How to get English-speaking medical treatment in Rome

Romans take their health very seriously and there is a host of world-class medical treatment available in the city, from life-saving intervention to simple advice. While residents are usually cared for within Italy’s national and regional public health service (ASL), below is a guide to the services available to visitors, especially English-speaking medical services that work with travel insurance companies.

Table of Contents

How to get emergency medical treatment in Rome

For any serious medical emergency, either call an ambulance on 118 (or the general emergency number 112 to guarantee an English-speaking operator), or if you or the patient is mobile, go to the Pronto Soccorso of your nearest public hospital (the equivalent of the ER in the US, or A&E in the UK).

Rome is very well served by hospitals so you will never be too far from one. Just asking a member of the public for the pronto soccorso will usually get you directed correctly to a suitable place within minutes.

Note that Italian emergency treatment operates a strict triage system, and therefore depending on the severity of your problem your wait at the ER may be several hours long – e.g. for a broken bone – though of course if it’s very severe you will be seen to without delay – e.g. a heart attack. Attending a private hospital will not help to reduce your wait, alas, as they rarely have pronto soccorso facilities and will likely send you to the nearest public hospital anyway.

Important: for emergency treatment in Italy you do not need medical insurance and will not be charged (unless you attend for trivial or time-wasting reasons). You may however be charged for follow-up treatments.

If for any reason you need to buy any orthopedic equipment (e.g. crutches, slings), you will need to go to a negozio ortopedici sanitari. Like pharmacies, these tend to be small independent stores. Ask your healthcare provider for a recommendation.

How to get urgent medical advice in Rome

The following numbers are for urgent but non-emergency advice. They are specifically for tourists, and operate 24/7. They correspond to the public walk-in clinics listed below.

Trastevere: +39-06 7730 6650
Historic center: +39-06 7730 6112/3

How to get an important prescription refilled urgently

A few things to know first:

  • The pharmaceutical system in Italy is heavily regulated. Drugs that you may be able to buy over the counter in your home country may be prescription-only in Italy, but also vice-versa. 
  • Many drugs are available in Italy under a different name from what you may be used to – so find the active ingredient and ask for the generic type*.
  • Some medicines – such as Ritalin – are simply not legal in Italy, so if you have a drug on which you rely, ensure you bring enough to cover your entire stay. 
  • When packing, you should never, ever, pack crucial medicines in your check-in baggage! Bring them in your hand luggage, with receipt or prescription in case you get questioned at customs. 

If for whatever reason you need a scrip refilled, your first port of call should be a pharmacy (farmacia – farm-ah-CHI-ah). There are many of these all over the city, identified with a green cross. (Not useful for this purpose is the similar parafarmacia which can’t dispense prescription medicine.)

You may find that your prescription-only medicine from home is over-the-counter in Italy and you can buy it immediately.

If you do need a prescription, many pharmacists will bend the rules a little if you can show a scrip from your home country – another reason to pack your prescriptions with your medicine.

But if the drug you need is only available on prescription in Italy and the pharmacist won’t issue it without a scrip, call either of the urgent tourist healthcare lines listed above to as for a doctor to write a new one, or get in touch with FirstMed, which will perform this service for a small fee. 

For more information see Pharmacies below.

*Pharma hack: since the Italian pharmacist might not know your country’s brand name for a product, instead aim for a generic type. Find the active ingredient of the medicine you need. Put that name into Wikipedia, then choose the Italian language version of the article. This will give you the generic name of the drug you need. E.g. Robitussin is the trade name of a syrup that the label will tell you contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan. Searching for dextromethorphan in Wikipedia will produce the English-language article. By clicking the ‘Languages’ button and choosing ‘Italiano’, Wikipedia will show you the Italian name for the active drug, Destrometorfano. Take that translation into the pharmacy.

How to get non-urgent medical treatment in Rome

Private health consultation in Rome

If you would like private treatment in Rome in a doctor’s office with English-speaking staff, consider one of the following, which can provide primary care (GP), prescriptions, and referrals to English-speaking specialists:

Via Morgagni 30
Tel: +39-06-4006 1402

Website >

Viale delle Mura Gianicolensi 67
Tel: +39-375 572 4686

Website >

Aventino Medical Group
Via Sant’Alberto Magno, 5
Tel: +39-06 578 0738

Website >

Doctors in Italy
Via Frattina 48
Tel: +39-06-6790695

Website >

Public health consultation in Rome

If you need to see a doctor but it is not urgent, consider one of Rome’s two public walk-in clinics for tourists:

Ospedale Nuovo Regina Margherita
Via Emilio Morosini, 30
Tel: +39-06 77306650

Centro storico (near Piazza del Popolo):
Poliambulatorio Canova
Via Antonio Canova, 19
Tel: +39-06 77306112/3

Additionally the British government maintains a list of English-speaking medical centers in Rome.

Private doctor call-outs in Rome

If you would like a private consultation in your hotel room or apartment, there are several services with English-speaking doctors available One is Doctors in Italy above, which has a booking service on its website.

MedInAction also offers a similar call-out service.

Remote health consultations in Rome

If you’re just looking for advice, you can call the Guardia Medica on 06 570 600. Operators should speak English, or may be able to find someone who does. Failing that try one of the the Guardia Medica Turistica numbers:

Trastevere: +39-06 77306650
Historic center: +39-06 77306112/3

Alternatively, Doctors in Italy offers private phone consultations, or video consultations via laptop or cellphone. Book on their website.

Pharmacies in Rome

Rome has many dispensing pharmacies, usually small independent businesses rather than chain stores. They are recognisable by the green cross sign, sometimes illuminated in neon, many of which are open late at night, and some of which are open 24 hours per day (staffed, but operating through a “drop box” hatch on the external wall).

Most pharmacists in Rome speak very good English.

Locals’ tip: if you arrive at a pharmacy after it has closed, there will always be a printed list of late-night and 24-hour pharmacies posted outside.

Getting prescription drugs in Rome

To buy many medicines in Rome you will need a prescription. A prescription can be obtained from any of the medical services listed above.

However many individual pharmacists are able to be a little more flexible than their counterparts in other European countries, and if you can produce a prescription from your home country, or sometimes even the box that the drugs came in to prove you were issued them before, sometimes they are able to issue the medicine anyway.

Covid-19 tests at pharmacies in Rome

Many pharmacies in Rome have a white pop-up tent outside. These offer a rapid flow Covid-19 test for approximately €30, with results available within an hour.

Getting a Covid-19 test in Rome

For details on how to get an antigen, rapid flow, or PCR test in Rome, and how to get an English-language certificate, please see our article on how to get a Covid-19 test in Rome >

Now make sure you don’t miss out: plan your visit in advance:

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Photo credit: AFP

Tickets in advance!

Because of ticket supply problems following the end of Covid restrictions, it is strongly advised that you buy tickets and tours in advance to visit attractions in Rome.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment.