The ward climate or atmosphere refers to its material, emotional and social conditions. A good ward climate in psychiatric settings can influence the mood, behaviour and self-concept of patients and staff members and improve patient outcomes. Many studies have examined the relationship between ward climate and aggression, but only a few have investigated the effect of a ward’s environment, rules and activities. This multicentric observational study aimed to assess the relationship between the rules/activities and the climate of four acute psychiatric units of Northern Italy. The Essen Climate Evaluation Scheme (EssenCES) questionnaire, which was administered to patients and staff, was used to evaluate the different dimensions of ward atmosphere. There was a good response rate (79%) in patients and staff members who completed the questionnaire (114 patients and 109 staff). Safety perception appeared to be quite different in patients and staff. The patients who were authorized to have more visiting hours and more time to use their mobile phone had higher scores on Experienced Safety subscale. A negative correlation between the Therapeutic Hold and Experienced Safety subscales was found in the staff members, and this was due to their negative perception. The ward climate seemed to be affected by the unit’s rules, especially with respect to visits and the smartphones use. Nurses need to be aware of the importance of ward climate and how their own perception may differ from and that of patients: this gap could lead to decisions detached from the patients’ needs.