If you had one guess as to what the most dangerous city in Italy is, what would it be? Chances are your mind would probably go towards “Mafia”, and your guess might well be Naples or Palermo. But you’d be wrong. In general, levels of organized crime and violent crime are dropping. In this blog, we’ll tell you a bit more about Italy’s most dangerous cities – some of the results may surprise you.
Northern Italy’s capital of fashion is also, sadly, its capital of theft, registering something like 7800 complaints per 100,000 residents. Organized and highly skilled networks of pickpockets frequent tourist attractions and public transport, working in groups or pairs to distract the victim while the theft takes place. Be on your guard if you’re asked to sign a petition by someone who’s keen to stand very close to you, and also watch out if someone “accidentally” drops something at your feet.
The city didn’t fare much better in terms of robberies, coming in third after Naples and Catania. It achieved third place for malicious damage, beaten only by Turin and Genoa and third for sexual assault after Bologna and Florence. In Milan’s defence, statistics such as this reflect only the crime that gets reported, so perhaps the Milanese are just more determined to see the culprits brought to justice.
Sadly, the university city of Bologna also scores highly when it comes to crime. Again, it’s a busy city, so the same pickpocketing risks and threats from scammers exist as with Milan. That’s not to say you’ll be a victim, but it’s wise to be prepared and keep a close eye on your possessions. 7600 instances of theft were received per 100,000 residents. Be especially vigilant on Via Zamboni and Via dell’Indipendenza.
More worryingly, particularly if you’re female and planning to study in the city, is its top rating for sexual assault. Take taxis after dark, especially if your route home takes you through quiet and dimly lit streets. That said, with common sense and the usual precautions, most visits to Bologna are trouble-free.
See Naples and die, goes the saying, but none of us wish for that to be literal. It was intended to mean that once you’ve visited the city, you can die peacefully, since nothing else can match its beauty. But while Naples can’t match the northern Italian cities for theft, it still faces a problem when it comes to organized crime and is the home of the Camorra, whose illicit work has been troubling the city’s authorities since the 18th century. Steer well clear of the mobster neighbourhoods, particularly Forcella, and the worst you’ll have to deal with is Naples’ top ranking on the robbery hall of shame.
Many foreign nationals would be hard pushed to locate Catania on a map (it’s located on Sicily’s eastern coast), but it too is one of Italy’s worst offenders when it comes to illicit activity, especially theft, robbery and prostitution-related crime. Ride-by snatching is common, where the perpetrator makes off with your bag on a moped or scooter; this is also an issue in nearby Palermo and Naples.
Things are a little better in Florence, another tempting destination for those looking to study in Italy. However, it’s prone to theft, with 6000 complaints per 100,000 of the population. Though it’s relatively untroubled by robberies, sexual assaults are more common than in most other Italian cities, as are reported instances of malicious damage. As elsewhere, be on your guard for pickpockets around tourist attractions and in the city’s railway station.
If you were wondering when Rome was going to get a mention, here it is. The Italian capital is actually a relatively safe city, but the propensity to crowding in and around the many tourist attractions offers rich pickings for those looking for a purse to pinch. Take particular care of your passport. In 2016, the US Embassy reported 1175 lost or stolen US passports within its Rome Consular District, a 29% increase on 2015. A figure of 5200 thefts per 100,000 residents compares favourably to Milan and Bologna, but it’s still not a figure to be proud of.
Be especially careful near key landmarks like the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and St Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Like many large Italian railway hubs, Termini Station is chaotic and packed with people burdened with luggage and unsure of where exactly they need to be going, making it a crime hotspot too. When apartment hunting, note that the neighbourhoods of Tor Bella Monaca, Romanina, San Basilio, and Corviale have poor records compared to others in the city.
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