SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY AND SECURITY

CRIME

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occur:

  • at tourist sites
  • on public transportation
  • at major airports and railway stations

Foreigners are targeted.

If possible, avoid carrying handbags. Motorcyclists frequently grab bags and other personal belongings from pedestrians, often resulting in injury to the robbery victim.

There have also been thefts of unattended belongings at beaches.

Thieves often work in pairs or groups and will attempt to distract the victim while their accomplices rob them. Be particularly careful of offers to help with flat tires or if someone spills food or a beverage on you; these are common ploys used by groups of thieves.

The number of lost and stolen passports increases during the summer months. To prevent loss or theft, exercise caution and carry a photocopy of your passport, rather than the original.

Pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash on you.

Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times. 

Never travel with your passport and proof of Canadian citizenship (birth certificate or Canadian citizenship certificate) in the same bag or pouch. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss.

Exercise caution and be alert while travelling by road and rail. Foreigners are often targeted by criminals.

ON THE ROAD

Theft of items from vehicles is common and can occur at gas stations and service areas along the highway, as well as in parking lots.

Be especially vigilant when stopped at traffic lights. Thieves on scooters or on foot often snatch bags from passenger seats.

  • Keep your windows closed
  • Keep bags and handbags out of reach
  • Make sure your car doors are locked at all times
  • Never leave personal belongings unattended in a vehicle
  • Use secure parking facilities, especially overnight

ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Train passengers have been robbed while distracted or sleeping, and there have been thefts on the train connecting Fiumicino Airport to central Rome.

Thefts on public transit (buses, subway and trams, particularly those servicing major tourist sites) are common, with thieves often hassling or crowding their victims. Keep your valuables secure and out of sight.

SPIKED FOOD AND DRINKS

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may have drugged the item to put you at risk of assault and robbery. Incidents of this sort have occurred even in small towns known to be frequented by tourists.

Rail passengers have received drugged food or drink and were then robbed or assaulted while sleeping. Keep your compartment door securely locked.

TERRORISM

There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities and further attacks are likely.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.

Because of the ongoing threat in Europe, Italy has set its terrorism threat level at 2 out of 3 levels. Expect increased security and more police and armed forces, particularly at airports, large events and major landmarks. Such security measures are further increased during religious holidays.

DEMONSTRATIONS AND STRIKES

Demonstrations and protests occur regularly, particularly in larger cities and often with little notice. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

Transportation strikes are also common and affect travel by air, rail and public transportation services. Plan on having to make alternate travel arrangements and regularly check with transportation providers for any schedule change.

Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

USEFUL LINKS

  • More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
  • Information on planned strike action – Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (in Italian, only)

FRAUD

Fraudulent electronic readout devices are sometimes used at ATMs in Italy. These devices are designed to capture the account information stored on the card’s magnetic strip through a card reader fixed over the legitimate reader. The customer’s PIN is recorded with a small video camera installed above the keypad. The victim’s banking information is then sold or traded online.

To avoid being a victim of this type of fraud:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

More about overseas fraud

ROAD SAFETY

Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country.

City streets are often narrow, winding and congested. In mountainous areas, roads are often winding and narrow, and weather conditions can make driving conditions dangerous. Avalanches or landslides can occur and block access routes to small isolated towns.

Drivers do not always obey road rules and may use excessive speed and reckless manoeuvering. In cities, signage, traffic lights and road markings may be non-existent, unclear or ignored.

Pay close attention to road conditions and refrain from driving during or immediately after severe storms. Monitor local news and follow the advice and warnings issued by local authorities.

In northern Italy, be aware of the potential for ground fog and poor visibility, especially in winter.

Be cautious when using pedestrian crossings as drivers do not always stop, even though they are required to by law.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Only use officially licensed taxis equipped with roof lights and meters. If you call a radio taxi, be aware that the meter starts to run as soon as the cab leaves to pick you up.

AIR TRAVEL

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

MOUNTAIN ACTIVITIES

If you intend to do mountaineering or skiing:

  • never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
  • ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
  • know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
  • obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes

Information on avalanche risk – Meteomont