Carrying your passport with you around Europe poses a few risks, which may not be worth facing if you're just sightseeing near your hotel for the day. For example, carrying your passport everywhere with you increases the odds of losing it or having it stolen. However, few things dampen a fun day of sightseeing quite like leaving your passport at your hotel only to find later that you need it. Knowing when to carry your passport and when to secure it in a hotel safe is key to a smooth trip.
Locking Your Passport Away
The U.S. Department of State recommends that you keep your passport and other valuables locked in a hotel safe whenever possible. This diminishes chances of your passport being stolen while you're sightseeing. Most of the time, you won't need it anyway. However, you should always carry some form of I.D. with you, which you may need when purchasing tickets or entering some sights.
Italy's Passport Policies
Italy requires you to carry official I.D. with you, and a driver's license from another country doesn't count. This means that, in Italy, even though you're unlikely to be checked, you must have your passport with you at all times. Your hotel may hold your passport to register you with the police upon arrival, so be prepared to part with it while you get settled into your hotel.
When You Need It
Sometimes having your passport is a necessity. Whenever you travel from one European country to another, whether by plane, train or automobile, keep your passport with you to cross the border. You also need your passport when renting a car in Europe, in addition to a full driver's license from your home country. If you need I.D. for other things, such as confirming tickets for pick-up, your passport is a valid option, and being under 26 years of age can even earn you discounts at some sights. If you're traveling a great distance from your hotel for the day, it's smart to keep your passport with you in case you get stuck somewhere overnight.
If your main form of I.D. is your passport, conceal it within inside pockets to prevent it from being stolen. For example, avoid stashing your passport in a fanny pack or backpack that would be easy for pickpockets to access. An ideal spot for your passport is in a pouch under your clothes; you can even purchase a money belt in which to hide your passport out of public sight. You should also keep your passport in its own location on your person, separate from other valuables, so that you don't lose everything at once if you forget something or become a target of pickpocketing.