Solo American Safety: Is it safe to travel Italy, especially alone?
There's just been a war. Headlines talk about protests here, and “anti-American sentiment” there. Europe comes up a lot. I've been getting quite a few emails on Italy in particular. Is it safe to travel to Italy? At all? Alone? As anyone with an American passport?
Let's see what's out there. I'm going to Italy, after all, plus I'm a Yank.
Google, it baby
So I googled
italy traveler safety
And here’s what turned up:
Italy – Consular Information Sheet
The good ol’ US State Dept. Without their sagely and X-Files level of paranoia, there may well be more tourists sprawling about the world. Amen for the State Department. But removing my tongue from cheek for a moment, for basic info and possible concerns on traveling anywhere, there’s some good stuff; just remember to bring some salt, and read between the lines – not just of what the State Dept says, but of what I say too: I’m no expert, especially on current events (luckily I’m not in Civics anymore).
Please don’t confuse blogs and gospel.
Their Italy Consular Information Sheet dates from March 27, 2003. A CIS isn’t a warning; it just provides basic info, but does also chuck in some potential traveler concerns, such as:
SAFETY/SECURITY: There have been occasional episodes of violence in Italy, most often connected to Italian internal developments or social issues. In 2001, there was violence associated with the demonstrations against the G-8 meeting in Genoa. Italian authorities, at various times, have found bombs outside public buildings; they received bomb threats and were themselves the subjects of letter bombs. These incidents have all been attributed to organized crime or anarchist movements. Americans were not targeted or injured in these instances. In March 2002, Americans were warned by the Department of State about possible actions by extremist groups in Italy.
Some perspective: Wal-Mart gets bomb threats all the time, and the parking lot’s still full. Heck, my local high school in Virginia, back in the 90s, lost plenty of class time while we stood in the parking lot because someone made a bomb threat. Though going by the G8 protests in Genoa way back when, if you’re a WTF or IMF rep you may want to consider swapping your briefcase for a daypack, and just tell passerby that really you’re an undercover hippie.
The most eye-catching part though, they save for last:
In March 2002, Americans were warned by the Department of State about possible actions by extremist groups in Italy.
Fair enough; this ties back to US policy sitting like bad sausage with some people, and understandably so. This is also where I admit my overall ignorance of the latest headlines, but have you heard of Americans constantly getting attacked in Italy? Please tell me if you have, but my gut says the media is selling papers, airtime and adspace because all too often it’s only hype and bad news that “sell” in the States.
There’s a world of difference between possible action, and what has happened – or not.
And frankly, if you want warnings about extremist groups, the State Dept might want to consider doing up a new section for the US. Though considering the amount of extremist, violent-prone nutters on both the right and left sides of the political sanitarium, er spectrum in the US alone, they might need to make a whole new website. Maybe even a new top-level domain designation; I nominate “.loon”.
Guido’s got gumption – and my attention
Safety and Debate in Times of War | Guido Veloce Explains Europe to You
This writeup rocks my socks. I don’t feel I need to comment much; please read it for yourself. Here’s a selection I dig:
Perhaps it’s just me, but I fail to see the horror in debating politics in a cafe. Nevertheless, I shall issue this warning: The traveler might do well to be aware that war is a hot topic around the world. And well it should be–killing folks and bombing their infrastructure, even for its “shock and awe” value, should never be taken lightly. If you plan on traveling to Europe, you may want to be prepared for the distinct possibility that folks will ask (and maybe even demand) that you explain your position, whatever it is.
But does all this make Europe unsafe? Only, it seems to me, if you fear open debate. But isn’t the freedom to debate any issue what the US is supposed to be all about? So sit down with those who want your input, have a beer or two, and talk. How difficult can it be?
And those terrorists? They’ve been around a long time in Europe, you just felt “safer” before because you didn’t realize they were lurking there. But above all consider this–a life lived in fear is a life half lived.
The links above are just 2 examples of what’s out there, but nothing out there matters as much as what you think.
You can google and scour the web all day, but ultimately whether or not you feel safe traveling to Italy, Asia, somewhere else in the world or the shop around the corner, is up to you.
Will people be curious about your stances and beliefs? Of course. Why shouldn’t they? If you met an Italian traveler in your hometown, wouldn’t you be curious about their various stances and views and what-not?
Will there be some debate? I should hope so. If there’s not, life gets boring real bloody quick.
Will there be varying opinions about American government? At least as many as there are in the US itself. But please remember too: most of the people you encounter, fully understand that what the W gang espouses is not necessarily what you believe.
Personally, I say go to Italy. But that’s not up to me. It’s up to you. If you have concerns, educate yourself. Read the papers, look at message boards, talk to other travelers. Find other people who’ve gone, or who live there, and ask them questions. Take in the info that’s out there, and exercise your own judgment on how and whether or not you want to travel.
But in all likelihood? You’ll be fine. And if you stay home, you’ll probably kick yourself for it later.
As for me, I’ll probably feel safer in Italy than I did in high school – and at least Italy has wine.