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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's 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 places of worship, tourist attractions, shopping areas, concerts, major events, public transport, airports and other transport hubs. See Safety and security
  • Bag snatching, pickpocketing, and vehicle break-ins are common and increase during Italy's summer/autumn tourist season. Pay close attention to your personal belongings, especially on public transport and around 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.
  • Avoid protests and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Monitor the media for information about new safety or security risks. See Safety and security
  • Italy is located in an active seismic region and experiences a number of earthquakes each year. Significant earthquakes occur occasionally, which can cause landslides and avalanches, 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 Natural disasters

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements. 

Visas

Italy is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter without a visa in some circumstances.

In other circumstances, you'll need to get a visa before you travel.

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 the Embassy of Italy website for the most up-to-date information.

More information:

Other formalities

Make sure you get a clearly legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area (including Italy) for the first time.

By law, commercial accommodation providers must 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.

If you're not staying in commercial accommodation or intend to stay for more than a few days, you may need to apply for a "Permit to Stay" (dichiarazione di presenza) from the local police office (questura) within 8 days of arrival. The requirement to obtain a "Permit to Stay" is separate from any visa you may have. If you don’t get this you may be removed from Italy.

To work under the Working Holiday Visa program you need to get the appropriate visa before you arrive. There can be delays of up to several months in the processing of residence and work permits after your arrival. Contact the Italian Embassy or Consulate in Australia for information on getting work permits under the Working Holiday Maker visa program.

More information: Working Holiday Visa program information sheet

If you plan to stay beyond 90 days, check the Italian Police website for up-to-date information on registration requirements.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia and has at least two blank pages.

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.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

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

Money

Declare cash of €10,000 euros or more (or equivalent) if you're travelling between Italy and any non-European Union (EU) country. If you fail to declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Italy, you will be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

ATMs are widely available across the country. International credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops.

Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime

Petty crime including bag snatching, pick-pocketing, passport theft and theft from cars is common, particularly in the summer/autumn tourist season. Thieves are most active in larger cities, in and around major tourist attractions, on public transport and at major airports, railway stations and bus terminals. Theft is particularly common on trains in Italy, including to and from Fiumicino airport near Rome and on overnight journeys.

Thieves often work in groups to distract victims and rob them while they are looking elsewhere. On trains, they do this by asking for directions while a 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 sauce 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.

More information: Polizia Di Stato (in English).

You could also encounter robberies from cars at traffic lights, rest stops, service stations and on the roadside. There are reports of thieves slashing tyres 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.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in places frequented by tourists.
  • Carry only what you need for the day. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Avoid walking in quiet and poorly lit streets, especially at night.
  • Lock your car doors and keep luggage and valuables out of sight.
  • Only use ATMS in secure locations such as banks, shops and shopping centres.
  • Keep your ATM and credit cards in sight.
  • Monitor local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Fraud and fake money

Credit card and ATM fraud involving 'skimming' machines is a risk to travellers. Monitor your transaction statements.

Police have warned that counterfeit European currency is in circulation. Carefully examine any notes you receive.

Spiking, robbery and assault

Tourists have been robbed and assaulted after consuming spiked food or drinks. Some victims have been sexually assaulted or required hospitalisation.

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 occur mainly in the vicinity of train stations and in bars and cafes in the city centres.

  • Don't accept drinks from strangers or leave food or drinks unattended.
  • Stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs.

Vehicle break-ins

Vehicle break-in and theft is 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. Many Australians have had their belongings, including passports and other valuables, stolen from unattended vehicles.

  • Don't leave valuables in your car.
  • When you leave your car, make sure it is locked.  
  • Where possible, use a secure parking facility, especially overnight.

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations and strikes are common. 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).

Some violence occurs due to 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.

Protests can spark violent unrest, demonstrations and riots.

  • Avoid all crowds, protests and demonstrations where possible.
  • Keep an eye on the local news and other sources for information on planned and possible unrest.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Confirm your flights or travel with your travel provider prior to departure.
  • Allow plenty of time for travel to airports and train stations.

Terrorism

There's 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 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.

  • 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.
  • Keep an eye on 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. 

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Local travel

Since 2015, 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. Keep up-to-date on border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.

Road travel

Driving can be dangerous and driving conditions are chaotic compared to Australia.

By law, you must use headlights on main roads outside the urban areas and on highways, including during the day.

Vehicle access to the centres of many Italian cities is restricted to help reduce congestion. Traffic Restricted Zones (ZTL) and their hours of operation, vary from city to city. Vehicles within the ZTL are fined if they don't carry ZTL passes. Hire cars usually don't have a ZTL pass. If you're staying in the centre of an Italian city, ask your hotel or host about traffic restrictions in the area or check the website of the relevant municipality (comune) before you arrive.

Snow tyres or chains are mandatory in some mountainous regions or areas where snow is common. Road signs will indicate if they are required. If you don’t have the right equipment, you may be fined.

In summer, only residents can take their cars to the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida.

On-the-spot fines are payable for a range of minor traffic offences. Many municipalities have outsourced the collection of traffic fines to the European Municipal Outsourcing (EMO).

Driver's licence

If you're not a resident, you can drive with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Drivers Permit (IDP) or an official translation of the Australian licence. You must get your IDP before departing Australia. The translation must be prepared by a 'traduttore giurato' (official translator) in Italy. A list of official translators can be found in the Italian Yellow Pages.

If you take up 'residenza' (legal residence) and remain beyond one year, you must apply for an Italian driver's licence. Italy doesn't permit the conversion of an Australian licence, so you'll have to take a written test and a driving exam conducted in Italian (the exam can be conducted in German or French in certain circumstances). Contact an Italian Embassy or Consulate for further information on Italian drivers' licence requirements.

Travel by foot

There are regular pedestrian fatalities. Motorists often fail to give way to pedestrians (although they are required to under Italian law). Take care when crossing roads, including at controlled pedestrian crossings.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Only travel in licensed taxis, which are marked with appropriate signage, roof lights and meters. Unauthorised taxis don't carry meters and overcharge.

Public transport

There are frequent strikes that can result in delays and cancellations to regular public transport services. See Civil unrest and political tension.

In most cities, you 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.

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

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.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and convicted offenders can receive long jail sentences.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Pay attention to signs about conduct around tourist areas in major cities. You may get a fine for littering, sitting, eating or drinking on steps and courtyards around the main churches and public buildings in some cities, including Florence and Rome.

Some cities including Rome have banned organised pub crawls, drinking on the street and in public places. Australians have been arrested for disturbing the peace under these laws.

The following activities are illegal:

  • blocking the pedestrian flow in public spaces
  • driving without headlights on main roads outside the urban areas or on highways – see Local travel
  • photographing official buildings and military areas - check with local authorities before taking photo
  • purchasing counterfeit products from illegal street vendors
  • littering.

If you use an internet café, you'll be asked for photo identification. Internet café owners are required by law to sight and keep an electronic record of their clients' photo identification.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • you're covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Mosquito-borne diseases
A number of West Nile virus (WNV) cases have been reported. There is no vaccine to prevent WNV.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses, day and night:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose  fitting, light coloured clothing

More information:

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in major cities is high.  In regional areas, facilities may be limited. Decompression chambers are located near all diving resorts and in major hospitals.

There is a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between Australia and Italy. Under this agreement, you can get treatment and care in Italian government medical facilities if you have a sudden acute illness or accident in your first six months in Italy.  To access care under this agreement, you'll need to provide your valid Medicare card.

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement does not provide for ongoing treatment of existing health conditions and doesn't replace the need for private travel health insurance.

Private doctors, specialist and diagnostic services require up-front payment. Private hospitals generally require a substantial deposit before commencing treatment.

More information: Reciprocal health care agreements

Natural disasters

Earthquakes

Italy is located in an active seismic region, and experiences a number of earthquakes each year. Significant earthquakes occur occasionally, which also can cause landslides and avalanches, resulting in damage to infrastructure, homes, property, and causing injuries and death.

Several strong earthquakes were felt in central Italy on 18 and 19 January 2017 in the regions of Lazio (including Rome), Abruzzo and Marche.

In recent years, several 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 2016, 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.

Whenever travelling in Italy:

  • know your hotel's procedures in case of an earthquake
  • monitor local media and weather reports
  • take official warnings seriously.

If you're in an affected area or travelling to an area recently affected by seismic activity:

  • follow the advice of local authorities.
  • contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare
  • check with your airline or travel provider for the latest information on disruptions.

More information:

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

Volcanoes

Mount Etna in Sicily and Mount Stromboli and Mount Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands chain north of Sicily are all active volcanoes.

If an eruption occurs:

Forest fires

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

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're in an affected area, monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 113
  • Medical emergencies: 113
  • Criminal issues, contact police:  113

For non-emergency criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station. Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact an Australian mission:

Australian Embassy - Rome

Via Antonio Bosio 5
00161 Rome, ITALY   
Phone: (39) 06 85 2721
Fax: (39) 06 85 272 300
Email: consular-rome@dfat.gov.au
Website: italy.embassy.gov.au
Twitter: @AusAmbRome
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Italy

Australian Consulate-General - Milan

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

Check 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, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

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