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Stay Safe in Rome

Wondering how to stay safe in Rome or even if Rome is a safe city?

One way to keep yourself safe when you visit Rome is to obey traffic and pedestrian rules. So many people flit across streets against the light or even without a light. Unfortunately, pedestrians and cyclists are often hit in Rome and across Italy because they are crossing when and where they shouldn't. This is a very preventable danger!

Rome IS a safe city. But there are things that you can do to help make you feel even safer.



What it Means to be Safe in Rome

2020 update - And now, of course, we need to add the Coronavirus factor to the list of things to worry about. I wrote a special section about this below.

I hear this question a lot, "Is Rome a safe place to visit?"

I think that question pertains in part to local crime, and also to fear of a terrorist attack. 

Which is understandable. My stock answer, without trying to over-simplify, is that Rome is a pretty safe city. For a city.

While it’s beyond the scope of this website for me to speak about possible terrorist attacks, I will say that I think Rick Steves put it best in this well thought out Q&A about not letting fear take over and make us change our lives.

I don’t mean to downplay the possibility of something happening here. I hope nothing ever happens here or anyplace else for that matter. But I can’t, and hope you won’t, let fear of the possibility of something happening, stop us from doing the things we want to do.

Tips for how you can stay safe in Rome

Other than the extremely remote possibility of anything happening to you in a terrorist attack, I’d group the different ways to stay safe in Rome (or any city) in three groups:

Finally, here's how to get help if you need it.

TRAVEL INSURANCE AND WHY YOU SHOULD GET IT

Without a doubt, one of the best things you can travel with is some form of travel insurance.

I never travel anywhere without it. For very little money up front, you travel with peace of mind. You can get coverage for just about anything from lost luggage to medical evacuation.

You can browse options and pricing here.

Don't leave home without it!!

How to stay safe in Rome in the time of Coronavirus

Is Rome a safe place to visit in the time of Coronavirus? I have a whole page dedicated to this here.

But to answer specifically how to stay safe in Rome while Coronavirus is still spreading around the world, here's what I know:

How to stay safe in Rome sight-seeing during coronavirus

How to stay safe in Rome eating out

How to stay safe in Rome in your hotel during coronavirus

Stay safe in Rome - avoid hurting yourself

This may not have seemed like the answer you were looking for but I believe the best way to stay safe in Rome is to avoid hurting yourself.

By far the way most people hurt themselves is simply by being distracted or not paying close attention to what you are doing. And frankly, this could be applied almost anywhere, and not just when you are travelling.

Be careful about these:

Drinking

Late night taxi for women:

Whether you are out late drinking or not, there is a special taxi service for women: Call 0635701 between 1am and 5am, and a cab will show up as quickly as possible, and wait to make sure you get inside safely.

I know this is obvious, and I do not mean to preach. There are lots of bars and nightclubs in Rome, and you can easily find a party atmosphere if you want to. There are pub crawls, and there are foreign universities with campuses here. Students want to party, and that's normal. I sure did when I was in school.

So I am not saying don't party. But be safe.

Try to always go out with a friend and watch out for each other. 

If you are visiting Rome alone, and want to go out and meet new people, just exercise caution and try not to overdo it on the drinking. Drink plenty of water. 

I say all this because unfortunately, one of the most common ways for people to have accidents is to be too drunk to take care of themselves. We have had incidents of hospitalisations and even deaths so please please be careful!

Avoid sunstroke

Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

I have been in the emergency room in Rome on several occasions, and have often seen people coming in on stretchers due to sun stroke.

Seriously.

It’s very easy to get over-heated in Rome. You are walking a lot, the cobblestones can get super hot, and you may not realise how dehydrated you are. Here's my page with simple steps you can take to stay cool in Rome.

One way to stay safe in Rome in hot weather is to make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat, and carry water with you.

It’s easy to find drinking fountains in Rome, but it’s better if you have water right at hand in case you feel thirsty. 

Be careful when Crossing the Street

I often see people running across a street when they think no traffic is coming. Sometimes this is at a crosswalk, against a red light. 

I snapped this picture at one of the many crosswalks near the Colosseum. The pedestrian light is read, and many people see no cars coming so nonchalantly cross against the light. However, the street is curved and cars tend to come zooming up from behind the curve so this is a very dangerous way to cross this street.

Sometimes this is just at a random spot in the street where someone feels like crossing.

Both of these activities are dangerous. An easy way to stay safe in Rome is to simply follow traffic and pedestrian rules.

Cell phones and selfie sticks

I have seen many many people run into other people and even walk out into traffic, while taking selfies or looking at their phones. 

This is literally an accident waiting to happen.

You can easily hurt yourself if you are too absorbed, so to stay safe in Rome while walking around is to just be aware that Rome is usually crowded and busy.

Rome traffic can be intense. Some Rome drivers can be aggressive so as a pedestrian or cyclist, you need to be on the defense. See below:

Driving in Rome

If you drive anything at all, especially a bicycle or moped, be ultra cautious and obey all traffic signs. Many other drivers don’t, and sometimes make right turns from the left lane, run reds, etc.

If you drive a bicycle around Rome, you should also use a lot of caution when riding in traffic.

Always stay far to the right.

Go slowly so you can brake quickly if you need to.

When you see cobblestones ahead, slow down even further and be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Cycling in the park is wonderful and very safe. Cycling out on Rome's streets is another matter entirely!

Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes

I say this on all my pages about what to expect in Rome each month. I say this when I tell you what to pack for Rome.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to wear comfortable shoes. 

An easy way to stay safe in Rome is simply to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes.

The wrong shoes can cause painful blisters, aching feet, plantar fasciitis, or worse.

And flimsy shoes like basic beach flip flops can easily break and leave you shoeless in the middle of a big, busy city with who knows what underneath your feet.

You cannot go wrong wearing sturdy, comfortable athletic or walking shoes when you walk around Rome.

Stay safe in Rome with your own first aid kit

As someone who travels a lot, and who also hikes a lot, I can tell you that just taking along my own well-stocked first-aid kit gives me enormous peace of mind.

Most of the time, I don't need it.

But it's nice to know it's there.


Stay safe in Rome - how to avoid being pick-pocketed?

This may not be a safety issue although it can be. Usually pickpockets have no interest in physically harming anyone. They mostly have an interest in stealing and getting away with it.

But it could still get ugly. You might realize what's happening and in a moment of panic, try to fight them off.

But more likely, being the victim of a pickpocket will at a minimum put a damper on your trip and can even make you feel very vulnerable and unsafe.

So how can you avoid being pick-pocketed?

  • The best prevention is to be aware, and more importantly, to look like a difficult target. The best pickpockets pick the easiest targets so they can do as many as possible without notice. Easy targets are people who are distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Do not walk around with a lot of cash.
  • Travel with bags that close with a single, central zipper (single entry point). If you carry it with the zipper facing front and directly under your arm where you can keep an eye on it, you should be fine. 
  • Men should keep their wallets in their front, not back, pockets
  • There are also lots of excellent pickpocket-proof bags and even clothes out there now

Stay safe in Rome - how to avoid being the victim of a con artist

How can you avoid con artists? 

This is another low-risk possibility but just be street-smart. Here are a few examples of cons that I’ve heard of, and how to avoid them:

  • Do not allow yourself to get invited by strangers to some club or bar where you will be encouraged to buy expensive drinks. 
  • Con artists also come in the form of people who may try to distract you so they can pickpocket you. Be aware of people shoving newspapers or maps in your face.
  • If you are in car, do not allow anyone to make you get out of your car by bumping you from behind. 
  • Make sure you know how to deal with an unscrupulous taxi driver who tries to rip you off.

Stay safe in Rome - how to avoid being the victim of identity theft

Also, always remember to clear cache and log out of any devices you use that are not yours, such as a common computer in a hotel lobby.

While you are at pretty low risk for identity theft, you should also exercise caution where your credit cards and passport are concerned:

  • Make a photocopy or scan of your credit cards, front and back, and keep this separate from the credit cards. You can even leave a copy at home with someone you can easily contact. In case your wallet is lost or stolen, you will be able to cancel all your cards quickly.
  • Make a physical photocopy of your passport, and carry this with you. You can also keep a scanned copy of your passport on your mobile device. I do this for when I purchase items and plan to get the tax back. You need your passport information but you do not need to show your actual passport. Leave your actual passport in the safe at your hotel or apartment.
  • While walking around Rome, consider carrying just one or two credit cards, and leaving another Visa or Debit card in your hotel or apartment as backup. Or, have your travel companion carry different cards. (Do not carry only an American Express card, as many places in Rome and Italy don’t take Amex, and only accept Visa/Mastercard.)
  • Consider purchasing and RFID clocking wallet or money belt.

Stay safe in Rome - Know how and where to get help

First of all, you should know emergency numbers to call:

  • General Emergency: 113
  • Ambulance: 118
  • Police (Carabinieri): 112
  • Fire (Vigili del fuoco): 115

If you are American or Canadian, you can sign up with the Smart Traveler program that allows your embassy to contact you with any emergency or other warnings.

Here is the link to the American Embassy.

Here is the link to the Canadian Embassy.

If you are staying at a hotel or someplace with a reception, find out if the reception is open 24/7 and if not, make sure to find out the hours. Find out how to reach your hotel, both physically, and also by phone, so if you get lost, you can make your way back.

If you are staying at a B&B or apartment without a reception, make sure you have a phone number of someone to contact in case of emergency. Make sure you know the address and how to find it if you get lost.

Stay safe in Rome - above all, use common sense

If you exercise adequate discretion, aren't overly trusting, and don't put yourself into risky situations, your travels should be about as dangerous as hometown grocery shopping.

Don't travel afraid — travel carefully.


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