Italian in Italy


A police station sign

There are several forms of police in Italy, all of which are identifiable by their different uniforms. Many foreigners may become familiar with those of the questura since foreigners need to register their presence with local headquarters if they are staying in the city (this is frequently handled by the hotel). Anyone remaining more than a few months in a particular city is required to obtain a permit (permesso di soggiorno) from the local questura . Generally speaking, the police are friendly and approachable. There are several levels of police throughout Italy, the local questura, the provence-based prefettura, and the national carabinieri . Most of the police on the street are carabinieri. In Italy, the ambulance, fire and police departments each have separate numbers which are posted in phone booths or printed in the front of the telephone book. These numbers can be called free of charge from any public telephone.

For an illness or malady which is urgent but not necessarily an emergency, there is a telephone number that is available 24 hours. The medical specialists answering this line can advise a client how to treat the problem, or help the client decide if it is necessary to go to the emergency room.

Italian families are generally assigned a family doctor by social services. They are allowed to choose from among two or three, and from that point, family illnesses are treated individually in that doctor's office. Generally, a foreigner with a health problem, even if it were not an emergency, would either go to the emergency room or ask to be referred to a local doctor.

There is not a high degree of serious crime in Italy although one must use common sense and have a reasonable sense of the neighborhood one is visiting. There are generally no neighborhoods where one absolutely should not go. However, a traveler should be on guard for pickpockets and keep wallets and cell phones in a safe place, particularly when riding public transportation, visiting tourist attractions or shopping at the open markets. Be suspicious of anyone brushing up too close, and be aware that thieves frequently use children to approach and rob foreigners.


  • "Emergency Vehicle"
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