In general, Rome is viewed as a fairly "safe" destination, although problems, of course, can and do occur anywhere. You don't need to get shots, most foods are safe, and the water in Rome is potable. If you're concerned, just order bottled water. It is easy to get a prescription filled, and Rome has English-speaking doctors at hospitals with well-trained medical staffs.
Vegetarians can go into almost any restaurant in Rome, even those specializing in meat and fish, and order a heaping plate of fresh antipasti made with fresh vegetables.
What to Do If You Get Sick away from Home -- If you worry about getting sick away from home, consider purchasing medical travel insurance and carry your ID card in your purse or wallet. In most cases, your existing health plan will provide the coverage you need.
Any foreign consulate can provide a list of area doctors who speak English. If you get sick, consider asking your hotel concierge to recommend a local doctor -- even his or her own. You can also try the emergency room at a local hospital; many have walk-in clinics for emergency cases that are not life-threatening. You may not get immediate attention, but you won't pay the high price of an emergency room visit.
If you suffer from a chronic illness, consult your doctor before your departure. For conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, or heart problems, wear a Medic Alert Identification Tag (tel. 888/633-4298; www.medicalert.org), which will immediately alert doctors to your condition and give them access to your records through Medic Alert's 24-hour hot line.
Keep prescription medications in their original containers, and pack them in your carry-on luggage. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your pills or run out. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name.
And don't forget sunglasses and an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses.
Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT; tel. 716/754-4883 or, in Canada, 416/652-0137; 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (tel. 800/311-3435; www.cdc.gov) provides up-to-date information on health hazards by region or country and offers tips on food safety. The website 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 clinics overseas at the International Society of Travel Medicine (tel. 404/373-8280; www.istm.org).
The following government websites offer up-to-date health-related travel advice.
The most common menace, especially in large cities, particularly Rome, is the plague of pickpockets and roving gangs of Gypsy children who surround you, distract you in all the confusion, and steal your purse or wallet. If accosted by a group of children, even though they're children, don't be polite. Never leave valuables in a car, and never travel with your car unlocked. A U.S. State Department travel advisory warns that every car (whether parked, stopped at a traffic light, or even moving) can be a potential target for armed robbery. In these uncertain times, it is always prudent to check the U.S. State Department's travel advisories at http://travel.state.gov.