Frenchy, I asked around last night and the only friend who has been to Italy 'recently' went 4yrs ago. Not much help sorry.
He did say yeh, gypsies are an issue in Italy, but more so in France. However, his advice is just have your wits about you and stay street smart, and you should be fine. If you're a New Yorker, then that's probably as street smart as you can get in the west???
I suggest you take and wear a money belt inside your shirt, so you always have access to larger denomination notes/and or passport if your handbag or backpack gets stolen, plus it keeps your wallet 'slim' so you're not flashing much cash each time you open it.
Do me one favour though, huh? I haven't been to Paris, but I know there are lots of way cool black jazz clubs over there - Frenchy, you are requested to go to one of these and shake it for me! Promise?!
The Lonely Planet website may be helpful also, it has a forum on it. See also: http://www.wordreference.com/