There are no particular health concerns in Campania. It is always, however, a good idea to protect yourself from mosquito bites, as an increasing number of diseases previously contained within the tropical areas of the world have started spreading. The World Health Organization recommends hepatitis A and B vaccines for travelers to any country in the world, including Europe and Italy, and to keep up-to-date with boosters for your childhood vaccinations.
During the past couple of years, Naples and its suburbs have been struggling with a garbage collection crisis due to the enmeshment of the local Camorra (a Mafia-like secret society) with the local contractors. As a result, refuse cyclically accumulates in many areas. As a form of protest, residents resorted to burning the piles of garbage, creating toxic fumes, which are particularly dangerous in summer. The authorities have largely tackled the problem, but, should it reoccur during your visit, avoid the fumes as they can aggravate respiratory problems.
Availability of Health Care: You'll find English-speaking doctors in most hospitals and pharmacies. Medical staff is generally well trained. The largest hospitals in the region are in Naples, but reputable hospitals, excellent private clinics, and smaller facilities exist in more remote places.
For travel abroad, you may have to pay all medical costs upfront and be reimbursed later. Medicare and Medicaid do not provide coverage for medical costs outside the U.S. Before leaving home, find out what medical services your health insurance covers. To protect yourself, consider buying medical travel insurance.
U.K. nationals will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive free or reduced-cost health benefits during a visit to a European Economic Area (EEA) country (European Union countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland. The European Health Insurance Card replaces the E111 form, which is no longer valid. For advice, ask at your local post office or see www.dh.gov.uk/travellers.
Over-the-counter medicines are widely available in Campania, and prescriptions are easily filled in any pharmacy. Names of products will be different, so make sure you know the active ingredient of your brand and that your doctor writes the prescription clearly. Most likely you will find a pharmacist who will be able to assist you in finding an English-speaking doctor. If you are bringing prescription medications with you, pack them in your carry-on luggage, and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels -- otherwise they won't make it through security.
Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT; tel. 716-754-4883, or 416-652-0137 in Canada; www.iamat.org) for tips on travel and health concerns in the countries you're visiting, and for lists of local, English-speaking doctors. The United States's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (tel. 800/232 4636; www.cdc.gov) provides up-to-date information on health hazards by region or country and offers tips on food safety. Travel Health Online (www.tripprep.com), sponsored by a consortium of travel medicine practitioners, may also offer helpful advice on traveling abroad. You can find listings of reliable medical clinics overseas at the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org).
Dietary Red Flags -- You should always exercise caution when eating seafood, especially in summer when improperly refrigerated seafood spoils faster. Also, be cautious of street food. Water in Campania's cities and towns is potable. The quality varies in some areas of Naples, but hotels, restaurants, and bars all have their own water-purification systems. If you're still concerned, order bottled water.
Sun Exposure: Do not underestimate the sun when you visit archaeological areas such as Pompeii and Herculaneum in the summer, as heat stroke is not impossible. Always use sunscreen and a hat and carry an adequate water supply.
Campania is generally safe, though one of the biggest risks in the area is road accidents. Always be vigilant, particularly as a pedestrian, when crossing the street or walking in a narrow street with no sidewalk.
The crime rate in Campania is generally low, and most crimes occur in certain areas, such as near Naples's Stazione Centrale and in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of the city's suburbs. Stay away from the narrow streets of Naples's historic district and from poor neighborhoods after dark.
The most common menace for the average tourist, especially in Naples, is the plague of pickpockets and car thieves. Pickpockets are active in all crowded places, particularly tourist areas. Note that they are sometimes dressed in elegant attire, and often work in pairs or groups, using various techniques, from distraction routines to razor blades to cut the bottom of your bag. Even savvy travelers must be vigilant.
The city center is also where most car thefts occur, although vehicles are always at risk, except in the most remote rural areas. Never leave valuables inside your car, never travel with your doors unlocked, and always park in a garage with an attendant. Be careful when traveling on highways at night, as robbery scams involve fake breakdowns being staged. Instead of stopping, call the police from your mobile; they'll send a car.
A good idea is to make photocopies of your important documents: tickets, passport, credit cards, and IDs. Make sure you keep them in a different pocket or bag than the originals. Also, if you rent a car, make sure there is no rental sticker on the car that could make you a target (tourists often have expensive gear, such as cameras and electronic devices). Also, make sure no luggage or other items are visible inside the car, such as in the back seat. Do not open your trunk and display the contents in the parking spot where you're planning to leave your car unguarded: Get what you need from your luggage ahead of time.
We have heard a few reports from other areas in Italy of robberies performed by individuals who befriend travelers at stations, airports, and bars, and then take advantage of their lower level of vigilance: Choose your friends carefully.
One further concern is ATM skimming. Attached to legitimate bank ATMs usually located in tourist areas, electronic devices can capture your credit card information and record your PIN through a pin-hole camera. Always make sure the ATM you are planning to use does not look as if it has been tampered with, and cover the keypad with one hand as you enter your PIN.
Italian law is generally fair; but if you commit a crime, the law will be enforced. Do not drink and drive, do not traffic or carry illegal drugs, do not engage in illicit sexual activities, do not litter, and do not exhibit loud and drunken behavior. If you are driving, respect the rules of the road. Also note that if you make any kind of purchase, from a cafe, to a meal in a restaurant, to a handbag, the vendor is required by law to give you an official receipt and you are required to keep it with you for a few hundred yards after coming out of the shop.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.