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Italy

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Italy. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour. 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 the summer/autumn tourist season, thefts increase, particularly bag snatching, pickpocketing and vehicle break-ins. When using public transport, including buses, trains and metro, pay close attention to your personal belongings. 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 part of the Schengen area, along with a number of other European countries, which allows you to enter 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 your passport is stamped properly when entering the Schengen area (including Italy) for the first time. This stamp marks the start of the 90-day period you can stay in the Schengen area as a tourist.

Under Italian law, non-residents need 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 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. Most of the time, the hotel will do this by taking a photocopy of your passport.

Working holiday visas: To work in Italy under the Working Holiday Maker visa program you need to get the appropriate visa, prior to travelling to Italy. There can be delays of up to several months in the processing of residence and work permits after your arrival. Contact the Australian Embassy in Rome if you experience difficulties in getting residence or work permits under the Working Holiday Maker visa program. More information:  Working holiday visa program information sheet.

You'll need to do a language test as part of the application process for a long-term residence permit (permesso di soggiorno).

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

Currency:

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.

Ensure 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, 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. Take care to protect your personal belongings (bags, phones, cameras and passports).

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 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 been hospitalised.

Robberies from cars at traffic lights, rest stops and service stations occur. 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 and political tension

Demonstrations and strikes are a common occurrence. 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 and can be connected with domestic social or political issues. Bombings have been directed at police and the offices of prominent 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.

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.

The Italian Government has reported Italy is a possible 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.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

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. Always keep your card in sight. Take care not to expose your PIN, particularly when using ATMs. Monitor your transaction statements.

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

If your passport is lost or stolen passport, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible. You can either:

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 and can result in delays and cancellations to regular public transport services. See Civil unrest and political tensions.

When catching public transport, validate your ticket prior to boarding a train or a metro, and immediately upon boarding a bus or tram. Failure If you don't you can get an on-the-spot fine. In most cities, you'll need 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

If you're planning to drive, you'll need an International Drivers Permit, or an official translation of your Australian licence. The translation must be done by an official translator (traduttore giurato). A list of official translators may be found in the Italian Yellow Pages. When hiring a car, you may need to provide ID in addition to your driver's licence, such as a passport.

If you're planning to stay in Italy for more than a year, you'll need to get an Italian driver's licence, which means doing a written test and driving exam conducted in Italian (the exam can be conducted in German or French, under certain circumstances). Contact the Italian Embassy in Australia for more information.

Driving in Italy can be dangerous and can be chaotic compared to Australia. On-the-spot fines are payable for a range of minor traffic offences. Always use your 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 hire cars will have a ZTL pass.

If you're staying in commercial accommodation in the centre of an Italian city, ask your hotel about traffic restrictions in the area prior to your arrival. Authorities can take up to five years to identify the person responsible for an 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. More 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. Drivers don't usually 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.

More information: Air travel

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 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

It is a legal requirement to travel with the identification document which provides proof of when you entered the Schengen area or a permit to stay document. If this is not presented on request, it could result in a fine and six months in jail.

Under Italian law, internet cafe owners need to see your photo identification. Hotels are also required to see your original photo identification when you check in.

It's illegal to photograph official buildings and military areas. 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 apply overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia. These offences include, but are not limited to:

  • child sex offences and child pornography
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • drug trafficking
  • people smuggling and human trafficking
  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • money laundering
  • terrorism and foreign incursions.

More information: Staying within the law

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated 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 September 2017 the World Health Organization 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 Anzio (Lazio Region). Take precautions to protect yourself from insect bites. More information: WHO website

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

Italy and Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement which covers you for up to six months from your date of arrival in Italy. The agreement provides Australians access to government medical facilities and care for a sudden illness or accident. The agreement doesn't provide for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions. See Medicare's website for more 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.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to 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 get 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 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 near L'Aquila.
  • On 30 October 2016, an earthquake of 6.6 magnitude struck central in the Umbria region.
  • On 26 October 2016, earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 and 6.1 struck central in the Marche region.
  • On 24 August 2016, an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude struck in central the Lazio (northern) region.

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 Volcano in the Aeolian Islands chain north of Sicily are 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 (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, monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional resources