Health and Safety

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GO! Health and safety
GO! Personal safety
GO! Finding medical assistance
GO! Italian law

Health and safety

No one expects to become sick while vacationing, or to be victimized by a thief, but unfortunately such things do occur. By making some preparations before you leave, and taking simple precautions while in Italy, you can greatly improve your chances of avoiding problems.

Take heart in knowing that Italy is quite safe, and that Italian healthcare providers are well-trained, compassionate, and efficient. This page provides advice on how to stay safe and healthy, and what to do if you become ill or injured.

Personal safety

Traveling around Italy on foot, by bus, or on the metro is very safe if some commonsense precautions are observed. Petty theft is the most common threat, and tourists are a favorite target. Be especially careful in crowded tourist locations like the Colosseum and Forum area, and in train stations, buses, and other crowded places. Bus lines 40 and 64 connecting the main train station and the Vatican provide excellent opportunities for pickpockets.

To avoid problems, follow these simple suggestions:

  • Carry a minimum of cash.
  • Grasp a purse or bag hanging from your shoulder.
  • Carry your wallet and passport in a buttoned or zipped inside pocket.
  • Don't put valuables in a backpack; it is easy to slit it and remove them.
  • Distribute cash and other valuables over several places.
  • When riding in a car, lock the doors.
  • When car windows are open, put valuables on the floor, out of reach.
  • Don't leave valuables in parked cars.
  • Don't travel alone late at night.
  • Carry a note giving your temporary address.

Report the theft of personal items or credit cards, missing vehicles, and lost or stolen identity papers to the Carabineri (police) by dialing 112 and filing a report as soon as possible. For missing identity papers, you will be given a special receipt to use in obtaining replacements; also contact your embassy or consulate. Lost or stolen credit cards must be reported to your credit card company.

Finding medical assistance

In case of a traumatic medical emergency, call emergency medical services at 118.

There are special emergency health clinics for tourists that offer multilingual assistance. In Rome, the Guardia Turistica is on Via Morosini, 30, at the Nuova Regina Margherita Hospital in Trastevere. For minor ailments such as headache, rash, or traveler's diarrhea, the place to begin is at a pharmacy or chemist. They will listen to your complaints, recommend remedies (over-the-counter, of course), and if necessary suggest the Guardia Turistica or a local physician. If a pharmacy is closed, it will have a sign posted giving the location of the nearest one that is open.

Italian law

The law requires that you carry your identity papers on your person. Your papers may be requested while walking or driving. If you've committed a minor offence, the Italian police will no doubt be lenient with you as long as you show good faith. However, you will be subject to the same punishment as an Italian citizen for any offence, whether disobeying traffic rules, defrauding the public transport system, displaying public drunkenness, fighting, etc. Remember that the usage of illegal drugs, including soft drugs, is strictly forbidden.

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