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Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Italy

Just in case you have an emergency in Italy, here are the numbers to call and some of the phrases you might need to use.

Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Italy
Who you need to call in case of an emergency in Italy. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

Whether you live in Italy or are just visiting, knowing who to call in the case of an emergency is crucial to keeping you and those around you safe.

You can report anything on 112, the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services.

But knowing the direct number to call could get you a faster response in a situation where time is critical.

Here are the main phone numbers you’ll need to report an emergency in Italy.

What is Italy’s equivalent of 999 or 911?

Within Italy, the general number for all emergencies – the equivalent of 999 in the UK or 911 in the US – is 113.

This nationwide number connects you to the state police (Polizia di Stato), the civil police force that will assist you not only if you’re reporting a crime but for any other kind of emergency too.

They’ll probably ask you the following questions:

  • What is your emergency? – Qual è la sua emergenza?
  • What happened? – Cosa è successo?
  • Can you give me the address/the coordinates? – Può darmi l’indirizzo/le coordinate?

READ ALSO: How to stay safe while travelling in Italy

Emergency workers of the Italian Voluntary Association of First Aid and Public Assistance “Croce Bianca” escort a retired man after an emergency call in Milan. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Useful phrases

Help! – Aiuto!

Call the police – Chiami la polizia

Is there anyone here who speaks English? – C’è qualcuno qui che parla inglese?

There has been an accident – C’è stato un incidente

Someone has stolen my bag/wallet/phone – Mi hanno rubato la borsa/il portafoglio/il telefono

Please hurry – Fate presto, per favore

Who should you call about a fire?

To reach the fire service (Vigili del Fuoco), dial 115

Be aware that firefighters (pompieri) in Italy don’t just put out fires: they also lead searches, rescues and other first-response operations, so you can also call them to report anyone in need of immediate assistance – for instance, someone trapped in a flood or missing while hiking.

READ ALSO: What to do and what to avoid if you see a wildfire in Italy

Useful phrases

Fire! – Al fuoco!

Call the fire brigade – Chiami i pompieri

There’s a fire – C’è un incendio

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Who should you call for an ambulance?

To report a medical emergency (emergenza sanitaria), call 118.

They’ll ask you to describe the circumstances and, depending on the gravity of the situation, assign a colour code:

  • White (bianco): non-critical;
  • Green (verde): non-urgent;
  • Yellow (giallo): critical/urgent;
  • Red (rosso): emergency.

They’ll then dispatch the appropriate assistance to provide treatment at the scene and/or take you to the nearest hospital.

Useful phrases

Call an ambulance – Chiami un’ambulanza 

I need a doctor – Ho bisogno di un dottore

Take me to the emergency room – Portatemi al pronto soccorso

Some people are badly injured – Ci sono feriti gravi

He/she hit his/her head – Ha battuto la testa

He/she is unconscious – Lui/lei è svenuto/a

He/she isn’t breathing – Non respira 

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Who should you call about an emergency at sea?

Italy’s coast guard (Guardia Costiera) can be reached at 1530.

The service handles search-and-rescue operations at sea, as well as assisting vessels in distress and protecting safety at ports and on beaches.

Who should you call about financial crimes?

To report suspected smuggling, counterfeiting, tax fraud, illegal employment or other economic crimes, call Italy’s finance police (Guardia di Finanza) on 117.

Example: think you’ve been ripped off by a restaurant that doesn’t display its prices and is refusing to give you a receipt for a sky-high charge? Threaten to denunciare them to these guys.

Who should you call for roadside assistance?

To request help on the road (soccorso stradale), dial 803 116 from an Italian phone or 800 116 800 from a foreign mobile.

You can also use one of the SOS phones located roughly every two kilometres along Italian motorways (press the button marked with a spanner for mechanical assistance, the red cross for medical aid).

You’ll be connected to the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI), the national motorists’ organization, which provides breakdown assistance to any driver for a fee or free of charge to its members.

To report any other road emergency, such as an animal abandoned by the motorway, call 112 or 113 and ask for the Polizia Stradale, the unit in charge of policing Italy’s roads.

For traffic information, call 1518.


Useful phrases

My car won’t start – La mia macchina non parte

I’ve run out of fuel – Sono rimasto senza benzina

I have a flat tyre – Ho una gomma a terra

Smoke is coming from the engine – Il fumo sta uscendo dal motore


Who should you call to report a child in danger?

Italy has a dedicated helpline for risks to children and adolescents (emergenza infanzia): to request help for yourself or someone else, dial 114.

You can also reach the service by chat, SMS, WhatsApp, email or by downloading its app: see for more details.

Who should you call to report an animal in anger?

Sadly it’s not unusual to come across abandoned animals in Italy. Whether you’ve found a malnourished dog or cat left outdoors or have witnessed mistreatment of a pet, you can report this to the authorities.

Every local health office (ASL) has a veterinary service (Servizio Veterinario dell’ASL) which you should notify if you find an abandoned animal. The contact details should be on your local ASL’s website.

If an animal is trapped, for example inside a hot car, or is in immediate danger you can also call the local police (vigili urbano). The number should be on your comune or regione‘s website, or you can call via your town or region’s main switchboard.

Animal abuse is a crime in Italy and cases can also be reported to the state police or the Carabinieri, the military police force that can assist with any emergency.

Who should you call about domestic abuse or stalking?

Report family violence or harassment via the free emergency helpline 1522.

Assistance is available 24/7 in Italian, English, Spanish, French or Arabic, including by online chat

Who should you call to report a gas leak?

If you smell gas or notice other signs of a leak (fuga di gas), alert gas company Italgas via the 24/7 helpline 800 900 999.

They’ll send an emergency technician to check for leaks, free of charge.

Who should you call about a forest fire?

As well as alerting the fire service, you can report wildfires directly to the Carabinieri’s forestry and environment unit on 1515.

Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

It’s also the service to call about poaching, illegal construction, endangering protected species or any other offences against Italy’s environment.

If in doubt…

If you’re not sure who to speak to, call 112. You’ll be connected to the Universal European Emergency Services, who can direct you to the correct line. Depending on where in Italy you’re calling from, it may put you through directly to the Carabinieri, the military police force that can assist with any emergency.

The number is available free of charge everywhere in the EU from all phones, including mobiles, and you can call it even without credit or a valid SIM card. Assistance is available in multiple languages, including English.

You can also download an associated app, Where Are U, which automatically transmits your location from your smartphone to 112 operators; however, it only functions in certain regions of Italy (for more information, click here).

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What changes about life in Italy in August 2022

The long days of summer are usually quiet, as parliament breaks for the summer and everyone heads for the beach. But this August is not an ordinary one in Italy.

What changes about life in Italy in August 2022

August is the month when most people in Italy flee the sizzling heat of the cities to seek relief at the beach.

This year’s traditional holiday month, however, will also feature an unprecedented summer electoral campaign following the recent collapse of the government.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

Here’s what to look out for in Italy this August.

Fuel prices

To help motorists and businesses with the rising cost of living, the government in July confirmed an extension to the fuel tax cut until August 21st.

The tax relief, which means savings of 30 cents per litre of petrol or diesel, has been extended several times since it was introduced in March.

The measure is expected to be extended again until September.

Summer election campaign

Italy’s parliamentary summer break officially runs throughout August until early September, but it’s all but cancelled this year as the country is heading for snap elections after Mario Draghi’s government collapsed at the end of July.

The date set for the election is September 25th, meaning holidays are cancelled as parties will be campaigning hard over the summer. Negotiations are already well underway as to which coalitions might form and who will lead them.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

August 26th – 30 days before the election – is the first date parties can put up campaign posters, but you can expect to be targeted with radio jingles and TV ads from the start of the month.

Until then the current government remains in office in a caretaker capacity.

Italians flock to the beach en masse on the August 15th Ferragosto holiday.

Italians flock to the beach en masse on the August 15th Ferragosto holiday. Photo by OLIVIER MORIN / AFP

An end to smart working (for some)

The automatic right for vulnerable people and those with children under the age of 14 in Italy to do their job from home (provided the nature of their work makes remote working possible) ends on July 31st.

From the start of August, only private sector workers who have an informal agreement with their employer, parents of under-14s whose partner is not on unemployment benefits, and workers whose medical vulnerability has been certified with a doctor’s note will have the right to continue performing 100 percent of their work remotely.

That changes again on August 31st: after this date employees and employers must have a formal written agreement on any remote working arrangements.

Public holiday

Most of Italy is generally chiuso per ferie (closed for the holidays) throughout the month of August, but the Ferragosto national holiday on August 15th is when the whole country really clocks off and heads to the beach.

This year’s Ferragosto falls on a Monday, meaning those few Italians who aren’t already on holiday are likely to take a long weekend off starting Friday, August 12th.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Ferragosto, Italy’s national summer holiday

Road traffic is always particularly bad around the Ferragosto weekend, so it’s a good idea to avoid making long drives on those dates.

School holidays

Italian schools remain on holiday until the end of August and beyond, with kids not returning to the classroom until at least September 12th in most regions.