October 24, 2014

The Spanish Steps & Not-So-Free Roses in Rome


Those not already familiar with Audrey Hepburn's iconic movie Roman Holiday may not necessarily see the appeal or charm in the Spanish Steps of the Piazza di Spagna.  Admittedly, the steps are not as historic as, say, the Colosseum or as heralded as Michelangelo's Steps to the Capitoline hill.  However, for me a trip to Rome would not have been complete without channeling my inner Hepburn (or Danny as the dashing Gregory Peck!) at the Spanish Steps.

My Gregory Peck (just not at the
Spanish Steps)!
The Spanish Steps date to the eighteenth century, when funds from a French diplomat were expended to conveniently connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy down the steep hill to the Palazzo Monaldeschi.  We found the Steps beautiful - even underneath a sea of humanity and with a backdrop of scaffolding!

Before we could even scope out a place to sit for a moment, pushy hands were thrusting roses in my face.  "Free gift!  Free gift for you!" was the man's insistent explanation.

"No thanks," I said firmly, holding my hands up with palms facing outward.

"No pay, no pay!  Roman tradition!  Good luck to give roses to pretty ladies!"

"We don't want it," Danny said firmly as we turned away.  The man grunted and muttered under his breath at us as he left to accost his next target.  Shortly thereafter we heard him repeat his statement, and when the lady took the rose, he began hounding her to pay for her "free gift," following her around the piazza until she finally handed back the rose.  This seems to be a pretty popular scam in Rome.

Despite the crowds and pushy "salesmen," it was refreshing to rest our achy feet while taking in the bustling ambiance.  Just don't dare to slip off your flip-flops or shoes unless you want a scolding from a policewoman!  We found it ironic that they would enforce a fashion code while blatantly ignoring the obnoxious ways of the scam artists all around us.

At any rate, we enjoyed our quick respite at the Spanish Steps.  Only a gelato cone could've possibly made the experience better, but an impending storm cloud hurried us back to the metro and on for more adventures in Rome!



What other tourist scams have you witnessed while traveling?  Have you visited the Spanish Steps?

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Linking up with A Southern Gypsy for the #WeekendWanderlust!

14 comments:

  1. It's been so long since I watched Roman Holiday that I don't really remember the Spanish Steps in it. I think that's why no one in the family was particularly excited when we visited it. We probably should have watched it again right before the trip. Luckily, no one tried to give me a "free" rose.

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    1. They were trying to hand them out to everyone! One guy was telling a male tourist that a rose would help him "get lucky" with the Roman ladies. The tourist's wife was not happy to hear that. It was ridiculous!

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  2. Our hotel was around the corner from the Spanish Steps, and I actually saw a blog post and video about this scam before going to Rome, so I was prepared not to accept any roses. My parents were traveling with us and when I saw my mom about to take a rose from the scammer, I jumped in and told him to buzz off in so many words.

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    1. It's good to prepare and look up common scams like this! I had researched all the gypsy's usual scams... and then we didn't end up seeing ANY gypsies, just immigrants/refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa.

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  3. When I was in Rome it was Easter time and just after choosing a new Pope, so the city was so crowded that it was hard to find a free place on Spanish Steps to sit there ;)

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    1. Wow, I bet! What an exciting time to be there, though!!!

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  4. I visited so long ago... I hardly remember them, I think it's time to go back again!

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    1. Sounds like a good reason to me. ;)

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  5. I am really not a fan of Rome for this reason, such a lovely place, but also many scammers and thieves around.
    Katie
    http://www,worldwidevegetarian.com

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    1. It was definitely exhausting, but for me the pros outweighed the cons. I wasn't "taken" with Rome the way I was with London, but I'll be back one day anyway!

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  6. We stayed right on the top of the Spanish Steps at the InterContinental Hotel. It's always crowded with people, and yes those men giving out flowers can be annoying at times. They don't understand the word "No". Thanks for sharing and linking up to the #WeekendWanderlust this week.

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    1. You're right - "no" definitely wasn't in their realm of comprehension!

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  7. I like your dress! and your new header picture!
    and yeah those pushy sellers are a wee bit annoying.

    (Catching up with previous posts)

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  8. It wasn't a scam (I'm pretty sure), but once I legitimately received a free conch shell on Cozumel, Mexico, so then my dad felt obligated to buy a blanket from the nice man. Everyone there was just so nice.
    I usually have a great time traveling, but I'm kind of scared to go to Spain, though; my dad's a freelance photographer and whatnot and he saw a man being beaten by police so he thought he'd capture the moment... and they beat him too (but not as badly as the other man). He had to have surgery on his neck.
    My classmate went to France and people tried to scam him a lot. There was pick-pocketing and people actually attempted to put bracelets ON HIM. A female classmate that went to France (...was it also France? It was French class, so probably...) was almost scammed by the roses thing. Otherwise it was lovely, of course.

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