Is Rome Safe? How to Stay Safe and Places to Avoid
Rome is an amazing city to visit! It is by far the best destination for history with many highlights and spectacularly beautiful. It also has a small selection of fun kids activities and good scrumptious food. You will definitely have an amazing time in Rome, but there are some things you should be aware of to stay safe. To give you a quick overview:
Italy has the eleventh highest crime rate in Europe, coupled with the fact that Rome is the fifth province with the highest crime, Rome has a lot of crime. Most crimes committed concern theft or drugs. However during the day it is safe, but less so at night. You can stay safe and trouble free, knowing the places to avoid and what to look out for.
My Experience of Crime in Rome
I visited Rome several times. The last couple of times was around 2012 and more recently in January 2023. Nothing much has changed, even crimes wise.
When I was in Rome I felt less safe than I would in most other cities in Europe. Like for example cities in Spain or some other cities in central Europe. There is a noticeable difference between Rome and other large cities I have visited, even just for my 5 day trip there. Anyone visiting Rome needs to be vigilant.
However, feeling a little less safe is not something that will stop me visiting Rome again, even with kids. In fact apart from showcasing some crime statistics in this article, I will also share a few stories about some encounters I had while there. It will help you understand the landscape of crime in Rome and I will also include some advice so you avoid the mistakes I made.
Numbeo crime index for 2022 shows Italy in the 11th spot out of all the countries in Europe:
To clarify, Italy’s crime index changed very slightly over the last few years so there is a slight increase in crime. However other countries that were not in the top 5 have become more unsafe.
They have risen up in the chart to beat Italy which was in the 5th spot and pushed it down to the 11th spot. So, it’s not necessarily the case that Italy is becoming less safe. It’s more like other countries in Europe are becoming less safe with more crime.
When it comes to the provinces in Italy with the most crime, Rome is fifth on the list, according to Il Sole 24 Ore, an Italian business newspaper. Milan being the worst, then Rimini, Turin, Bologna and Rome. The statistic is based on an average of different crimes like thefts, homicides, drug crimes, extorsion, mafia crimes etc.
Rome is one of the worst cities in Italy when it comes to thefts, robberies and drugs. These crimes are what push Rome so far up the crimes index. Other crimes in Rome, although they exist and occur are not as prevalent.
Is Rome Safe During the Day?
As a tourist, I felt safe during the day in Rome. I always stuck to visiting tourist attractions and activities and never went off exploring. I suppose with so many things to see and so little time, most would do the same.
There are some things you should watch out for however. There are some people that will try to scam you in broad day light. I’m not talking about the people that are alone that walk around to tourist sites to sell sun glasses, kids toys, bottled water, umbrellas or wooden items. Those sellers fine, although at times they may not have the best quality items to sell.
Unless you book tours at official site locations do not purchase any tickets elsewhere just in case. You can also purchase tickets through sites such as Get Your Guide who have some great tours of Rome.
You need to keep an eye out for the lone individuals that have bracelets and flowers. I knew to tell them to go away, but I forgot to warn my husband! We had one approach us while we were on a bench sitting down in the Villa Borghese Gardens.
He came with his flowers and I told him no thanks. He said he was giving a gift for the new year and tied a bracelet on my husbands and my hand and gave me 2 red roses. After insisting several times it was a gift he asked for some money and my husband gave him a few euro. Then when he saw €10 and €20 notes in my husband’s wallet he asked for €20! Of course we said no and told him to take the roses, but he made off with the €3!
Hence when you see someone alone walking around to sell flowers, tell them to go away or move away yourself. Get angry if you need to because they can be persistent!
Incidentally I also came across a couple of flower sellers also in my previous trip. Hence you are very likely to encounter one even on a short stay in Rome. Of course they cleverly hang around tourist areas and target unsuspecting tourists.
Like in any other country you should watch out for ATM fraud and also fake petitions. When a person approaches you to sign a petition they will ask you for a donation afterwards. It will not go for the cause, it does not exist, it only “exists” to line their pockets with cash.
Also avoid anyone that is trying to help you at the train station. Do everything yourself and do not trust anyone that approaches you to help with carrying luggage or with buying tickets.
For tickets, you can select your preferred language when using the ticket vending machines at the train stations. The languages available are Italian, English, French, German and Spanish. (Here is more information if you need about travelling in Rome.)
However, back to the scammers, they will either ask you for money after helping you carry your luggage or take the change after you buy the ticket.
Pickpockets and Thieves
There are pickpockets in Rome so you should always keep your bag in your possession at all times. Additionally you should make sure you do not attract any unwanted attention by not wearing anything flashy. Do not go out with expensive jewellery, watches or hand bags and dress to blend in with the crowd.
Apart from pickpockets that might consider stealing, there are also thieves that snatch bags. That is, even though the bag is firmly in your hand. Make sure to hang onto it well and keep vigilante. Plus if you are walking along the pavement keep your bag on the inside and not on the side of the road. Otherwise a motorcyclist can snatch your bag and make off with it!
I had a sling hand bag in Rome that I wore on my shoulder and across my body. Whenever there were lots of people around like on the train during rush hour I would also grip it firmly. I would also keep my hand on the zip. I never had any issues by taking basic precautions like this.
Is Rome Safe at Night?
Rome is less safe at night than during the day. Many contributors expressed a moderate level of safety in Rome on Numbeo as opposed to high safety level during daytime. Criminals take advantage to come out under the cover of night because there are less people around and less visibility. Hence the best thing to do is go to busy locations.
Unfortunately I have another incident to tell you about!
When I booked the hotel in Rome it didn’t occur to me to check if the area of the hotel I was booking was safe. I assumed that because it was close to the historic centre that it would be fine – wrong!
There are a couple of areas in the city centre that you should avoid; Esquilino here on Google Maps and Tor Pignattara here. They encompass or are next to the Termini metro station, a major station where you can change the A and B train lines.
Our hotel was not in Tor Pignattara, but a couple of corners away. Hence you should consider not booking hotels in these areas and also close by. After a day spent on our feet in Rome, my husband and myself preferred eating out at a restaurant close by.
After dinner one night we were walking back to our hotel and we heard feet shuffling right behind us. I ignored it and continued talking, and my husband didn’t say anything. He told me about what happened afterwards so he wouldn’t alarm me at the time.
My husband told me he looked back at the guy 3 times to show him he knew he was behind us. The last time he gave him an incredibly dirty look and the guy stopped in his tracks and left us alone. Clearly he noticed my husband meant business.
The guy didn’t seem quite right, apart from looking to get up to no good, in the cold January weather he was wearing a t-shirt. So, the moral of the story is don’t stray into unsafe areas, and if you are not street wise and able to defend yourself, go out at night in Rome with someone that is!
Places to Avoid
There are actually many places that have higher crime rates in Rome that you should avoid. Additionally as in the example above even streets close to these areas can have some spill over.
The areas riddled with crime are scattered in different areas in Rome, usually much further out from the historic centre. To give you some context, the historic centre encompasses Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia where there is Altare della Patria, and from Piazza di Spagna to the Tiber river.
List of Places to Avoid
- Centocelle, located here on Google Maps
- Corviale, located here on Google Maps
- Esquilino, located here on Google Maps
- Piazza Vittorio, located here on Google Maps
- Romanina, located here on Google Maps
- San Basilio, located here on Google Maps
- Tor Angela, located here on Google Maps
- Tor Bella Monaca, located here on Google Maps
- Tor Maura, located here on Google Maps
- Tor Pignattara, located here on Google Maps
- Tor Sapienza, located here on Google Maps
- Trullo, located here on Google Maps
- Via Ponte di Nona, located here on Google Maps
When you book your hotel you may want to book using a platform like Booking.com. You will find some good deals on accommodation. Additionally you can view all the properties available on the map, which is perfect for finding the right hotel in a safe location.
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