If you want to explore the home of pizza and pasta without too much stress, then be sure to read on for our list of the safest cities in Italy. It’s all about homing in on the urban hotspots of The Boot that aren’t too dangerous; aren’t too hard to travel. The good news is that there’s plenty to get through, from art-brimming Tuscan metropolises to mountain towns in the shadow of the Alps.
Yep, you’ve got all sorts to pick from. We’ve hopped up to the tail end of the Dolomites to find enchanting towns under the shadow of the peaks, scoured the rolling vineyards in the heart of the country, and even cased out the islands that lie in the surrounding Med. All the while, we’ve kept an eye out for the ones that have low crime rates, aren’t at risk of natural disasters, and have a good all-round standard of living.
Our method? It’s pretty simple. We’ve taken the prevailing crime stats for major Italian cities off of Numbeo, one of the world’s leading travel statistic collators. Then we’ve thrown in one or two suggestions of our own, of places that we know to be easy-going and downright lovely to explore. The result is a whirlwind of seven enticing Italiano spots that ooze culture, history, art, and charm. Let’s begin…
Trieste has one foot in the Adriatic Sea and another in the Italian Alps. It’s the capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and one of the principle trading ports in the east of the country, with great maritime links to the Balkans and beyond. Oh, and it’s been that way for quite some time, too – Trieste was first built up by a certain Julius Caesar back in the first century BC!
As crime stats go, Trieste tops the bill (like, in a good way!). Yep, it’s rated as the overall safest major city on The Boot according to Numbeo, with a crime index of a mere 27.1 – more than half of Cantania’s whopping 64.3! Specifically, the town has very low ratings for auto theft, burglaries from cars, and – reassuringly – violent crime.
Tempted? Well you certainly will be when you learn that Trieste is the gateway to the gorgeous Santa Croce Mare coast, which has white-glazed pebble coves beneath Renaissance mansions. The town center itself is also divine. Palazzos crowd the Canal Grande and yachts bob against the quays. While away your evenings there hopping the aperitif bars and seeking out the hidden Roman-era ruins.
Sauntering into a wanderlust-stoking number two spot on this list of the safest cities in Italy according to us (and Numbeo) is the capital of the island of Sardinia: Cagliari. A gorgeous jostle of pastel-painted palazzos above a forever-azure Tyrrhenian Sea, the town is a postcard-worthy sight to behold. They say the arrival by boat is one of the most stirring experiences in the country.
Anyway, Cagliari does well on the crime front. There aren’t any particularly startling stats to worry about. The town is rated low when it comes to the risk of being insulted and being attacked. It’s also rated very low for the risk of racially motivate crimes and hate crimes. The only fly in the proverbial Sardinian soup? Crime stats are increasing here year on year, so watch this space.
Our advice would be to spend a day or two seeing the sights in Cagliari itself. The great Il Castello castle and the beautiful urban beaches of Poetto are a must. Then, hop in a rental car and drive the island’s dramatic west coast, or hit the Golfo di Orosei e del Gennargentu peaks and valleys to see pre-historic ruins and whatnot.
Ah, Florence – there aren’t many more bucket-list cities in the world than this. The home of the Renaissance and one of the most art-filled towns on the planet, it’s best known for its mighty Duomo and the collections of the Uffizi Gallery, where you can go to see priceless works by the likes of Giotto and Caravaggio.
Florence itself clocks up a very healthy safety rating of 39.2 over on Numbeo. That’s a whole load better than some of Italy’s grittier cities – both Rome and Naples are at least a third worse off. Of course, there are some issues with crime here, especially pickpocketing in the main tourist area of the Centro Storico and nearer the train station. But, on the whole, it’s a pretty nice picture
That means you can stop worrying about your valuables and concentrate on the cultural wonders. Walk the romantic Ponte Vecchio bridge. See the winding River Arno. Taste Tuscan wines in authentic Italian trattoria. It’s a lovely place to be.
We’ve dropped L’Aquila in the mix here not because it has overly impressive crime stats but because it’s one of the more off-the-beaten-path regional capitals of the country. Often overlooked by travelers who stick to nearby Rome, the city is in the midst of the gorgeous area of Abruzzo – think a land of wild mountains and flowing vineyards, hot springs and terracotta-colored hill villages.
Don’t worry, though, the crime stats are still pretty darn good. The town languishes down in 12th place on rankings of the most dangerous cities in Italia, with crime occurrence rates that are significantly below the national average – we’re talking around 2,900 incidents per hundred thousand head of population, while the average is closer to 3,800!
L’Aquila itself has a charming old town center that’s looked over by the Baroque Scalinata S. Bernardino church. There are sleepy cafes and piazzas aplenty, though we have to say that the real draws are to the north, amid the jagged granite summits of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. Who needs the Alps?
Stunning Siena caps off a series of hills in the heart of the much-adored region of Tuscany. It’s a city that draws the eye with its grand Gothic edifices – the Tower of Mangia, the Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Salimbeni. Backing that up is a web of narrow lanes and alleys where wine bars spill from this corner and truffle-scented trattoria spill from that.
Basically: If you’re looking for historic and atmospheric places to base a trip to Tuscany then you can hardly do better than this. Within an hour’s drive, you can be tasting wines in Chianti or soothing the muscles in the hot springs of the Val d’Orcia. Lovely.
Oh, and there’s hardly a whiff of crime to be spoken of! Siena has a Numbeo safety index of nearly 70/100, with low incidences for just about every sort of crime they rank. The main worry is probably more likely to be the wild horses that come by during the annual Palio di Siena, a bareback race that takes place on the main square!
Bolzano is the transport hub and capital of the glorious region of the South Tyrol. It’s tucked into one of the main valleys that carves through the Italian Alps towards Austria, and comes surrounded by some of the most epic ski fields in the country – Dolimiti to the west, dello Stelvio and Solden to the east.
A curious mishmash of Austro-Hungarian architecture and Italian pizzazz, the town is maze of regimented blocks that occasionally happens upon stoic churches or gilded 17th-century townhouses. However, the star of the tourism show here has to be Otzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy found totally preserved in the ice up in the mountains back in 1991.
Apart from said fascinating mummies and jaw-dropping mountain scenery, Bolzano also enjoys one of the highest quality of life ratings in the home of limoncello and buffalo mozzarella. Yep, it scores 9.9/10 for health coverage, has great air quality, and fantastic employment stats.
Verona marks the beginning of the Italian Alps. One side of the city is actually tucked onto the first slopes of what’s known as the Pre-Alps, the foothill ranges that eventually transform into the Dolomites as you head ever deeper into the peaks. It’s a gorgeous setting for a gorgeous city…
A UNESCO-tagged town that clutches a big S-bend on the Adige River, Verona is all cobblestone squares and secret side streets. The place to stay is the Città Antica, the 1,000-year-old heart of it all. That’s where you’ll find the famous Balcony of Juliet inspired by Shakespeare and the soaring Lamberti tower, plus all the tasty osterias and wine bars that pepper the blocks.
Numbeo ranks Verona as an exceptionally safe destination. Its crime index is just 31.96, which translates into a very low likelihood for being publicly insulted, and low ratings for becoming victim to robberies and muggings to boot.
The safest cities in Italy – our conclusion
The safest cities in Italy make for a pretty alluring bunch. Of the big-name tourism draws, we think you’ll find Florence reigns supreme. The capital of eye-wateringly-wonderful Tuscany, it’s known for its welcoming people and low crime stats, plus has some of the most iconic artworks this side of Paris. Smaller cities then take over, from Gothic Siena to mountain-shrouded Bolzano, where you can go to pull on the hiking boots or skis depending on the season.