Italy is a safe country. However, if you find yourself in a difficult situation, it is best to turn to the police forces in charge of safety for Italian and foreign nationals residing in or visiting the country.
An efficient, modern, integrated network, with the switchboards of the various police forces, emergency services, organisations and agencies is ready to respond to emergency calls from anywhere in Italy. Access to this network is simple and quick: all you have to do is call the national emergency numbers, which are well known and easy to remember.
This is the single national number for all kinds of emergencies: to report theft, robbery or assault, or accidents and health emergencies. This number corresponds to the switchboard network of the State police, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The State Police is a civilian police force under the authority of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. Among its duties is to prevent and tackle offences such as theft and robbery, and deal with the bureaucratic procedures that must be followed to obtain residence permits and tourist visas. State police officers are easily recognisable from their uniform, which is the same shade of blue as the patrol cars they travel in, called volanti. In each of the 107 provincial capitals Italy is divided in, there is a local Police Headquarters, or Questura ; in larger cities, in addition to the Questura , there are various district or area offices; these are known as commissariati.
Dialling 112 will put you through to the switchboards of the Carabinieri police. In 1991, the European Union introduced 112 as the single emergency number for all member states, in order to make life easier for tourists and foreign citizens in general on their travels within the continent. For this reason, a reply service in a number of languages is provided for calls to this number.
The Carabinieri Police is a symbol of Italy: in the most isolated mountain villages, the Carabinieri are often the most visible sign of the presence of the State. Their original role was to act as bodyguards to the King in 1814 (almost 50 years prior to the Unification of Italy); today the Carabinieri are an armed force entrusted with safeguarding public order. Since the Carabinieri are a military corps, they are under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. They are recognisable from their characteristic black uniform with a red stripe, and they travel in cars of the same colour. Since they are a military force, they are lodged in caserme (barracks).
Dialling 117 will put you through to the switchboards of the Guardia di Finanza.
The Guardia di Finanza , whose task is to combat tax evasion, financial crimes and drug trafficking, is a military body under the Ministry of Economics and Finance. It does not belong to the armed forces, but to the police forces, and therefore shares with the State Police the task of border control. Officers can easily be recognised by their light grey coloured uniforms.
In the event of fire, smoke or gas leaks, you can call the Fire Services directly. They are present throughout Italy and can intervene swiftly also in the event of earthquakes or other disaster situations.
You can call this number from anywhere in Italy (including the islands) to alert the healthcare network and request ambulance transport to the nearest hospital or healthcare facility. A helicopter ambulance service is also available to access the more isolated or difficult to reach areas.
This is the ACI Road Emergency number, available to ACI members and customers to request ACI servies throughout Italy (road emergencies, car replacement, car towage, medical assistance, etc). The number is free of charge, active in Italy only, 24 hours a day and all the year round.
This is the number to call for the environmental emergencies of the State Forestry Corps. The service is active 24 hours a day, all year round. The Forestry Corps is in charge of safeguarding the country's environmental and landscape heritage, and deals in particular with forest fires, which are a permanent problem, especially during the summer months.
The Forestry Corps is the Italian state police force that deals with safeguarding the environment and the landscape. It is also responsible for mountain rescue, preventing avalanches, fire-fighting services and civil protection in the event of earthquakes or other natural disasters.
If your pleasure boat breaks down, or for any other kind of emergency in Italy's territorial waters, you can contact the national coastguard on this number.
Lastly, each town or village has its own municipal or traffic police. This is who you should ask for information on the urban road network, to find out about local traffic regulations, one-way streets, etc, to protest against a parking fine, or get your car back if it has been towed away or wheel-clamped.