Safety and security
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.
Terrorism in Italy
Terrorist attacks in Italy cannot be ruled out.
There are isolated cases of domestic terrorism. The Italian authorities have made a number of arrests of individuals with links to Daesh and other extremist groups.
Demonstrations may occur with little or no warning in cities. Avoid any protests, political gatherings, or marches.
Crime levels are generally low but there are higher levels of petty crime (particularly bag snatching and pickpocketing) in the big city centres, such as Rome. Thieves can use a variety of methods to distract you.
Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in city centres including main stations and particularly in and around Termini station in Rome, where incidents of street muggings have been reported.
Be particularly careful with your belongings on trains to and from airports and cruise ship ports in Italy (especially Fiumicino airport), as well as on the Circumvesuviana train between Naples and Sorrento, and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches.
Theft from cars
Robberies from parked cars have been reported, particularly in and around Rome, Ostia, Milan and Pisa, as well as at motorway service stations. Always lock your vehicle, never leave valuables in cars and avoid leaving luggage in cars for any length of time. Thieves may use a variety of methods to distract you or encourage you to stop your car, including asking for help or directions or pointing out a fictional fault with your car.
Use a hotel safe for valuables where possible.
Be drink aware
Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers or leaving your drinks unattended. Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed and sometimes assaulted.
Laws and cultural differences
By law, you must always be able to show some form of identification. In most cases a photocopy of the data page of your passport should be enough, but you may also be asked for a second form of photo ID. The police will normally ask for your full passport if you are stopped while driving.
Tickets on public transport must be validated in a ticket machine before you start a journey. Officials patrol public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of 100 to 500 euros (reduced to 50 euros if paid immediately) if you don’t hold a validated ticket.
Many major cities in Italy impose a small tax on tourists. The tax is paid at your hotel and is usually not included in any pre-paid arrangements or package deal. The rate of tax varies from city to city and can depend on the star rating of the hotel. Hotels often ask for payment in cash. Make sure you get a receipt. For more information, check with the local tourist information office.
Some Italian towns and cities have specific laws, which you may be fined if you break. For example, there may be laws to prevent you from:
- dropping litter
- sitting on monument steps
- eating and drinking next to main churches, historic monuments and public buildings
It’s also an offence to enter or bathe in public fountains in many towns and cities, including Florence and Rome. A fine of up to 10,000 euros can be imposed for urinating in a public place.
On the island of Capri, you must not use or bring onto the island any disposable plastic objects such as bags, cutlery, plates, cups, food packaging, trays and straws. If you do, you can be fined up to 500 euros.
Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities. It is illegal to buy items from unlicensed street traders. If you do, you could be stopped by the local police and fined.
It’s illegal to remove sand, shells or pebbles from coastal areas in Italy. Doing so may result in large fines. It’s also forbidden to collect various species of flowers, plants and herbs from mountain and wooded areas. For more information, check with the regional authorities of the area you’re visiting.
If you are planning a skiing holiday, take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before you travel and familiarise yourself with local skiing laws and regulations.
You can contact the Italian State Tourist Board for advice on safety and weather conditions before you travel.
Regulations for the ski season include:
- third party liability insurance is a legal requirement and can be purchased locally with a ski pass
- you must wear a helmet if you are under 18
- you must not eat or drink on ski lifts or boarding areas
- you must not climb a slope with snowshoes unless in a case of emergency
- you must not ski under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Off-piste skiing is very dangerous. Follow all safety instructions meticulously given the dangers of avalanches in some areas and go with a qualified guide. For more information about the avalanche risk, visit the European Avalanche Warning Service website.
Check your insurance covers off-piste activity. It is a legal requirement for skiers and snowboarders to carry tracking equipment, a snow probe and a shovel if they go off-piste.
Find more information about staying safe while skiing and preparing for winter sports abroad.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Hiking, mountaineering and other adventure sports have specific risks.
If you’re taking part in these activities, check that the company is well- established in the industry and that you’ve arranged for your insurance to cover this specific activity.
For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (for example off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or BASE jumping), your insurance should include:
- mountain rescue services
- helicopter costs
- repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment
Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped for the worst-case scenario with items such as a map, compass, GPS and telecommunication equipment.
Risks are greater if you undertake any activity alone. You may want to hire a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone.
Transport risks in Italy
Only use officially licensed taxis. These will have a taxi sign on the roof and a taxi company name and number written on the side. Taxis should be called or taken from an official rank rather than hailed in the street.
Transport strikes are often called at short notice. You can find information on the Ministry of Transport website (in Italian).
Traffic can be busy, fast and chaotic, especially in the larger cities. Take care when crossing roads. Pedestrians should cross roads using a crossing. You can be fined for crossing the road if you are within 100 metres of a pedestrian crossing but do not use it. Drivers don’t always stop, even though they are required to. The green pedestrian crossing signal also allows cars to turn right onto the crossing, so cross with caution.
If you are planning to drive in Italy, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide.
You may also want to look at the European Commission, AA and Italian Police guides on driving in Italy.
Licences and documents
If you are visiting Italy, you can drive on a full, valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you’re living in Italy, or planning to live there check the living in Italy guide for information on requirements for residents.
Driving a British car abroad
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. Since 2021, UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the government guidance on displaying number plates for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.
Private and hire cars must not enter the historic centre of many Italian cities without an official pass. You can buy a pass from most car hire companies. The boundaries of historic centres are usually marked with the letters ZTL in black on a yellow background. If you pass this sign, your registration number is likely to be caught on camera and you will be fined.
There is a congestion charge for Milan city centre. For more information see the Milan Municipality website.
To reduce pollution, city authorities in Rome sometimes restrict traffic on specific days so vehicles with odd or even number plates are not allowed on the roads in the green band (fascia verde) area, which covers most of Rome. For more information, including exceptions, see the Rome Municipality website.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
For severe weather warnings, visit the European Meteorological Services website.
Forest fires are a risk during the extended summer months. They are highly dangerous and unpredictable. Check with local authorities if you’re considering travelling to affected areas. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas and report fires to the emergency services.
For information on what to do in the event of a forest fire, visit the Civil Protection Department website.
Heavy rainfall is common throughout Italy in winter, which can cause local flooding. Monitor local media, weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities in affected areas.
High waters are a common occurrence in Venice during the winter months and can cause flooding in parts of the city.
Many parts of Italy lie on a major seismic fault line, which means that minor tremors and earthquakes are a regular occurrence. Learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.