Rome is generally a safe place, even for women travelling alone. However, there have been rape cases around Termini station, so be careful (especially at night time). There is very little violent crime, but plenty of scams and pickpocketing that target tourists. As in any other big city, it is better if you don't look like a tourist: don't exhibit your camera or camcorder to all and sundry, and keep your money in a safe place. Consciousness and vigilance are your best insurances for avoiding becoming a victim of a crime in Rome. Remember, if you are pickpocketed or victim of another scam, don't be afraid to shout, "Aiuto, al ladro!" (Help, Thief!) Romans will not be nice to the thief.
Members of the Italian public are likely to be sympathetic if you are a crime victim. Police are also generally friendly if not always helpful. Carabinieri (black uniform, red striped trousers) are military police while the Polizia (blue and grey uniform) are civilians, but they both do essentially the same thing and are equally good, or bad. If you are robbed, try to find a police station ("commissariato") and report it. This is essential to establishing a secure insurance claim and to replace documents: the chances of it resulting in the return of your possessions are, however, fairly remote.
Rome is home to two rivals Serie A football clubs - A.S. Roma and S.S. Lazio; there's a long history of conflict, and even rioting, between the two. Never wear anything that shows that you support either of them during the Derby (when the two clubs play each other): avoid even wandering into groups of supporters of the other club, or you may be subject to heckling or even confrontation. Play it safe and refrain from openly supporting either club unless you are very familiar with the rivalry. If you are a fan of a foreign team that is playing in Rome, be careful as a number of supporters have been stabbed over the past few years. A.S. Roma's colours are yellow and red (more precisely, orange and garnet-coloured, the same you can see on the city's flag); S.S. Lazio's livery is composed by white and light blue (azure). Other tee-shirts not appreciated: Juventus (black and white vertical stripes), Milan (red and black), Inter (blue and black) - but they are twins with Lazio - and Napoli (light blue). However, don't take these tips too seriously: it is extremely unlikely that you'll ever get in any trouble whatsoever just for wearing other teams' tee-shirts (especially in the central areas).
Since Rome is incredibly popular as a tourist destination, a great deal of pickpocketing and/or bag or purse snatching takes place - especially in crowded locations - and pickpocketers can get pretty crafty. A 2010 study found that Rome was second only to Barcelona for pickpocketing of tourists.
As a rule, you should pretty much never carry anything very valuable in any outside pocket - the back pocket of your trousers is one of the easiest and most common targets. Keeping your wallet in your front pocket or in your bag is far from safe; you should consider using a money belt and carry only the cash for the day in your pocket.
Also, beware of thieves — they will use the old trick of one person trying to distract you (asking for a cigarette or doing a strange dance) while another thief picks your pockets from behind. Bands of kids will sometimes crowd you and reach for your pockets under the cover of newspapers or cardboard sheets. It is generally a good idea to be extremely wary of any strange person who gets too close to you, even in a crowd. If someone is in your personal space, shove the person away. As one frequent traveler put it, "Don't be afraid to be a dick in Rome." It is better to be rude than to be stolen from.
Termini (the main railway station), bus line # 64, the central stops of the Metro and Trevi fountain are well-known for pickpockets, so take extra care in these areas.
Remember that hotel rooms are not safe places for valuables; if your room has no safe, give your valuables to the hotel staff for safekeeping. Even if they do have a safe, hotels will usually warn you that they have no liability (unless you put your items in the hotel's safe). This is not true, as it is against the Italian normative on hotel responsibilities.
Be aware of the danger and take the usual precautions and you should be all right. You don't need to be paranoid, just keep your eyes open and use your common sense!
Read up on the legends concerning tourist scams: most of them occur regularly in the city centre and you will want to see them coming.
One of the recent scams is when you get out of the airport and look for the airport shuttle to Termini Station. One of the three service providers (Schiaffini since previous reports), will sell you a ticket and hurry you to the bus, saying that the bus will depart anytime. Being worried and hurried, you forget to receive your change, and since this must be paid in cash, it will be very hard to show that no change was given. Also, it was witnessed that they don't give change and want exact change sometimes, since most people don't care about one or two euros, some will let this slip, and take the bus anyways. Beware, you're entitled to your change no matter if it's one cent or two euros.
A particular scam is when some plainclothes police will approach you, asking to look for "drug money," or ask to see your passport. This obviously is a scam to take your money. You can scare them by asking for their ID: the Guardia di Finanza (whose personnel wears grey uniforms) are the ones doing customs checks.
Another recent scam involves men working near the Spanish Steps, around piazza Navona and outside the Colosseum. They approach you, asking where you are from, and begin to tie bracelets around your wrists. When they are done they will try to charge you upwards of €20 for each bracelet. If anyone makes any attempt to reach for your hand, retract quickly. If you get trapped, you can refuse to pay, but this may not be wise if there are not many people around. Carry small bills or just change, in your wallet, so if you find yourself in cornered to pay for the bracelet, you can convince them that €1 is all you have.
When taking a taxi, be sure to remember licence number written on the car door. In seconds, people have had a taxi bill risen by €10 or even more. When giving money to taxi driver, be careful.
Around tourist sites like the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and the Spanish Steps there are groups mostly of men trying to sell cheap souvenirs. They may also carry roses and say they are giving you a gift because they like you but the minute you take their "gift" they demand money. They are often very insistent and often the only way to get rid of them is to be plain rude. Do the best you can to not take their "gifts" as they will follow you around asking for money. Simply saying: "No!" or: "Go away!" will get them off your back until the next vendor comes up to you. Also, be aware of the toys being sold by these vendors. One such item is a squishy ball which flattens when thrown onto the ground; they cost around €1. Once bought, they last a mere quarter hour before bursting - if you get one and are not careful you could end up ruining your luggage.
Occasionally, people may stand outside churches to charge an 'admission fee,' (€1-2) blocking the entrance unless they are paid. No churches in Rome charge a fee to enter - simply ignore them.
Be wary of places where you can exchange currency. Read ALL signs before changing money. Often times places set up just for currency exchange will add as much as a 20% service fee on all money being traded. The shops near the Vatican have especially high service fees, whereas places near the Trevi Fountain will be more reasonable. The best bet is to change enough money before you leave your home country. There are few places around the city that are under the table and are just interested in American money. These places charge no service fee. Or simply go to a bank.
Be careful of con-men who may approach you at tourist sights. The best advice to avoid scams is to get way from anyone that you have never seen before who starts talking to you. For example, a man could approach you asking for directions to a bar, strike a convincing conversation and invite you for a drink at that bar. He would then take you there with some (call) girls, offer you a drink (for which he doesn't mind paying); a (call) girl will approach you and make you agree to pay for a champagne for her. Eventually, you'll end up being asked to pay hundreds of euros for that bottle of champagne when billed.
A car may pull up next to you, and the driver asks you for directions to, say, the Vatican. He will strike up a conversation with you while he sits in his car and tell you he is a sales representative for a large French (or Italian or whatever) fashion house. He will then tell that you he likes you and he would like to give you a gift of a coat worth several thousand euros. As you reach inside his car to take the bag the coat is in, he will ask you for €200 for gas, as his car is nearly empty.
The former province of Rome is now covered by the new emergency number, 112, which works pretty much like 911. Carry the address of your embassy or consulate.
On anything else you may need for your Roman holiday, you can contact the official helpline of the Italian Ministry of Tourism: +39 039 039. 09:00-22:00 daily, in seven languages.