The Tourist Centurions are a group of men who dress as Roman soldiers and offer to have their photograph taken with tourists at famous Roman landmarks such as the Colosseum. Dressed in traditional clothes they will sometimes group together and with props form a tableaux into which tourists step for their photograph. The cost can range between 10 - 30 euro for photos. The practice began to take off in 1995 with regulations later being put into place for licences.
A number of complaints have been made against the Tourist Centurions including:
- tourists ripped off by exorbitant charges
- tourists pestered to have their photo taken
- taking a photo of the tourist and another centurion then refusing to return the camera until a fee is paid
- in some cases tourists who happen to photograph a Centurion without permission are bullied into paying a fee
- centurions selling fake tours of the city
- fights between rival groups of centurions for the best pitches
Problems like this have led to calls for the practice to be more firmly regulated or even banned. This has led, in some cases, to running battles between the Tourist Centurions and local police who try to evict them from the landmarks around Rome. In August 2011 over 30 centurions were arrested for various offences.
The video shows scuffles between police and tourist centurions outside the Colosseum in 2012
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