EU citizens can take advantage of Italy’s health services under the same terms as the residents of the country, but you’ll need form E111, available from any main post office. The Australian Medicare system also has a reciprocal healthcare arrangement with Italy. Italy has no medical program covering citizens from the US and Canada. US and Canadian tourists are therefore advised to take out an insurance policy before traveling. It is best to check with your at home insurer to see if you have any health coverage while traveling out of the country as some private medical plans do cover some if not all expenses that may arise oversees. In Canada, provincial plans do provide partial coverage for medical requirements overseas. Once you have found out what is or is not covered when you are planning your travel to Italy you should consider contacting a specialist travel insurance company. These companies can cover everything from medical expenses to loss of baggage, tickets, and even cash to a specific limit.
Tourists requiring urgent medical care should go to the nearest hospital emergency ward (airports and many train stations also have medical teams and first aid facilities). Those with serious illnesses or allergies should always carry a special note from their physicians giving detailed information on the treatments they are following or that may be necessary. Pharmacies (Farmacia), generally follow shop opening times (approx. from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 3 to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, but in large cities many are open throughout the day. Night time service is provided on a shift basis. Business hours and night shifts are displayed outside each pharmacy and are published in local papers. An Italian pharmacist is well qualified to give you advice on minor ailments and to dispense prescriptions (most speak good English too), and there’s generally one open all night in the larger towns and cities. A rotating system operates allowing certain pharmacies to be open on holidays, and you should find the address of the one currently open on any farmacia door or listed in the local paper. Medications, either prescription or over the counter, can only be obtained only in pharmacies
Vaccinations are not required, and Italy doesn’t present any more health worries than anywhere else in Europe. The water is perfectly safe to drink and you’ll find public fountains (usually button- or tap-operated) in squares and city streets everywhere, though look out for “aqua non potable” signs, indicating that the water is unsafe to drink. It’s worth taking insect repellent, as even inland towns, most notoriously Milan, suffer from a persistent mosquito problem, especially in summer.
If you need medical treatment, go to a doctor ( médico ) which will be found in every town and village. You can ask at a pharmacy, or consult the local Yellow Pages (under Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale or Unità Sanitaria Locale) to locate one closest to you. The Italian Yellow Pages also list some specialist practitioners in such fields as acupuncture and homeopathy, the latter much more common in Italy than in some countries. If you’re EU eligible, take your E111 with you to the doctor’s which should enable you to get free treatment and prescriptions for medicines at the local rate.
If you are seriously ill or involved in an accident, go straight to the nearest hospital and go straight to Pronto Soccorso (emergency), or phone 113 and ask for ospedale or ambulanza. Major train stations and airports also often have first-aid stations with qualified doctors on hand.
Try to avoid going to the dentist ( dentista ) while you’re in Italy. These aren’t covered by the mutua or health service, and for even the smallest treatment you’ll pay a great deal. If you don’t have a spare pair of eye glasses, take a copy of your prescription so that an optician ( óttico ) can make you up a new pair should you lose or damage them while traveling.