|Still current at: 09 December 2011
Updated: 05 December 2011
|No restrictions in this travel advice||Avoid all but essential travel to part(s) of country||Avoid all but essential travel to whole country||Avoid all travel to part(s) of country||Avoid all travel to whole country|
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Travel Summary (Udinese v Celtic). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in this travel advice for Italy.
(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. In recent years the Italian authorities have arrested extremists in Italy, disrupting some terrorist networks. But there continue to be isolated cases of domestic terrorism. Typically, incidents carried out by the extreme left-wing and secessionist groups have been aimed at official Italian targets, mainly in the form of small bombs and incendiary devices.
In December 2010, parcel bombs exploded in the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome, each injuring one embassy employee. An Italian anarchist group claimed responsibility. Also in December 2010, a parcel bomb was found at the Greek Embassy in Rome, but it did not explode.
In October 2009, a small device was detonated outside a military base in Milan, injuring several soldies and the individual believed to be resonsible for the attack.
See our Terrorism abroad page.
Safety and Security - Crime
Levels of crime are generally low but there are higher levels of petty crime in the big city centres. Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in Rome, particularly around the main railway station ‘Termini’, and on the number 64 bus, which goes to and from St Peter's Square. Take particular care on the local and express trains from the main airports in Italy (especially Fiumicino airport) and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches.
There has been an increase in the number of tourists who have been robbed and assaulted after accepting ‘spiked’ food or drink in Italy. In Rome, many of these attacks have taken place around Termini station, tourist areas such as the Colosseum and in bars and cafes near Campo di Fiori and Piazza Navona. In Florence and Naples, attacks have occurred mainly in the vicinity of train stations and in bars and cafes in the city centres. Some victims have been sexually assaulted or have been admitted to hospital due to drug overdose.
Cars, at rest stops and motorway service stations are targets for robbers. You should treat offers of help with caution if you find yourself with a flat tyre, particularly on the motorway from Naples to Salerno. There have been reports that tyres have been punctured deliberately.
Always lock your vehicle, never leave valuables on show and avoid leaving luggage in cars for any length of time. Even if you will only be away for a short time or are nearby. There have been a number of cases in which cars containing left luggage have been stolen.
Be vigilant when travelling on sleepers/night trains. Thieves sometimes operate on these trains and may take the opportunity during the night to rob sleeping travellers.
Be aware that alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. See our Rape and sexual assault page.
Police in Europe have issued warnings that counterfeit Euro notes are in circulation. Take precautions to ensure that notes received from sources other than the banks and/or legitimate Bureaux de Change are genuine.
As a new measure to reduce the burden on police officers, some ordinary policing activities in Italian cities are now being carried out by soldiers.
Safety and Security - Crime - Scams
Foreign visitors and residents can be targeted by scam artists. These scams can pose great financial loss to victims. If you receive any unsolicited e-mails, including those claiming to be from HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) offering any form of financial gain in exchange for your bank details, you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam.
See our Victims of Crime Abroad page
Safety and Security - Local Travel
If you need a taxi, only travel by officially licensed cars. These will have a taxi sign on the roof. You should also ensure that the meter in the taxi has been reset before commencing your journey.
Because of heightened security at ports and other sensitive areas, delays at security check-points may occur. You should plan your travel accordingly.
If travelling on public transport, be aware that tickets need to be endorsed in a ticket machine before starting a journey. The machines are usually positioned at the entrance to platforms in railway stations, in the entrance hall to metro stations and on board buses and trams. Officials patrol all means of public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of Euros 50 to 60 if you do not hold an endorsed ticket.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Pre-Planned strikes
Information on transport strikes in Italy can be found on the Ministry of Transport website but only in Italian.
Call the Trenitalia call centre or go to the relevant website for further information (call centre Trenitalia 89.20.21 or from outside the UK 00 39 06 68475475; www.fsitaliane.it or www.trenitalia.com).
Other strikes could be called at little or no notice.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
If you wish to drive in Italy you must have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may be requested.
Private and hire cars are not permitted to enter the historic centre of many Italian cities without an official pass. If your hotel is in the centre of one of the cities concerned, you can purchase a pass from most car hire companies. However, this pass will not be valid for entering the centre of any other city and you are advised to make use of out-of-centre car parks and public transport. The boundaries of historic centres are usually marked with the letters ZTL in black on a yellow background. You are advised not to pass this sign as your registration number is likely to be caught on telecamera and notice of a fine - or fines if you cross more than one ZTL zone - could be sent to your home address.
Any fines notified to a person at the time of a traffic offence must be paid or appealed against within 60 days of receipt. When it is not possible for a person to be notified immediately in person at the time of an offence, the current edition of the Italian Highway Code states that under Italian Law the authorities have up to 360 days from when the offender is identified in which to send the notice of a fine to those who are resident outside Italy. For those who are resident in Italy the fine must be sent within 150 days.
In 2010 there were 3,998 road deaths in Italy (source: DfT). This equates to 6.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population compared to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2010. Pedestrians should take care at Zebra crossings. Vehicles do not always stop, even though they are required to under the Italian Traffic Code.
Since July 2007 on-the-spot fines' for minor traffic offences have been in operation. These may range typically between €150 - 250. Stick to the rules of the road, and/or have enough cash if you have to pay a fine. Failure to do so may seriously inconvenience your visit.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel - Road hauliers
Trucks over 7.5 tonnes (75 quintali) are not allowed on Italian roads, including motorways, on Sundays from 07:00 until midnight, local time. These restrictions do not apply to those trucks already granted an exception, such as those carrying perishable goods and petrol supplies. Both the Mont Blanc and Frejus road tunnels, linking Italy and France, are open but the restrictions introduced following the fires in 1999 and 2005 respectively continue to be applied to HGVs. These can be summarised as follows:
Mont Blanc: height restricted to 4.7m; minimum speed 50 km/h; maximum speed 70 km/h. Consult: www.tunnelmb.com or by telephone on number 00 33 (0) 45 05 55 500.
Fréjus: Vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes are subject to 1-hour alternate traffic flows starting at 08:00 leaving Italy. Special regulations apply to vehicles carrying dangerous loads. Details can be obtained from: http://www.tunneldufrejus.com.
See our Driving abroad page.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Sea Travel
The passenger safety certificates of two roll-on/roll-off ferries (the Campania and the Sicilia), operating on the Naples/Palermo route, were not renewed by the UK. Inspectors judged that the ferries did not fully comply with their interpretation of certain requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The ferries continue to operate but are no longer under the UK flag. We have no information about other vessels on this or other routes to Sicily. See our River and sea safety page.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 are also being implemented in Italy. For more details about this see Airline security.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Rail Travel
Information on rail travel in Italy can be found in English on the following sites:
Safety and Security - Political Situation
Italy Country Profile
Holy See Country Profile
In the cities of Venice and Florence, you should observe public notices about conduct. You may be fined if you drop litter. It is also an offence to sit on steps/courtyards or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of the main churches and public buildings in Florence. Italian authorities are engaged in a major effort to stamp out the illegal production and sale of counterfeit goods. Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities, particularly tourist cities like Florence and Rome. Do not buy from illegal street traders: if you do so you run the risk of being stopped by the local police and incurring a large fine.
Rome, Florence and Venice have recently introduced a tourist tax for non-residents. The local administration is in charge of the tax and therefore different conditions and requirements apply. For more information please refer to the official website of the town-hall you wish to visit or contact the Italian State Tourist Board, who will be able to make a search on your behalf.
See our Your trip page.
Entry Requirements - Passport Validity
You must hold a valid passport to enter Italy. For stays of up to three months your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. However, it is always sensible to have a short period of extra validity on your passport in case of unforeseen delays to your departure. You do not have to wait until your old passport expires to apply to renew it. Any time left on your old passport when you apply will be added to your new passport, up to a maximum of nine months. For passport applications in the UK, you should apply to the Identity and Passport Service. For stays of longer than three months, contact the Embassy of the country to which you are travelling.
Entry Requirements - Visas
Visas are not required.
Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
For information on exactly what will be required at immigration, please contact the Italian Embassy.
You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Italian nationals. You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. See our EHIC page.
In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 140,000 adults aged 15 or over in Italy were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.3% of the adult population compared to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV/AIDS.
Seek medical advice before travelling to Italy and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention check the websites of NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. See our Travel health page.
Natural Disasters - Volcanoes
Mount Etna has been erupting with increasing frequency sending plumes of ash into the air. Monitor the local media and/or contact your airline if you are concerned about possible disruption to flights and local services.
There continues to be low-intensity volcanic activity on the island of Stromboli. Further information on Stromboli and other volcanoes around the world can be found at: http://www.stromboli.net.
Natural Disasters - Earthquakes
Many parts of Italy lie on a major seismic fault line. Minor tremors and earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence.
L'Aquila, in the Abruzzo Region (58km north east of Rome) was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale on 6 April 2009. The earthquake caused widespread damage to buildings in the area. If you plan to visit this area please see the latest information in English on the Abruzzo tourist website at: http://www.abruzzoturismo.it//tourism/index.php?&lan=en.
General - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Check for any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel insurance page.
If things do go wrong when you are overseas see our When Things Go Wrong page.
General - Registration
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.
General - Money
Since 15 June 2007 legislation on the controls of cash entering or leaving the EU apply in all Member States. Any person entering or leaving the EU will have to declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to 10,000 Euros or more; this includes cheques, travellers' cheques, money orders, etc. This will not apply to anyone travelling via the EU to a non-EU country (as long as the original journey started outside of the EU) or to those travelling within the EU.
General - Consular Assistance Statistics
Around 2.6 million British nationals visit Italy every year (Source: Ministry of Tourism). Most visits are trouble-free. 349 British nationals required consular assistance in Italy in the period 01 April 2010 - 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident; 122 deaths; 118 hospitalisations; and dealing with 40 arrests, for a variety of offences. If you need to contact the emergency services in Italy call 112.
General - Restaurants
New regulations are now in force in the Rome area regarding service and other charges made in local restaurants.
The restaurant must:
- Display a menu outside the restaurant
- Only charge for bread if the customer specifically requests it
- Inform the customer of the prices being charged before he/she orders
- Show the wine list with the prices displayed
- Give a proper fiscal receipt for the bill giving full details of the charges
- Not make any cover charge (coperto)
General - Skiing
If you are planning a skiing holiday it is advisable to contact the Italian State Tourist Board for advice on safety and weather conditions before travelling. They can be contacted at:
1 Princes Street
London W1R 9AY
Tel: 020 7 355 1557/1439
You should be aware that off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. All safety instructions should be followed meticulously given the dangers of avalanches in some areas. Italy has introduced a law forcing skiers and snowboarders to carry tracking equipment if going off-piste. The law also obliges under-14s to wear a helmet. There are also plans for snowboarders to be banned from certain slopes.
Further information can be obtained at the following websites: