The whys and woes of Vatican tours

 An amazing Vatican tour during the busy high season of July and August is what every tourist wants. However, for every bona fide tour operator and great Vatican tour guide, there are hundreds of illegals. They hang round the Vatican 18 hours a day, gathering and even guiding unsuspecting tourists through what is more often than not the worst Roman holiday experience imaginable.

 Imagine a weary eyed back-packing student inviting you to join an "official" Vatican tour as soon as you arrive at the metro station closest to the Vatican museums. This is normal. These gatherers are recruited by tour operators that rent poky offices on the streets that encircle the Vatican City. They call visitors to the Vatican "McDonalds tourists". All of this is an ugly fact of Vatican, indeed Rome tourism that needs to be policed with 100% more conviction.

 Almost every street corner around the Vatican museums is owned by (mostly) unlicensed guides, definitively illegal gatherers, and more than a few money laundering Vatican tour operator owners. Most of these are American, Columbian, Cuban and Egyptian. When in Rome, as it were... The bottom feeders are from Bangladesh (also known as "Bindis" by the aforementioned tour operator...). Vast quantities of euros are handed over by tourists to these shady characters who can be very difficult to spot. No income tax, no VAT as anyone who grew up in eighties England will tell you. Better stay home and pick up that Trevor Francis tracksuit for a tenner. Viva Viale Sebastiano Veniero 19!


  1. What a horrible story as it was and it's true! Those black market tour companies are still around but mainly go through the advertising marketplace sites like Headout, Viator and GetYourGuide now that just sell mass market tours to the masses so nothing really changed - they sell rubbish to rubbish and at various points they all make their money. Actually most of those tour company owners left Italy for tax reasons (and to avoid being in jail for long time for big time tax evasion). Last I was told the Italian tax police are on to some of them, prompted by information and documents provided by former office staff who felt cheated.


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