We hope to be a useful travel resource for those people who are planning individually a trip to Rome to aknowledge several Rome tourist traps.
With this we solely want to inform the visitors. Hope you appreciate what we did. At the same time, help future travellers to Rome & Italy to avoid further tourist traps: let us know and we will publish on this page accordingly.
Issue 1. Web Sites and Legal Companies using illegal Tour Guides
There are multiple web sites who offer to skip the lines at the Vatican Museums. Easy. It's enough to have a contract with the Vatican. Now visitors, with some limitations, can book by themselves by going to the Official Vatican website.
Only most of the inhabitants of Greece, France, UK, other than Italy of course, know that the tourist guides must have a blue badge of "Guida Turistica" with them when they operate and work.
Issue 2. Vatican Tours and Coliseum Tours
There are many many web sites who offer their group tours at the Vatican for few EUR, like 52,00 € per person. Same thing at the Coliseum (€ 49,00 p.p.). No lines, that is true. But people get what they pay. And visitors get always an unofficial guide ( and of course, clients never know this ).
These phantomatic tour guides do not operate often in Italy, - despite we have daily some tours running - as they know that they can be stopped anytime by the Italian police.
Why these illegal tour guides operate moslty in the Vatican and not much in Rome ( i.e.: in the Italian territory )? Simply because in the Vatican they are " tolerated " as the Vatican is a different Country. We don't want to enter in the merit of the question. We just want to tell you to be careful to pay people who don't pay even taxes and are not qualified and have not been examined by the Province of Rome to pass any written and oral exams to be a certified guide, synonime of better quality.
These fellows who lead and conduct tours, also at the Vatican, operate for certified and registered tour operators and companies but they don't have the license to do it. As simply these fellows are not guides. Just cheaters, to you and to the Italian Law & Taxes. Why taxes? Needless to say that to pay taxes any worker must be registered in a job. And these illegal guides can't pay taxes as they are not guides as don't have their license.
Issue 3. Unofficial Tour Guide doing Private Tours of Rome & Vatican
On the other hand, so many of these illegal guides in Rome get around with families, e.g. a private tour with individuals. These companies provide that too or also these folks, " fake guides ", who can be also very entertaining and fun. As for the private tours, they often recruited - but not exclusively: there are lots of websites offering private tours with unofficial tour guides - by the Hotels in Rome - Concierge - and then they have to pay them a commission on that. They are of course under-rated - which means: very cheap - not only in terms of fee but also in terms of education. They learn several things by heart and they call themselves "I am Guide of Rome" simply becasue can entertain the average of tours with the tourists.
Issue 4. The Rome Newspapers talk about these tourist traps in Rome ( only in Italian ! )
In this regard, from time to time, the Italian Newspapers talk about this in the Chronicle of Rome, about these folks and how many stupid things they say to their unlucky people who don't know this problem. These reports are made by "faked tourists" (e.g. journalists dressed as a tourist with shorts in the Summer time) with photos etc.
Issue 5. The Police in Rome & Illegal Tour Guides.
Why the police does not stop them? Yes indeed, our great Municipal Police does stops almost everyday these folks but, especially in the private tours with individuals, it's hard to find out for them in the ocean of tourists in Rome who is having a tour or simply a stroll with some friends in Rome downtown. And, unfortunately, the there are not many members whose focus is the one of stopping the illegal guides within our local MP ( Municipal Police ).
Issue 6. What happens to me & to my family if I booked and paid a Rome tour with a Guide -who I did not know he/she was illegal- and the local MP shows up?
Nothing to you. The tour is immediately stopped and it's over, the phantomatic guide will have a bill and has to pay a ticket of 333,00 EUR. Worse, if you are travelling in a cruise to Rome and paid a "driver-guide", he cannot driver you back to the Rome port (Civitavecchia) and you need to pay twice by calling a cab in Rome whose fee starts from 250,00/300,00 EUR.
Issue 7. Last, a Memoradum: choose the Category of the Tourist Guides.
Our dear Interner friend and user, please don't do it. Do not stimulate and keep this illegal market going on and booking on line with these people. After that, it's in your interest to be partially or totally conducted by someone who knows his job and make this not only for living but it is certified to do this, who loves immensely the fact of planning the Rome & Italy vacations and providing tours.
Same things that we mentioned above are valid for another tourist trap in Rome, the driver-guides. see our warning on that here.
p.s.: as a prove of your good faith in what we said above, if you want us to send you the list of these web sites and companies who use illegal guides, please ask us !
Dr. Cristiano Pellegrini - Rome Travels S.r.l.