Air pollution is a huge problem in Italy. A report in 2018 showed that air quality levels were a red alert for Italy. Way back in early 2011, officials reported that pollution in Italy was reaching crisis levels. What's particularly troublesome is particle pollution that pervades Italy, and accounts for breathing and heart problems, causing a whopping 9% of deaths of Italians over the age of 30.
When you visit Italy, you will see why there is so much smog and fog: heavy traffic in tiny areas. Officials sometimes order drivers to leave the car at home on alternate days to avoid too much pollution in the air.
In Northern Italy, including big cities like Milan and Turin, has some of the worst pollution in all of Europe. In December 2017, both cities introduced traffic restrictions to try and reduce the impact of smog and air pollution.
Even Rome has taken a leaf out of Northern Italy's book and put traffic restrictions in place.
Brescia is also another big polluter because of their heavy industry, but even the tourist hot spot Florence is among the worst, with the worst air pollution of any Italian city.
Naples is especially icky, with toxic waste dumping such a problem that it drove down sales of the city's prized buffalo mozzarella back in 2008, for fear that it was contaminated. Part of the problem is that the local mafia is rumored to profit wildly off illegal dumping.
Carbon monoxide and lead floating around in the air can contribute to ill effects for tourists. Headaches and breathing problems are common after a day of sightseeing if you're prone to pollution-related sickness.
Pollution alerts indicate high-pollution days and often take place during summer in Rome, Florence, Milan and Naples. Anyone with a respiratory problem will want to avoid going outside in major cities when this occurs.
The other major issue facing Italy with pollution is the deterioration of ancient monuments and buildings as many are build from carbonate rich sources. Throw in the pollution plus rain and these buildings are slowly being munched away.
Smoking is common in many major Italian cities, despite being banned in closed public spaces since 2005. Smoking is on the rise in Italy – 23.3% of the population smokes according to a survey run by the Higher Health Institute in 2018, and this is up 0.04% from the previous year.
Vietato fumare is Italian for "no smoking", so be aware if you read a sign that says this.
Another city pollutant you may encounter is dog feces, as many Italians don't clean up after their pets. And thanks to all the cars and motorbikes, noise pollution is also an urban issue.
The beaches, while beautiful, are not always the most environmentally-friendly locales, either. Industrial waste and oil and sewage spills can deter you from a romantic stroll in the sand and a dip in the Mediterranean. You'll find cleaner beaches in Elba, Sardinia, and Sicily.
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