Free legal support is available to tourists and Italians who want to report unfair practices in the citys service industries. Rome-based lawyer Sergio Scicchitano is the city councils delegate for consumer rights. He says that 90 per cent of the calls to his office come from American, British, Germans, Irish and French tourists.

The office has been open for a year but has only been fully operational since February, and has dealt with 62 tourism-related complaints so far. Almost a third of them were about inflated prices in restaurants and bars, followed by hotels that do not have the services they advertise. The remainder covered unsatisfactory travel arrangements made by travel agents; taxi drivers who overcharge; and delays and bad service in public transportation.

The lawyers studio passes complaints on to the relevant offices to verify the accusations, but tries to settle the dispute even if the offices deny responsibility. The studio aims to handle every complaint within one week, and members of its staff speak English, French, German and Greek.

The office is in Viale Trastevere 66, and is open Mon-Thurs 09.00-13.00, 14.00-17.30, and Fri 09.00-13.00. Tel. 06588093, e-mail: