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Before You Go
- The free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers EU citizens and those from Switzerland, Norway and Iceland for most medical care in public hospitals free of charge.
- The EHIC does not cover emergency repatriation home or nonemergencies. It is available from health centres and, in the UK, online (www.ehic.org.uk) and from post offices.
- Citizens from other countries should check whether there's a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Italy – Australia, for instance, has such an agreement; carry your Medicare card.
- Additional health insurance should cover the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home.
- Check in advance whether your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
No jabs are required to travel to Italy. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B.
Availability & Cost of Health Care
Pharmacists can give you valuable advice and sell over-the-counter medication for minor illnesses. They can also advise you when more specialised help is required and point you in the right direction.
Pharmacies generally keep the same hours as other shops, closing at night and on Sundays. However, in big cities a handful remain open on a rotation basis (farmacie di turno) for emergency purposes. Check the door of any pharmacy closed for business – it will display a list of the nearest emergency pharmacies.
If you need an ambulance, call 118. For emergency treatment, head straight to the pronto soccorso (casualty) section of a public hospital, where you can also get emergency dental treatment.
Despite the Tuscan enthusiasm for consuming bottled mineral water with meals, tap water in the region is perfectly drinkable.