Worried about saftey in Rome? It never hurts to be cautious but rest assured that Rome is safe, for a major European capital.
And I never agreed in that past that “someone” was targeting American students abroad.
But I do agree that the intoxicating feeling of being in Rome, and actual intoxication can be a dangerous mix. The monuments, the flaking ochre palazzi, the cobblestones… Rome can feel like Disneyland.
However, it is a city. A major city, where real wages have stagnated and benefits have been cut. Rome is a city that is incredible to visit, but its residents are not always benefitting from the global economic upturn. There is a trickle-down effect between the economy and safety in Rome, so its always best to be sure.
It is a city filled with wonderful people, but as with any place, there is always a group who will take advantage. And it is much easier to take advantage of a foreigner in a strange land who has succumbed to the allure of 1 euro shots.
Certain pubs are being shut down, and I don’t think anyone is too upset about that.
The drinking age in Italy is 16 for beer and wine, and 18 for liquor. Being released from the confines of a country that raises the drinking age to 21 means that young Americans might go a little crazy when given the freedom to drink whatever they want. I get that. But here is where I start to sound like you mom: just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Most of the truly heartbreaking stories of American students becoming victims in Rome (5 deaths in 5 years, plus assaults and robberies) have alcohol as the common denominator.
With that in mind, here are common sense tips for how to stay safe in Rome (and for just saying safe in general wherever you might be):
- Know the Italian emergency numbers.
- General Emergency: 113
- Police (Carabinieri): 112
- Fire (Vigili del fuoco): 115
- Sign up for the US STEP: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This way your nearest Embassy will know how to contact you in case of an emergency. [Most other countries also have an equivalent]
- Don’t go on a pub crawl. Spend your time and money doing something more Roman if you want to experience the city. Get a glass of wine at a local bar, or check out ongoing events for something more exciting.
- Always stay with someone you know. Keep an eye out for each other. Traveling alone? That’s ok too! Rome really is quite safe but common sense applies.
- Know your limits. It is not just about looking out for your friends, but also about looking out for yourself.
- Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know and don’t leave your drink unattended. This is as true in Rome as it is anywhere else in the world.
- Be aware of your surroundings. This is a much bigger risk of pickpockets who will opportunistically snatch your phone or wallet. Here is more on how to avoid pickpockets in Rome.
- Don’t leave valuables in plain sight. Driving in Rome? Be sure that you take everything with you out of the car. Suitcases piled on backseats and charging iPhones look might tempting and you may come back to smashed windows and 0 stuff.
- Have copies of your important documents stored electronically, or left with family at home to ensure you can easily replace anything that is stolen, and quickly cancel stolen cards.
- Avoid certain areas at night, or at least use good judgment. These include parks (which should be closed), the darkened areas around Termini and Piazza Vittorio, and as much as the Tiber has improved, I have noted that it is not a place for nighttime wandering.
- Pick secure accommodation. If you living in Rome, make sure your building has appropriate doors, windows, and shutters. Some recommend living between the 3rd and the 7th floor – high enough that break in from outside are less common but low enough that the fire ladders can reach if there is a fire.
- If you want to live la bella vita, you also need to embrace la bella figure. This means keeping up a good public image, not losing control, and still enjoying all the good things that Rome has to offer.