Discover, explore, and experience the unknown to the fullest should be the only “duty” of your vacation. It goes without saying that this is not always the case, as unforeseen difficulties are unfortunately common when travelling, especially when language barriers make effective communication a challenge. Whether you are a risk-taking adventurer or a travel nerd, you may want to read this checklist to minimize misunderstandings while travelling to Italy.
1 – Pack all medical documents needed for the trip
While some common medications can be bought over the counter at a local pharmacy, others, such as antibiotics, require you to have a doctor’s prescription. Ask your doctor to specify the medicine’s generic name, and the dosage if you decide to use a prescription in Rome.
If you have a known medical condition, such as diabetes, make sure to pack a medical report in your carry-on bag – explaining your medical issue, and any medical treatment you have undergone. Also, if you have done any recent lab test or lab analysis it is a good idea to bring a copy with you, as you are travelling to Italy.
2 – Check coverage of your insurance plan
Wait a minute.. isn’t the Italian healthcare system public? Healthcare is free or extremely cheap to Italian residents and a few other exceptions, but tourists can only take advantage of the low fees in case of emergencies. It should also be noted that waiting lists are the daily bread of Italian hospitals, and in some cases visiting a private outpatient clinic is preferable, though, of course, not free of charge.
That said, checking on your insurance website what are the medical expenses covered abroad cannot hurt, and might save you hours waiting for your turn at a public hospital.
3 – Know what you are looking for.
You may be delighted to know that you don’t have to stuff your suitcase with preventive medicines as over the counter drugs can be found nearly at any “farmacia” in Rome. Figuring out how to explain a NON English speaking pharmacist what you need exactly might be “slightly” more complicated!
While the generic name of medications is usually pretty similar to the Italian version, other common terms might come in handy when looking for the proper medication:
|Adhesive bandages||Cerotti adesivi|
|Hand-Sanitizer||Disinfettante antibatterico per le mani|
|Hydrogen Peroxide||Acqua ossigenata|
4 – Be prepared for an emergency
If in need of an immediate medical treatment in Italy, call the toll free number 118 for a public ambulance.
If you are near a “Pronto Soccorso”, an emergency room in Rome, you can simply walk in, but be aware that not all hospitals in Rome have an emergency room. You can find more information on Doctors in Italy’s website in this section.
5 – Know the basic local medical terms
Hopefully, the only words you will need to use during your vacation in Rome are pizza, spaghetti alla carbonara, and grazie, but saving a few more useful phrases in your travel agenda cannot hurt:
I need a doctor – Ho bisogno di un medico
I am feeling sick – Mi sento male
Where is the nearest hospital? – Dov’e l’ospedale piu vicino?
I need a prescription – Ho bisogno di una prescrizione
Where is the pharmacy? – Dov’e la farmacia?
Call an ambulance – Chiama un ambulanza
Pain Relievers – Antidolorifici
Upset Stomach – Bruciore di stomaco
Diarrhea – Diarrhea
Dehydration – Deidratazione
Sleep Aids – Aiuti per il sonno
First-Aid – Kit pronto soccorso
Visiting a foreign country is always an adventure. Taking a few preventive steps and planning ahead of time, will not make your vacation any less adventurous, but might instead help you avoid uneasy situations, spare precious time and fully enjoy your trip.