Entries in Tourists (4)


Roman Artifacts Targeted by Tourists as Take-Home Gifts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Italian authorities say that tourists are loving their visit to Rome so much, they’re trying to take a bit of the city back home with them.

According to The Telegraph, security at the capital’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports say their staffs have noticed an increase in cobblestones and other artifacts showing up in fliers’ luggage during X-ray screenings.

“The phenomenon is definitely on the increase,” said Antonio del Grego, head of Fiumicino’s frontier police. “The airport police and security are on the alert.”

Though some media reports said the pieces looked more like the modern-day cobblestones now mostly made in China, del Grego said that was not the case.

“Most of the cobblestones we found are the handmade ones from the 1900s,” del Grego told ABC News Monday. “They are not the newer ones.”

In addition to the blocks, tourists have also reportedly tried to transport volcanic rock, ancient Roman mosaics and milestone.

“Some of the bits of archaeological pieces could be from the Colosseum, we think, but it is hard to identify from where they were taken from,” del Grego said.

The frontier police head said that an expert had confirmed that a mosaic uncovered in a person’s baggage had come from an archaeological site at Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman port.

In the last six months, 10 people have been denounced for theft. Del Grego said that none of the people stopped had been American.

“Many of them are people from northern Europe of a certain age,” he said. “It is hard because we have to prove that these items are stolen and as the value of the stolen good is of little value and we often don’t know where it comes from, this is difficult.”

Del Grego told the Telegraph that those found with stones or other artifacts were not arrested. They are cautioned and the artifacts are returned to the city.

“More than the judicial proceeding, what we hope will put people off is the shame they will feel when they are discovered,” he said. “Then along with the shame, some even miss their flights.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Netherlands Bans Foreigners From Cannabis Cafes  

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM) -- A  court in the Netherlands has upheld a new law to ban foreign tourists from cannabis cafes, the BBC reports. The ban is due to start in three southern provinces next month, and go nationwide by the end of the year.

Amsterdam, perhaps the most popular spot for tourists seeking legal marijuana, will be subject to the new law by next year.

The Netherlands is known for a liberal drug policy, especially when it comes to so-called “soft” drugs like marijuana. The law is aimed at foreigners who have come to see the country as a soft drugs paradise and to tackle a rise in crime related to the drug trade. It also aims to stop people from coming to the Netherlands to buy drugs and then taking them back to their home countries to re-sell.

Only locals, whether Dutch or foreign residents, will be allowed to join a coffee shop. A pass would allow Dutch citizens to legally buy cannabis.

Coffee shop owners are protesting the move, saying they shouldn’t be forced to discriminate between tourists and non-tourists. The ban would also have an effect on their business. How it impacts tourism remains to be seen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gladiators, Centurions Scuffle Again at Rome’s Colosseum

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- For years now a common site in front of the city’s most known attraction, the Colosseum, has been men dressed as the soldiers and warriors who actually battled inside the arena more than 2,000 years ago.

These “gladiators and centurions” are a group of around 30 men aged from teens to their 60s who pose for tourists in exchange for tips. They ask $7 to $10 for a photo. Sometimes they are even more aggressive. Last year, one gladiator tried to con a Japanese tourist after they snapped a photo and physically threatened him when he wouldn’t hand over $130.

After years of the previous government turning a blind eye, the authority responsible for Rome’s cultural heritage, Mariarosaria Barbera, sent a letter to Rome’s mayor demanding that the fake gladiators be removed along with the illegal snack bar wagons and ice cream vendors that swarm around the ancient arena to fight for tourist attention.

Although some tourists seem to enjoy their antics and having their picture taken with a burly looking Italian dressed in fake leather tunics and plastic helmets, some of the characters dressed as gladiators look nothing like Russell Crowe and are often not even Roman.

Thursday morning as the gladiators staged a noisy protest outside, two from the group made their way to the second floor to hang a banner on the exterior of the Colosseum protesting the decision to ban them from panhandling. “Let us work at the Colosseum, give us the right to let us stay here,” they yelled.

The group had been notified previously that a blitz by the police was coming. Instead of obeying a cease and desist warning to stop their work they occupied a section of the arena for much of the day. When police and firemen moved in to cordon the area, two of the gladiators scuffled with the police as stunned tourists watched, some screaming support for the gladiators.

Paramedics took one of the centurions to the hospital after he fell during the confrontation, police said. Firefighters have taken up positions outside the Colosseum to protect the monument and to prevent the protestors from reentering the historic site. One has even threatened to light himself on fire to bring attention to their cause.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt

iStockPhoto/ThinkstockUPDATE: Two elderly American women kidnapped in Egypt were released Friday, hours after they were seized by Bedouin gunmen, Egyptian government TV reported.

(CAIRO) -- Two American tourists were kidnapped by gunmen Friday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to the BBC. The pair has yet to be identified, but the BBC reports they are women.

The two were reportedly traveling in a small bus near St. Catherine’s Monastery when the vehicle was stopped by armed assailants.

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyoum reported three other tourists were left behind. Their nationalities were not immediately known.

The U.S. Embassy has not yet released a statement.

Earlier this week, Bedouins kidnapped 25 Chinese workers in Sinai. They were released unharmed the following day.

In recent months, Egypt has seen an uptick of violence as the security situation deteriorates. This comes as thousands of protesters in Cairo begin to march on the Ministry of Interior building to protest this week's violent soccer stadium riots that left at least 74 people dead. Soccer fans blame the violence on the lack of security at the game. Four people have died so far Friday in clashes.

Since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the country's tourism industry has taken a hit, with revenues plunging nearly 30 percent in the last year. Tourism Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said last month that the number of tourists who came to Egypt in 2011 dropped to 9.8 million from 14.7 million the previous year. Revenues for the year clocked in at $8.8 billion compared to $12.5 billion in 2010.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio