- Russell Peters is of Anglo-Indian descent, but he still looks very South Asian. I'm not sure I'd even buy him as West Asian, much less Southern European. His brown skin and quasi-Australoid facial features would make for a very tanned and odd-looking Italian who, if anything, would be viewed with suspicion by locals. But the story works for American audiences because it panders to stereotypes they have about the "darkness" of Italians, and I think Peters is well aware of that.
- When you're in a foreign country, being spoken to in the official language of that country instead of your own is totally normal and in itself not evidence of anything. What language did Peters expect the Italian guy in Italy to speak? English? Hindi? Unless you're booking a hotel room or strolling around town in khaki shorts taking pictures of the Colosseum, locals would have no reason to speak to you in any language other than Italian, and even then there's no guarantee.
- South Asians are actually one of the largest immigrant groups in Italy, numbering in the 500,000s (not to mention the ~300,000 Gypsies, who are of Indian descent), so I doubt that any Italian would be shocked to see one, or as unacquainted with their appearance as Peters suggests. It sounds like a scenario made up by someone unfamiliar with Italy's demographics who just assumes that the country is homogenous and has no foreign population, which again plays well with equally clueless American audiences.
Regardless of whether or not that incident really happened the way Peters describes it, any "brown people" following his advice are going to be very disappointed when they're immediately recognized as foreigners in Italy (or possibly mistaken for Gypsies), since only a tiny fraction of South Asians can dream of ever convincingly passing as Italian, and even then only via cosmetic and surgical enhancement.
Here's a little test that should be nearly impossible if Peters is to be believed. Try to spot the South Asian individual in each of these photos of Italians:
Really tough, huh?