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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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Rome and Milan rated two of the world’s ‘worst’ cities to live in

The Italian cities of Rome and Milan are among the ten worst in the world to move to, according to a new survey ranking both poorly in terms of career opportunities, job security and local administration.

Rome and Milan rated two of the world’s 'worst' cities to live in

With its stunning landscapes, good weather and culinary delights, Italy is often seen as a place where life is generally easy and relaxed.

But according to the latest study from InterNations, a popular information and networking site for people living overseas, life in some parts of the country is much less sweet than some people may think.

The 2022 Expat City Ranking has this year once again ranked Rome and Milan, Italy’s two largest metropolises, among the ten worst cities to live in for foreign nationals.

The ranking, which was based on a survey involving nearly 12,000 expats, placed Rome and Milan 41st and 44th out of 50 respectively, with both cities performing very poorly in the Working Abroad index (career prospects, job security, work-life balance and work satisfaction) and in the Admin Topics category (mostly related to the overall performance of local administration offices).

READ ALSO: Rome vs Milan: Which is the best Italian city for students?

Rome and Milan shared the bottom of the table with Frankfurt, Paris, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Vancouver, Tokyo, and Johannesburg, which ranked dead last, thus earning the unenviable title of ‘worst city to live in 2022’.

Valencia (1st), Dubai, Mexico City, Lisbon and Madrid were instead named the five best cities to move to.

Milan's Duomo cathedral

Milan ranked 44th overall in the 2022 Expat City Ranking, six places removed from Johannesburg, which came last. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Here’s a more in-depth insight into how Rome and Milan each fared in the ranking. 


Rome (41st overall), performed poorly in the Career Prospects and Job Security categories, where it ranked 46th and 45th respectively. 

According to the survey, 38 percent of expats living in Rome were unhappy with the local job market, whereas 24 percent stated that moving to Italy’s capital had not improved their careers.

Things were even worse in the Admin Topics category, where Rome came last worldwide. Here, respondents reported significant difficulties in relation to trying to get a visa, opening a bank account or dealing with local bureaucracy, with many lamenting the lack of online government services and information.

READ ALSO: Six things foreigners should expect if they live in Rome

Finally, Rome ranked 41st in the Quality of Life index, with over one in three respondents being dissatisfied with local transport services and 28 percent of expats reporting issues with trying to access healthcare services.

On a more positive note – perhaps, the only one – Rome did well in the Ease of Settling In index as three in four expats said that they felt at home in the city and had managed to make new friends.


Like Rome, Milan (44th overall) fared poorly in the Working Abroad index. In particular, the northern city ranked in the bottom five for both work-life balance (46th) and working hours (48th). 

On top of that, over one in four respondents didn’t feel that they were being paid fairly for their work, which contributed to the city ranking 46th in the Salary category.

Milan's Vittorio Emanuele II gallery

Over half of expats living in Milan were unhappy with air quality in the city. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

As for the Quality of Life index, Milan performed better than Rome, ranking 33rd overall.

That said, it still registered a number of lows. Notably, the city came 40th in the Environment and Climate category, with over half of respondents (54 percent) reportedly unhappy with air quality – the global dissatisfaction rate stands at 19 percent.

About one in three were also unhappy with their personal financial situation and felt that their income wasn’t enough to lead a comfortable life.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

Local administration was almost as big a problem in Milan as it was in Rome as the northern city came 48th in that category. 

On this note, as many as 66 percent of expats found it hard to deal with Milan’s bureaucracy compared to 39 percent globally.