Italy Country Report
Economic and financial circumstances in Italy (population 61.7 million) remain strained. These conditions have fueled numerous large-scale strikes and rallies in recent years, as well as increased support for populist movements.
Like other European countries, Italian security forces are concerned about Italian citizens going to fight for the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria - is estimated that scores have already done so - and there are fears that these citizens could return to carry out attacks on Italian soil. However, Italy has not experienced a major terrorist attack in three decades. While the risk of an attack remains present, IS has appeared to target nations with populations at greater risk of radicalization such as Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Crime rates remain at a moderate level, similar to that of other large cities in Western Europe. There are frequent reports of pickpocketing in the major cities, especially at sites frequented by tourists. Popular areas such as campsites, seaside quays, and areas close to beaches are at particular risk. Pickpockets are known to operate widely in major cities such as Milan, Rome, and Naples.
The risk of credit card fraud is also present in Italy. Never allow your credit card to be taken out of your sight during a transaction.
Criminal organizations, such as Camorra, 'Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra, and Sacra Corona Unita, are active in the north and south of the country and are widely involved with many businesses.
Italy has a high risk of seismic activity and earthquakes are frequently reported throughout the country. In August 2016, an earthquake measuring 6.2 magnitude on the Richter scale occurred in the town of Amatrice, around 100 km (60 mi) northeast of Rome, in which 292 people were killed and 400 injured. Hundreds of aftershocks followed the initial earthquake. The regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche were the hardest hit, particularly in the areas surrounding the towns of Accumoli, Posta, Arquata del Tronto, and Amatrice. Numerous minor earthquakes have occurred since, including at least one deadly tremor.
There are 13 volcanoes in Italy, spread across three zones: the bay of Naples, the area northeast of Sicily, and near the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria. Three of these volcanoes remain active and are liable to erupt: Mount Vesuvius (famous for its destruction of the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD) on the border of the Bay of Naples; Stromboli in the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands to the north of Sicily; and Etna, situated close to the city of Catania.
Furthermore, avalanches often occur in the Alps and periodic flooding impacts some regions. In June 2017, heavy rains occurred in Alpine regions of Italy as well as in the south and Sicily, causing rivers to overflow and leading to several casualties.
Forest fires also occur in Italy. Southern Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia, often suffers from arson attacks in summer, sparking wildfires that are exacerbated by heat waves and dry weather.
Protests by both far-right and far-left groups are common, often exacerbated by tensions related to the ongoing migrant crisis as well as persistent unemployment and feeble wage growth. Furthermore, strikes by trade unions are very common, particularly by those in the transportation sector. Such strikes lead to frequent transportation disruptions, affecting public transit, railroads, and airports.
It is advisable to stay away from all protests due to the presence of violent groups that are known to infiltrate marches with the goal of discrediting protests by engaging in acts of vandalism (throwing bricks, breaking windows, vandalizing cars, etc.).
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni assumed office in December 2016 following the resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Gentiloni is a member of the Democratic Party, the main center-left party in Italy. The party's main opposition is Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forward Italy party and comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S).
General elections will be held on March 4, 2018.
Although the country has suffered economically in recent years, its outlook has improved somewhat. Italy, the third-largest economy in the Eurozone, recorded economic growth of 1.0 percent in 2016. Unemployment remains high and is expected to remain at 11.6 percent in 2017.
Medical facilities offer high-quality care. Prior to departure, travelers should purchase a health insurance plan covering overseas care and medical repatriation, the latter being mandatory in case of a significant or urgent health issue.
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country.
Strikes are frequently carried out by public transportation workers (air, rail, and inner-city) and can cause disruption. It is advisable to remain informed of all strike actions.
Taxis are generally white in Italy. Ensure that the taxi has a meter or that the price is agreed in advance. Supplementary costs may be imposed for luggage, night services, or bank-holiday services.
Cars are not permitted in many historical centers, particularly in northern towns, where access is limited to bicycles and pedestrians. Many of the large towns and cities maintain efficient public transportation systems (metro, tram, bus).
The use of headlights is required in non-urban areas in Italy during both day and night. Drivers unfamiliar with the country may find that the system of traffic lights lacks, at times, the same clarity found in other western European countries.
The rail network is reliable between large cities and the trains are comfortable.
Italy is a member of the European Union and the Eurozone. The country is also part of the Schengen Area and, as such, visas are not required for those traveling between Italy and other Schengen Area countries.
The climate in the north is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The coasts enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Temperatures can reach as high as 40°C in certain regions.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +39 Police: 112 Fire Dept.: 115 Ambulance: 118
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz
Italy: Regional railway strikes February 18, 25, and 27
TIMEFRAME: from 2/6/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/27/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Rome).
COUNTRY/REGION: Emilia Romagna, Valle d'Aosta,...
Italy: Increased security in Rome during Erdogan visit Feb. 4-5
TIMEFRAME: from 2/4/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/6/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Rome).