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CRIME

The safety standard in the whole Miami area is rather high, particularly in tourist areas such as Miami Beach and Sunny Isles and in residential areas such as Aventura, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. The city is constantly monitored by the Police with many patrol cars and plain-clothes officers.

In case of road accidents, health emergencies or any other problem involving your personal saferty or your property, we suggest you immediately call:

the emergency number 911.

Unlike what generally happens in Italy, the Police arrive even in the case of minor road accidents.

Problems may arise during the night in the outskirts, particularly in Little Haiti and Little Havana, where a difficult situation still persists owing to juvenile violence, but in general few tourists choose to visit those neighborhoods.

The image of gunfights and spectacular police pursuits in Miami is a widely shared stereotype deriving from a successful TV series, but it has a little to do with reality.

CONSULATE GENERAL OF ITALY IN MIAMI

In case of need, contact the Consulate in Miami.

4000 Ponce de Leon Boulevard Suite 590
Coral Gables, FL 33146
tel. (305) 374-6322 - fax (305) 374-7945
E- mail [email protected]
Internet www.consmiami.esteri.it
Mobile: (305) 753 0532

ROAD SAFETY

If you rent a car, pay great attention when changing lanes and strictly comply with the speed limits. Only speeding 5 miles above the limit is tolerate. Both Europe driving licenses and the International driving licenses issued in Europe are valid. Tourist often benefit from a less strict enforcement of the road code, but you should not rely too heavily on this. The most serious traffic offences may even lead to an arrest: this applies to drunk in particular. Sometimes persons who are clearly under the influence of alcohol are stopped by the police (also plain-clothes officers, it happens quite frequently outside bars and clubs in Washington Av.) and amicably urged to take a taxi home to recover from their hangover. It's a bit drastic, but it works. Of course you need to go back the following day to get your car, but at least you avoid spending the night in jail.

Also complying with all stop signs (by stopping briefly) is important. All drivers must stop at signs and can proceed only after having checked that the road is free. The typical Italian approach (a glance and, if no other car is coming, off we go!) is not accepted at all. Even if you are driving in the middle of a desert at one o'clock at night, if you don't stop (at least for a moment) you run the risk of being fined.

One more thing European find puzzling is the presence of crossroads with no traffic lights and four stop signs on the four access roads. They are quite common, especially in the city. In general, in Europe the main road involves the right of way, and stops signs are located along the secondary road. An European at a crossroad with four stops signs never knows who has the right of way. Actually, simple courtesy rules apply: the first to come and stop is the first to drive away. In any case, be careful.

Another oddity is that cars waiting at red traffic light can turn right (sometimes this is prohibited, but there is a sign next to the traffic lights). In fact, the cars that are about to turn on the right must take the right lane (all roads have at least two lanes), stop, check whether they can proceed and turn. Consequently, if you are not planning to turn right, choosing one of the central lanes is advisable. Sometimes, if you stop in the right lane and the driver behind you is in a hurry, a couple of honks are inevitable. However, thanks to the lower speed and larger roads with more lanes, the driving style is more careful and relaxed. After you get used to it, going back to the Europe style is almost difficult.

Of course, driving on large roads including up to 4-8 lanes and being over-taken from every direction might be a bit difficult for Europeans. One should be very careful particularly when changing lanes. Overtaking on the right is always possible, btu thanks to the reduced speed one can move from one lane to the next one without causing accidents (but be careful, especially at the beginning).

One last driving hint: if you are following a School Bus and when it is about to stop you see stops signs projecting from the left side of the vehicle, the driver is not segnaling that the bus is stopping: it is you who has to stop! If you don't, you are not only risking a fine, but you might have to deal with the angry reaction of one of the children's parents. Watch out!

HEALTH

Health is another important issue. Before travelling to the USA, you should sign a temporary insurance contract. There are many excellent hospitals and emergency wards in Miami, but they are not free of cost.

You should also carry at least one credit card with you (although two be much better): credit cards are often considered identity cards. Hotels generally do not accept guests unless they have a credit card. At least one gold card would be beneficial in case of emergency (for example health emergency): the annual costs are a bit higher, but it may prove useful.

Needless to say, documents and credit cards should be kept in different places after your arrival. Keeping one of your credit cards and part of yours documents in the hotel safe may be a good idea in case of theft or loss.

If you lose you passport, contact your Consulate. Upon submission of your identity card, a copy of your passport will be issued (if you don't have your identity cart with you, it will take longer). Consequently, always keep your passport and identity card in different places. 

IDENTITY DOCUMENTS

With reference to identity documents, when you are in the States always carry your driving license with you. In general, the Italian identity card is not recognized as a valid ID. This might be a problem in banks, since two identity documents are generally required to carry out a transaction in case of unknow clients. In this case, if you have an international driving license (you can obtain it in Italy from any agency dealing with driving documents, it cost approximately 50 Euro), you will have more valid identity documents with you. 

TELEPHONE AND MOBILE PHONE CONNECTIONS

Before leaving for Miami buy at least a triband phone (quadriband would be better, since its provides better coverage in peripheral areas such as Key Isles). Italian mobile phones often experience connection problems, in addition to their rip-off rates for inter-continental calls and incoming calls). Check your rates and the promotional services supplied by all the operators. Before you leave, check the provider search and selection procedures in your mobile. In general Vodafone works (i.e. it works better and is less expensive) with the American Cingular provider, whereas TIM works better with T-Mobile. So you need to learn how to manually select the provider to which your mobile should be connected. This procedure needs to be repeated often. Depending on the region, or if you are in an elevator (lift), mobiles often loose their network. Pay attention to costs, since rates can be very expensive! I

If you think you'll constantly use your mobile phone, you may consider buying an American prepaid card which may be inserted into your mobile, or you may even buy an America phone (Sim car + mobile phone). You can buy one for slightly more than $50. You will always be connected (with the America number) and thanks to the rechargeable prepaid card controlling expenses will be easier.

To cut costs, Skype can be used with a laptop. Wireless networks and internet connections are supplied by almost all hotels and many public venues (e.g. Starbuck coffee-shops, that very easy to find in Miami).

AIRPLANE TICKETS, OVERBOOKING AND LUGGAGE

Remember to confirm the return flight a couple of days before leaving, especially in case of a long stay in Miami. Always start the check-in procedure in advance because of both the security checks and to reduce the overbooking risk. What does overbooking mean? It is a procedure sometimes implemented by airlines to fill all their flights. How does it works? The airline sells more tickets than the places available on the airplane, so that it can be sure that the plane is full. Overbooking is possible, particularly during the high season, when the demand for return flights is stronger. In case of overbooking, in addition to going nuts, travelers have two options: post-pone their flight back or demand another flight, even with a different airline, to reach their destination. Airport stewards may even offer money as compensation for expenses if travelers cannot board. The decision is up to you. Experience is useful. When you arrive in Italy immediately contact the consumers' protection agency, do not wait even for a day. Article 2951 of the Italian Civil Code states that the rights deriving from the passenger transport contract expire after one year. This means that you have twelve months time to ask for additional compensation for damage. In addition, keep all the original documents relating to your travel contract: many lawsuits were lost because passengers had only kept photocopies of those documents.

Another possible problem derive from lost luggage. This is a risk you run when flying. No airline can be 100% sure that this inconvenient circumstance can be prevented. In general, lost luggage is delivered within a few days. To reduce inconveniences, keep a survival kit sufficient for a couple of days in your hand baggage. And of course also keep your valuables with you. Additional protection of your luggage is provided by wrapping it in a plastic film (costs vary depending on the airport), this also provides an additional insurance coverage in case of theft or loss.

 

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