the years, that gangs have moved in and physically pushed and beaten the legitimate workers out. Every year you hear about the fights and the undercover police stings but I guess it has done little to keep it under control. Here are some articles from the past years that highlight the situation:

foxnews.com/world/…

telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/…

economywatch.com/in-the-news/roman-centurion…