The Worst Tourist In The World

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”


I don’t know whether any of you have heard of Mr Nicholas Scotti? I hadn’t until I read about him on the internet. But his story is one that fits well into the ‘stupidity’ category that is one of the underlying themes of this blog.

Mr Scotti holds the title of being ‘The Worst Tourist In The World’, or certainly one of the least successful ones.

Nicholas Scotti is of Italian descent and is from San Francisco, USA. In 1977 he decided he would like to visit his relatives in his native Italy.

An inexperienced traveller, Mr Scotti booked his vacation trip using a travel agent and on the appointed day made his way to the airport for the flight. Getting on a plane was a relatively easy and quick process back in 1977 (oh, those were the days!!), and Mr Scotti made it on to the plane without incident. He settled down for the long flight.

En route the plane made a one-hour fuel stop at Kennedy Airport and the passengers disembarked.

But Nicholas Scotti didn’t know about the re-fuelling stop. He thought that he had arrived in Rome, Italy. He duly left the airport and spent two days in New York believing he was in Rome.

When his nephews were not there to meet him, Mr Scotti just assumed they had been delayed in the heavy Rome traffic they had mentioned often in their letters.

While tracking down their address, the great traveler could not help noticing that modernization and new construction had brushed aside most, if not all, of the ancient city’s famous landmarks, but that didn’t deter him.

He also noticed that many people spoke English with a distinct American accent. However, he just assumed that Americans got everywhere. Furthermore, he assumed it was for their benefit that so many of the street signs were written in English.

Mr Scotti spoke very little English himself and next asked a policeman (in Italian) the way to the bus depot. As chance would have it, the policeman came from Naples and replied fluently in Italian, which only helped to reinforce his belief that he was in Rome, not New York.

After twelve hours travelling round on a bus, the driver got fed up with him and handed him over to a second policeman. This one was not Italian and a brief argument ensued during which Mr Scotti expressed amazement at the Rome police force employing someone who did not speak their own language.

Scotti’s brilliance is seen in the fact that even when told he was in New York, he refused to believe it. The man was a veritable genius!

To get Mr Scotti on a plane back to San Francisco, he was raced to the airport in a police car with sirens screaming. Even then he remained unconvinced. “See,” he said to his interpreter, “I know I’m in Italy. That’s how they drive.”



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