Rome: The mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, has hit back at a warning from the UK’s Foreign Office (Ministry for Foreign Affairs) over the perils of travelling to the Italian capital, branding it “misleading and false” and insisting that London is “much more dangerous” than the Eternal City.
In the latest move by a capital that sometimes struggles to preserve its image as a premier tourist destination, the centre-left mayor said the Foreign Office’s warning over bag-snatching and pickpocketing on public transport and crowded areas was an insult to the local people, claiming they felt offended by advice that had “the whiff of inexistent superiority” about it.
“The advice of the British Foreign Office on the dangers for tourists from the United Kingdom on holiday in Rome is misleading and false,” Marino said. “In reality, as I pointed out last year to Britain’s ambassador to Italy, international data irrefutably show that London is, from the point of view of crime, much more dangerous than Rome.
“And it is because of this that the Italian government, rightly, points out the danger of certain London neighbourhoods to our tourists. Rome welcomes all tourists from the United Kingdom with joy, but the Roman people feel offended by warnings which have the whiff of inexistent superiority.”
In the travel advice section of its website, the Foreign Office says that while crime levels in Italy are “generally low”, petty crime — often involving “co-ordinated gangs including minors” — is more common in the big city centres. Singling out Rome, it urges tourists to take care in and around the main Termini railway station and on the number 64 bus which, often overcrowded, takes passengers from Termini to St Peter’s Square. Visitors are also advised to “be particularly vigilant on trains to and from the main airports in Italy (especially [Rome’s] Fiumicino airport) and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches.