There are no special health risks you'll encounter in Tuscany and Umbria. The tap water is safe, and medical resources are high quality. With Italy's universal healthcare system, you can usually stop by any hospital emergency room with an ailment, get swift and courteous service, receive a diagnosis and a prescription, and be sent on your way with a wave and a smile -- without filling out a single sheet of paperwork. However, the benefits of Italy's partially socialized medicine strictly speaking only apply to E.U. citizens, so those from elsewhere should be prepared to pay medical bills upfront. Before leaving home, find out what medical services your health insurance covers. Your health insurance in your home country may not cover any extended treatment abroad. However, even if you don't have insurance, you will be seen and treated in an emergency room, just as you would at home.

Pharmacies in Italy are ubiquitous (look for the green cross) and offer essentially the same range of generic drugs available all over the developed world. Pharmacies are also the only place you'll find simple stuff such as aspirin and run-of-the-mill cold medicines: You won't find Tylenol at any old corner store (even if there were such a thing as a corner store). Pharmacies in Florence and other cities take turns doing the night shift. Normally there is a list posted at the entrance of each pharmacy, telling customers which pharmacy is open which night of the week.


Tuscany and Umbria are remarkably safe regions, and you generally won't encounter the pickpockets that sometimes frequent touristy areas and public buses in Rome and Naples. There are, of course, thieves in central Italy, as there are everywhere, so be smart; don't leave anything valuable in your rental car overnight, and leave nothing visible in it at any time to avoid tempting a would-be thief. If you do happen to be robbed, you can fill out paperwork at the nearest police station, but this is mostly for insurance purposes -- don't expect them to actually hunt down the perpetrator or find your lost valuables. In general, avoid public parks at night and public squares in the wee hours of the morning, situations that attract the seediest elements looking to prey on late-night partiers.

Italy for centuries was and, to a large degree, still is a homogenous culture. Add to that the fact that issues of race here are discussed so frankly and openly -- there's apparently no taboo to saying, in a loud voice, "That black guy over there . . ." Moreover, the reality is that most people of African descent in Italy are working as street vendors, not bankers. All this may make travelers with darker skin feel -- correctly at times -- as if they're being singled out. Pockets of racism do exist in Italy just like anywhere else in the world, but on the whole, it is an extremely warm and tolerant country.

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.