Despite its Mafia notoriety, Campania is relatively safe, and the average tourist will only have a brush with the law if robbed by a bag snatcher or pickpocket.

Drugs & Alcohol

Possession of any controlled substances, including cannabis or marijuana, can get you into hot water. Those caught in possession of 5g of cannabis can be considered traffickers and prosecuted as such. The same applies to tiny amounts of other drugs. Those caught with amounts below this threshold can be subject to minor penalties.

The legal limit for blood-alcohol levels is 0.05% and random breath tests do occur.

Italian Police Organisations

Polizia statale (state police) Theft, visa extensions and permits.

Carabinieri (military police) General crime, public order and drug-law enforcement (often overlapping with the polizia statale).

Vigili urbani (local traffic police) Parking tickets, towed cars.

Guardia di finanza Tax evasion, drug smuggling.

Guardia forestale (aka Corpo forestale) Environmental protection.


If you run into trouble in Italy, you're likely to end up dealing with the polizia statale (state police) or the carabinieri (military police). The former wear powder-blue trousers with a fuchsia stripe and a navy-blue jacket; the latter wear black uniforms with a red stripe and drive dark-blue cars with a red stripe.

Your Rights

  • If you're detained, your arresting officers should give you verbal and written notice of the charges laid against you within 24 hours.
  • You have the right to an interpreter if you do not speak Italian.
  • You have no right to a phone call upon arrest, though you do have the right to have your relatives and consular authorities informed.
  • The prosecutor must apply to a magistrate for you to be held in preventative custody awaiting trial (depending on the seriousness of the offence) within 48 hours of your arrest.
  • You have the right not to respond to questions without the presence of a lawyer.
  • If the magistrate orders preventative custody, you have the right to contest this within 10 days.