Italy

60 M
Population
Euro
Currency
When is the best time to visit Italy?
  • The very best time to go is from June to August (neither hot nor cold)
  • A good time to go is the whole year (if you pack the right clothes)
  • This is purely from a climate point of view of course.
Safety and security

Crime

Crime levels are generally low but there are higher levels of petty crime (particularly bag snatching and pick-pocketing) in the big city centres, such as Rome. Be aware that thieves can use a variety of methods to distract you.

Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in city centres, particularly in and around Termini station in Rome and at other main stations.

Be particularly vigilant on trains to and from the main airports in Italy (especially Fiumicino airport) and when unloading your baggage from trains and coaches.

Use a hotel safe for valuables where possible.

Alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Don’t leave food or drinks unattended at any time. Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed and sometimes assaulted.

Those in hire cars can sometimes be targeted by thieves, and robberies from cars have been reported particularly in and around Rome, Milan and Pisa and on the road from Catania airport as well as at motorway service stations. Always lock your vehicle, never leave valuables on show and avoid leaving luggage in cars for any length of time.

Make sure Euro notes received from any source other than banks or legitimate Bureaux de Change are genuine.

Local travel

Only use officially licensed taxis. These will have a taxi sign on the roof. Make sure the meter in the taxi has been reset before you set off.

Tickets on public transport must be endorsed in a ticket machine before you start a journey. The machines are usually positioned at the entrance to platforms in railway stations, in the entrance hall to metro stations and on board some buses and trams. Officials patrol public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of Euros 100 to 500 (reduced to Euros 50 if paid immediately) if you don’t hold an endorsed ticket. Tickets can be purchased from shops displaying the ‘T’ sign, and are usually bars or tobacconists.

Pedestrians should take care at Zebra crossings. Vehicles don’t always stop, even though they are required to under the Italian Traffic Code.

Industrial action

Transport strikes are often called at short notice. For more information visit the Ministry of Transport website (in Italian).

Road travel

You can drive in Italy with a UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may be required. On-the-spot fines can be issued for minor traffic offences.

In 2015 there were 3,430 road deaths in Italy (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 5.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 in 2015.

Private and hire cars are not allowed to enter the historic centre of many Italian cities without an official pass. If your hotel is in the centre of one of these cities, 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. Don’t pass this sign as 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 further information see the  Milan Municipality website.

To reduce pollution, the city authorities in Rome sometimes introduce traffic restrictions on specific days whereby vehicles with odd or even number plates are not allowed on the roads in the ‘fascia verde’ area (covering most of Rome). For further information, including exceptions, see the Rome Municipality website.

See the European Commission, AARAC and Italian Police guides on driving in Italy.

Road hauliers

Trucks over 7.5 tonnes (75 quintali) are not allowed on Italian roads (including motorways) on Sundays from 7:00 am until midnight, local time. These restrictions don’t apply to trucks that have already been granted an exception (eg those carrying perishable goods and petrol supplies).

Winter sports

If you are planning a skiing holiday, you should contact the Italian State Tourist Board for advice on safety and weather conditions before you travel. Address: 1 Princes Street, London W1R 9AY. Telephone: 020 7355 1557 or 1439.

Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions meticulously given the dangers of  avalanches in some areas. Italy has introduced a law forcing skiers and snowboarders to carry tracking equipment if they go off-piste. The law also obliges under-14s to wear a helmet. There are plans for snowboarders to be banned from certain slopes.

Read more about how to stay safe on the slopes.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.

There are isolated cases of domestic terrorism. Attacks carried out by the extreme left-wing and secessionist groups have generally been aimed at official Italian targets, mainly in the form of small bombs and incendiary devices.

There is considered to be 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. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

By law you must be able to show some form of identification at all times. In most cases a photocopy of the data page of your passport should suffice, but you may be asked to accompany the police to collect the original document, or to produce it within 12 hours. The police will normally ask for your full passport if you are stopped while driving.

In the Rome area, restaurants must display a menu outside the restaurant, only charge for bread if the customer specifically requests it, inform the customer of the prices being charged before he/she orders, give a proper receipt and not make any cover charge (coperto).

You should be aware that in some Italian towns and cities you may be fined for dropping litter and in some towns or cities it is an offense to sit on monument steps or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of main churches and public buildings.

Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities, particularly tourist cities like Florence, Venice and Rome. Don’t buy from illegal street traders. You could be stopped by the local police and fined.

Many major cities in Italy now impose a small tax on tourists. The tax is levied by hotels 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 of this tax in cash. Make sure you get a receipt. For more information check with the local tourist information office.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visa

British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Italy. For more information about entry requirements, contact the Italian Embassy.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Italy.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

If you’re visiting Italy you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Italian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 118 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

Natural disasters

Volcanoes

Mount Etna has been erupting with increasing frequency sending plumes of ash into the air. Monitor local media and contact your airline if you are concerned about possible disruption to flights.

There is low-intensity volcanic activity on the island of Stromboli. Further information on Stromboli and other volcanoes around the world can be found on the  Stromboli online website.

Earthquakes

Many parts of Italy lie on a major seismic fault line. Minor tremors and earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence. To learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake visit the Protezione Civile website.

Money

The currency of Italy is the Euro.