Top 4 Safety Tips for Travelers in Italy

Forget the stereotypes and myths about Italy. Here are four things you should know before you go.


Piazza Navona, Rome Photo © iStock/fazon1

1. Style not skin

Italians are devout fashionistas and it's more about being stylish rather than how much skin you can show. You don't have to dress neck to knee but what is worn on the beach, generally stays on the beach. Plus it's helpful to keep the potential Italian casanova from harassing you.

Italy has plenty of sacred sites including those of the religious kind. For the ladies, it's a good idea to carry a scarf which you can easily use to 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 favour of comfortable flats, you be walking around a lot and many places in Italy have uneven, cobblestone paths and roads.

2. Train travel safety in Italy

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 becoming the next five finger discount.

  • Keep what is valuable and important close to you. 
  • Keep an eye on your belongings especially at crowded train stations.
  • Use carabiners or a short cable style bike chain to attach your belongings to racks, bunks or any other fitting. This will make potential thieves think twice about a quick snatch and grab.
  • If you are traveling overnight and staying in a cabin, make sure you lock the door from the inside. Generally, once it is locked from the inside, it typically can not be unlocked from the outside.
  • Try to minimise the amount of cash you carry on you while on the train. Keep whatever cash/cards on you while you sleep.

3. Drink spiking in Italy

As with anywhere these days, drink spiking is an all-too-often problem.

The bars around Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori have been mentioned in past reports. So too the bars associated with transport hubs, such as Roma Termini and Florence's Santa Maria Novella station.

Never accept opened drinks from strangers or "new friends". 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 summon the police.

4. Street crime in Italy

Street crimes such as pickpocketing and scams are reportedly increasing in the main cities across Italy. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Stay away from those dark alleys, secluded parks at night and neighbourhoods with obvious signs of poverty. Always walk in well lit areas and preferrably with another person or group.

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.

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1 Comment

  • a random guy said

    I think you're exaggerating a bit here.

    I don't know about Rome, but in northern Italy cat-calling is the same as it is in the rest of western Europe, some rare pleb may do it but I've never seen anyone doing it.

    As far the mafia goes, they do organized crime, they don't mug people. The likeliness of witnessing a mob killing and getting killed in the process is extremely low, you're thousands times more likely to get run over by a car when crossing the street (remember that you're in Italy :P). It's really a non-worry.
    In the south you have more risk of mugging simply because it's a poorer area and the rule of law is weaker so e.g. in Naples even natives do theft and scams (mostly through pickpocketing), but the same can happen in the big cities in the rest of Europe if there's a nomad presence, the natives don't do the crime but the end result is the same.

    You're right that rallies of any kind (political or sports) should be avoided because hooliganism isn't really under control, and the extreme left and right organizations often organize rallies and make it a point to clash with the police.
    This applies especially to anti-austerity and anti-infrastructure protests, they go there equipped for a fight with shields and all.

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