Duomo Dupers: Scammers at Milan, Italy's Duomo Cathedral

Duomo Dupers: Scammers at Milan, Italy's Duomo Cathedral

On my recent trip, I had the pleasure (or should I say displeasure) of seeing Milano Italy.  The architecture, especially the Duomo, was beautiful but I didn’t find that I liked the feeling of the city.  There were scammers left and right, the public transit system was annoying at best and people just didn’t come off extremely kind.

Maybe I would have loved the city if it wasn’t for the Duomo Dupers (and the pigeons but that’s a whole other story).  What are Duomo Dupers you ask? Well, let me tell you.

It’s about 10:15 in the morning.  I step off the crowded Milano Metro subway line on to the platform.  I find the exit and head outside via a long staircase.  My jaw drops.  The first image you see when you get outside is one of the most intricate cathedrals I have ever seen.

The Duomo.

Duomo Blog 01

I was in complete awe.  I could barely move until I started getting bumped into by the thrush of people in a hurry behind me.

Well, I moved out of their way and snapped some pictures.  The short walk between the exit of the Metro and the entrance of the Duomo was not fun.  Multiple guys were walking around trying to scam me.

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Enter the Duomo Dupers.

I was to meet up with my friend at soon who had been in Milan for the previous week for a conference. While waiting, the psychology degree in me was put to use as I studied the actions of the Duomo Dupers.

You see, there are two types of Duomo Dupers.  The first kind, aka the Bracelet Pusher and the second, the pigeon caller.

The former has his game planned very well.  They all seem to use a similar trick.  They find a couple and offer the woman a bracelet.  She kindly denies.  Then he tells her there is no charge.  To get the guy to leave them alone, the woman offers her wrist and the Duper ties the friendship type bracelet on.

Duomo Blog 03

The Bracelet Pusher then offers one to the man. The man thinks to himself, “well if they are free why not?” He offers his wrist to the Duper.

Duomo Blog 04
The couple walks off... but wait! The guys started chasing them down.

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Guess what? They aren’t free for the men. They are charged twenty euro. TWENTY!! That’s almost 30 American Dollars (27.80 to be a bit more precise).

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I don’t know why but every time I saw this same story play out, the guy paid!

The pigeon caller is not so sneaky.  He doesn’t lie.  He just grabs the hand of the unsuspecting victim. The victim for some odd reason opens their hand to let whatever he is offering drop in.  Corn.  Harmless, right? What the heck is corn for? The Duomo Duper whistles.  Suddenly pigeons cover the arm of the victim.  Gross.

Well then for some reason the Duomo Duper goes in for the tourist's camera and the victim doesn’t stop them! The Duper proceeds to take pictures of dirty street pigeons crawling all over the tourist.

The camera is given back to the person, who is then charged twenty euro for the experience.  And they pay! Every! Single! Time!

Like Milan, most countries have their version of a scam artist. A few key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep your money hidden.  Don’t ever let people know how much or where you keep your money.  I wear a money belt around my waist.  I kept 20 Euro and some change in my pocket so I didn’t have to go digging in the money belt every five seconds.
  2. Don’t make eye contact. Just don’t do it.  If you don’t pay any attention to them, it will make you a less desirable target.  Don’t smile. Don’t nod. They aren’t there, okay?
  3. Don’t be nice.  They’ll take advantage.  It was against my nature, too, but I have faith you can figure it out.

Just keep walking. Don’t stop to hear what they have to offer. There’s little warning before they are asking for money. They are pushy.  They ruin the whole experience of the Duomo. Due to the Duomo Dupers, among other reasons, I will doubtfully ever return to Milan.

Happy Travels!

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Photo Credits: Katie Moler (2014), katiethewanderer@gmail.com

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