#Italian travel tips: Is it safe to travel in Italy?

Photo of bus station in Ragusa, Sicily from Wikimedia commons contributed in 2008
Photo of bus station in Ragusa, Sicily from Wikimedia commons contributed in 2008

This is exactly the question that a friend of mine asked me recently. While were talking about her plans to go to Italy next year she mentioned an article that she had read this past summer with the tragic news about a bus crash near Rome (http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/28/world/europe/italy-bus-crash/). She asked me if we planned on addressing this kind of topic on our blog and since she reads our blog regularly, I will answer her along with our other readers.

Personally, I have never felt unsafe in Italy, but I realized that my answer to this question was predicated on my own experiences. When I lived in Mexico over the past three years people constantly asked me if I felt safe there, too. I realized that my answer was “yes” to that question about Mexico for the very same reason that I feel very comfortable in Italy. I have strong ties to Italy and have spent significant time in the country. Without noticing, I have developed a good knowledge base of “do’s and don’ts” for Italy, so I feel comfortable and safe there. But, what about someone who is going to Italy for the first time or travels there occasionally? How can they be sure that they will have a safe and enjoyable trip to Italy?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the answer to this question of safety about any country, Italy or otherwise, is nearly always “yes”, with the important caveat that it is increasingly necessary to be a proactive and informed tourist. How does one go about this task of being an informed tourist? My personal suggestion is twofold: inform yourself about the country you are going to visit and exercise some basic precautions that amount to common sense.

So, how can you inform yourself? What resources are available? In my opinion, there are at least two primary sources of information you can seek out. First, you can talk to your Italian friends, colleagues, etc. If you don’t have access to someone you know personally, then the next best thing to do is read information published by Italians that is credible. I can’t speak to other online resources, but I can say that my Italian friend Matteo has some very good advice and he has published a few articles on our blog that I believe would be helpful to someone who is unfamiliar with travel in Italy. Here is the link to the article that I think gives a good summary on this topic: http://www.madeinitalymall.com/blog/bad-experiences-in-italy-chapter-i/

The other thing you can do is look at the tourist information published by your own country of origin. Of course, the quality of this information will vary, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the US State department has some very up-to-date and useful information on worldwide tourism. I personally believe that this information should be taken in context as the purpose of the tourist information published on this site is to catalog all of the possible issues one might encounter in order to provide resources for a traveler. As such, it could read like a litany of problems, but I find it is a pretty good counterbalance to the overwhelmingly positive anecdotal information that we all receive on a regular basis about Italy. Here is the link to the Italian region page on the US State Department site: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1146.html

As to my friend’s other specific question, is it safe to travel by bus in Italy, I did a search for “bus” on the US State Department site to see if there were any issues mentioned about bus travel in Italy and I found several advisories for other countries, but not Italy. All I can conclude is that there does not appear to be an endemic issue with bus travel in Italy and the incident that she mentioned this past summer is just an unfortunate and sad event.

Personally, I am planning on taking a trip to Italy early next year and am very much looking forward to it.

Ci sentiamo presto, Lina

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