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 street urchin can pickpocket them. In one particular routine, one thief throws trash or waste at the victim; a second thief assists the victim in cleaning up the mess; and the third thief discreetly takes the victim's belongings. Criminals on crowded public transportation slit the bottoms of purses or bags with a razor blade or sharp knife, then remove the contents. 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. In the Naples area, thefts have also been reported from occupied vehicles waiting in traffic or stopped at traffic lights. To discourage this kind of theft, drivers should keep their car doors locked, windows rolled up, and valuables out of sight. Do not leave valuables in an unattended vehicle. Tourists should immediately report thefts or other crimes to the local police.
In a scam practiced on the highway 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. Avoid driving at night on highways in southern Italy. When stopping at service areas on the highway (Autostrada), make sure your parked car remains in sight. One person should remain in the car, partly because thieves sometimes mark unattended vehicles to make them identifiable. The marked vehicle is later followed by accomplices who use one of the aforementioned schemes to perpetrate a robbery. There have been occasional reports of break-ins of rental cars driven by Americans in northern Italy when the precautions mentioned above were not followed during stops at highway service areas.
In a scam practiced on trains, primarily in northern Italy, one or more persons will befriend a traveler and offer drugged food or drink. 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 by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Excellent
Streets in the cities are often narrow, winding, and congested; lane markings are frequently nonexistent; traffic lights are limited and often disobeyed; and a different convention on right-of-way is observed. Italy has over 5,600 km. (3,480 mi.) of "Autostrada," or superhighways. Many drivers travel and pass on these well-maintained roads at high speeds. In rural areas, a wide range of speed on highways makes for hazardous driving. Roads are generally narrow and often do not have guardrails. Travelers in northern Italy, especially in winter, should be aware of ground fog and poor visibility, which cause numerous multiple-car accidents each year. Most Italian-specification automobiles are equipped with special fog lights. Roadside assistance in Italy is excellent on the well-maintained toll roads, but it is limited on secondary roads.
Italy's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to email@example.com, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
The U.S. Consulates are located in:
Florence, at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38. Tel. 39-055-239-8276/7/8/9, or 39-055-217-605; fax 39-055-284-088.
Milan, at Via Principe Amedeo 2/10. Tel. 39-02-290-351 and fax 39-02-290-35-273.
Naples, at Piazza della Repubblica. Tel. 39-081-583-8111 and fax 39-081-761-1804.
There are U.S. Consular Agents located in:
Genoa, at Via Dante 2. Tel. 39-010-584-492 and fax 39-010-553-3033.
Palermo, at Via Vaccarini 1. Tel. 39-091-305-857 and fax 39-091-625-6026.
Trieste, at Via Roma 15. Tel: 39-040-660-177 and fax 39-040-631-240.