Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

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10 tips for staying safe in Florence, Italy.


Lately there has been a lot of talk about safety traveling alone (especially women). In light of recent horrific events in Turkey of a woman killed on a solo trip or in other parts of the world, it’s a worthy topic in my book. The reality is that bad things happen to good people everywhere we go – the difference is what gets press coverage and what no-one ever hears about. I will say after living here full-time since 2007 that I feel very safe living in Florence, Italy and for the most part, Europe in general.

While for some it may ‘feel’ safer in America because you can very much live in a certain kind of bubble  [car-work-gym-house], the statistics don’t lie. Here, while there might be a slight chance of getting my purse/wallet/phone stolen – I do not fear getting killed in the process which I really can’t say the same when I am in America. The facts are that random, violent crime is much less in Italy than in places like United States {just my example} and murders are rare.

That being said, I understand that some people still might be concerned while visiting a foreign country and perhaps, not being totally aware about local culture. There are a lot of personal {read common sense} things I make sure to do on an every day basis which I would like to share with potential visitors to Italy and Florence specifically. Please feel free to leave me a comment if you have had an experience you would like to share or a tip you think I may have missed. I love hearing from my readers and your experiences.

  • Use common sense. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet even smart people make stupid decisions on a daily basis –  myself included. My biggest idiot-move is walking around with my ipod earbuds stuck in my ears all of the time. Honestly, it’s not safe or smart to do this. You can’t hear if a bus is hurtling towards you on a tiny sidewalk nor a potential attacker/angry nonna coming from behind. Put your ear buds in only once you have arrived somewhere safe or are on the bus etc. Also a lighter volume helps as well, you don’t want to be a future Helen Keller like me.
  • Buddy-System. While I know this may not be possible on a daily basis. I recommend the buddy system for getting home late at night or at least getting to a well-lit place where you can wait for the bus, taxi or with someone. Crimes in Italy that I hear about the most are petty thefts. Whether that be someones wallet stolen {just one example – I avoid a certain juice bar  in the center because I know multiple people who have had their things stolen at this location} at a laundromat, Iphone taken at knifepoint, or one of the famous ‘scooter robberies’ where two people on a scooter fly by and grab your purse while you are walking, these things happen but not often! If you have a friend with you, you will be a less desirable target, especially late at night.
  • Avoid side-streets & always take well-lit roads. I used to live on a tiny street off of via ghibellina when I was a student, studying abroad the first time. Via ghibellina is a lively street any day of the week with some popular student bars and restaurants, whenever I got a sixth-sense that I wasn’t alone walking home – I never-ever went down my street by myself. I just kept walking until I hit the viale that goes towards Piazza Beccaria which always has passing traffic. Whenever you can, take larger well-lit roads and explore the tiny {often really pretty} isolated streets only during the morning/day. If you feel like someone is a little too-close to comfort, call someone or pretend to and speak really loudly and avoiding showing them where you live!
  • Pay attention! T-man once almost got his wallet stolen by a gypsy long ago at a cross-walk in front of the Duomo. The only reason he saved his lire was an alert passer-by across the street spotting this person with her hand near his pockets and let him know! Remember thieves are really, really good at what they do. Often you won’t know about a theft until it’s already happened and most of the time its over with in a blink-of -an-eye. Now with smartphones, Ipads, cameras, and the like, make us more distracted than ever {I put myself in this category}. Don’t be a victim and try to pay attention to what you are doing especially in the busy center in areas like the San Lorenzo markets, Santa Maria novella station and anywhere where tourists congregate. Also if you have a smart phone that has a lost-phone app download it and you may thank yourself with some prosecco later. It’s the first thing I did when I got my Samsung Galaxy SIII. 
  • Don’t carry all of your cards/cash/documents with you. This is what I do. I have a wallet and in it are many crumpled esselunga receipts, a membership card to Montecarla bar that I haven’t been to in five years and one document. Do I walk around with my passport? Nope!  However, I have made copies of it and carry that with me along with my carta’d identita or permesso di soggiorno. Actually the smartest idea is to copy all of your ID and documents (cash cards too) and save them on a dropbox folder, you will thank me later.
  • One debit card travels with me along with a change purse and some cash. In typical girl style, I have many random coins populating the bottom of my bag. I try to leave as much as I can at home and when I travel I carry a small purse that can be strapped to my front that holds cash, one card and only one document because I really don’t want to go through the pain of remaking all of my cards if they get stolen. Make copies of every important card/document you have and keep them in a folder in a different place than the original docs. In your cell phone or purse keep a list of numbers you need to call if your cards get lost, plus your at-home doctors phone number and any urgent health info ie: diabetic/need certain medication just in case. 
  • Let someone in on your plans. While I assume that everyone traveling lets a family member back home know about their whereabouts, not everyone temporary living somewhere does, but they should! If you are visiting Italy, register with the state department and let your family know your itinerary, names of hotels and cities visiting and the best way to reach you. It’s nothing one email couldn’t solve. If you are studying abroad or just living here, let a friend know where you are if you plan on a solo day trip in the countryside or to another city. Don’t rely soley on twitter and FB. If you have a non EU cell phone you should be able to use wifi abroad on your phone abroad and you can purchase a cheap, cell phone and rechargeable sim card when you get here near the train station at any phone shop. You can stop by the tourist office to get the address. 
  • Don’t do anything abroad that you wouldn’t at home. For some reason, people at times treat Italy and especially Florence as their very own Disney World. Why? I couldn’t tell you but really they should remember it is a normal city with normal city problems. If you plan to go out drinking, great! Just bring a friend and make sure they walk you home or put you in a taxi with the agreement to text one another when you arrive home. Don’t take that shortcut if it means going down a dark road, especially if you have been drinking. If you need help, call someone! Also, please don’t leave your purse on the ground while you snap photos which yes I have seen, or stand in the middle of the sidewalk/street, it’s annoying – and dangerous. 
  • Hold tight! Play a game with yourself where you stash all sorts of different goodies around your body. Honestly, I don’t have a money belt or see myself buying one in the near future. As I already mentioned, I prefer a method of keeping things in different places, and carrying a purse that can zip, not snap. Hold that purse like it’s your baby and you wouldn’t let your baby out of sight – right? {By the way I have no kids but it’s the best example I can think of}. Keep your purse and backpack in front of you, not behind you. Too many times have I seen tourists or students with large backpacks behind them just walking around crowded areas or on the bus with all of their stuff scattered about. Not a good idea. Pack less, and hold your purse tight! 
  • Try the “one or other system” when it comes to clothes. This is for you ladies. “One or the other means” – if you want to show off your cleavage, that’s nice –  but… wear pants or a longer skirt. Wearing a low-cut top, plus a shirt skirt + heels in Italy means – harass me! Want to wear a short skirt? Pair with a more conservative top and again take it easy with the heels because the cobblestones will do their best to wreck them anyhow!  Carry a pair of bendable flip-flops in your purse. Italians are pretty harmless, but I remember being a student and wearing some pretty crazy outfits while wondering why men were yelling, barking or why I was getting asked out by a  high-school student, married men or nonni at the bus stop. Want to wear a sexy dress? Put on a coat or shawl over it until you get to your destination. Believe me, you will thank me later :). 
  • Don’t be scared of Italy or of Italians. Of course, I need to add this because I have seen comments on other articles/blogs about people not wanting to visit Italy because they thought it was unsafe and ‘scary’ just because said poster was just being honest. Someone a year os so ago emailed me saying she was scared to let her daughter study abroad because of all of the ‘crime’. My response was to do a five-minute research of the crime rate in her daughter’s own college town and compare that to Florence. You can just guess which one was worse. Really if you just follow the above steps and just use common sense and your own personal intuition, you will be just fine and have a wonderful time. Police are everywhere in the center and here is my own list of useful numbers & info everyone coming to Florence should know

FYI: I am working on another post about common ‘scams’ and how to avoid them which is a whole other ball game. I remember watching Italian Tv program striscia della notizia and one of their undercover cameras caught a taxi scam artist at his best, short-changing Japanese tourists and then shamelessly asking them out for a pizza afterward. classy not surprising.


Best motto you can live by “Stay safe but don’t stay home!”

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44 Responses

  1. My number one tip is good anywhere, Don’t get drunk. We (almost) all drink wine here, many drink beer, a meal may end in a digestivo. It can add up, but as long as you are consuming food you probably will still have your head about you. If you just knock them back, drinking for the sake of getting high, tiddly, and in the end drunk — and that can sneak up on you — your judgment will be impaired and all the safety tips in the world won’t help unless you just go home, go to bed and sleep it off.
    With all the stimulation of being in a fascinating foreign country, why put yourself in the position of turning the dream into a nightmare?

    1. I agree with you Judith. Though try telling young students that. I hope that at the very least they don’t try walking home alone!

  2. I think your tips would apply anywhere, and probably this is how people should live “at home” too! We just feel safe within a few miles of where we live for some reason!

  3. I studied abroad in Barcelona, which probably has a much higher crime rate than Florence, and I have to admit that at one point or another I did all the things you are not supposed to do… wearing a short skirt, walking home alone after a few drinks, etc. I was lucky I guess though and nothing ever happened to me. However one thing that I think helped was, if you do need to walk home late at night or find yourself in a not-so-desirable neighborhood all of a sudden, walk quickly and as if you know where you’re going, even if you don’t. It sounds kind of silly, but I know from growing up in NY that it’s really easy to spot the people who are wandering around, looking up at the buildings, etc. and unfortunately those people make an easy target for thieves and so on.

  4. Very good tips, and I think the scam post will be helpful too. I try to catch ‘Strisica’ and marveled at the one in Pompeii and the Napoli area as a whole with the fake “tour guides”. So many tourists (Italians included) ripped off, but not only that….giving money to non-certified guides who carry false badges.
    One thing I’ve noticed time and again, however, is something that I don’t intend to come across as racist, but as fact. I’ve seen so many American (female) students being grabbed at, smooth talked and led away by men who are clearly not Italian but pretending to be so. Living here helps discern who is who by accents and grammar, but to the new 19 year old not used to the language, they fall for any guy claiming to be named “Fabio” or “Gianni” then have a drunken fling with “an Italian.” I cringe when I see a groups of students being leered at, followed by, or plied with drinks by someone I certainly know is not Italian and yet the charade is on.

    1. yes that bothers me too. I don’t care if a guy if from Albania or Morocco but just be honest about it. The whole ‘I’m Italian’ speal is the oldest trick in the book

  5. Exactly. That’s what is so shady about it. On one hand I’m sorry they feel they need to lie, I suppose… OTOH, it’s gross and annoys me.

  6. Glad to hear that Florence is a generally safe spot for people.…I started doing research when I returned hope from vacation there. I was sexually assaulted on a street just beside the Duomo, at 11 AM. A man kept grabbing me, making lewd comments, and trying to pull me into alleys. No one helped, maybe because I couldn’t speak Italian. I am glad to hear, however, that this is a rare occurrence.

    1. Bad things can happen anywhere and I find Florence to be a much safer city than Los Angeles or even my hometown of san antonio, it tends to ‘feel’ more dangerous because you are among people much more walking around and not in the bubble of your car, mall, or office.

  7. Bello leggere qualcosa sull’Italia senza pregiudizi. Consigli giusti, brava

  8. We will be visiting Florence soon and we are considering renting an apartment as opposed to a Hotel…could you recommend a reliable comapany to rent an apartment from or a Good Hotel.
    Thanks, K

    1. I am a big fan of as an apartment rental agency, I used them in Berlin and will again in my upcoming trip to Portugal. I would check there first and see what options are out there. Otherwise, I really like Villa Landucci by Piazza Alberti, gourmet B&B gem of a hotel!

  9. Hi, I’m going to Florence and have found two apartments. One in Via della vigna nuova and another in via della vigna vecchia. Which is better safety-wise? And if they’re both equally safe which is better in terms of casual dining, groceries, sights to see, and more festive with more people? Thanks for your help!

    1. they are both great safety wise, I wouldn’t worry about either one. I think personally, I would prefer via della vigna vecchia. Your close to the Bargello and I just love that area. 🙂

  10. Leaving Venice on June 17th and coming to Florence. My daughter and everyone else traveling to Paris. I have been there several times. Can you please tell this Tennessee girl which train I should take into Florence as well as a good bed and breakfast to stay in for 3 nites…maybe also a day trip to Tuscany. Will be leaving Florence and flying to London for a few days. Starting trip in Rome with 20 somethings then this 60 year old on my own for a few days…Need English speaking people…Can not wait this is on my bucket list…

    1. Hello Norma, you take whichever train you can catch to Firenze Santa Maria Novella (or Firenze S.M.N) which is the main train station to Florence. The bed & breakfast I really love is Villa Landucci (easy to reach by bus from the central train station in Florence) (great prices, beautiful rooms and good customer service). Most of all have a great time! There are so many things to do and if you get the chance, visiting Siena, San Gimignano are wonderful day trips from Florence

      1. Have you heard of a place called Monteoliveto? Did not know if that would be another good choice. Please advise… Thanks

        Sent from my iPhone


  11. Hi, nice blog. I am a Florentine and have lived in San Francisco for 11 years and found it much more dangerous than Florence will ever be. Nevertheless in the many years when I was working a night shift that forced me to walk the 4 long blocks to Market to catch my bus to the Height Ashbury, only once I was followed through the panhandle by a masturbator, who finished his business when I confronted him and left. This because I tried to look aware of my surroundings, appearing tough potential trouble if approached. If you look like a potential victim you’ll be easily spotted. In Florence I never had any problem returning home late at night even on my own. Sure, there are the pick-up attempts, the occasional man exposing himself, the old man blurting obscenities, but not much more. Italians are all about show and even when two men fight they rarely arrive to blows, preferring chest-to-chest shouting and then parting when the situation has exhausted itself. To Norma Allen if she asks about Via di Monteoliveto, it’s a hill in the proximity of via Pisana, below Bellosguardo… 🙂 ciao!

    1. ciaoo! I could not agree with you more! When people write me to ask if Florence is safe, I more than happily screensnap and send them the latest stats on violence in their area which is always higher than ours. People just need a fair amount of common sense (like not walking in a low lit area at 5am etc) and they will be just fine. There were areas of Los Angeles that I always avoided because there lurked true danger!

  12. Hi, I’m a college student going to Florence to study abroad this summer. As of now, my plan is taking a bus from the Pisa airport to the main Florence train station and then walking to a hostel/hotel from there. The only problem is I will most likely be arriving at the train station around 11:15pm. So do you think it would be safe for me to make my way to a nearby hostel at that time if I am tugging a big luggage, traveling by myself, and also a Chinese girl with a small built. My alternative plan would be looking for a hostel in Pisa around 8pm and staying the night there instead. Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. Hello Susan, you will be just fine – Florence is a safe city and just avoid anyone you don’t want to make eye-contact with. Otherwise spring for a taxi which are always present at the station 🙂

  13. Hello I love your blog. I have learned so much about Florence reading it. I am coming to Florence for 3 months alone. I am a 50 year old woman. I rented an apartment on Borgo degli Albizi. After doing some research It seemed to be a good location in walking distance to most everything. Hopefully I choose the right area. What is your opinion

    1. Donna, I’m a couple of years younger, but not much. How lucky you are! That area is fine. Cultivate a local coffee shop and talk to your neighbors. You’ll have a wonderful visit.

  14. Hi Girl in Florence…randomly searching in google about backpacking in italy and it brough me to ur wonderful page, my wife would be travelling alone next week in italy and would be in florence for 2 nights, could you suggest a good hostel which u know? Thanks in advance

  15. Hi
    Would you say Florence is safer than Rome? My son is going to be studying abroad and he can go to either Florence or Rome so I would like to know what you think?
    Thank you

    1. Hello Sam, I don’t know about safer but definitely smaller. Both cities are very safe, I really wouldn’t worry about that. It’s really more about common sense and respecting local rules but he should be fine and happy in either.

  16. Hi! My husband, two boys, ages 6 and 8 years old, and I are visiting Florence June 16-18. Can you suggest a good area to stay in that will be family friendly? We grown-ups don’t mind walking to things but our boys can only handle so much. Thank you for the tips above in your blog. They will be very helpful:)

  17. Hi there! I was just wondering, do you by any chance have a list of prices for stuff, say, food or cleaning stuff that one would need living in florence? Thanks!

  18. Hi Georgette!

    Thank you for the invaluable tip. I’m going to be in Florence of a short while this coming July, and I was wondering if you could help me decide if I should take a very early train to Manarola, via Pisa and La Spezia (4:30 am or 5:30 am) or if you think it’ would be too dangerous. I am trying to catch a tour that starts at 10 in Manarola, but am worried that if I take the later trains any delays would make me miss the tour. I am also a solo 24 year old female traveler.
    I am mostly worried about the train ride itself and the switches, as it seems that if I take a cab to the station it should be okay.

    Thank you!

    1. The trains are fine. I’ve trained it all over Italy and up to Paris and London. It’s definitely worth the extra Euros for first class if you can – the added level of comfort is nice.

  19. Hmm. I felt totally safe in Florence. I was there two years ago, for a week. I stayed in Oltrarno, on a narrow side street with lots of students. I neither talk on my phone nor listen to music when walking out, so I’m aware of my surroundings.

    I’ve only had one attempted pickpocketing that I am aware of (and none successful): in front of Notre Dame in Paris, a street performer pounced and made like he was performing at me, but touching in such a way as to indicate an attempted theft. I smiled and told him good try and wandered off (I did alert police). I am more comfortable carrying an anti-theft purse and wallet, by Pacsafe. The zippers clip closed, and the body of the bag as well as the cross-body strap are cut-proof.

    I think the key is to be aware of your surroundings, walk with confidence, and meet people’s eyes. No criminal wants to be seen and noticed.

  20. This blog is fantastic! I’m so glad I found it 🙂 I’ll be in Europe/Italy for the first time by myself this spring. Do you think it’s a good idea to use Florence as a “home base” and take day trips to other cities via the train?

  21. Great article, thanks for the tips! Being home to the most UNESCO world heritage sites globally, Italy is indeed a fascinating land to visit. However, there are a number of crooks targeting tourists in the country.

    Do be wary of the fashion guru asking for petrol money, gypsy groups, Rome gladiators, string/bracelet scam, pickpocketing, fake luxury products, rose scam, gold ring scam, unofficial tour guides, pigeon scam and many more!

  22. Hello, I saw an opportunity to teach English in Italy through UNI-Prep, a Canadian organization. Is this an organization you have heard about before? Also, I don’t know Italian, and I am not a study abroad student. I am a college professor, but to some I look like a college student, and I’m Asian. Would you recommend me to go by myself in Rome for a semester or a year-long contract? Unfortunately, none of the people I know want or have the ability to move to and work in Rome? Is there a way to find other like-minded people?

  23. Hi I am going to be studying in Florence for 6 months. I am a 19 year old girl. I was wondering if the neighborhood of Isolotto is safe to live in? Or if there are any neighborhoods you would say are more dangerous than others? Thank you so much!

    1. Hello Sofia, to be honest there are no “dangerous” (as far as I know) neighborhoods in Florence and Isolotto is just fine however it is a bit far from the center which could be annoying if you’d like to be more central. I would perhaps go for something near Beccaria or Campo di Marte or anywhere in the Oltrarno

  24. Hello Georgette! I’m a massive fan of what you and your blog. I’m 22 yr old from Egypt and I’m planning on staying in Florence for 3 months starting next February for some sculpting courses. It’ll be my first time there and funnily enough I might be staying in Via Ghibellina and I see that you’ve mentioned it in your article. I saw some airbnb reviews and they gave me mixed feelings about it though. I tried to do my research and I thought I’d also try and ask you if you recommend any specific neighborhoods. Should I be typical and stay near Duomo/Santa Croce or check out some places in Oltrarno? Thank you for your time and keep up the beautiful work!!

    1. Hello Fareh. Thank you for your support! I actually used to live off of Via Ghibellina as a student and I didn’t mind being there at all. I think the annoyance would be the noise as at night people tend to walk down the street to get to bars/clubs etc. Inquire to see if that’s the complaint. I’m partial to the Oltrarno (other side of the river) however, I like the neighborhood around Beccaria, quiet, close to the center and Sant’Ambrogio.

  25. Hi! I am leaving to study abroad in Florence, Italy for 4 months. I am living on Via Maggio and was wondering if you had any information on this neighborhood like is it safe, well lit, etc.? My roommates and I will be attending Florence University of the Arts which seems like a 16 minute walk from my apartment. I get out of class at 8:30 pm, do you think I will be okay walking home alone? Also, I have heard that there is a bug problem especially with bed bugs in Florence. Have you had any problems with bugs and do you have any tips on how to keep them out of my apartment and things?

    1. Hello Casey, I actually live in that neighborhood and I’m not sure where you are from but I have a feeling that anywhere in Florence is probably safer than 99% of any city in the USA or UK :). Via Maggio is a very elegant street in Florence so you will be absolutely fine there and also walking home (I walk home after midnight and feel fine). Regarding bed bugs, I haven’t experience that myself so it is hard to say but I would definitely have a look as soon as you move in as it’s better to take care of the issue quickly I wouldn’t put my suitcase after travel in my bedroom immediately.. Good luck!

  26. When you are traveling to different place always keep an eye on your safety first like you always have a buddy with you so that you can help each other in any circumstances and together you can enjoy a lot.

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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