Forget the stereotypes and myths about Italy. Here are five things you should know before you go to stay safe no matter where you are in Italy.
Italy has the highest number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Europe, with more than 150 (current Feb 24, 2020). Various towns are in lockdown to contain the virus, so stay up to date with the news and contact your travel provider to find out if your plans have changed.
It is important all travelers exercise increased levels of health and safety precautions to avoid being contaminated by the virus, and if you begin to feel the symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Check the latest information from your government's travel advisory.
Italians are devout fashionistas, but it's about style, not how much skin you can show. Women don't have to dress neck to knee, but what is worn on the beach generally stays on the beach here. Plus, covering up will help keep potential Italian casanovas from harassing you or catcalling on the streets.
Italy has many sacred sites, and lots of these have religious significance. Ladies, it's a good idea to carry a scarf with you, so you can easily cover your shoulders if you are wearing a singlet top, and be mindful to wear something which covers your knees, too. Also, ditch the heels in favor of comfortable shoes – you be walking around a lot, and many places in Italy have uneven, cobblestone paths and roads.
Traveling by train is one of (if not the safest and best way to get around) Italy. However, opportunistic thieves do cruise the carriages. But there are ways you can stop your belongings from becoming the next five-finger discount.
Drink spiking isn't just a problem in Italy – it's something all travelers should be aware of no matter where you are. Whether you're experiencing the nightlife on your own, or with a group of friends, you should always be careful with your drinks.
The bars around Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori have been mentioned in past reports for incidents of drink spiking. You should also be cautious when visiting bars associated with transport hubs, such as Roma Termini and Florence's Santa Maria Novella station.
Never accept open drinks from strangers or new friends you have just met – insist you join them to the bar if you really want to take up their offer, but never take a drink from someone. Watch the bartender pour your drink, and never leave an open drink unattended.
If you start to feel woozy, or unusually drunk for the amount you've had, ask genuine friends for assistance. Or, if you're alone, get out of the bar as soon as possible and call the police.
Street crimes such as pickpocketing and scams are reportedly increasing in the main cities across Italy, mostly due to high numbers of visitors who are not always paying attention to their surroundings.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Stay away from dark alleys, secluded parks at night and neighborhoods with obvious signs of poverty. Always walk in well-lit areas at night, and preferably with another person or group of people.
If you are unsure, ask your accommodation staff about areas of town to avoid – and take their advice if they say it is safest to catch taxis at night.
Many countries are lacking the infrastructure and services to cater for the influx of refugees seeking asylum in Europe. As a result, begging has increased across Italy. There are also those scammers who use begging as a tactic to distract you while another takes your valuables.
Pickpockets will particularly frequent well known, crowded tourist spots and transport terminals. Keep an eye on your belongings and keep your valuables close. Don't casually leave your phone or wallet on the table while dining especially outdoors. Never leave your bag over the back of the chair.
As for the mafia? They are more concerned with turf wars than tourists. So long as you aren't dealing with drugs or meddling in any shady dealings on your trip, you have no reason to be afraid of the mafia.
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