with Dr Felicity Nicholson
In most cases, EU citizens with an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) are entitled to free care in Italy from the national health system, the SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale). Non-EU citizens should take out travel insurance. There will be a hospital, clinic or health unit (Azienda Sanitaria) with a Pronto Soccorso (casualty/first-aid department) in every town of any size. Pharmacy staff are trained to assist with minor problems. If a pharmacy 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) or call 1100 for the details of the three nearest pharmacies. Most doctors and pharmacists speak rudimentary English.
Friuli Venezia Giulia has a very low crime rate, but it’s always best to take the same precautions you take elsewhere, and not leave temptations visible in the car. Scooter-borne purse-snatchers can be foiled if you stay on the inside of the pavement and keep a firm hold on your property (sling your bag-strap across your body, not dangling from one shoulder).
Women travelling alone should not encounter any particular problems. If possible, try to avoid arriving or leaving big city stations late at night. There have been complaints of harassment, though no more or less than in any other European city.
For LGBTQ+ travellers, a certain amount of discretion may be called for in country towns as you may encounter confusion and animosity, especially among teenagers and the elderly. Arcigay Trieste Gorizia and Arcigay Friuli are local branches of a national organisation for the LGBTQ+ community, with local news and events. Also see www.guidagay.it for gay-friendly hotels in Italy.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is working on making the region one of the most accessible for all, although wheelchair users may well have difficulties in steep Alpine villages. Most hotels have at least one room designed for wheelchair travellers; public toilets and most restaurant toilets are accessible. Trenitalia provides free assistance to wheelchair users with 24 hours’ notice. Big city stations (Trieste, Venice, Mestre) have a Sala Blu for travellers with disabilities where journeys can be arranged; assistance is also available at Cervignano-Aquileia-Grado, Gorizia, Latisana, Monfalcone, Pordenone, Sacile, Trieste Airport and Udine, all of which can booked 24 hours in advance.