Puglia is a beautiful part of Italy. Its southern charm and the local’s hospitality are well known around the world. However, it’s still a newcomer to the tourism scene and you might be wondering: is Puglia safe? Let’s answer this question and give you some tips on staying safe on your Puglian travels.
Generally speaking, Puglia is a safe place. It’s unlikely that you’ll be hurt or otherwise be a victim of a violent crime. However, when it comes to your belonging they are definitely the target of petty theft, most commonly pickpocketing.
So even though, Puglia is a pretty safe place there’s still a chance to get your things stolen. Let’s see what kind of crimes you can expect and how you can stay safe.
Safety in Puglia
Italy is considered a safe place for travelers and Puglia, as a part of Italy, is also a safe place to travel. However, Italy and Puglia do get millions of visitors each year so it’s no wonder pickpockets and thieves love to operate in this region.
Wherever you travel it’s always important to adhere to common sense and keep your belongings close. By taking some very simple precautions you can simply avoid being a target in the first place.
The majority of theft happens at train stations, bus stations, busy areas like markets, or abandoned parking lots. Take extra caution when you are in these areas.
Theft in Puglia
The most common crime and one that unfortunately affects many tourists who visit Puglia is theft. Pickpockets roam the major transportation hubs and other busy areas.
Always check your pockets and your bags after someone bumps into you! The most common way pickpockets steal your belongings is by ‘accidentally’ bumping into you. They’ll be apologetic and say they are sorry but they might already have your wallet. Check your pockets before you lose sight of them. Here’s a good article on avoiding pickpockets.
Restaurants and Beaches
Another area where thieves operate is in restaurants. Especially the ones where sitting is close to the pedestrian area. Be careful when putting bags on the backrest of your chair, or anywhere where it’s easily accessible. Thieves might snatch it up quickly and mingle in the crowd before you even notice it’s gone.
Beaches are one more area where you must take extra caution. We recommend that you don’t leave your things unattended at all. We understand, if you travel as a couple this means no swimming together, but if you are both in the water, then your things are prime targets.
Theft from cars
Finally, car theft is a very prevalent thing in this region. Both the actual stealing of a car and stealing your belongings from the car. Whenever you rent we suggest you go for the highest insurance. Stealing cars is common in this region because they can put the cars onto a boat that’s heading to Albania before you even notice it’s gone.
Of course, as theft is mainly targeting tourists it’s less prevalent in the off-season travel months. The pickpockets and thieves are still there but in fewer numbers and they pose less of a threat.
Violent crimes in Puglia
Now we’ve scared you good but luckily the situation is not actually that bad. Especially when it comes to anything other than theft.
Violent crimes for example are not really a threat to tourists. Walking the streets of the bigger towns feels very safe.
Nighttime is the only time of the day when violent crimes can happen but even then it’s not something common. Avoiding abandoned and poorly lit areas is usually a good way to keep safe.
Is there a mafia in Puglia?
Yes, there is a local mafia in Puglia. However, they are not very interested in tourists. The mafia doesn’t operate with petty crimes so they are a non-issue for travelers.
Plus as it is in a lot of Italian regions, the mafia actually owns plenty of establishments that get money from tourists. So it’s in their interest to keep the tourists happy and coming to Puglia.
Staying safe when visiting Puglia
All right, now we’ve highlighted the types of crimes you can expect in Puglia, now it’s time to give you some tips for staying safe. Remember, even though crimes can happen it’s not really worse than other big tourist hubs. Pickpockets are everywhere from Barcelona to Rome and here it’s no different.
We still consider Puglia a safe place to visit especially if you keep our safety tips in mind.
Puglia Safety Tips
- Always keep your wallet and phone on you
- Okay, this might go without saying, but you must always keep your wallet (with your cards and IDs) and your phone on you. Preferably in a hard-to-access pocket. Never leave your phone in your back pocket. It will almost always be snatched at a busy area.
- Avoid poorly lit and abandoned places at night
- Even though violent crimes are very rare you should still avoid poorly lit places at night.
- Avoid parking on the side of the road in the countryside
- Try to always find a parking lot for your car. Parking on the side of the road, especially on a small road with limited traffic is very dangerous. Your car will most likely be broken into and if you have anything in there they’ll take it.
- Don’t leave anything of value in the car
- This goes along with our previous tip: simply don’t leave anything valuable in your car. This goes for backpacks and bags full of clothes as well. It might not have any value inside but a thief will still take it from the car because they don’t know if you have an iPad or some money hidden in there. It’s super annoying to be left without clothes in a different country.
- Use paid parking lots
- One of the best ways to combat car theft is to leave the car in paid parking lots. They only work though if they are guarded either by a person or by cameras.
- Get insured
- The best way to keep you from having headaches is to get insurance. Even if your belongings are stolen, good travel insurance will surely ease the pain
How to report a crime in Puglia?
Are you an unfortunate victim of a crime in Puglia? Here’s what to do.
First of all, try to stay calm. It might sound bad, but what’s done is done, and now you need to keep your composure to handle the situation well. So, deep breaths, and call the police. Hopefully, you still have your phone, but if you don’t then ask someone nearby. Italians are extremely helpful when it comes to travelers so someone will help you call the police.
The number to call is 112. This is the general helpline in Europe. You can call this in case of a medical emergency as well.
The operator that picks up won’t speak English so you’ll have to say that you would like to speak with an English operator, then you’ll be patched to someone who speaks English. This might take a minute or two.
Once you get hold of an English helpline operator state who you are and what happened to you. The police will ask where you are. This can be tricky especially if you are in the countryside. Try to google the road you are on, and take a look at nearby cities or maybe businesses nearby. Are you in front of a restaurant? Great say the name of the restaurant on the phone you’ll be easier to find.
After all this, the operator will get a police patrol to your location and you can file a report. It can take up to 20-30 minutes for them to arrive. Open up Google Translate on your phone because the policeman may or may not speak English. After they’ve taken your report they will tell you which police station you need to go to and when.
At the police station
Okay, now the police patrol has taken your details and advised you to go to the police. It’s time to make a proper crime report. It’s always important to do this as your insurance will be looking for this document. Also if your rental car was broken into then you’ll need to give this paper to the rental company.
When you arrive, the police will already have your report from the patrol car. Usually, they will give you a form that you need to fill out. Generally, you can fill this form in English but make sure to ask before you start filling it in English.
Sometimes there are policemen around who speak good English and in this scenario maybe they’ll help you fill out the form. They will talk the crime through with you and then make the report in Italian which is better for processing.
Verdict: Is it safe to visit Puglia?
Finally, let us reiterate the first few sentences of this article. Puglia is not inherently more dangerous to tourists than any other high-profile tourism hub. Pickpockets are unfortunately everywhere in the world.
The only extra care you must take is when renting a car. But if you stick to paid parking and don’t leave anything inside the car it’s not really an issue either.
We do believe that Puglia is a safe place to visit. There are countless travelers arriving in Bari and Brindisi each day and they usually leave with fond memories. Remember the safety precautions and you too can have a pleasant time in Puglia. Also, remember that good travel insurance is very useful.