Is Rome safe? Yes.
Way safer than most other big cities.
Is Rome free from dangers and nuisances? No.
But we decided to list them all and provide some useful tips that should make your visit to the Eternal City worries-free.
If you look at stats and you compare them against those for any US or EU big city, you will quickly realize that you are way less likely to fall victim to violent crime in Rome.
Getting robbed at gunpoint, being threatened with a knife, hurt, raped or killed is EXTREMELY rare for tourists.
Having said that, petty crimes are common, pickpocketing is an issue and there’s a risk of being scammed or simply annoyed by someone/something.
Some of the following will probably apply to any big city or touristic area and as a general rule, any sensible traveler should use best judgment and common sense.
But one thing you should know about Romans (and Italians in general) is that they are adamant to help if they see you in trouble. They would just not walk away without offering help. So, do shout for some if needed. Not only it will make the bad guy running fast, but it will attract samaritans.
Then, for any serious incident simply call (or ask someone to call) this number: 112. Take note of your precise location and provide that to the emergency services.
Undoubtedly the number 1 crime involving tourists. The usual rules apply here: be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded and touristic attractions. Consider a money belt. Make copies of your documents. Etc. You know them.
The hotspots are:
Metro A underground. You must be very vigilant, particularly between the BARBERINI stop and the SPAGNA stop, both on platforms and on trains. To a slightly lesser extent, between the SPAGNA stop and OTTAVIANO stop and between the VITTORIO and BARBERINI stops.
Metro B underground. Not as bad as the Metro A, but keep an eye on the PIRAMIDE to TERMINI section.
BUS n.64, BUS n.40, and TRAM n.8. All 3 link to the main touristic attractions and are generally crowded.
Also, keep an eye on your stuff when on the train to Fiumicino Airport or to other big cities.
These lowlives are extremely skilled, they do this day in, day out and you might not realize you have lost your properties until you reach for them after some time.
So, how do you recognize them? More often than not, you will probably encounter two groups:
Group 1: predominantly male, 20 to 40 years old with a statistically significant prevalence of individuals from a North-African background. They operate mainly on buses, around the Colosseum and Vatican areas and near the Termini train station.
More skilled and hard to notice.
Group 2: gangs of gypsies. Age varies, but they operate in a group and let the youngest taking the action (under 14), as they can’t be prosecuted. Whenever caught, they will be held for few hours, handed back to their parents and soon after back in action in the same spots. They are habitués of Metro A and B stations and are easy to spot, fear nothing (they don’t get in jail anyway..) and they will be quite blatant in their approach. Be aware that they will act when you get on the train and when you get off, so basically when there’s more likelihood for a contact.
Best advice is: get prepared, avoid the central part of the platform or the crowded parts of it, don’t stand in the middle of the carriage and make them aware that you noticed their presence. Also, Italians will make each other alert when they see some by shouting ‘ZINGARI!’ (tseeng-gah-ree!!), so hear out for that.
TERMINI TRAIN STATION
The whole area is going through a regeneration process and it’s already much better than years before, but as in any big city, the main transport hub attracts every sort of people.
First, be reassured that during daytime you are not going to run any risk. It’s very unlikely that you will feel unsafe during the day.
At night, pay extra care in the streets highlighted below. If your hotel is in that area (there’s plenty of excellent ones), don’t feel like you have made a bad choice. Simply use extra precautions and get a taxi back when late at night.
In general, don’t use your expensive smartphone or flash money and jewelry walking these streets.
Other than that, enjoy it fully, as the area has plenty of great bars and restaurants.
Don’t be fooled by them. They look nothing like real Gladiators and are incredibly annoying. They will stop you with an excuse and propose a photo/selfie with them.
Then, they will ask for an extortionate €5, €10 or even more. Give them nothing. They will be intimidating, but simply walk away and threaten to call the police.
Also, refrain from buying selfie sticks and other cheap items from the dozens of street vendors all around the city center. Why would you need a selfie stick anyway?!
If you buy, you would effectively damage the local honest businesses and encourage more and more sellers to flock to the touristic attractions.
The local authorities engage in this never-ending battle on a daily basis, but all they can do is seizing their stuff and issuing a fine (which never gets paid..), and unfortunately, this isn’t enough.
The only thing that can work is discouraging them by not buying stuff from them.
As usual, good apples – bad apples.
Not all taxi drivers in Rome are bad. The majority of them are honest and helpful. And they are quite entertaining at times.
But a minority of stinkers is contributing to fuel a bad reputation that affects the whole category.
If you take one from the two airports and the hotel/apartment you stay at is within the city center area (defined by the ancient Aurelian walls – see below), then you pay only a fixed price. Anything above the €30 (from Ciampino) – €48 (from Fiumicino) fare, just say no. And that’s the final cost with luggage already included.
At Fiumicino Airport, make sure you take a taxi from the official stand, refuse invites from illegals approaching you in the terminal hall and don’t take (even regular) taxis from outside the taxi stand lane on the other side of the road. They are legit, but they will charge you more.
Best advice is: take one from a taxi stand if possible (that’s also to avoid illegal drivers) – make sure they use the meter (every legit taxi has one) – ask for an estimate before driving off and finally, follow the route on a google map on your phone.
Having said that, things have improved since the introduction of popular taxi apps. If you use them regularly and you are happy with them, do the same in Rome.
Important: if you get your hotel receptionist or restaurant waiter to book a taxi or if you call one yourself, be aware that the meter starts to run when they accept the call. So, if they get there with a higher price than the starting one, it’s not a scam. It’s just the way it works.
Best thing is to walk to a taxi stand or flag a car in the street, but if you are outside the center, then budget for a higher fare.
This can be quite adventurous.
Elsewhere, you would not consider this as a risky activity. In Rome, you should.
Even on zebra crossings, there is a risk of being ignored by a reckless driver.
So, make your intention clear and try to establish some eye contact with the driver. Don’t just assume that they will stop. Many will, others won’t. Also, watch out for mopeds: they are even more unpredictable. However, the way some moped riders cruise around the city, you’ll probably want to get a moped of your own. If you do, then having a look at the moped insurance cost would probably be a good idea for you to consider.
Finally, do not let this to put you off from visiting Rome. We can’t stress enough that Rome is one of the safest cities in the western world. Our job is to make sure that you enjoy your time in the city 100% and the purpose of writing this post was to make you aware, not scared.
If you liked this post and you want to contribute to it with your personal experience, please add a comment. if there is something we haven’t covered or if you have any other question, then simply get in touch!