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Teenagers in Italy

Hi. We are taking two new high school grads to Italy in June - girls, both 18. We are going to Rome, Siena, Florence, Lake Como and winding up in Milan.

They would like a little independence from Mom and Dad on the trip. Both are intelligent, sensible girls, but let's face it - they'll be out of their element. What freedom, if any, can we feel good about giving them, and in what towns? My primary concern is with their safety. Thanks.

Posted by
75 posts

I've been in your shoes, and will admit not really feeling comfortable letting them loose. Rome, Florence and Milan are busy and crowded, I haven't been to Lake Como. Siena is quiet in comparison to the other cities and I'd probably feel safer there. We take a pair of walkie talkies with us (or cell phones that work in Europe) to keep in touch if we do go in different directions. Make sure they have a map. Venice would be my choice for a little freedom. Good luck, and have a great trip!

Posted by
1170 posts

Whatever you decide, they should be wary of pickpockets, gypsies (and their ploys), and purse snatchers in Rome especially...and to be careful crossing the street, seriously! They should also never, ever accept anything from a stranger. Recently, there was an older California couple who mistakenly accepted a cappucino from a stranger in one of the Rome train stations. He drugged and robbed them. The man then wandered onto the train tracks and was killed. Please read the advice given on this helpline to better understand some of the pitfalls and cons. Knowing a little Italian will help them along. I think that Siena and Lake Como would be the places that they would be safest, and perhaps Florence.

Posted by
340 posts

What a wonderful way to celebrate! If you are uncomfortable about totally letting them go off on their own, what about planning freedom within a place you are all visiting? Let's say you are going to the Vatican museum or the Forum or any other large attraction. Everyone decides what time to meet and where, with the "buddy system" always enforced. Do let them know that they will probably be given attention by Italian men much more openly than they receive in the US and give them guidance on how to handle it maturely. If they are going away to college in Sept. this will be a good introduction to the start of many new experiences. If they are sensible and polite and pay attention to what is going on around them they should be fine. They should definitely learn basic Italian phrases.

Posted by
11507 posts

They need to be made aware of pickpockets. They need to know they will be hit on by Italian men, and the best thing to do is completely ignore them. You need to know they are legal to drink, and may indulge,, if so, please make them aware to watch their drinks, never accept one from a stranger, and never drink till drunk as they could be taken advantage of( pickpockets I mean).

Some kids travel around Europe on their own at 18, the girl at my work is.. she is level headed and with two friends, but they are on their own for 3 months, so I am pretty sure your girls, if level headed and sensible could manage a few hours on their own.

PS Always make sure they carry a hotel card with them, and enough cash ( seperately) so if they are lost they could just hail a cab and give him the card to get back to hotel.

Posted by
319 posts

Siena and Lake Como will be safe enough to turn the girls loose for an afternoon on thier own. I like the idea of freedom in a certian place like a museume. Be sure to use the buddy system and have a curfew and learn on the first day or two that you are in Italy who are the police officers (you will see 2-4 types in any city).
Oh and the earlier suggestion about walky-talkies...don't bring them. They use the same frequancy and emergancy personel use (like police and ambulance) and you can get fined if your walkie talkie unterfears.

Posted by
401 posts

The girls are 18, right? I certainly think they would be capable of spending a few hours on their own in the center of Rome or Florence.
The same rules apply as when you are in any big city, but Rome and Italy in general is very safe. Make sure they have a map, and a pre-arranged meeting time and place and they should be fine. There are cops on practically every corner, lots of people walking around, they should be fine.
I imagine they are going away to school in the near future? In another year or so maybe they will be doing a semester abroad, so yes, I believe they would be perfectly safe spending an afternoon on their own in any of the cities that you mentioned.

Posted by
121 posts

Lisa -

You don't mention what if any experience the girls have in US cities. My daughter is 16 and can safely navigate for a few hours in NYC and Washington DC. We are going on a trip to both Greece and Italy with another family when our daughters graduate and will be allowing them at that time (2 more years) to take the train to another city without us. It really depends on the experience your girls have already. Also, agree with the other posters with the tips about drinks, male attention, other basic rules they probably already know. At 18 they are on their way to college and life independent. Have a great trip!

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you so much for all of the responses. I was leaning toward giving them a little bit of freedom, like an afternoon of shopping while Dad and I do one more church or museum.

I think I'll draw the line at letting them go out in the evening by themselves though; possibly in Sienna, but I'll have to see how it feels. I know they will drink a little, which they are unaccustomed to, so that is what scares me most.

I appreciate all of the tips - I will make sure to go over everything multiple times. It will serve them well at college as well as on this trip. Thanks!

Posted by
1589 posts

Lisa,dare I ask? If these two are going off to college two months after this trip, you have a LOT of adjusting to do. I suggest that they make their own plans for how they wish to enjoy this trip. As a father of two now grown daughters, I recall the uneasy feelings, but this is the time for your daughters to fly solo.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
38 posts

Hi Lisa ~
I am traveling with my 18 year old niece this summer. I asked her mom about it and got the ok to allow her to drink while we are away. By drink, I mean with lunch or dinner or if we go wine tasting. Chances of us going to a club/disco are slim to nil. I don't think I'm cool enough for a clubbing partner. :o)

If it were me, I'd allow them to drink with you while you travel around. That way they learn what one glass of wine vs two feels like. Also, it may remove the inclination to over-drink when they are not with you. Remember, the forbidden is always more appealing to that age.

We will be in Italy for 3 weeks so I'm sure she will want to get away from me at some point. I'll feel better about that in the smaller towns and later in the trip once she has some travelling under her belt.

Have a wonderful time!!