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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.
  • 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.
  • Several strong earthquakes were felt in central Italy on 18 and 19 January 2017 in the regions of Lazio (including Rome), Abruzzo and Marche. On 19 January, an earthquake-triggered avalanche buried a hotel in the Abruzzo region, reportedly causing a number of casualties. See Additional information.
  • 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, property and causing injuries and death. If you are 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 and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. See Safety and security.
  • 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. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.

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 the most up-to-date information.

Australians should ensure that a clearly legible entry stamp is placed in their passport when entering the Schengen area (including Italy) for the first time. This stamp will mark the start of the 90-day period during which Australians are permitted to stay within the Schengen area as tourists.

Under Italian law, all non-residents are required to complete a "dichiarazione di presenza" (declaration of presence). Tourists arriving from a non-Schengen-country (e.g. Australia) should obtain 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. It is important that applicants keep a copy of the receipt issued by the Italian authorities. Failure to complete a declaration of presence is punishable by expulsion from Italy.

Under Italian anti-terrorism laws, it is a requirement for commercial accommodation providers to provide the 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: If you are considering working in Italy under the Working Holiday Maker visa program you would need to obtain the appropriate visa prior to travelling to Italy and you should 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. Travellers who experience difficulties in obtaining residence or work permits under the Working Holiday Maker visa program should advise the Australian Embassy in Rome as soon as possible. Please see the working holiday visa program information sheet on the Australian Embassy website.

Italian authorities require compulsory language testing 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, travellers are advised to visit the Italian Police website to seek up-to-date information relating to their individual circumstances.

Currency: People entering and/or exiting the European Union (EU) carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" also includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will be fined. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia and carry copies of a recent passport photo (but not older than 6 months) with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime including bag snatching, pick-pocketing, passport theft and theft from cars is common, especially in larger cities and in and around major tourist attractions, on public transport and at major airports, railway stations and bus terminals. During the summer/autumn tourist season, there is a marked increase in the incidence of 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 adopt 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, continues to occur. 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, you should carefully examine any notes you may 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 mainly 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 due to drug overdose.

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 and ensure that, when you leave your car, it is 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 (in Italy call 89 20 21, from outside of Italy call +39 0668745475 or see www.trenitalia.com). Travellers should confirm their flights or travel with their 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 all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Terrorism

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 vigilant 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.

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years.

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

Money and valuables

ATM fraud (using skimming devices) occurs regularly. Be vigilant 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. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Over the last year there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. Australians should carry their passports 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 and delays.

Public Transport

There are frequent strikes in Italy that can result in delays and cancellations to regular public transport services. For more information see the Civil unrest/Political tensions section of this advisory.

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 are 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 are not 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; for example, a Passport and Identification Document.

The holder of an Australian licence who takes up "residenza" (legal residence) may 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 will need to apply for an Italian driver's licence. Italy does not permit the conversion of an Australian licence, so you will be required to undertake a written test and a driving exam conducted in Italian (the exam can be conducted in German or French under certain circumstances). Australians should contact the Italian Embassy or Consulates in Australia for further information on Italian drivers 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 is mandatory to use headlights on main roads outside the urban areas and highways, including during the day. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Vehicle access to the centres of many Italian cities has been 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 do not carry ZTL passes. It is unlikely that hire cars will have a ZTL pass.

If staying in commercial accommodation in the centre of an Italian city, it is recommended that you 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

Travel in licensed taxis, which can be identified by appropriate signage, roof lights and meters. Unauthorised taxis do not carry meters and charge disproportionately large fares when you reach your destination.

There are regular pedestrian fatalities throughout Italy. Exercise particular care when crossing roads, including at controlled pedestrian crossings, as motorists in Italy will often not give way to pedestrians (although they are required to under Italian law).

Airline safety

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

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are 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 banned drinking in public places. Australians have been arrested for disturbing the peace under these laws. Know your limits when consuming alcohol and drink responsibly.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and convicted offenders can receive long jail sentences. See our Drugs page.

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

It is 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 is 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 are 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 may be prosecuted in Australia.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not 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 will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is 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 and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in Italy's major cities is high, however may be limited in regional areas. Private doctors, specialist and diagnostic services will require up-front payment and 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, but does not provide for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions. See Medicare's website for further information. The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement does not 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.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy or Consulate-General you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, 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, property, and causing injuries and death. If you are in an affected area, monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

If you are 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. See the earthquaketrack.com website.  See also our earthquakes page for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.

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 (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested regions. If you are 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 inhabitants. If you are in an affected area, you should monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: