Police forces in Italy
There are various police (polizia) forces in Italy, most of which are armed. All police come under the Ministry of the Interior, apart from the carabinieri, which come under the Ministry of Defense in certain matters.
Both carabinieri and ‘ordinary’ police are responsible for public order and security, and you can contact either to report a crime. Dial 112 (non-emergencies) or 113 (emergencies) for police assistance. You should report a theft to the carabinieri or the polizia di stato.
The carabinieri are a special branch of the army with similar functions to the police especially concerning criminal investigation. They deal with national and serious crime, including organised crime, and are Italy’s most efficient and professional police force (and the best-funded).
Carabinieri officers are distinguished by their dark blue uniforms with a red stripe down the side of the trousers and white shoulder belts. They also have splendid ceremonial uniforms with long cloaks and ‘Napoleonic’ hats. They’re housed in barracks (caserma) in all major towns and cities, drive navy blue cars and also employ helicopters, aircraft and speed boats.
State Police is a national police force with branches responsible for the security of main roads, the railway system and airports. Officers wear light blue trousers with a thin purple stripe and a dark blue jacket. They have stations (questura or a commissariati in smaller towns) in all main towns and cities, and drive light-blue cars with a white stripe and ‘Polizia’ written on the side. If you want to obtain a residence permit, you should go to the polizia.
The local or municipal police deal mainly with local traffic control and municipal administration. Officers wear white helmets and dress in black in winter and blue in summer, drive black and white cars or ride motorcycles. Some municipal police speak foreign languages, shown by a badge on their uniforms.
Guardia di Finanza
The guardia di finanza is responsible for regulating national and international financial dealings and combating fraud, counterfeiting, tax evasion and smuggling. They’re particularly active at border crossings, airports and ports.