The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and Saint Peter’s Square are not just a few of Rome’s top attractions but they are also the playground for Rome’s Italian predators who seek exotic flavours.
How they work
Italian men may greet you with a gentle ‘Ciao bella’ but those are usually the harmless flirts or amateurs. The professional Italian predators will approach a foreign damsel with a much more disarming line. I cannot say which they will use, for it will be tailor-made to fit you personally.
Testing the waters
Before they delve into their spiel, however, they need to evaluate your prime candidate potential. They do this by asking a very casual question in Italian such as, “Do you have the time?” or “Do you know where the Celine boutique is?” or “Which way is it to the nearest metro?”. They avoid showing any interest in you, in any way, so that you will relax you guard. Depending on how you respond they learn whether you speak Italian, are Italian and just appear foreign, live in Rome and know your way around or are a tourist and therefore, new to Rome. If you have an accent, cannot reply in Italian or do not know your way around, they will continue. The best way to avoid them getting to the next stage is to either ignore them completely or answer inaudibly by pointing or shrugging as you walk off, leaving them stumped.
They will then act as if they have only just noticed that you are attractive. They will almost walk off but do a double-take glance and even an “Oh” might escape their lips as, suddenly smitten, they casually ask you another question: “Oh, you are not Italian, where are you from?”. If you fall into their trap, they will continue to casually chat with you and invite you for a harmless coffee. Their aim is to calm your defenses down to the point that you see them as a friend. If you allow them to continue, they will be your guide around Rome, your new best friend or your protector. They will be the gentleman you want them to be but their final desired destination is with you in their bed.
These predators are not the average Italian male that smiles at you when you catch their eye. There are many charming Italian gentlemen who are genuinely attracted to you and wish to see you again. Do not confuse the real with the fake.
Until you encounter a repeat offender, you will have to rely on your instinct; nothing else will tell you which you are dealing with. Predators are men that are found at Rome’s top sights. The same predators will go to the same top tourist attraction almost every single day and follow pretty foreign girls whom they wish to ensnare.
Spotting Them Before They Spot You
This is easier to do after you have lived in Rome for at least a few weeks. Once you repeatedly visit Rome’s most beautiful attractions, you will begin to recognize them. Their behavior is obvious. They are always looking about in search of foreign women, like dogs in heat. Once they have spotted you, they will head in your direction. The rat has found its cheese. I was at Fontana di Trevi with my friend, who recognized two predators before I did. They walked in our direction, so we walked into Benatton. They, however, hid while loitering by the door and we encountered them upon walking out. We managed to slip by them, but they spotted us again and followed us to a souvenir shop we knew. We escaped from the convenient out-of-view side entrance, leaving them to lurk at the front. The Trevi duo are in their 40s; one is tall with curly blond hair and the other is a short dark version of the first. I have seen them, from afar, about 1 out of 3 times that I have passed by the Trevi Fountain.
When I had recently moved to Rome, I was approached by a very good-looking predator at the Spanish Steps/Via Condotti area. I had not realized his ‘profession’ at the time, nor did I want to avoid him as he was quite attractive and I was single. This is when I began to gather my information on these beings. Although he was very attractive, in his early 30s and dressed in a suit, something was off. I had the accent and was new to Rome, so he continued with his usual pitch. However, he seemed false like the facade that covered the church at the Spanish Steps, which had been painted to appear exactly as the church would look after its restoration.
Being a Jazz singer has helped me weed out any unwanted attention, regardless of whether they were predators or not, with one surprising closing line, which kept them at a distance. I never accept any immediate invitations and instead of leaving my number, I take theirs instead. Just when they would be under the impression that I would call them soon, I would end their illusion by saying, “OK, thanks. I’ll be sure to put you on my mailing list. You’ll get a text when I have my next gig.” I did this even when I was interested. It allowed things to progress slowly, where only the genuinely interested would survive.
I continue to notice the handsome predator in the vicinity of the Spanish Steps every now and again. He is usually flirting with a foreign girl or simply on the lookout for one. He always gives me a friendly wave, which I return with a laugh.
I do not know if these men are dangerous or not. I believe it to be a game that given the wrong circumstances could turn against you. There are only a few at each location but new predators appear every year. Rome is a large city which attracts a variety of negative personalities. Not all men are predators and not all predators are the same. I have also been followed regardless of the numerous times I had changed direction. Being a foreigner in Italy attracts all types who see me as an easy prey. If I fail in losing them by changing direction more than twice, I will walk in a store and ask for help. A security guard in Termini Station scared away a freak who was following me throughout the station, when I walked into a store and they called. The guard even accompanied me to the metro to make sure I remained safe. Now that I whiz around Rome on my bicycle, I encounter more clueless pedestrians with a death wish than sex-starved maniacs.
Keep up your guard
While riding on Rome’s crowded public buses and trains, keep your back to the wall and wedge your bag between you and anyone who gets too close. Be aware of men who lean into you with their groin. If you even suspect that this is happening, it most likely is. Push him away, yell at him, tell him to move and threaten him with calling the police.These perverts tend to scare easily and want to avoid attention at all costs. Whatever you choose to do will usually make them run off at the next stop. We women are usually afraid of jumping to conclusions and so we question our perception. Remember, this is not a conclusion you arrive at every day. If you feel something is wrong, trust that and act upon it. Ask questions later, after you are safe.
Recognize the difference between a gentleman and a predator.
In general, Rome is as safe as any major European city. There is a bit of everything. If you are a single foreign woman, you will be more vulnerable at times but if you are aware you can enjoy all that this enchanting city offers, including its vivacious people who will entertain you with their warm personalities. Italians are fun-loving people and most will be such a pleasure to know. Many will just want to be in the company of that which is different, as do you.
Flirting and enjoying the attention of an exotic Italian man is exciting, but just make sure that it is not his ‘profession’. If you do find someone you like and are willing to venture into uncertain waters, make sure someone knows where you will be, make sure your drink has not been tampered with and avoid becoming so inebriated that you lose your control completely. You can meet a wonderful Italian gentleman and go out to dinner with him. You may even go dancing as well and spend hours kissing in the piazza in front of where you are staying. You may choose to take it further. It is your life. Do as you like, but be prepared to live with any possible consequences, which all actions have; doing nothing leads to boredom and missed opportunities, but carelessness leads to many unpleasant possibilities, therefore…
…enjoy but keep safe.