Italy is a country rich in tradition and beauty, but travel to this ancient land isn’t always peaches and roses. There are many things you’ll want to do to protect yourself from minor inconveniences and potential dangers – especially in the larger cities.
Service with an Attitude
If your waiter offers you a bit of a hassle at the restaurant and you notice that even policemen seem aloof and not especially friendly, while at least marginally helpful, you’re only noticing part of the culture of the cities within Italy. Long lines and being treated indifferently is simply the norm in Italy, so if you’re used to service with a smile, you’re in for a bit of a new experience. Enjoy the novelty – it’s just part of the experience.
The larger cities are rife with pollution thanks to heavy amounts of traffic in small areas. The pollution can cause headaches by the end of the day. If you’re prone to respiratory ailments, be especially wary of venturing out on pollution alert days. On these days, only half of the city’s drivers can use their cars to help bring the levels of lead and carbon monoxide in the air back to normal levels – which are still very high.
Another form of pollution you might not be expecting falls beneath your feet. Dogs travel the sidewalks throughout the cities of Italy and the doggies simply “go” where they will. Only a handful of Italian pet owners make it a point to clean up after their pets, so always watch where you walk, especially on sidewalks.
Theft is a serious issue to consider, especially in cities such as Rome and Naples. To avoid making yourself an easy target, carry your valuables in a pack under your clothing – not in a purse or wallet that can be easily snatched. Be wary of crowds of ragged children or women begging, and make it a point to cross the street if you can to avoid walking near or through the group.
Parked cars with rental or foreign plates are a popular target as well. Be sure to remove all of your belonging every day and especially every night while you are in the city. If you are robbed, report the loss, no matter how small, to the police right away. This way your travel insurance should cover the cost of the loss.