Italy's delicious cuisine, romantic atmosphere and rich culture make it an extremely attractive holiday destination, with thousands of Brits flocking enjoying the country's favourable climate each year. As with any other overseas destination, it is important that travellers ensure they have the best experience they possibly can by taking the appropriate precautions to put their mind at rest before they jet off.
In anticipation of spending a few weeks soaking up the Mediterranean sun, Brits should acquire the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which has replaced the old E-100, E-111, E-119 and E-128 paper forms in EU countries which provide medical services for tourists. Local health authorities in the UK will provide tourists with the card before they depart.
The EHIC is widely available, and invaluable if you're unlucky enough to be struck down with an illness when in Italy. Feeling under the weather is not fun at the best of times, but it can seem all the worse when you're away from home comforts. It is good to know, therefore, that with this card, tourists are entitled to receive the same treatment as those living in the country. What's more, this is not limited to urgent care, but means that annoying minor afflictions can also be dealt with promptly. In order to access these services, Europeans should visit a doctor, a public health centre or a physician operating within the Italian national health service, known as the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN).
While the EHIC is sufficient for most medical problems, taking additional precautions can be crucial for your peace of mind. Travel insurance from Staysure, for example, covers some 220 pre-existing medical conditions free of charge, allowing for up to £10 million in medical expenses and repatriation cover. Lots of insurance providers also cover rescue in non-medical circumstances, including luggage cover. Many packages can be tailored for specific types of holiday. Optional upgrades, such as with some cruise cover plans, allow holidaymakers to tailor their insurance to their trip. For example, someone who is considering playing a spot of golf should opt for golf cover, and those flying with friends and family to celebrate nuptials abroad can easily find wedding cover for their big day.
In addition to possession of travel insurance and an EHIC, it is in the interest of holidaymakers to know a bit about their destination and where they should go in an emergency. To find a doctor covered by the SSN, pay a visit to the local health service of whichever city you are staying in. The address of the local health authority will be found under ASL or USL in the telephone directory of city. In a medical crisis, call 118 - the national number for health emergencies.
Travellers in Rome faced with a medical problem can visit the Guardia Turistica - an emergency health clinic just for tourists that provides multilingual assistance. This is located at the Nuova Regina Margherita Hospital in Trastevere - close by the Vatican.
Florence, on the other hand, offers a 24-hour medical service with English, German and French speaking physicians on call located at 59 Via Lorenzo il Magnifico. In an emergency, patients can head to the Hospitals Policlinico di Careggi, which is at 85 Viale Morgagni.
If you have taken the trip during the peak summer months, then there is often a convenient service set up in tourist areas called the Doctor on Duty Ambulance Service for Tourists. To find out whether such a service is operating, travellers should call the local health service in the city they will be staying. Alternatively, people with non-urgent enquiries could head to a nearby chemist.