- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Italy.
- Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
- During the 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.
- You should 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 risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Glasgow, London, Madrid and Moscow. 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, underscoring the continuing interest of terrorists in attacking European locations.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Italy for the most up-to-date information.
Italy, along with 25 other European countries, is a party to the Schengen Convention which allows Australians to enter Italy without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more 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.
Whatever the purpose of your travel to Italy, if you are not staying in commercial accommodation or intend to stay for more than a few days, you may need a "Permit to Stay” (declarazione di presenza). You should note that the requirement to obtain a "Permit to Stay" is separate from any visa obtained from the Italian Embassy or Consulates. Failure to obtain the permit may result in expulsion from Italy.
In December 2010, Italian authorities introduced compulsory language testing as part of the application process for long-term residence permits (permesso di soggiorno).
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.
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
We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Italy. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Glasgow, London, Madrid and Moscow. 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, underscoring the continuing interest of terrorists in attacking European locations.
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.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
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, leading to delays and cancellations. The Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport provides information (in Italian) on upcoming strikes. The United States Embassy in Rome publishes useful information on all upcoming demonstrations on their website. 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).
Transport disruptions, including protests at airports, roadblocks and petrol station closures, have occurred across Italy in recent months. These disruptions are expected to continue. Taxi drivers also participate in rolling stoppages at little or no notice. 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 are often 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.
You should 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.
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. You should 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. You should 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 di Fiori and Piazza Navona. In Florence and Naples, attacks have occurred mainly in the vicinity of train stations and in bars and cafes in the city centres. Some victims have been sexually assaulted or have 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.
In major cities, soldiers have been deployed to assist with some policing duties.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as through credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Italy.
ATM fraud (using skimming devices) occurs regularly. We recommend you use ATMs in well-lit areas or inside bank premises.
Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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. Never leave your passport in an unattended vehicle or in an unattended bag in a public 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.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
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 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.
There are regular pedestrian fatalities throughout Italy. You should 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).
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).
You should only 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.
Please refer to our air travel for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Italy be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
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 new laws. You should know your limits when consuming alcohol and drink responsibly.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and convicted offenders can receive long jail sentences.
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. You should 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 Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
We strongly recommend that you 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 page also provides 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 and 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
In Italy, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy - Rome
Via Borgogna 2
20122 Milan, ITALY
Telephone: (39) 02 7767 4200
Facsimile: (39) 02 7767 4242
Australian Consulate, Veneto region
This post is headed by an Honorary Consul.
Via della Liberta’, 12
30175 Marghera - Venezia
For assistance, please use the contact details below:
Via Brandolini 29
31030 Cison di Valmarino, ITALY
Telephone: (39) 04 389761, (39) 0438 976417, (39) 0438 976091, (39) 0438 976708 (direct).
Facsimile: (39) 04 976 000
If you are travelling to Italy, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register on-line or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
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.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Italy is located in an active seismic region. In recent years, a number of earthquakes have occurred in Italy, causing deaths, injuries and damage to infrastructure. If you are in an affected area, you should monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
On 29 May 2012, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Modena (Emilia Romagna area), a week after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake shook the same region. A number of people were killed in the second earthquake. On 6 April 2009, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake occurred near the city of L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region. A number of people were injured or killed. Access to some areas of L’Aquila and Emilia Romagna is still restricted due to concerns for the stability of buildings and the risk of injury from falling debris. If you are travelling to the affected regions, you should contact your tour operator or the Civil Protection authorities (Protezione Civile) to check whether services at your planned destination have been affected.
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 Etna and Mt Stromboli experienced some lava flows in early 2007. In 2011, minor eruptions on Mt Etna have resulted in small lava flows and ash clouds which have caused temporary closures at Catania airport. Mt Vesuvius near Naples is currently inactive, but is monitored. The Humanitarian Early Warning Service provides updates on volcanic activity. If an eruption occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
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, you should monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
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.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.