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U.S. Embassy Security Warning for Rome and Milan (November 18)

I just received this alert from the U.S. Embassy in Rome, just wanted to share:

UNITED STATES EMBASSY ROME, ITALY
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Potential for Terrorist Attacks
November 18, 2015

U.S. Embassy Rome informs U.S. citizens that the following locations have been identified as potential targets in Rome and Milan for terrorist attacks:

· St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome)

· the Duomo and La Scala in Milan

· General venues such as churches, synagogues, restaurants, theatres, and hotels in both cities are possible targets as well.

Terrorist groups may possibly utilize similar methods used in the recent Paris attacks. The Italian authorities are aware of these threats. U.S. citizens are advised to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. We encourage U.S. citizens to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.

Posted by
14058 posts

Thanks so much. May I ask how you sign up for the alerts? I know about the STEP program...is this part of that?

I find the State Dept site odd to navigate. It is very difficult to check on recommendations and currently the latest thing I see on the general site are from Nov 10 for Kenya and other African nations.

Posted by
32 posts

Yes, it's part of the STEP program. I'm leaving on a 3 week trip in a few days so I am very, very rattled about this. I know people are going to say don't let fear control you, but I am having a really difficult time with all of this. I was living and working in Washington, D.C. on 9/11 so all of this has brought back the most horrible flashbacks and emotions. I want to be brave but I'm so scared.

Posted by
14058 posts

Lou, I can completely understand. You have a right to feel how you feel. I can completely understand how you might be rattled after having been in DC during that tragic and fearful time.

And thank you for the information regarding STEP.

Posted by
524 posts

I don't blame everyone about being rattled at all! Even before we went in September, DH said that he felt Rome and Italy were ripe for terrorist attacks and it made him nervous to be going over, but we did anyway.

Personally, I know RS says not to worry and don't let these things impact plans, but if I was planning on a trip to these major cities soon and got this warning, I would cancel. I just would. Fear and worry would impact my vacation, and I just don't have the time or money for that.

I read the abolve on the internet, also. Rome has raised their security level to 2, which is the highest you get other than an outright attack.

Posted by
11613 posts

I will be flying into Frankfurt in December, I will be in Roma for Christmas and Belgium for New Year's. Then flying from Amsterdam to Detroit. If anyone wants to meet up for coffee, PM me.

Posted by
15863 posts

As far as I know St Peter's, some of the other major cathedrals/basilicas and all of the main tourist attractions in Rome, Florence, Venice, etc. have been on the possible target list for years so I'm not sure this is really a 'new' thing?

There is a reason they have security checks at the Colosseum, Uffizi, the Vatican, etc.

Current cautions appear on the U.S. State Department Travel web pages for individual countries. Here is Italy (see under the "more" tab under "Embassy Messages"):

http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/italy.html

Posted by
7049 posts

I don't see Italy listed as a travel alert..that's odd.
http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

For what it's worth, the DC area is supposedly a target but that does not stop anyone from going to work and going about their lives. I went to Istanbul in September not even knowing there was a State Dept travel warning out (mostly for the southern border with Syria).

I think a lot of people are much more vigilant now and they've signed up for all sorts of alerts and are reading everything they can get their hands on...and, as a result, getting more afraid due to the overload of info. I try to limit the amount of terrorist coverage I read for my own mental sanity. I think if you knew how much intelligence traffic goes on daily about "potential" and shifting targets which isn't reported to the press, you would not go anywhere.

I hope you have a good trip free of further worries.

Posted by
14058 posts

Agnes, that is what I find so odd and exasperating about that State Department website. None of these are listed in travel warnings. You should not have to drill down to the Country/Embassy Messages/City to get that important information.

Kathy, thank you for pointing me in the direction as well.

Posted by
15269 posts

If they are so good at predicting these things how come there were no warnings on Paris last week or no warnings on NYC in Sept 2001?

My prediction is that since security has been beefed up all over Europe, the cowardly terrorists will stay put for a while. It's when our guard is down that they strike.

Posted by
7048 posts

Roberto, I agree. Even when there are warnings they never seem to be for specific targets, just areas (cities, countries, etc) so it's impossible to even make good use of those warnings.

I also agree that they may be laying low for the time being. They always seem to let some time go by between strikes so we relax our guard again. And especially when they release statements and warnings to the media it seems like a lot of strutting and posturing because they can make us so afraid to go about our normal routines. It's what terrorists do.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks for all the advice and replies. I really, really appreciate it! I've had so many people tell me different things but you know what? I love to travel, I want to live my life, and I want to go support Europe right now with my tourism dollars. (And heck, I've been taking French lessons so I really, really want to go and try out my new skills with locals! The hubby is semi-fluent in Italian as well!)

As of today, I am still going to go as planned. I'm very nervous to be sure but I have all of the Embassy phone numbers programmed in my phone and I will be on high alert. My husband and I are flying to France this weekend (visiting the Netherlands and Italy too) and my mom is joining us in 2 weeks for the Christmas markets in Germany and I really don't want to cancel a special trip -- I'm only 42 but I want to enjoy those precious moments with my family while I can. Thanks again everyone! I think I agree with Rick when he says "keep on traveling." Let's do it!

Posted by
14058 posts

You KNOW we are going to want a Trip Report! Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
15863 posts

I don't see Italy listed as a travel alert..that's odd.

That's because you weren't on the right page, Agnes. The one you were using is for higher-level threats - such as areas where incidents of terrorism and violent crime are occurring with statistical regularity - and not cautions.

Posted by
32223 posts

The Canadian and British government travel websites are indicating that visitors "exercise normal security precautions", even in the wake of the attacks in France. Unfortunately we're going to be faced with this sort of situation for many years to come, so increased vigilance will become the norm. Some may decide to cancel trips, but many will carry on as usual, especially those here on the forum.

Posted by
658 posts

Sadly, it isn't always possible to be vigilant. The concern now is (and this is with Italy also) is the attacks on bars and restaurants. It seemed very easy for the terrorists to shoot into the restaurant . Besides hitting the ground there isn't a lot that you can do.

Posted by
2123 posts

We are leaving in 3 weeks for Tuscany. Most of our trip will be in smaller towns, which I think will be less likely to be a target. We are considering taking an evening walking tour of Rome on a Saturday night. This is near the Spanish Steps and includes the Pantheon. I think this would be a possible target. This is the only part of the trip that I am considering dropping from the itinerary. Needless to say, I'll be monitoring the situation closely.

I will not travel under a cloud of suspicion and fear. I will exercise situational awareness, as I do no matter where I travel. My wife and I intend to have a wonderful time. That's my act of defiance.

Posted by
15863 posts

Doug, I personally wouldn't worry about the Pantheon, Spanish Steps (which are undergoing repair and currently blocked off) or much of anything else on the walking tour. The Roman authorities have also added another 700 military soldiers to the current security force patrolling the city so there will be more watchful eyes and ears than yours.

Posted by
2123 posts

Thanks Kathy. Walks of Italy has a nice 3 hour walk that starts at 17.00. We are staying at the Hilton at the Rome airport and flying out the next day. The Hilton has free shuttle service into the city and the drop off point is 8 minutes from the meeting point for the tour.

The last time my wife (she was my girlfriend back then) an I were in Rome was 1966! We've been watching "A Room With a View", "Roman Holiday", "Rome Adventure", "Under the Tuscan Sun", "My House in Umbria" and Rick Steves episodes of Rome, Florence and Tuscany. This is our 50th anniversary trip of that first trip we made as high school students.

Posted by
16409 posts

Make sure you carry your passports at all times. I read on another travel site that the police in Rome are doing random passport checks, particularly near the Vatican.

Posted by
7209 posts

Police should have been more involved around the Vatican and other places for MANY years. It's not just terrorists that terrorize people - it's also the petty theft/pickpockets/football hooligans, etc that occurs in all major cities and tourist sites.

Posted by
15863 posts

Tim, roughly translating from news sources in Italian, the 700 additional forces are military deployments and not just "police". They're pulling them in from multiple regions in Italy, and I'm seeing rumblings of the number going higher than that. In addition, they'll "take action alongside the contingent of the Armed Forces made up of 1,300 soldiers already on duty in the capital in view of the Holy Year."

Threat levels being elevated for some time, we've found the visibility of police presence in Rome to be much, much higher than any American city we've been to but I'm guessing that pickpockets are pretty far down the list of things they have to worry about.

Posted by
1064 posts

No offense, Jay, but you really are hijacking the thread. Why not move your comment and request to a new thread that you could start?