Safety and security

Italy remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Italy’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.
The Italian Government has reported that Italy is a potential target for international terrorist attacks. In July 2007, Italian law enforcement authorities uncovered a terrorist cell in central Italy. Heightened security measures are in place in and around major tourist attractions, including the Vatican, on public transport, cruise ships and at airports, seaports and railway stations.
Strikes and demonstrations occur frequently, especiallyin the transportation sector (national airlines, airports, trains and bus lines). There is also a risk of unannounced wildcat strikes.
There have been occasional episodes of politically motivated violence in Italy, most often connected to Italian internal developments or social issues. Typically, incidents have been aimed at official Italian targets, mainly in the form of small bombs and incendiary devices, and carried out by extreme left-wing and secessionist groups.


Levels of crime are generally low but there are higher levels of petty crime in the big city centres.
Petty crime including bag snatching, pick-pocketing, passport theft and theft from cars is common, especially in larger cities and in and around major tourist attractions, on public transport and at major airports and railway stations.
In Rome, take particular care around the main railway station, Termini, on the number 64 bus, which goes to and from St Peter's Square, and when unloading your baggage from airport/city coaches.  Also take care in and around railway stations in other large Italian cities.  Thieves often work in large groups or in pairs to distract the victim and rob them while their attention is diverted: be particularly wary of groups of children who may try to distract your attention whilst trying to steal from you. 
Cars, at rest stops and motorway service stations are targets for robbers.  You should treat with caution offers of help if you find yourself with a flat tyre, particularly on the motorway from Naples to Salerno, as sometimes the tyre will have been punctured deliberately.
Always lock your vehicle and never leave valuables in the vehicle even if you will only be away for a short time or are nearby.  There have been a number of cases of cars containing luggage, or of luggage left in cars being stolen.  You should avoid leaving luggage in cars overnight or for any length of time.
Organized criminal groups operate throughout Italy, but are more prevalent in the south. They have occasionally resorted to violence to intimidate or to settle disputes. Though the activities of such groups are not generally targeted at tourists, visitors should be aware that innocent by-standers could be injured.
In an emergency, call 113 for the police or 112 for the Carabinieri (military police).

Local laws and customs

It is illegal to photograph official buildings and military areas in Italy. You should check with local authorities before taking photos.
Italian authorities are engaged in a major effort to stamp out the illegal production and sale of counterfeit goods. Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities, particularly tourist cities like Florence and Rome. Buying counterfeit merchandise, such as sunglasses, purses, and so on, is illegal. Italian authorities have been handing out fines of up to 10,000 euros to tourists caught buying counterfeit items.
In the cities of Venice and Florence, you should observe public notices about conduct. For example, offence tickets and fines may be assessed against visitors for dropping litter, or for sitting, eating or drinking on steps and courtyards around the main churches and public buildings in Florence.
Smoking is prohibited in public buildings, transport and cinemas.

Local travel

Streets in historic city centers are often narrow, winding and congested. Motor scooters are very popular and drivers often see themselves as exempt from conventions that apply to automobiles. Travelers who rent scooters should be particularly cautious. Pedestrians and drivers should be constantly alert to the possibility of scooters’ sudden presence.
Pedestrians should be careful, as sidewalks, especially in major cities, can be extremely congested and uneven, and drivers of bicycles, motorcycles and other vehicles routinely ignore traffic signals and traffic flows, routinely park and even drive on sidewalks. For safety, pedestrians should look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk with a green “avanti” ("walk") light illuminated.
Italy has over 5,600 kilometers (3,480 mi.) of “Autostrada," or superhighways. Commercial and individual vehicles travel and pass on these well-maintained roads at very high speeds. Accidents occur in which contributing factors include excessive speed, alcohol/drug use and/or sleepiness of long-distance drivers. Italy has one of the highest rates of car accident deaths in the European Union.
In rural areas, a wide range of speed on highways makes for hazardous driving. Roads are generally narrow and often have no guardrails. Travelers in northern Italy, especially in winter, should be aware of fog and poor visibility, responsible for multiple-car accidents each year. Most Italian automobiles are equipped with special fog lights. Roadside assistance in Italy is excellent on the well-maintained toll roads, but limited on secondary roads.
Use of safety belts and child restraining devices is mandatory.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless fitted with a hands-free device. The use of headlights on highways and major roads during the day is mandatory.

Medical care

For European visitors who are taken ill or have an accident, free or reduced-cost treatment is available – in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment only. Note that the EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid. Most dentists are private.
Tap water is generally safe to drink. Bottled water is available. The inscription ‘Acqua Non Potabile’ means water is not drinkable. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are considered safe to eat.