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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Italy. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in a number of European countries including Italy. In recent years, terrorist attacks have occurred in major European cities. Exercise caution in public places such as shopping areas, concerts, major events, public transport, airports and other transport hubs. See Safety and security.
  • General public and private sector strikes can affect public transport.  See the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (in Italian only) for a list of planned strikes.
  • During Italy's summer/autumn tourist season, there is a marked increase in the incidence of theft, particularly bag snatching, pickpocketing and vehicle break-ins. When using public transport, including buses, trains and metro, pay close attention to your personal belongings, as pickpocketing is very common on public transport and around transport hubs.
  • Italy is located in an active seismic region and experiences a number of earthquakes each year. Significant earthquakes occur occasionally, resulting in damage to infrastructure, homes and property, causing injuries and death. If you're in an affected area, monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. See Additional information.   
  • Avoid protests and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Monitor the media for information about new safety or security risks.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Italy is party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Italy without a visa in some circumstances. More information: Schengen Convention.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Italy or visit their website for up-to-date information.

Ensure that a clearly legible entry stamp is placed in your passport when entering the Schengen Zone (including Italy) for the first time. This stamp marks the start of the 90-day period you're permitted to stay within the Schengen Zone as a tourist.

Under Italian law, all non-residents are required to complete a 'declaration of presence' (dichiarazione di presenza), regardless of length of stay. Tourists arriving from a non-Schengen-country (e.g. Australia) need to get a stamp in their passport at the airport on the day of arrival. This stamp is considered the equivalent of the 'declaration of presence'. Tourists arriving from a Schengen-country (e.g. France) must request the 'declaration of presence' form from a local police office (commissariato di zona), police headquarters (questura) or their place of stay (e.g hotel, hostel, campgrounds), and submit the form to the police or to their place of stay within eight business days of arrival. If staying in a hotel, this is usually part of the check-in process. Check with your accommodation if you are unsure. Keep a copy of the receipt issued by the Italian authorities. If you don't complete a declaration of presence you can be deported.  

Under Italian anti-terrorism laws, commercial accommodation providers must provide Italian authorities with the personal details of their guests. In the majority of cases, this will only require taking a photocopy of your passport.

Working Holiday Visas: To work in Italy under the Working Holiday Maker visa program you need to obtain the appropriate visa, prior to travelling to Italy. Be aware of the potential for delays in the processing of mandatory residence and work permits after your arrival in Italy. In some cases, delays of up to several months have been reported. Advise the Australian Embassy in Rome as soon as possible if you experience difficulties in obtaining residence or work permits under the Working Holiday Make visa program. More information:  Working holiday visa program information sheet.

Language testing is required as part of the application process for long-term residence permits (permesso di soggiorno).

For more information about entering or staying in Italy beyond 90 days, visit the Italian Police website.

Currency:

You must declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) if you are travelling between Italy and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you don't declare, or if you provide incomplete or incorrect information, you will be fined. This doesn't apply if you're travelling to or from another EU country.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime, including bag snatching, pick-pocketing, passport theft and theft from cars, is common, especially in larger cities, in and around major tourist attractions, on public transport, at major airports, railway stations and bus terminals. During the summer/autumn tourist season, there is a marked increase in lost and stolen passports and personal possessions.

Thieves often work in groups to distract victims and rob them while their attention is diverted.

Theft is particularly common on trains in Italy, including to and from Fiumicino Airport, near Rome. Thieves use a number of approaches to distract their victims, including: pretending to ask for directions while the train is stopped at a station; dropping attractive items on the floor of the train; blocking the view of luggage stored in overhead luggage racks; and throwing rubbish or ketchup at the victim. Often a member of the group will pretend to come to the assistance of the victim while others make off with the victim's valuables. For more information on train security and crime, see the Polizia Di Stato website (in English).

Passengers on night trains have been robbed while sleeping. Be extremely vigilant with your belongings at all times.

Credit card and ATM fraud involving 'skimming' machines, which can store card data, occurs. Monitor transaction statements and only use ATMs in secure locations such as banks, shops or malls. Police have warned that counterfeit European currency is in circulation. When making purchases, carefully examine any notes you receive in change.

A number of tourists have been robbed and assaulted after accepting 'spiked' food or drink. 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 dei Fiori and Piazza Navona. In Florence and Naples, attacks have occurred in the vicinity of train stations, and in bars and cafes in the city centres. Some victims have been sexually assaulted or have required hospitalisation.

Robberies from cars at traffic lights, rest stops and service stations occur in Italy. There are reports of thieves slashing tires or staging roadside emergencies to persuade drivers to pull over and get out of their cars. While the driver is distracted, the thieves steal personal belongings.

Car break-in and theft is also common. Popular targets for thieves are unattended campervans or mobile homes, whether parked at camping sites or in the streets in the vicinity of historic sites. Never leave valuables in your car. When you leave your car, ensure it's locked, even if you will only be away for a short period of time. Many Australians have had their belongings, including passports and other valuables, stolen from unattended vehicles.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Demonstrations and strikes are a common occurrence in Italy. They can cause building closures, particularly in tourist areas, and disruptions to public transport services, including air, shipping, train, bus, tram and taxi services, roadblocks and petrol station closures, leading to delays and cancellations. The Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport provides information (in Italian) on upcoming strikes. Trenitalia provides information (in English) on train disruptions. Confirm your flights or travel plans with your travel provider prior to departure, and allow plenty of time for travel to airports and train stations.

Isolated incidents of violence occur in Italy and can be connected with domestic social or political issues. Bombings have been directed at Italian police and the offices of prominent Italian politicians, as well as government institutions, and public and commercial buildings.

Immigrant workers protesting against working conditions have, on occasion, sparked violent unrest, demonstrations and riots.

Avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Monitor the media for information about new safety or security risks.

Terrorism

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in a number of European countries, including Italy.

On 19 November 2015, the US Government warned its citizens of media reports that locations in Rome (St Peter's Basilica) and Milan (the Duomo and La Scala) had been identified as potential targets for terrorist attack. The US Government stated that venues such as churches, restaurants, theatres and hotels in Rome and Milan are also possible targets. Travellers should remain alert in public places and report suspicious behaviour to the authorities.

The Italian Government has reported that Italy is a potential target for international terrorist attacks. Security measures are in place in and around major tourist attractions, including the Vatican, on public transport, cruise ships and at airports, seaports and railway stations.

Exercise caution in public places such as tourist attractions, shopping areas, concerts, major events, public transport, airports and other transport hubs.

In recent years, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. A number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

ATM fraud (using skimming devices) occurs regularly. Be alert when using ATMs and credit cards. Use ATMs in well-lit areas or inside bank premises. Keep your card in sight at all times, take care not to expose your PIN, particularly when using ATMs, and monitor your transaction statements.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

By law, you must as soon as possible report a lost or stolen passport:

Local travel

Over the last year, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen Zone. Monitor local media and other information from transport providers for up-to-date information on entry and exit changes or delays.

Public Transport

Strikes occur frequently in Italy and can result in delays and cancellations to regular public transport services. See: Civil unrest/Political tensions.

When catching public transport you must validate your ticket prior to boarding a train or a metro, and immediately upon boarding a bus or tram. Failure to validate your ticket can result in on-the-spot fines. In most cities, you're required to pre-purchase bus and train tickets as there are no purchasing facilities once you board a bus or train. Pre-paid tickets are usually available from tobacconists or bars (coffee shops) that display the public transport company's logo/name. Automatic ticket machines are located at every metro and major train station.

Driving

In Italy, holders of a valid Australian driver's licence, who aren't residents of Italy, may drive for an unlimited period of time provided they have an International Drivers Permit (IDP) or an official translation of the Australian licence. The translation must be prepared by a 'traduttore giurato' (official translator) in Italy. A list of official translators may be found in the Italian Yellow Pages. When hiring a car in Italy, you may be required to provide additional ID to your international driver's licence, such as a passport.

The holder of an Australian licence who takes up legal residence (residenza) can drive on an Australian driver's licence accompanied by the IDP or translation for up to one year only. If you take up residency and remain in Italy beyond one year, you need to apply for an Italian driver's licence. Italy doesn't allow the conversion of an Australian licence, so you will be required to undertake a written test and driving exam conducted in Italian (the exam can be conducted in German or French, under certain circumstances). Australians should contact the Italian Embassy in Australia for further information on Italian driver's licence requirements.

Driving in Italy can be dangerous and driving conditions can seem chaotic compared to Australia. On-the-spot fines are payable for a range of minor traffic offences. It's mandatory to use headlights on main roads outside the urban areas and highways, including during the day. More information: Road safety and driving. 

Vehicle access to the centres of many Italian cities are restricted to help reduce congestion. Traffic Restricted Zones (ZTL), and their hours of operation, vary from city to city. Fines are levied on vehicles that don't carry ZTL passes. It's unlikely that hire cars will have a ZTL pass.

If staying in commercial accommodation in the centre of an Italian city, ask your hotel about traffic restrictions in the area prior to your arrival. For non-residents, the law allows authorities up to five years to identify the person responsible for the infringement and 360 days after the identification to issue the fine.

Many municipalities have outsourced the collection of traffic fines. European Municipal Outsourcing (EMO) handles the majority of the fines, but fines may be issued by other agencies. Further information on ZTL restrictions can be found on the websites of the individual municipalities (comune).

Taxis and travel by foot

Always travel in licensed taxis, which can be identified by appropriate signage, roof lights and meters. Unauthorised taxis don't carry meters and charge disproportionately large fares when you reach your destination.

Pedestrian fatalities are common throughout Italy. Exercise particular care when crossing roads, including at controlled pedestrian crossings. Although required by law, motorists in Italy will often not give way to pedestrians.

Air safety

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Italy.

Refer to our general air travel page for more information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You're subject to the local laws of Italy, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Binge drinking, organised pub crawls and associated civil disorder can be a problem in large Italian cities. In an attempt to crack down on these activities, some municipalities have introduced laws, including banning drinking in public places. Australians have been arrested for disturbing the peace under these laws. In August 2017, tourists were arrested and fined for swimming in the Grand Canal, Venice. Know your limits when consuming alcohol and drink responsibly.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and convicted offenders can receive long jail sentences. More information: Carrying or using drugs.

Under Italian law, internet cafe owners are required to sight and keep an electronic record of their clients' photo identification.

It's illegal to photograph official buildings and military areas in Italy. Check with local authorities before taking photos.

Local laws in Venice and Florence prohibit littering. In Florence, it's also an offence to sit, eat or drink on steps, and in courtyards in the vicinity of major churches and public buildings. Fines may be levied by local authorities.

Heavy fines can be imposed if you're caught purchasing counterfeit products from illegal street vendors.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas can be prosecuted in Australia.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you travel to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away, and check what circumstances and activities aren't included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers. More information: Taking care of your health.

Mosquito-borne illnesses are present in Italy. In September 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed several cases of Chikungunya in Italy. Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. Cases have occurred in Rome and in the coastal area of Azio (Lazio Region). Take precautions to protect yourself from insect bites. More information and advice can be found on the WHO website.

The standard of medical facilities in Italy's major cities is high, but may be limited in regional areas. Private doctors, and specialist and diagnostic services require up-front payment. Private hospitals generally require a substantial deposit before commencing treatment.

Italy and Australia are signatories to a reciprocal health care agreement which covers travellers for up to six months from their date of arrival in Italy. The agreement provides Australians who fall ill whilst in Italy with access to government medical facilities and care in the event of a sudden acute illness or accident. The agreement doesn't provide for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions. See Medicare's website for further information. The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement doesn't replace the need for travel insurance.

Decompression chambers are located near all diving resorts and in major hospitals throughout Italy.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

The national emergency number is 113.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy - Rome

Via Antonio Bosio 5
00161 Rome, ITALY
Telephone: (39) 06 85 2721
Facsimile: (39) 06 85 272 300
Email: consular-rome@dfat.gov.au
Website: italy.embassy.gov.au
Twitter: @AusAmbRome

Australian Consulate-General - Milan

3rd Floor
Via Borgogna 2
20122 Milan, ITALY
Telephone: (39) 02 7767 4200
Facsimile: (39) 02 7767 4242

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the Embassy or Consulate-General in a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or 800 877 790 (Italian toll free number) or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Earthquakes

Italy is located in an active seismic region, and experiences a number of earthquakes each year. Significant earthquakes occur occasionally, resulting in damage to infrastructure, homes and property, causing injuries and death. If you're in an affected area, monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

If you're travelling to an area recently affected by seismic activity, contact your tour operator or the Civil Protection authorities (Protezione Civile) to check whether services at your planned destination have been fully restored.

For more information on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone area, see:

In recent years, parts of Italy have been affected by earthquakes.  

  • On 19 January 2017, an earthquake-triggered avalanche buried a hotel in the Abruzzo region.
  • On 18 January 2017, an earthquake of 5.4 magnitude struck central Italy with the epicentre near L'Aquila.
  • On 30 October 2016, an earthquake of 6.6 magnitude struck central Italy with the epicentre near Norcia, Province of Perugia, Umbria region.
  • On 26 October, earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 and 6.1 struck central Italy, with the epicentre near Ussita, in the province of Macerata, Marche region.
  • On 24 August 2016, an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude struck in central Italy with the epicentre in Amatrice, province of Rieti, Lazio (northern) region.
  • In April 2015, an earthquake of 4.4 magnitude struck near Faenza in the Emilia-Romagna region.
  • In January 2015, another 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck Barberino di Mugello in Toscana.

For more information about the avalanche risk, visit the European Avalanche Warning Service website.  

Volcanoes

Mt Etna on the island of Sicily, and Mt Stromboli and Mt Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands chain north of Sicily are all active volcanoes. Mt Vesuvius near Naples is currently inactive, but continues to be monitored. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System provides updates on volcanic activity. If an eruption occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Forest Fires

Forest fires often occur during the summer months in Italy (June to September), particularly in heavily forested regions. If you're in an affected area, monitor local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Forest fires are unpredictable and dangerous and the air quality in areas near active fires may be harmful to your health.

Storms and flooding

Heavy winter rains often result in wide-spread flooding and mudslides. The areas most often affected are the Veneto region (in the north), and Calabria and Sicily regions (in the south). Flooding and mudslides can result in loss of life, destruction of property and the evacuation of residents. If you're in an affected area, you should monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources