ITALY

Italy Flag
Country Description: Italy is a developed democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: For information concerning entry requirements for Italy, travelers can contact the Embassy of Italy at 1601 Fuller Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009, telephone: (202) 328-5500, or the Italian Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Italy are adequate for most emergencies. Many hospitals in major cities have at least some personnel who speak English. Public hospitals sometimes do not maintain the same standards as hospitals in the U.S., so travelers may wish to obtain insurance that would cover a stay in a private Italian hospital or clinic. In public hospitals, patients are billed some time after discharge. Private hospitals usually require cash payment before discharge; neither credit cards nor foreign medical coverage is generally accepted. Travelers may wish to purchase supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline on (404) 332-4559.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Italy has a very low rate of violent crime, little of which is directed toward tourists. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing, theft from parked cars, and purse snatching, however, are serious problems, especially in large cities. Most reported thefts occur at crowded tourist sites, on public buses, or at the major railway stations, including Rome's Termini, Milan's Centrale, Florence's Santa Maria Novella, and Naples' Centrale. Elderly tourists who have sought to resist petty thieves on motor scooters have suffered broken arms and collarbones. Carrying wallets or purses should be avoided when possible. When carried, shoulder bags should be held tightly under the arm with the clasp facing the body. Waist packs may be worn in the front, although they can unobtrusively be opened. Extra cash, credit cards and personal documents are better left in a hotel safe. Travelers should only carry what cash or checks are necessary. Photocopies of passports and financial documents should be carried separately from those items.

Thieves in Italy often work in groups or pairs. In most cases, one thief distracts a victim while an accomplice performs the robbery. Groups of street urchins are known to poke tourists with newspapers or pieces of cardboard to divert their attention so that another urchin can pickpocket them. In one popular routine, one thief throws trash or waste at a victim; a second thief assists the victim in cleaning up the mess; and the third discreetly takes the victim's belongings. Criminals on crowded public transportation slit the bottoms of purses or bags with a razor or sharp knife, then remove the contents through the bottom.

Theft of small items such as radios, luggage, cameras, briefcases, and even cigarettes from parked cars is a major problem. Robbers in southern Italy take items from cars at gas stations (often by smashing car windows). Tourists should immediately report thefts or other crimes to the local police station.

In a scam practiced on the highway running between Rome and Naples, one thief punctures the tire of a rental or out-of-town car. An accomplice signals the flat tire to the driver and encourages the driver to pull over. When the driver stops, one thief helps change the tire, while

the other takes the driver's belongings. Highway robberies have occurred on several highways in southern Italy, especially at night. A U.S. citizen was killed by gunshot during a random nighttime robbery attempt in 1994 on the super highway between Salerno and Reggio Calabria. Local police officials have advised employees at the U.S. Consulate in Naples to avoid the Nola/Villa Literno highway outside Naples at night due to the high number of robberies. The U.S. Consulate in Naples can provide updated information on road conditions in southern Italy to travelers who intend to drive at night.

In a scam practiced on trains, primarily in northern Italy, one or more persons will befriend a traveler and offer a drink. The drink will be drugged, and the traveler awakens to find he has been robbed. Thieves have been known to impersonate police officers to gain the confidence of tourists. The thief shows the prospective victim a circular plastic sign with the words "police" or "international police." If this happens, the tourist should insist on seeing the officer's identification card (documento), as impersonators tend not to carry forged documents. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

Terrorist Activities: In May 1993, bombs exploded on separate occasions in Rome and in Florence. The explosions resulted in the death of five people, more than forty injuries, and extensive property damage. In July 1993, three separate car bombings, two in Rome and one in Milan, left five people dead and twenty-eight injured. In September 1993, a hand grenade was thrown and twelve shots were fired at the air base in Aviano. Between October 1993 and January 1994, four bombs exploded in public offices in Padova, and in February 1994 in Rome, the vehicle of a Spanish military officer exploded, causing minor injuries to the driver. Most of the bombs were placed near public buildings (e.g. churches, museums) and all exploded during non-business hours. Officials of the Italian government have indicated their belief that the bombs are the work of criminal elements or international terrorists. U.S. citizens have not been the targets of these attacks.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Those convicted of drug-related crimes in Italy can expect jail sentences and fines.

Dual Nationality: U.S. citizens who are also considered to be Italian citizens may be subject to compulsory military service and other Italian laws while in Italy. Those who might be affected can inquire at an Italian Embassy or Consulate regarding their status. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad.

Other Information: U.S. citizens are reminded that certain Alitalia flights between Italy and various Middle Eastern points (usually Damascus or Amman) make en route stops in Beirut. The State Department warns U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to or through Lebanon.

Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens who plan to be in Italy for more than a few weeks, or who have friends or relatives who may wish to contact them, should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Rome or at one of the three U.S. Consulates, where they may obtain updated information on travel and security in Italy.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome is located at Via Veneto 119/A, telephone: (39-6) 46741.

U.S. Consulates are located at:
Florence, at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38, telephone (39-55) 239-8276/8/9, or 217-605;
Milan, at Via Principe Amedeo 2/10, telephone (39-2) 290351;
Naples, at Piazza Della Repubblica, telephone (39-81) 5838111.

U.S. Consular Agents are located at:
Genoa, Via Dante 2, telephone (39-010) 584492;
Palermo, 18/BIS Via Re Frederico, telephone (39-091) 6110020;
Trieste, at Via Roma 15, telephone (39-040) 660177, fax (39-040) 631240.

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