Tourists in the Italian city of Naples are being given a helping hand by ex-prisoners.
The former convicts, dressed in yellow jackets, have been posted at various points including the port and the station. They help visitors cross the streets, offer them information and even escort them through the city’s more dangerous alleyways.
The education chief in the Campania region, Corrado Gabriele, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the escorts had followed a 60-hour theory course to prepare them for their new role.
“It’s true that we’re entrusting tourists to former prisoners but who knows the risks of the city better than they do?” he asked.
Hoteliers and tourist agencies are not convinced this projects the right image for Naples. The city has already taken a bashing through the award-winning film Gomorrah, which exposes the city’s Camorra crime syndicate.
The city council’s head of tourism, Valeria Valente, commented: “This service requires a certain politeness, a bit of language knowledge and people skills.”
One of the course trainers, Vincenzo Minopoli, conceded there had been teething problems with the ex-prisoners. “In the first few days we had some issues with getting them to be a little less brusque with tourists, but they do have a great desire to work.”
by Andy Moreton