Italy is renowned for its stunning countryside, its delicious cuisine, and the serene vibe of the locals. Combine that with the fact that it’s also one of the safest countries in the world to travel to, and you have a clear reason why Italy should be near the top of your bucket list destinations.
Italy is one of the safest countries to travel through. You should be careful of petty thieves, but generally, the northern part of the country has a very low crime rate. While traveling, things to do are biking, hiking, and visiting the historical landmarks while vigilant of pickpockets.
The magic and history of Italy are some of the reasons you should visit this beautiful country. But what of the crime? What of the mafia? Is it safe enough to travel? Here are a few things that might set your mind at ease.
How Safe Is It In Italy?
Italy is one of the safest countries to travel in the world; according to the Global Peace Index for 2020, it is the thirty-second most peaceful country on earth. The three Italian law enforcement agencies (Carabinieri, Polizia, and Guardia di Finanza) keeps the crime rate exceptionally low, and the worst you might encounter are pickpockets and petty thieves. The numbers may increase the further down south you travel, where you will encounter organized crime cases sporadically. Still, the north and central part of the country is generally a nonviolent nation. Especially keep an eye on your passport as this is a very popular item to steel around the well-known historical sites where it is typically crowded with tourists.
What Crimes Are Commonly Found In Italy?
Although crime in Italy has been increasing steadily in the last three years, the country as a unit is still one of the safest to travel to. In and around the major cities and popular tourist sites, you should be vigilant against pickpockets and bands of petty thieves. They often work together with beggars and divert your attention for a moment while the other pinches your belongings. However, closer to the southern part of Italy, the crime rate is higher for organized crime, drug dealing, corruption, and bribery. Cases of vehicle theft also do occur. This happens so secretly, though, that tourists and even ex-pats living in the country hardly notice it unless you look for it.
How Do You Avoid Pickpockets In Italy?
Pickpockets are devious little rascals practiced in the art of deception. They work in groups and regularly play on the innocent and unsuspecting nature of tourists. Here are a few ways to avoid being their target:
- Don’t bring anything you don’t need, like extra cash, your spare credit card. A photocopy of your passport will do in most cases.
- Pay attention to the people around you, especially if someone continually shows up wherever you’re traveling.
- Try to carry your belongings in front of you where they will always be in your sight.
- Ensure that your bags and purses can zip closed properly.
- Make a habit of not using your back pockets to store any items. It’s an easy target.
- Avoid wearing a belt pouch (or a fanny pack) to store your belongings, no matter how convenient they are. They are disconnected from you, and you don’t notice when sticky fingers relieve you of your items.
- And finally, trust your sixth sense. If a situation or person makes you feel uncomfortable or strange, try to get out of it as soon as possible.
What Are The 5 Most Dangerous Cities In Italy?
Italy is fairly safe to travel, even for solo women travelers. However, if you regard their crime rates, there are certain cities where you should take extra care.
Even though Milan is regarded as Italy’s fashion capital, this free flow of tourists makes it a soft target for bands of pickpockets. Networks of thieves frequent the popular tourist attractions and public transport and prey on people utilizing a ruse to collect signatures for a petition. Or they will drop something close to your feet, and another will snatch your items. A group of rowdy kids will run through the train station, distracting you, while a third party will pinch your wallet from your backpack.
Bologna is another large city filled with historical sights and ancient buildings; unfortunately, scammers and petty thieves also arise. This is a particularly risky city for women traveling alone since the rating for sexual assault is here at the highest. You should avoid dark, deserted streets and travel by taxi if you can. In particular, you should avoid the Via Zamboni, a historic road running through the university area, and the Via dell’Indipendenza, the main street running through Bologna.
It is a fact that nothing matches the beauty of Naples, but even if petty crime is rare here, it is organized crime that dominates the Campania region. And the capital city of this industry and home of the Camorra is, sadly, Naples. It would be best to avoid mobster-infested neighborhoods like Forcella.
Catania is another city prone to robbery and prostitution-related crimes. Situated on the eastern coastline of Sicily, it is a regular occurrence that perpetrators will drive by fast on a scooter or motorbike and snatch your belongings. Before you have time to call for law enforcement, they have disappeared.
Being a popular location for individuals to study, Florence is also a city filled with frivolous thieves and pickpockets. Although malicious damage, armed robberies, and sexual assaults are not at the order of the day, the city is still brimming with petty crimes.
The capital of Italy has so many attractions to visit, but the density of the crowds makes it easy for purse-snatchers. There is a significant demand for lost and stolen U.S. passports, and the disappearance of these is regularly reported to the Embassy.
Is The Mafia Still Active In Italy?
The most mysterious topic in Italy is, without a doubt, the Italian mafia. Even though accounts of the Italian mafia still range across the world, especially in America, the birthplace of organized crime remains Italy. Most prominently in the south of Italy, even though the criminal activities are less visible to tourists and likely some of the residents are oblivious to the illegal dealings. Business activities and territories are being controlled by four different syndicates monopolizing four southern regions: the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Campania, the Ndrangheta in Calabria, and the Sacra Corona Unita (or the fourth mafia) in the Apulian region.
What Are Italy’s Safest Regions?
Although Italy’s north and central regions are considered the safest, there are still exceptions to the rule; Milan, for instance, is popular for pickpockets due to the numerous landmarks travelers can visit. And even though the south of Italy has a higher crime rate, it is still one of the safest places in Europe. Here are a few regions regarded as the safest to travel to:
This region is situated in the center of Italy to the east along the coast. Beautiful lakes, natural springs, and idyllic beaches are among the spectacular skiing and hiking trails. The area is renowned for its olive oil production and is one of Italy’s least populated regions.
Apulia is located in the “heel” of Italy’s formation on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. People are drawn to this region for its slow pace of living, its delectable cuisine and wine, and the pleasant Mediterranean weather that makes it a dream for holiday seekers.
Tuscany is to the north of Rome and a very popular location for ex-pats from any country. It’s famous for its picturesque countryside, its cultural history and of course the superb wine selection. It was the home of many influential figures in Italian history and is deemed the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.
Although Milan has a poor reputation regarding pickpockets among the busiest parts of its tourist attractions, it generally remains one of the safer regions thanks to the activity of Italy’s law enforcement agencies. The locals have high levels of income and a strong social order which makes it a beloved travel destination.
12 Safe Things For You To Do When Visit Italy?
Travelers commonly visit the most famous sites and historical landmarks. But if you want to experience the country as an Italian, try some of the following activities.
- The Cinque Terre consists of a hiking trail that connects five towns on the west coast of Italy just above Tuscany.
- Take a gondola ride through the streets of the floating city of Venice.
- If you want to appreciate the immense beauty of the Tuscan countryside, there is no better way than to tour it by car or bicycle.
- Join a cooking class in Florence to learn how to make authentic Italian pasta.
- Book tickets to see an opera in Verona’s Roman Amphitheater. Even if you’re not an opera lover, the size and magnitude of the production will blow you away.
- Join an insider tour of the Colosseum, where they will take you underground through to a maze of tunnels and explain how the arena operated in ancient Rome.
- Take a boat trip on Italy’s Lake Como, stopping off at the many towns and villages on the way.
- Attend a few local festivals honoring patron saints, celebrating local harvests, or remembering historical events.
- Spend a day at one of the countless beaches on either the Adriatic or the Mediterranean coastlines.
- Venture to one of the various ski resorts if you’re an avid ski enthusiast to ski the Dolomites.
- Experience the ancient colorful festival of Siena’s Palio.
- Hike through the cliffs and rock formations of Sardinia.
10 Things You Should Never Do When You Visit Italy.
When you often visit other countries, you will already be used to the idea that the customs and traditions in those countries might be a little strange to you. Here are things to keep in mind that might offend the Italians:
- Don’t overtip if you don’t need to, as servers in Italy earn a decent salary, and tipping is not a mandatory practice.
- Don’t order a cappuccino after 11 am. Italians are very serious about their cuisine, and dulling the taste of the food with a strong coffee if it’s not breakfast is something similar to an insult.
- If your pasta contains fish or seafood, do not add cheese to it.
- Spaghetti is not supposed to be cut with a knife and fork but rolled onto a fork to respect the essence of the pasta.
- Even though Fettuccine Alfredo is a common Italian dish in the rest of the world, it is not so in Italy and only exists in a specific restaurant; Il Vero Alfredo.
- Do not wear shorts, uncovered arms and knees, or enter any churches in Italy with a hat. It is considered very inappropriate.
- English is not spoken everywhere, and most people will not understand you unless you attempt to converse in Italian.
- It is highly unlikely that any schedule will start punctually; most tours will take off thirty minutes late, and shops and restaurants tend to close at lunchtime.
- Although the Italian mafia still exists and operates in the southern part of the country, not every Italian person is connected to the mafia.
- Taxies can only be beckoned at certain stops or from particular shops.
The Forbidden Places In Italy.
- The Island Of Poveglia is considered the most haunted place in Italy. It’s a tiny island between Venice and Lido in the north of Italy, and no one is allowed to venture there. For decades this tiny island has been the place for the sick and mentally ill. At the time of national epidemics, officials would abandon the dying people on the island. In 1348 during the Bubonic Plague, in 1630 during the Black Death, and during the 1800s, the psychologically impaired was rumored to have been sent there under a doctor’s evil supervision who used to do experiments on his patients. By 1975 the old geriatric center was closed down, and the island was prohibited for visitors or residents. Today many stories of strange sounds and curses are told about this island.
- The Vatican Apostolic Archive is forbidden to the general public. The Vatican Secret Archive (as it was known until October 2019) contains some of the oldest historical materials in existence and belongs to the Holy See. The archives have gone through many political and physical metamorphoses through the years as numerous documents have been lost over the ages. But it is told to still hold some of the most famous documents in history, like Henry VIII of England’s request to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and the oldest known nearly complete manuscript of the Bible, the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209.
Italy is one of the safest countries to travel to, and the selection of activities you should endeavor will leave you amazed and aching to go back. Keep your eye on your belongings and be observant of loiters, but if you’re vigilant, you have no reason to fear a trip to Italy.