With Dr Felicity Nicholson
Aside from the risks posed by exposure to the sun (both in summer and winter), and the nuisance of mosquitoes, health issues in Abruzzo are no different from those in other westernised countries.
In most cases, EU citizens with an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) are entitled to free care in Italy from the SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, the national health system). Non-EU visitors will be expected to pay. Once you obtain an Italian residence permit, you are eligible to apply for the national health insurance.
There will be a hospital or clinic in every town of any size, and the staff in pharmacies are trained to assist with most minor problems. If one is closed when you need it, look for the card in the window with the schedule of the farmacia di turno (the closest one open).
Emergency numbers are the same throughout Italy.
Travel clinics and health information
A full list of current travel clinic websites worldwide is available on ISTM. For other journey preparation information, consult Travel Health Pro (UK) or CDC (US). Information about various medications may be found on Net Doctor. All advice found online should be used in conjunction with expert advice received prior to or during travel.
Whilst Abruzzo, as with most of Italy, is generally a safe place to travel, a sensible level of awareness is advised. This is particularly true in Pescara, where you should keep an eye on your belongings, especially in and around the station.
Women travelling alone or in small groups should not encounter any particular problems in Abruzzo, especially in the countryside. If possible, try to avoid arriving or leaving the stations of Pescara, Chieti, Teramo and L’Aquila too late at night. There have been problems and complaints in the past of things such as bag snatching, harassment, etc, though no more or less than in any other cities of similar size throughout Europe.
The beaches of coastal Abruzzo are generally a safe place for lone women to be. This is also true of the nightlife in and around the stabilimenti, which are often patrolled.
Attitudes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are consistent with those of the rest of Italy outside the bigger cities. A normal amount of discretion is advised. You are unlikely to be harassed in the provincial capitals, though the residents of country towns are likely to display a mixture of confusion and animosity, especially teenagers and the elderly. However, hotel workers are unlikely to question a gay or lesbian couple requesting a double room.
Pescara used to have its own gay nightclub, bar and sauna, but, following a recent spate of homophobic attacks on cars parked around the venue, this has since closed. There is a section of beach in the area of Scerne di Pineto which is frequented by many gay and lesbian people, especially on Sundays.
Despite some recent concerns, attitudes in Italy are slowly relaxing with a growing awareness of the issue of discrimination towards LGBT men and women which is discussed in both the media and politics. However, drastic change is unlikely to take place, given the pressures and influences of the Vatican City, a short distance (physically and metaphorically) from the central government in Rome.