Left Luggage Florence – Where to Store Bags in Florence

We’ve just discovered a service in Florence that stores luggage for you – the only one in the historic center of the city! Just drop your bags off at their location a couple blocks from the Duomo and they’ll securely store the luggage for you and even drop it off for you at your accommodation — or you can pick it up at the same place, if you’re on your way out of the city. It’s open daily and costs €1/hour or €6/day.

Left Luggage Florence
Via de’ Boni 5R
Tel: +39 334 700 7714

 

What to do with leftover foreign coins

It always bugged me that you could only exchange paper money (for a steep fee) after a trip, and got stuck with the coins.

TravelersBox are placing these orange machines in departure gates at airports around the world, which offer a solution for leftover change at the end of your trip. An easy way to deposit foreign coins and bills directly into online products, like PayPal, Skype, iTunes – or you can simply donate it.

Just before you get on the plane back home, hit the TravelersBox machine near the gate, choose where you want the money to go, and the deposit is done.

So far, the machines are available in Turkey (Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara), Milan Italy, and Tbilisi Georgia, with big plans to get them in many more airports.

Sure beats a full jar of mixed coins!

Where to leave bags for the day in Rome

When you rent a vacation rental it can often be a problem what to do with your bags before you can check in (usually around 3pm) and after you check out (normally around 11am) when you’re leaving the city later in the day.  I just discovered this service, near Termini station, that will not only store your bags for a small fee, but they’ll come and collect them at any point in Rome (station, B&B, apartment, etc) and will deliver them to you where you need them next.

Bags Free
Via del Castro Pretorio, 32
email:  info@bags-free.com
(+39) 366 26 76 760 (office hours are 8:00am to 8:00pm every day, holidays included)

The Food Police – Special Unit (episode 1)

Bad food is a crime! The new head of the Food Police has reports of tourists in Rome are getting ripped off. Watch the MB trio go undercover to collect evidence and show you what to look out for to avoid falling into a tourist trap.

Food Police – Special Unit (episode 1) from Cross-Pollinate Travel on Vimeo.

Thief-spotting

by Steven Brenner

We get asked a lot about safety and whether any areas in our cities should be avoided.  We generally give one of two standard answers (there’s a short one and a long one), both of which try to make one important point – that there is not the same degree or level of malicious, violent crime in Europe as in other parts of the world.

The main crime to look out for is getting robbed, which happens not at gunpoint or knifepoint, but by pickpockets who roam around and look for people they can catch unaware (which is relatively easy when you’re staring up at a famous, historic monument). This is more of a nuisance than a danger – in that, personally, you won’t be threatened. But if you get targeted, and they get you – it can ruin your day, your whole trip, or maybe more.

The two defenses against this crime are:

1.  Don’t carry around anything valuable.  Or at least, don’t have it anywhere accessible.

2.  Know what the thieves look like, and avoid them.  If necessary, even shoo or give them a shove.  Often they are children (sad, but easy to defend yourself against).

The following picture was taken in Rome, near the central train station Termini.  When I first came to Rome, I was used to seeing many ethnic groups in large cities, and I was surprised at how the Romans considered anyone who was not Italian, or a tourist, to be a thief.  Very racist, and hopefully that viewpoint has changed over the years.  But what was more odd was that they could tell, by looking at someone, that they weren’t Italian.  Now, after more than a decade, I too can see it immediately, but for the tourist, this will be a hard distinction to make.  I don’t believe that anyone foreign and not a tourist is a thief, but recognizing who “doesn’t belong” is part of recognizing who is up to no good.

For example, look at this picture.  What do you see?

Two women standing on the sidewalk, right?

Look again.  See the cardboard?  That’s the thief’s prop of choice.  They use it to distract their partner’s hands that are going in your pocket.

Check out the look on backup girl’s face.

She’s scanning, searching, for a target.  If you know what to look for, you can see it a block away.

And these dudes?  You think they’re just standing around, letting the belly get some fresh air?

Actually, yeah.  No idea what’s up with that.  Probably best to stay away from them too.

Below is an amazing video by Bob Arno, a pickpocket expert who goes undercover to the pickpocket capital of the world – Naples – getting footage of how these thieves operate.