You don’t have to second guess your answer when somebody asks you if you want to visit Italy. The answer is an obvious yes, since it does have everything that travelers want to see and experience when they travel.
One of the best things about Italy is its rich history preserved through sculptures, infrastructure and artwork. If you’re a foodie, many also say that Italy has the best food the planet has to offer. The question now is, despite these amazing things about Italy, is it safe to visit the country?
Why Italy is a Safe Destination
As of the time of writing this article, the world is facing an unprecedented health crisis that is shutting down businesses, including air travel, and as a consequence, severely affecting tourism.
However, as with all other pandemics in the past, there is a good chance all of this will be over soon, and once that happens, Italy will go back to becoming a top tourist destination once again.
If there’s anything that makes tourists apprehensive about visiting the country, it’s the fact that lately there have been terror threats not just in Italy but in many places across Europe.
Italy also has a reputation of organized crime, plus it has its own fair share of natural disasters. Therefore, it is natural for people to ask about the safety of this country as a part of their considerations before visiting.
In general, though, the answer to whether Italy is safe or not is this: Yes, Italy is safe. In fact, according to several safety index rankings, Italy is often times safer than the United States.
Having said that, you need to consider the following factors, keep them in mind when you get the chance to visit Italy. That way, you will enjoy the country for what it truly has to offer.
General Tips for Having a Safe Visit in Italy
Before you go to a certain location in Italy, you have to do your research first. These days, it’s not that hard to do research since there’s lots of reliable information online.
The thing is, there are places in Italy where most of the crime occurs. These places include city centers, tourist spots, and generally places that attract crowds of people.
When it comes to public transportation, you just have to remain vigilant. For example, if you’re riding a taxi, be sure that the taxi is an official one. You have to take care of your belongings as well.
When it comes to terrorism, as luck would have it, Italy has not yet experienced any terrorist attacks, unlike some of its neighboring countries.
Having said that, governments still prompt their citizens that when they go to Italy, they should always be on the alert, especially when they visit crowded areas.
Italy is a really safe place to visit, and there aren’t any specific places at all that have a reputation of being dangerous. As a visitor, all you really need to worry about when it comes to crime is pickpocketing and other small crimes that might happen. Even these are relatively rare though.
The city of Naples, in particular, is a place where an average of 1,600 mafia members, called mafiosis, are arrested. It’s less likely though that you will be affected, as a tourist, by the actions of these mafias.
In Rome, there have been incidences of scams and pickpockets. You have to be careful when you’re in tourist destinations, as crime incidences are highest in these areas.
Milan has a reputation for being the place in Italy with the most number of thieves according to several surveys. To be more specific, if you’re going to encounter a thief, it’s most likely to occur in public transits.
Some thieves in Italy pretend that they are police officers. They will then ask to see your identification, and when you hand them out alongside your wallet, they will steal it.
Some thieves ride scooters and snatch your bags when you’re dangling it on your side. It’s best that when you’re in crowded areas, you should take extra care of what you’re bringing.
When it comes to scams, the most common kind is one wherein vendors in the streets sell fake items to tourists.
The following are some of the most common natural disasters in Italy:
- Wildfires – wildfires can happen during summer on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
- Landslides – coastal landslides can happen during the autumn, especially when it rains hard.
- Flooding – Flooding occurs in many areas of Italy, most notably in Venice.
- Earthquakes – Italy is located in a seismic zone, and it has experienced several major earthquakes throughout its history
- Volcano eruptions – as a consequence of being a seismic location, Italy has a couple of active volcanoes. These include Mt. Vesuvius, Mt. Stromboli, and Mt. Etna.
Traveling in Italy
Is it safe to travel in Italy? Which mode of transportation is safest? What is the traffic condition in major cities? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered in this section of the article.
Crime rate is indeed low in Italy. However, you still need to be cautious when you are riding the public transit. You also need to take extra care when you are in certain stations in the capital city of Rome.
When it comes to riding taxis, you are better off riding the ones that are officially licensed to pick up passengers. The first thing to notice is if the vehicle has a taxi sign on its roof.
You will also know that the taxi is legit if it restarts the meter before you enter. In Milan, there have been some incidences of theft inside vehicles that are actually fake taxis. Some of these fake taxis overcharge the passengers.
When it comes to using Uber or other similar hired transportation, you just need to be sure that the driver and the license plate is the same as the one indicated on the app in your smart phone.
A good practice when waiting for your Uber is to stay in a place that is well-lit and has lots of people. You don’t want to be standing around alone in a dark place because it simply isn’t safe to do so.
When you are already inside the Uber, you should ride at the back and contact your loved ones or a trusted friend where you are, what your Uber details are, and other important information.
Traveling Solo as a Female
You may want to take extra precaution when you’re a female traveling to Italy alone. There may be cases of men flirting with you in a way that is deemed by many to be harassment.
Some Italian men are, indeed, not subtle when it comes to showing their admiration to women. For example, in some countries, it is not normal for a man to be staring for long periods of time at a woman, but there are reported instances of this behavior happening in certain parts of Italy.
One thing you can do is to simply ignore these people, walk away, and you can report this event to the cops. What’s worse is that some women even experienced groping. According to some reports, the three cities in Italy with the most number of sexual assault complains are Milan, Florence and Bologna.
Despite these, it really is safe to travel to Italy even if you are a female solo traveler. These incidents are quite rare, and there are many ways to stay away from situations like this. Traveling solo has its amazing perks, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on the fun just because of a few incident reports.
Besides, it’s almost certain that the government has taken all the necessary measures to ensure these incidents are controlled and hopefully put to stop entirely. The government knows a significant portion of its identity is that of being a top tourist destination, for group or solo travelers, regardless of gender.
For solo female travelers, here are a few things you can do:
- You can try to stay in female-only hostels that are located in some cities.
- When you’re visiting the Vatican, be sure you are following the following dress code: the shoulders and the knees should be covered. If you don’t do this then you may not be allowed to enter buildings.
- In general, just use your common sense and apply the safety precautions that you would wherever you go.
- Ask for advice from the locals. They will tell you where best to go, what to eat, and many of the tips you will get are specifically for solo travelers.
Traveling anywhere in the world, you need to obey the rules and regulations of the land. In Italy, here are a few of the more important laws that you should best remember before going to the country.
- Bring your ID always – if you tend to forget to bring your physical passport, most of the times, it is okay to just show a photocopy of the data page. When this is allowed though, you are usually then asked to show another ID to validate that your photocopy is legitimate.
- On transportation tickets – Once you obtain a ticket for public transportation, such as buses and trains, you have to endorse these to a machine that is usually located near the platform entrance for trains. These machines are also located on entrance halls found in metro stations, and inside trams and buses.
- Caught with an unendorsed ticket – if a police officer sees that you are holding a ticket that is not endorsed in the machine, they could fine you right then and there. The fines are usually between 100 to 500 euros.
- Don’t throw litter anywhere – in some places you will be fined.
- Don’t sit on monument steps
- Don’t eat and drink near churches, public buildings or monuments.
- Don’t urinate in public places – this should be common sense by now. The fines are quite heavy if you are caught doing this in Italy. Fines can be as high as 10,000 euros.
- Don’t buy from illegal vendors – you might come across an illegal vendor on the streets of major cities in Italy. If the police spot you, you may be fined.
- Don’t take pebbles, shells or sand from the coasts of Italy. – you will also be fined if you get caught doing this.
Don’t collect herbs, flowers, and plants from the mountains and woodlands.
So what are the vaccines that you need to have before going to Italy? According to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, you need to have the following vaccinations: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
Italy’s healthcare system is known as the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). Residents and citizens of the country basically get free public healthcare because of tis system.
With a few cheap payments, you get free coverage for tests, surgeries, medication, medical assistance from certain specialists, and visits from the family doctor.
When it comes to the quality of public healthcare, though, it really depends on what region we are talking about. There are certain regions that provide amazing, world-class health services, while there are others that are below standard in comparison to hospitals found in other well-developed countries.
If you are planning on becoming an expat in Italy, then you can avail of the free services if you visit the local health authority closest to your location, have your name registered by a doctor. They will then give you a health card and a number that you will need for free visits to the doctor.
So there it is! Italy is a major tourist attraction. It is not perfect when it comes to safety and security, but it’s definitely far from being an unsafe place either. Chances are, you will find your visit to the country a safe and wonderful experience. You will experience sights and sounds that are so wonderful that they will stay with you for as long as you live as unforgettable memories.