Safety can be one of the biggest concerns when planning a vacation. 'A stranger in a strange land', as the saying goes. That's why it's always important to know what to expect when visiting a new city and country. Take Rome, for instance. It's one of the most popular tourist spots in Europe, but how safe is it? Read on, and find out as we explore how to stay safe in Rome, what to look out for, and neighborhoods to avoid.
- How safe is Rome?
- Common threats to safety in Rome
- Neighborhoods to avoid
- Is public transport safe in Rome?
- and more!
How safe is Rome?
Rome is one of the most historic cities in Europe, so it's no wonder countless people flock there every year. In fact, Rome plays host to around 10 million tourists every year, making it one of Europe's most popular destinations. Some come for the ancient architecture and history-soaked streets. Others visit for the nightlife, food, and shopping. But how safe is Rome?
Rome is considered a relatively safe city, ranking 29th in The Economist's Safe City Index 2021. Many factors make up this ranking, including personal safety, environmental safety, and even digital security. Those factors don't make a huge difference here, as Rome's 'personal security' ranking has it at 29th too!
So, what should you look out for on your trip to Rome?
Common threats to safety in Rome
Rome's most frequent crimes are petty theft. And, like many travel hotspots around the world, tourists are usually targeted. So let's talk about the types of theft you should be aware of on your vacation.
During peak tourist season in the summer, you should be aware that many pickpockets operate in Rome. Focusing on the most popular spots as well as trains, they target tourists because of the large amount of vacation cash they may have on them.
This is relatively common in any big city that welcomes a lot of tourist traffic, so you may already be aware of the dos and don'ts. If not, or you just need a refresher, here are our tips to keep your belongings belonging to you!
- Keep your bag, purse, or clutch close to you at all times.
- Try and avoid carrying large amounts of cash - most places will accept card, even if it's from a different country.
- Don't leave coats, jackets, wallets, or phones unattended when you're having a drink, getting a bite to eat, or going up to the counter to collect your order.
- Be aware of distraction techniques. Thieves often work in pairs, so while one may strike up a conversation, ask directions, or 'accidentally' fall into, the other may well be attempting to swipe your cash or camera.
- Avoid using paper maps when out and about. If you know where you want to go, use your phone's GPS and then stick an earbud in and listen for directions. You'll blend right in.
Though chances of a violent mugging are much lower than being pickpocketed, it's still worth being mindful when walking around Rome. Public transport, especially at night, can make you an easy target. If you want to avoid a mugging, do the following.
- Avoid public transport at night when possible - book a taxi from a reputable company instead. Check online to find one, though you may pay more than a local. Alternatively, go through a taxi app, if you're comfortable.
- At night, try and travel in groups of two or more.
- Plan your route around your daily plans and know when and where you're going to avoid unnecessary loitering - you may draw the attention of ruffians.
Scams have become one of the most popular forms of crime in many cities. Rome is no different, with a number of scams operating throughout the city.
- Unfortunately, taxis are one of those. As we mentioned above, taxi drivers may be tempted to charge tourists higher rates than locals. Always make sure your driver is on the meter, and if they offer you a flat fee or 'forget' to put the meter on, they're likely trying to scam more money out of you. Politely ask them to put the meter on or request to leave the vehicle.
- You may also be approached in the street and offered a free charm or trinket. Ensure you do not accept this, and be firm if necessary. If you take it, they will loudly and aggressively demand payment.
- Another common scam is fake charity petitions. While not every one is fake, it may be difficult to discern which is not. We'd advise you to avoid these where possible, and give through a charity's website instead. Even signing a petition might lead to an aggressive demand for a donation, and that donation is going straight into the scammer's pocket.
- Make sure you check ATMs for tampering, as scammers target those too. Most places in Rome will allow card payments, so if you're lucky, you won't need to use one at all.
Neighborhoods to avoid
Rome's most crime-riddled neighborhoods include Tor Bella Monaca, Romanina, San Basilio, and Corviale. As these are predominantly residential areas, you may have no reason to ever visit them. However, if you do, try to avoid them at night. If that's not possible, make sure you travel in a group to avoid being targeted as much as possible.
Is public transport safe in Rome?
As we mentioned, there are some things worth bearing in mind regarding public transport. We've talked about taxis at length, so be vigilant of those.
Regarding other forms, they are generally safe, especially during the day. Do bear in mind that some train stations such as Termini are pickpocket hotspots, especially in the evening.
As a general rule, try and avoid using public transport at night if possible. That way, you lower your risk of potential muggings or pickpocketing.
And that's our guide to staying safe in Rome! Want to make the most of your vacation? Check out Go City. With us, you can see all of Rome's best bits when and how you want.