Italy Deploying 3,000 Soldiers to Cities to Fight Crime

Italian Soldiers
© hsivonen

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Rome is no longer a haven for honeymoons or a fancy place for spies to have sex. Italy is set to deploy 3,000 soldiers in major cities and top immigration detainment centers. In an effort to fight crime, these soldiers will guard presumably important buildings as well as fight everyday crime. Police unions were responsive to the federal additions of force, trying to expose it as a mask for local police budget cuts. Officials insist this isn’t the case, and these soldiers would free the police to solve major crimes.

This works in two ways for us travelers. Firstly, instead of taking a romantic, starlit walk through a Roman park or a Venice cobblestone path, one will have to duck away from military personnel in order to avoid a past-curfew interrogation without any surveillance tape.

While those who stick to the more “tourist-oriented” vacation will be comforted in knowing that men with automatic weapons are protecting them from pickpockets.

  1. Now when I read this, then read about violent raids on Gypsy camps, and then read about calls for expulsion of immigrants, I cannot help but wonder if Italy is drifting back towards its fascist past.

  2. I just returned from two weeks in Italy (my first trip to Italy), including several days in Florence and nearly a week in Rome. I never saw any of these soldiers (I did see two armed guards outside the gate-door of the British Consulate in Florence).

    Didn’t worry much about pickpockets, either, as my valuables were stashed in an undergarment money belt and fairly concealed securely closed pockets. I never had more than a day’s cash in my purse in the event that my purse was stolen, and even then, the wallet holding on a bit of cash was tethered to a clip in the purse, so anyone who got as far as lifting my wallet would have had some difficulty.

    We passed through Rome’s Termini rail station daily while in Rome and my 9 yo son enjoyed watching the station’s “brush-up” characters, though he couldn’t say for sure if they were successfully lifting wallets.

  3. I’ve just spent 3 months in Italy researching some new guidebooks, and the increase in police is noticeable on the streets. Completely unnecessary of course – I’ve been travelling to Italy for years and never felt safer in any other European country as I do in Italy – and equally as useless. They don’t actually *do* anything, and they’re certainly not about to stop couples from canoodling under street lamps late at night or Italian hippies smoking dope while they ‘picnic’ in the park. They’re just there for show so Berlusconi can appear to be meeting some of his promises. The gypsies, however, do have something to worry about, according to local news reports I read. Travellers, on the other hand, can feel a tad safer – they’re also cracking down on the increasing number of organized pick-pockets, working in gangs masquerading as beggars.

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