Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scams, flim-flams, and gellaterias

Italy is art!
Italy is food!
Italy is scams! Flim-flam artists abound.

Today we found the vaporetta scamola.

Vaporettas are the Venice version of city busses. But more expensive. Whiile most busses cost €1.2 per trip, vaporettas cost €7 per trip.  But what a trip!! Nearly 3 miles winding down the Grand Canal on a picture-perfect day: our first in Italy when we were not hot out walking in T-shirts and jeans.

Near the end, 4 people got on purporting to be the police. 3 men and 1 woman ostensibly checking tickets. They were checking tourists, at the approach to Piazza San Marco - the tourist center of Venice. There are no signs at the ticket purchase spot - see photo - saying to validate tickets. On the other side of the ticket booth on the left side of our booth there is a machine - officially closed. [Photo] The ticket booth expressly says they are good for one hour. So why validate? 

Anyhow, the "E" dock where we were to get Vaporetto 1 was blocked off - electronic sign says - in English - that Line 1 is suspended because of high tides.  So I returned to get a refund. Two Korean ladies were doing the same thing so the ticket lady closed her booth and walked with the 4 of us to the entry that was not blocked (it was, in fact, the exit). We waited inside about 15 minutes for Vaporetto 1 and had our photo taken.

Then we hopped on the boat and headed for the scam.

We had arrived at the train station at 10:35 a.m., dropped off our luggage a couple of minutes later [photo], stood in line to buy a boat ticket, returned to the ticket counter for a refund, instead walked back to Dock E, entered at the exit led by the ticket agent (I wonder if she set this up???), just barely missed the boat, got on the next one at 11:20, and ran into the scam 25 minutes later.

There is a small sign on the boat [photo] which - if you come to Venice to read signs and disclaimers you would probably still miss, saying there is a €52 fine if you don't have a ticket. But we have tickets!  [At the end of our shortened visit to Venice we went back to Dock E to look for a sign. It's there!  Not where we first came in - photo.  Nor where we waited - photo. There it is, in tiny letters in the bottom right-hand corner of that huge sign.  What?  You don't see it? Neither did we!  There is a man to the left of center entering data on his smartphone. His left thumb points toward an orange line on the big sign.  Just under the orange notice is the notice to validate your ticket. Failure to do so leads to an unspecified fine. S C A M!!!!

I refused to pay the fine and demanded that we be taken to the police station.  That caused all 4 to descend upon me shouting all at once.  I said I could not hear all 4 at once.  So one asked me why I was demanding to go to the police station. I said "because I don't believe you". We made no progress so Donna asked me what I was going to do.  My response "I'm a 60s hippie still. I'm going to just sit down blocking the tourist exit...". That got the "police" [see photo] busy writing me a ticket. [See photo]. The Korean pair and a retired Scottish evangelist on our boat also got caught - they paid.

On to Venice. It's sinking. Between it sinking and rising sea levels the sea is 10" higher on the buildings than in 1900. So the center of town still has its plaza, but the sidewalk cafes are easy to find with a table because you need wading boots! 

We grabbed a quick bite of lunch - photo - then caught the 3:05pm train to Verona. Not going to spend money in Venice with the scams.

PS. The scammers returned to me our tickets - unvalidated - and returned a pair to Donna as well. Now we have 4 unvalidated tickets for sale - cheap!!

No comments:

Post a Comment