Is Italy Safe? Top 5 Travel Safety Tips

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How safe is Italy? Our travel safety expert shares her tips on what you need to know about health, theft, women's safety, train travel, drink spiking and the mafia.

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Piazza Navona, Rome Photo © iStock/fazon1

COVID-19 travel restrictions in Italy: Read the latest travel alerts and warnings.

Forget the stereotypes and myths about Italy. Here are five travel safety tips to avoid trouble on your vacation.

1. How bad is crime in Italy?

Italy is a mostly safe place to travel, and violent crime is rare. In the 2020 Global Peace Index, Italy ranks 31 out of 163 countries when it comes to safety and peace. In Europe overall, Italy is ranked 22 out of 36 countries.

Travelers should take usual precautions to avoid being a victim of theft, bag snatching or pickpocketing in Italy, like you would anywhere else.

However, be aware that street crime in Italy is common, and travelers should watch out for pickpockets and common travel scams in particular, especially when visiting major cities.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Stay away from dark alleys, secluded parks at night and dodgy neighborhoods. Always walk in well-lit areas at night, and preferably with another person or group of people.

If you are unsure of the area, 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.

Begging has increased across the country, and there are scammers who use begging as a tactic to distract you while their accomplice takes your valuables.

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.

2. Watch out for pickpockets

Pickpockets are common in well-known, crowded tourist spots and transport terminals. Keep an eye on your belongings and keep your valuables close. Never leave your phone or wallet on the table while eating at a restaurant or cafe, especially outdoors. And never leave your bag over the back of the chair.

3. Women's safety in Italy

Italy has many famous religious sites, and for women travelers visiting a church or holy place, carry a scarf 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.

Wear comfortable shoes, as you'll be walking around a lot, and many places in Italy have uneven, cobblestone paths and roads.

If you want to avoid potential catcalling from Italian Casanovas on the streets, don't show too much skin while out on a day trip. Stick to wearing beach clothing at the beach.

4. Train travel safety in Italy

Traveling by train is one of (if not the safest) the best ways to get around Italy. However, look out for opportunistic thieves.

  • 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. 
  • Try to minimize the amount of cash you carry on the train. Keep whatever cash/cards on you while you sleep.

5. Drink spiking in Italy

In the bars around Piazza Navona and Campo di Fiori there have been reports of drink spiking. Be cautious when visiting bars at 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 want to take up their offer of a drink from. 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 friends for assistance. Or, if you're alone ask the bar staff to call the police.

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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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