Rome is a modern, western, city with up-to-date standards of health and hygiene. There is an extensive network of hospitals and doctors located throughout the city. The food and the tap water do not contain harmful bacteria. Students who take regular prescription medicine should consult with their doctor to ensure that they will have continual access to the necessary medication throughout the semester, keeping in mind that some U.S. medicines are not available in Europe. Students who feel sick should let the staff know so that they can assist. Some local resources for medical care: Pharmacies, local doctors (a list of medical professionals can be found on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Italy), local hospitals, emergency rooms. The number for an ambulance is 118.
- The center of Rome, where students will spend all of their time, is generally quite safe. Crime that threatens personal safety and is not connected to drinking, or places where drinking is happening, is rare. Pickpocketing and other non-violent theft are quite common, but people are rarely injured in such events.
- Like any large city, Rome is less safe between midnight and 6am than at other times. Students who are out after midnight should never travel alone and should take taxis to return home.
- Terrorist acts are possible anywhere in the world. Students are encouraged to check the U.S. Department of State travel page and the Australian equivalent, to be updated on these concerns, especially in planning trips outside Italy.
- All students should register their presence in Italy with the embassy of their home country.
- Students should be cautious of strangers. Students should be wary of anyone that they do not know well. These people should never be trusted with any personal information or belongings and should never be invited into the Rome campus or a host family home. Students should never put themselves into the care of someone they do not know (getting into a car with them, travelling with them, going to their home, etc.).
- Risky parts of the city to be avoided: parks after dark, the area along the river at river level, particularly after dark, the area around the main train station, Stazione Tiburtina, and Stazione Ostiense after dark, certain neighborhoods in the far outskirts of Rome, especially to the east.
Pickpocketing is very common in Rome and students may well become victims. Some precautions:
- Students should always keep their bags where they can see them and monitor them.
- They should never put their luggage down unless they hold it tightly with their hand or legs, especially at the train station.
- They should never go out into the city with more than needed for the day: passport, a credit card, a student ID, some money.
- They should make sure to leave credit card/ATM card numbers and the number to call to cancel them some place where they can get to it easily. It is also a good idea to give this to someone at home so that they can cancel them in the student's stead.
- Everyone needs to carry a passport when traveling outside Rome, kept on their person in a safe place.
- The most common places for pickpocketing:
- the Metro when crowded
- certain crowded buses (those going to and from the train station and tourist spots; bus 64 is famous for pickpocketing)
- the train station
- crowds in tourist areas (even inside St. Peter's Basilica)
Break-ins are common in Rome. Students should never let any unknown person into the campus. Students should always make sure the gate closes behind them when entering and exiting. Students should only give out the Rome campus address (and their host family address) to recognized officials and businesses.
It is becoming increasingly common for thieves to steal ATM card information by planting devices on ATMs. Students should use only ATMs located inside banks or, if necessary, ATMs away from popular tourist spots.
As of yet it is rare that anyone is threatened with physical assault in Rome, except in the distant areas of the periphery of Rome, in the parks of Rome after dark, and in areas where there are many foreigners drinking heavily. Nonetheless, it does happen on occasion. It is becoming increasingly common for groups of foreigners to be attacked late at night in areas where drinking is occurring, even if the foreigners themselves are not drinking.
There have been cases of students getting mugged or worse in the areas around Campo de' Fiori, Largo Argentina (Pantheon), Piazza Venezia, and Piazza Navona after having been out after 1am in the bars in this area. In addition, bars that cater to US college students have been places where students have had their drinks tampered with.
When moving about the city after midnight, students should maintain the same standards of vigilance and care that people do in large cities in the US. They should never travel alone at these hours and avoid travelling in large groups; those who find themselves alone should take a taxi back home. The police should be called at any threat of physical assault (112), the Rome Center staff should be informed as well.
Alcohol and safety
Almost every injury and trauma that has happened to our students and students from other US universities studying in Italy has been related to alcohol misuse and being out after 1am. Some precautions:
What to do
- Drink only at bars, clubs, restaurants and other public facilities
- Be careful drinking in recognized American hangouts
- Mixing different types of alcohol in one evening
- Acting crazy after having drunk a bit
- Drinking in private before going out
- Doing shots
- Drinking cheap alcohol in large quantities
- Going out and staying out late on a weeknight
- Sneaking around with alcohol
- Drinking such that one loses control and puts oneself in danger
In the unlikely event of a public emergency, students should take the following steps. Public emergencies include the unlikely occurrence of the following: earthquake, riots, major explosion in the city, major accident on the subway, terrorist attacks, etc.
- Get away from danger and to a place of safety.
- When near or at the Rome campus: for an earthquake, move outside the front entrance, near the olive tree.
- When out in the city, when it is safe, return to the Rome campus.
- In any case, students should immediately send a communication (sms, email, etc.) to the Rome campus staff, notifying them that they are ok and giving them their location.
All confidential information is kept private. The Student Affairs staff, together with the Director, provides support for students' well-being and safety. For this reason, any information about a student concerning health, discipline, or safety will be shared among the Rome staff. Serious issues will also be communicated to Catholic, and disciplinary violations are immediately reported to Catholic too.