For a large city, Rome has a relatively low rate of violent crime. In recent years there have perhaps been more reports of robberies targeting businesses, but overall Rome is still a safe city.
However, there is a danger from pickpockets and bag snatchers, who might not be out to hurt you but could still ruin your holiday if they make off with your wallet.
Confidence tricksters are also common, especially in major tourist areas like Termini station, the Vatican, and other popular sites. These scammers lose their power if you already know the game, so you may want to familiarise yourself with the information on taxi scams and other tourist scams.
As is often the case, the criminals congregate where the tourists are: crowds of lost, tired, overheated tourists make for easy pickings. Be careful around the Vatican, and other crowded areas like the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum.
Public transport is another danger zone: be cautious in main transport hubs like the airports and Termini station, and on buses, trams, and the metro (especially on the more crowded routes that lead between tourist sites).
Pickpockets are a big problem in Rome. When you're out wandering the streets or riding the metro, make sure that your wallet, phone and other valuables are stowed securely (and not in the outside pocket of your jacket, or back pocket of your jeans). If you carry a handbag, keep it with you at all times.
Pickpockets vary in appearance from gangs of itinerant teenage gypsies to well-dressed businessmen, and often carry something to cover their activities: a shopping bag, a map, or just a big piece of torn cardboard. There are also gangs of children who will mob you and, by the time you've shooed them away, your pockets have been systematically emptied.
Watch out for obvious distractions: if something's causing a scene and making a crowd gather, whether it's an impromptu musical performance, a street argument, or a woman taking her clothes off (it's been known), there's a good chance it's all been arranged so that a pickpocket can work the crowd.
Bagsnatchers on mopeds can also be a danger. If you must carry a bag, try to sling it over your head and across your body, with the bag hanging away from the road. (Some others advise the opposite: to carry the bag loose off one shoulder, so if it is grabbed by a passing motorino driver, you aren't dragged with it.)
Emergency contact numbers in Italy
If something goes seriously wrong, the standard emergency numbers are:
- Carabinieri: 112 (May be better than the standard police in emergencies: they aim to answer calls within ten seconds)
- Police: 113
- Ambulance: 113
- Fire: 115
You might also want to make a note of the contact details for your country's embassy.