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Rome and Terrorism

I'm new to these sites and all but am thinking of a first time trip to Rome this winter with the wife while the tickets aren't too bad. My son and grandson might join us possibly. We might day trip or even pick one or 2 other cities it's easy to get to on the train. Mid January is what we're thinking. Those attacks on Paris last month were really scary and you hear all kinds of things on the internet about targeted cities and it almost makes you scared of cities in general! Is it kind of a dangerous atmosphere over there at all and is anything going on in Rome that's scary like that? Or maybe have people gotten so scared of the kind of people they think might do something horrible that maybe things are intolerant and it just makes the whole atmosphere tense or dangerous? I read that there seems to be a lot of police and all on the street but are these effective? Are places like the train station high risk, like bombs in the bag drop or anything? Sorry for the questions but it would be a dream to see these places and Paris is kind of off our list for just a little bit til things relax. We wouldn't want to be some place that might start a war or close borders or anything because we get enough of that at home. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

Posted by
20732 posts

If you use the search box you will find that this has been discussed frequently. The general feeling is that the risk is no greater today or tomorrow than it was last month. In fact some might argue that it is actually safer because of the greater awareness. In the whole business of risk assessment you greatest risk for bodily injury will occur driving to and from an airport or maybe riding in a taxi in Rome. The probability of you being injured by a terrorists is about the same as being hit by lighting.

But, unfortunately, it is your perception of safety that counts. We cannot tell how to perceive the situation. You need to make that determination. If you are overly nervous or concerned about your safety, then it will not be an enjoyable trip. So you have to decide. Most posters on this board and others are not giving it much thought.

We traveled to London when the IRA was setting off bombs, we were in Spain shortly after the train bombing, and we will in France next September. You cannot left the threat of terrorism to control you life.

Good luck

Posted by
5 posts

To be honest it's more the wife worrying than me but it's an unknown thing so thank you very much for giving me the nutshell version and pointing me in the right direction @Frank.

Constructive comments are really nice in this world of internet trolls!

Posted by
11613 posts

I just arrived in Germany and will be in Roma in a few days. I don't feel unsafe here, and I expect to be fine in Italy. No one can answer your specific questions about what places are safe, but people are kind and friendly.

Stop reading the scary stuff on the Internet. If you think you'll be worrying all through your vacation, don't go until you feel better about it.

I was not aware that Missouri had closed its borders or started a war.

Posted by
1471 posts

Haha Zoe, I missed that sentence. "We wouldn't want to be some place that might start a war or close borders or anything because we get enough of that at home" LOL

Posted by
20732 posts

I think Kaeleku was a little tongue in check. But flip the coin. What do you think the European tourists think about coming to the US? Just had a big shooting in CA. The US is awash in guns and people using them. I am a lot more concerned about visiting my son in Manhattan than I am about going to Paris next year. I do worry about getting mugged on the subway in New York. And the mugger is probably armed. In Rome the pickpocketer will just be sneaky. You should probably be reading better web sites.

Posted by
1471 posts

Frank, that was partially my point. But ... whether we are talking about violent street crime in the US or terrorism in Europe, the odds of something happening to a tourist is literally somewhere like .00000000000001 events per tourist per day.

Posted by
11983 posts


I cannot guarantee you that you will be alive tomorrow or next week or next month. Nobody can. One could die after slipping in the shower and hitting his head.

Statistically, however, the chances of being the victim of violent crime, whether by terrorists or ordinary criminals, is much lower in Rome or Paris than in any medium or large size American city. As Frank said above, you are more likely to be struck by lightnening.

Actually the biggest crime risk while traveling in any big cities (Rome, Paris, NYC, etc.) is to be pickpocketed by a thief in a crowded subway train or on a bus. Be alert in any crowded situations and take precautions against pickpockets (money belts, etc.) and you I'll likely be finE and enjoy your visit.

Actually, because of the recent terrorist events, and because of the start of the Jubilee year, which was inaugurated by the Pope this Dec. 8, there is massive heavily armed police and military presence in Rome in the expectation that millions of pilgrims will visit Rome this year. This is probably the safest time to be in Rome. However just be aware that the security measures are very strict. Everybody is being searched and will have to go through metal detectors several times before being admitted to many sights, especially the Vatican. I know it's annoying just like having to go through security at the airports, but this is the price we have to pay thanks to these terrorist idiots.

Posted by
646 posts

I agree that the attacks in Paris were scary. So was the Boston marathon bombing. So are various school and work place shootings. I don't worry at home or in Europe about it happening to us. It's possible, but not likely. The chances of being killed by terrorists is still less than automobile accidents.

I am going to visit Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Paris, and London in June and July. I'm concerned about possible delays on the German border, but not our safty.

Posted by
4637 posts

I would say if you are not afraid walking on the streets of American cities where everybody can buy a gun easier than a good bread then you certainly should not be afraid on streets of European cities. Usually the worst thing you could encounter if you are not alert is that somebody pickpockets you.

Posted by
31076 posts

I completely agree with many of the comments posted so far. It's undoubtedly more dangerous in many U.S. cities due to the proliferation of guns than it is in Rome. Given the recent events in San Bernadino and Colorado Springs (and in Ferguson, MO before that), I'd feel much safer walking about in Rome. There's no guarantee of absolute safety anywhere, but IMO the risk of violent confrontation is lower in many European cities.

To answer some of the questions you raised, I've never felt that Rome presented a "dangerous atmosphere" and have always felt completely safe wandering about there, even during the evening hours. That's when the restaurants and stores are usually really busy. However, as the others mentioned, there will likely be pickpockets and other scammers so you'll have to be aware of that. Many travellers wear a Money Belt and store cash, credit cards and Passport there. The Money Belt should not be accessed where others can see. Keep a small amount of cash for daily expenses in an easily accessible (but secure) pocket.

Yes, there are often lots of Police visible in the streets, rail stations and other locations. In some cases, they will be carrying MP5's or other automatic weapons. That's not a big deal and nothing to be concerned with.

In my experience, the train stations are only "high risk" from pickpockets and other scammers. I've never seen a "bag drop" but there are staffed left-luggage offices to store luggage (Deposito Bagagli).

It would help to know whether you've travelled in Italy before? There are some potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of when using public transit in Italy, including trains, Metro and Buses. If you need more information, post another note.

Also, you might find it very helpful to pack along a copy of the RS Italy 2016 guidebook, as there's an enormous amount of information there that will help your touring go smoothly.

I'd book a flight to Rome today if I could afford it, and wouldn't have the slightest concern about terrorism.

Posted by
23983 posts

steak shake

When you talk about bag drops in train stations, do you think that you check your luggage for trains? You don't. You tote what you brung. It is up to you to get it on and off the trains and find storage for it.

If you are talking about left luggage, such as when you arrive somewhere and want to leave your luggage for some hours, if such facilities are available at that station you take it to secure staffed room where the luggage is examined by various electronic methods before it is accepted and you pay a fair amount of money for the service.

Posted by
8293 posts

Steak shake, you are thinking of going mid-January according to your post and it is already mid-December, Your main worry at this point should be availability of flights and hotel rooms, especially since you aren't even certain how many of you will be travelling. Are you actually considering a trip to Rome or is it still just in the day dream stage? Do you know where else you want to go and how to get there? You only have a month to plan.

Posted by
9454 posts

We live in Roma and will travel to Paris and London for the holidays, confident that even if something tragic does happen it is highly unlikely we will be in the vicinity when it happens. The odds are higher of being hit by a bus (or in Italy, a motorino) than be involved in a terrorist attack. I feel completely safe in Roma, more so than in many U.S. cities, and believe me, Roberto is right about the presence of armed police and military all over the city. Come on over! You'll have a ball!

Oh-by-the-way, hoteliers report high vacancies due to cancellations after the Paris attacks. Some hotels are supposed to be offering great rates as a result.

Posted by
1667 posts

I understand. We were thinking about doing an evening tour of Rome and Paris made us hesitate. We went ahead and booked it. We'll be taking it a week from today. I'll report back.

Frankly, I'm just as afraid of being shot by a trigger happy idiot who carries in WalMart as I am being the victim of a terrorist attack.

Nothing is sure, but statistically there's far more things you're likely to die from. Go to Rome and have a great time!

Posted by
6544 posts

There was an article yesterday online about how Italy has had less terrorism than most countries. I don't know if it's because of so many military uniformed police and military carrying automatic weapons in public places. The article was slanted toward organized crime not wanting any terror problems in their turf.
I first traveled to Italy 45 years ago, and was very surprised to see so much military presence in public places, especially the train stations and airports.

And I would feel much better in Rome than in St. Louis any day.

Posted by
11734 posts

Steakshake, security has been on high in Rome for quite some time - although it's higher recently - but we've never felt the least bit threatened or unsafe there. I wouldn't have any hesitation getting on a plane to Italy tomorrow if I could. Pickpockets? Sure, every big city which draws oodles of tourists has 'em and they're just something to be aware - not afraid - of.

As mentioned earlier, you have very little time to get your holiday plans made so best to be doing that rather than worrying about something which has no more chance of happening to you in Rome than it does at home.

It's a terrific city that offers so much to do and see! You'll have a wonderful time. :O)

Posted by
8293 posts

It would be interesting to know what the OP thinks of the answers he has received to his questions.

Posted by
11241 posts

lksteakshake67 the political correct answer to the question is that you are safer in Paris than you are in your hometown in the United States so you are actually reducing your risk by getting out the United States. Personally I find that point of view to be a narrow minded sort of self-loathing, drink the Kool-Aid outlook on the entire subject. To have a contrary opinion will get you slammed pretty hard here.

The definition of "safe" I think goes beyond the odds of being shot; if for no other reason you cant compare your suburban neighborhood and your life activities to each and every environment and activity you will enter as a tourist. So all the broad statistics are sort of non-relevant. There are just so many variables that cant be considered that any opinion is really just a political bias so I discount it as narrow minded. Here is an extreme example. Iran has a very low murder rate, but there are four Americans locked up over there that might not agree that the low murder rate made it a safe place for them to visit. Then there are unique situations. There is a mass Jewish exodus out of Europe because they don't feel safe in Europe any longer, that despite the fact that terrorism in Europe in 2015 only amounts to about 390 killed & 430 injured if you count the Russian airliner (229 dead). Possibly better, but still imperfect for life as a tourist might be although still imperfect because it doesn't identify tourism in each city. What I am trying to say is there really isn't a great answer. Sure, for an American on vacation NYC is safer than Kabul, but when you start looking at you life in Madison, WI vs your trip to Rome or Paris you just cant come up with a definitive answer. My gut feeling is there isn't much of a statistical difference.

In a practical sense, if you stay away from high risk locations like the eastern Ukraine for instance, I don’t think there is any appreciable increase in risk in most any European location. I guess if I wanted to play it really safe, say if I had young children with me where I felt a higher obligation, I would avoid anything Jewish as that has appeared to have been a common thread between the Paris terrorist attacks in January and the ones in November. The Bataclan concert venue had been Jewish owned until just prior to the attack; and the venue was known to have sponsored Jewish events. It’s possible that’s why it was targeted but who really knows what goes on in sick heads. I even consider this a stretch but I you need something to hold onto you can use it.

Its always been good advise to keep an eye open in crowded venues like train stations. That's were pickpockets are common. And I would avoid any public protests and migrant camps as those are situations where people of differing opinions might clash. Even pointing these things out I think makes it seem worse than it is.

I go overseas two or three times a year and personally, while I don’t support the politically correct attempt to wash the whole situation away, I also haven’t let it change my plans. I have plans in 2016 that include Ukraine and Uzbekistan. I will probably have to spend a night in Paris as well. I will be intelligent in what I plan and how I do it, but I will not worry about it. I just keep one eye open a little wider from time to time.

Posted by
8293 posts

.......which is what most of the posts on this thread have also said.

EDIT. Referring to the last sentence of the above post, that is.

Posted by
11707 posts

And few of them address the current situation in Rome, with the Vatican seen as a potential target during the Year of Mercy that began on December 8. How ironic to target what is intended to be a holy event inspired by peace and mercy. But Italy is treating the threat as genuine.

Posted by
11241 posts

1996 and the war in Croatia hadn’t been over a year. We were walking from the home of our host to the only restaurant in the region in the nearby town of Ličko Petrovo Selo. This is beautiful country of rolling hills and rich farm land dotted with ancient farm houses and the occasional soviet era failed factory building. My friend Davor and I stopped about half way to the village and sat down on a couple of old orange paint buckets that we standing upside down by the road side. Davor, I said, “I love your country. I feel safe here and it’s amazing that it is so safe here now with the remembrance of the war so fresh in people’s minds”. Davor pulled out his cigarettes and calmly passed me one and a match before he responded that it was true, that Croatia was beautiful and was safe and he wanted to see more tourists discover that and to help ensure the safety of the tourists they had put these orange buckets over the land mines until they could have them properly cleared.

The next time someone tell you they went to XYZ and they felt perfectly safe. Remember that “Feeling Safe” isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Posted by
1471 posts

Crying "politically correct" has simply become a way for certain people with a certain fearful world view to deny inconvenient facts.

  • Fact: There are 0.9 murders annually per 100,000 people in Italy, and Rome has around 1.3 murders per 100,000.
  • Fact: In the poster's home state - Missouri - the overall murder rate is 6.6 murders per 100,000, and the largest city St Louis has a rate of 50 murders per 100,000.
  • Fact: you have a 38X higher chance of being murdered in St Louis than Rome.
  • Fact: IS has been able to kill ~130 people on a continent of 750,000,000.
  • Fact: the terrorist cell responsible for that attack is dead or in Syria.
  • Fact: If you sat on a bucket with your full weight and it was sitting on an anti-personnel device you would be dead as the trigger weight is about 5kg. Nice anecdote though.
Posted by
7737 posts

Living in terror is exactly what the terrorists want, hence the name. Good for you for doing some research. Don't give in to the fear mongering politicians who are also terrorists in their way.

Posted by
104 posts

I'm a single woman living in Italy. I'm about an hour outside of Rome and frequently drive to Rome. I get so many emails and messages from friends back in the USA wondering if I'm nervous. I'm a lot less nervous in Italy than if I were back in USA. The USA has a real problem with violence these days. Schools, offices, and not to mention road rage.
Yes you will see more of a security presence in large cities throughout Europe. That isn't anything new. Airports have had armed security patrols since my first trip to Paris 30 years ago.

If I can simply encourage you to travel with the same sense of awareness you would have if you visited NYC - I venture it's safer here! Looking and acting afraid makes you an easy target no matter where you are. If you are nervous about managing your arrival in a foreign airport, invest in a car service. The driver will be waiting for you and you can relax and leave the rest to her/him. Famiarlize yourself with the area around your hotel so you can walk without constantly bringing out your street map.

Driving in Rome was intimidating the first time. Now I'm just another one of the cars angling to get in the roundabout and squeezing to get out!

I hope we don't all allow these terrorists to deprive us of one of life's greatest joys: experiencing the wonders that the world has to offer us!

And temperatures are very mild this year. Lots more sun and nice mid 50's to low 60's. Gorgeous here! And you won't be surrounded by hordes of tourists off the cruise ships. Perfect time to see Venezia!!! And Roma!!!

Posted by
1446 posts

Definitely go and enjoy! I live 20 miles from where the San Bernardino massacre occurred and to be honest, I feel less safe in the U.S. than I do when traveling in Europe. Of course one never thinks terrorism will occur in one's own back yard but it can't stifle you and keep you from living life. We are traveling to Italy next August (for the 4th time) and as others have said, I think it will be even safer due to increased awareness. Go while you can and take advantage of the reduced off-season rates. You won't regret it!

Posted by
2088 posts

Well said, James E. Personally, I get a little nervous every time I hear of one of these terrorist attacks, whether in the US or Europe or someplace else. They are frightening, they are likely to become more frequent, and they can happen anywhere. But statistically, they are unlikely to affect any particular individual. So I keep living and traveling and don't worry about it.