Safety while Traveling
Generally speaking, Italy is a safe country. However, as in any other part of the world, there are some precautions and behaviors that can make you safer when traveling.
With very few exceptions, the downtown areas of all major cities are safe to walk around. Caution should be used in and around railway and bus stations especially in the late evening hours. Pick pocketing can be an issue mostly on public transportation (subway, train, buses), especially in major cities and tourist areas.
To avoid finding yourself in an unpleasant situation, always keep your personal valuables close to you and stay alert. Pickpocketers tend to mainly focus on purses, wallets and electronics in general (cellphones, tablets, cameras, laptops). It is always a good idea to leave your valuables (except what you may need for the day) in a safe at your accommodation, while also keeping your ID/Passport and your credit/Debit cards separate from your cash to limit the damage in the event you do get pick pocketed. Never leave valuables showing in your car, if you’re using one, and always put them in the glove box, under a seat, or in the trunk; it is not uncommon for thieves to smash windows and take your valuables, especially if they are within sight.
Should you ever feel you are in a situation of danger, call immediately 112.
While also being the official number for the Carabinieri (Police), 112 is also recognized as the European Universal Emergency number, which is the equivalent to 911 in the United States. No matter your emergency, the operator will be able to assist you, even in English, and put you in contact with Medical or Fire responders. If you need to report a crime, head to the nearest Carabinieri or Police Station.
Carabinieri or Polizia – What’s the difference?
As you will most likely notice during your travels, Italy has two official law and order enforcers: Carabinieri and Polizia.
The Carabinieri are both a military force and a civil force and they report to the Ministry of Defense. In the first role, they contribute to the defense of the national territory and participate in military operations in Italy and abroad. As a civil force, however, they serve public security functions, such as maintaining public order and security.
The Polizia, on the other hand, is not a military force but only a civil force and reports directly to the Ministry of the Interior. Therefore, on national soil they essentially deal with the same tasks attributed to the Carabinieri, that of serving the public and maintaining public order and security.