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Italy Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

Italy has started to gradually lift some of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus lockdown measures. To assist the economic recovery, the government approved a decree worth EUR25 billion and public guarantees for EUR400-billion-worth of loans to the corporate and banking sector. Italy also stands to benefit from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and its borrowing costs are kept low by the ECB’s bond-buying programme. The agreement on the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework and recovery fund will benefit Italy, which will be eligible to draw EUR209 billion in grants and low-interest loans, or 28% of the total recovery fund. The government's relief measures and the recovery fund notwithstanding, the outbreak is likely to have a substantial impact on the important tourism sector via cancelled bookings and a decline in demand. Given the threats to the global economy, alongside Italy's fiscal and political challenges, we expect the impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak to further contribute to the forecast recession. This implies the economy will contract by 11.3% in 2020, according to the May forecast update, exceeding the 5.3% drop in 2009.Recent weeks has seen renewed protests by far-right groups protesting the government’s lockdown measures. As the extent of the economic dislocation is felt by ordinary Italians, socio-economically driven protests are likely to become more common across Italy. There is also increased risk of the Mafia infiltrating legitimate businesses as a result of the economic downturn similar to the period of the 2008/09 recession.

Operational Outlook

Italy has started to ease the national lockdown measures that were aimed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus. Travel within and between regions is allowed. In a bid to assist the tourism sector, foreign visitors from a number of countries are allowed to visit Italy from 3 June.

Terrorism

Large-scale immigration from war-torn and poverty-stricken countries has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiment and increased the risk of far-right terrorist attacks, as evidenced by the Macerata shooting on 3 February 2018 that resulted in six Africans being wounded by a far-right sympathiser. Police operations in July and November 2019 helped dismantle far-right and neo-Nazi rings, uncovering a large number of military-grade weapons, ammunition, and other weapons. The operations highlighted such groups' increased access to sophisticated weaponry.

Crime

There are four major Mafia groups in Italy; the Cosa Nostra, the 'Ndrangheta, the Camorra, and the Sacra Corona Unita. These organisations are all showing signs of increasing level of co-operation with foreign organised crime entities based both in Italy and abroad. As a rule, these organisations discourage excessive and frequent use of violence in order to avoid confrontation with law enforcement agencies. When violence is employed, it is typically a matter of score-settling between rival crime groups. There is a growing risk of the Mafia infiltrating legitimate businesses during the economic downturn that has followed in the wake of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

War Risks

The main war risk to Italy stems from the violence in Libya, where the civil war between rival factions continues to rage on. Italy has deployed military missions to Tripoli and Misrata to provide training and technical assistance for the security troops of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The Italian troops also provide security for a military hospital in Misrata. Italy would seek to reaffirm its diminished diplomatic status in Libya, but it is unlikely to become more militarily engaged without the involvement of its European allies.

Social Stability

High

Political polarisation and large-scale immigration have contributed to growing numbers of far-right rallies and leftist counter-protests across Italy, often resulting in violence between protesters and police. Although lockdown measures to contain the COVID-19 virus outbreak temporarily reduced overall protest risks, their gradual lifting will likely reverse this as the extent of the economic damage and dislocation are felt.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Italy has a high risk of seismic activity and earthquakes are frequently reported throughout the country. In August 2016, an earthquake measuring 6.2 magnitude on the Richter scale occurred in the town of Amatrice, around 100 km (60 mi) northeast of Rome, in which 292 people were killed and 400 injured. Hundreds of aftershocks followed the initial earthquake. The regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche were the hardest hit, particularly in the areas surrounding the towns of Accumoli, Posta, Arquata del Tronto, and Amatrice. Numerous minor earthquakes have occurred since, including at least one deadly tremor.

There are 13 volcanoes in Italy, spread across three zones: the bay of Naples, the area northeast of Sicily, and near the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria. Three of these volcanoes remain active and are liable to erupt: Mount Vesuvius (famous for its destruction of the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD) on the border of the Bay of Naples; Stromboli in the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands to the north of Sicily; and Etna, situated close to the city of Catania.

Furthermore, avalanches often occur in the Alps and periodic flooding impacts some regions. In June 2017, heavy rains occurred in Alpine regions of Italy as well as in the south and Sicily, causing rivers to overflow and leading to several casualties.

Forest fires also occur in Italy. Southern Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia, often suffers from arson attacks in summer, sparking wildfires that are exacerbated by heat waves and dry weather.

Transportation

Strikes are frequently carried out by public transportation workers (air, rail, and inner-city) and can cause disruption. It is advisable to remain informed of all strike actions.

Taxis are generally white in Italy. Ensure that the taxi has a meter or that the price is agreed in advance. Supplementary costs may be imposed for luggage, night services, or bank-holiday services.

Cars are not permitted in many historical centers, particularly in northern towns, where access is limited to bicycles and pedestrians. Many of the large towns and cities maintain efficient public transportation systems (metro, tram, bus).

The use of headlights is required in non-urban areas in Italy during both day and night. Drivers unfamiliar with the country may find that the system of traffic lights lacks, at times, the same clarity found in other western European countries.

The rail network is reliable between large cities and the trains are comfortable.

Practical Information

Climate

The climate in the north is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The coasts enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Temperatures can reach as high as 40°C in certain regions.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +39
Police: 112
Fire Dept.: 115
Ambulance: 118

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal