Living in Italy
Italy, as you know, is all about relaxation and taking time out to enjoy the simple things in life, the warm weather, the wonderful scenery and enjoying the Mediterranean Diet of tomatoes, cheese, vegetables and olive oil together with great Italian wine. Put this together with an elegant Italian Villa and you have the perfect holiday!
What documents are required to enter Italy?
European Citizens whose country is under the authority of the Schengen Treaty may enter Italy with nothing more than a valid identity card or passport. Citizens from all other countries must show their passport on the border; where a visa is required, this must also be presented to the border authorities and must indicate the length of the holder's stay and his or her destination. Visa applications - specifying the reason for the trip - must be made to the Italian Consulate in the applicant's country of residence, and are generally issued 90 days after the application was been made.
Once visitors arrive in Italy, those who will not be staying in a hotel or similar accommodation facility must register with the local police headquarters within 8 days of their arrival in the country. Visitors staying in hotels or other tourist accommodation facilities will automatically be registered upon reception there.
Are their any restrictions on goods that may be brought into the country?
There are no limits to what may be bought or carried on trips within the European Union, provided such purchases are for the traveller's own personal use.
What currency is used in Italy?
Since 2001, the currency used in Italy is the euro.
One euro is divided up into 100 euro-cents.
There are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros).
As well as in cash, purchases can be paid for using the most common credit cards. This payment system is common in Italian shops, which generally display the symbols of the credit cards they accept on the outside door. If you pay by credit card you will be asked to show an identity document.
Travellers cheques (in USD or Euros) can also be cashed in Italian banks.
Banks in Italy are open Monday through Friday from 8:35 a.m. to 1:35 p.m. and from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.; in many tourist areas they are open no-stop from 8.30 a.m. to 4p.m. and closed all day on Saturday and Sunday and on national holidays. The afternoon one hour opening may vary from city to city. Travelers checks can be exchanged for Italian currency at most hotels and shops and at the foreign exchange offices in main railway stations and at the airports.
The monetary currency is the Euro which is divided as follows: bills of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500; coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 Euros, 20 and 50 cents.
How to Get Euro
Once in Italy, how do I convert my dollars in euros?
Tourists reaching Italy without foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM machines, or exchange office (Ufficio di Cambio) at airports, seaports and railway stations in the main cities.
It is advisable to keep receipts of currency exchanged in case it be necessary to reconvert euros back into dollars before leaving the country.
Are there ATMs in Italy? Will I need to know Italian to use the ATMs?
Yes. The ATM (Automatic Teller Machines) in Italy are known as Bancomat. There are many to be found in the large cities and even in small towns. The machines operate just as they do here; at the beginning of the transaction, it prompts the user for the preferred language.
Using a credit card, or even better, a debit card or your local bank ATM card is very easy. One must first locate either the Cirrus or BankMate symbol (on the Bancomat and on your card) to insure the card is usable on that particular unit. Cirrus and BankMate are the two most popular and widespread banking systems in the world so they are the best to have. If you are unsure about the compatibility or the banking systems, contact your credit card company or local bank.
After discovering the system is compatible, simply withdrawal money as you would at home. Of course, in Italy the money will be dispensed as Euros, but when you return home, your bank will have converted the Euros into dollars using the most beneficial exchange rate possible. Be careful though when using credit cards, as many banks are now charging large fees of 2.5% to 4% for cash advances which negate any advantage of using the Bancomat in the first place. One's best bet is to use your regular ATM card and simply withdraw money from your account just as you would do at your local bank.
Maybe. Crowded tourist sites all over the world are at pickpocket and gipsy risk and Italy is no exception. One should always be on alert for these petty thieves, but a good offence is the best defence. Keep your money hidden preferably in an inside pocket or money belt.
Tips are not compulsory and in Italy there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.
Italian is the official language of the country, although accents and dialects may vary widely from one region to another. A large number of local dialects are spoken in Italy.
There are two regions, however, which have a second official language: the Aosta Valley, where French is also spoken, and Trentino Alto Adige, where German is also spoken. In these regions, road signs, as well as place names, for example, appear in both languages. There are also a number of small areas in which languages other than Italian are used, although these languages do not have official status: in Friuli-Venezia Giulia there is a Slovenian-speaking area, and in Calabria (in the Bovesìa area) and in Apulia (in the Grecia Salentina zone), Greek is spoken in some areas. In Sicily, in Piana degli Albanesi, you will find the largest Albanian community in Italy, where the Albanian language is widely used, even in official documents and on road signs.
The Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Most of the population is Catholic; there are also, however, a large number of minority religious communities, some of them of Christian or Catholic inspiration, such as the Apostolic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), the Waldensian Evangelical Church and the Holy Orthodox Archdiocese, as well as Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist communities.
Making calls to and from Italy
To call an Italian telephone number from outside Italy, either from a landline or a mobile phone, you will need to add the international dialling code for Italy, which is 0039 (+39), followed by the telephone number you require.
To call another country from Italy, you will need to add the international dialing code for the country you are calling, followed by the telephone number you require.
To make calls within Italy, dial the number you require without adding the international country dialling code.
To make calls from public telephones (which you can find on the street, in some bars, restaurants, etc and in shopping centres), you may use coins or phone cards, which can be purchased from tobacconists, news kiosks and telephone shops.
Mobile phone reception in Italy is based on GSM technology, which is not compatible with that of a number of countries (including the USA and Japan), unless you have a three-band mobile phone.
Before travelling to Italy you should contact your telephone services provider to activate the international roaming service (if it is not already activated automatically).
Making international calls from a mobile phone may be very expensive, and it is often advisable to purchase a phone card to call home from a public telephone.
Using internet and consulting email
There are numerous internet points and cafès offering internet access. In many hotels (especially higher-category ones) a direct internet connection is provided in the rooms. In addition, in Italy you will find Wi-Fi access available in many airports, hotels, train stations and other public places where travellers pass through or stop off.
What time is it in Italy?
Italy is in the Central European Time (CET) Zone, 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and observes Daylight Saving Time: at the beginning of spring the clocks go forward an hour in order to take advantage of an extra hour of sunlight in the late afternoon/evening. At the beginning of autumn the clocks are shifted back an order to standard Central European Time.
What are typical Italian mealtimes?
Italians usually have breakfast from 7.00 a.m. onwards. Hotels generally set a time (around 10.00 a.m.) after which breakfast may no longer be ordered. In restaurants, lunch is served from 12.30 to 2.30 p.m, and dinner between 19.30 and 23.00. These times are merely indicative, and may vary significantly, depending on the area of the country you are visiting: in the north they tend to be earlier, becoming later the further south you travel.
Shop opening hours
Shops are generally open from Monday to Saturday, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., although shopping centres and department stores often stay open all day, from 10.00 a.m. to 9.00 or 10.00 p.m. Shopping centres and stores are also open on several Sundays throughout the year.
Pharmacies have the same opening hours as shops, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.; in the larger cities, some pharmacies are open 24 hours. For emergencies during the night, or when the pharmacies are normally closed, a number of them remain open, on a rotational basis. A calendar listing the nearest one open can be found on the doors of all local pharmacies.
Stamps may be purchased only at tobacco shops and at the Post Office. Always check at the counter for the exact fare to the country of destination
Post Office Hours
Post Offices are open from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. On Saturdays they close at 12:00. Post Offices at airports and main Post Offices in large cities are open 24 hours a day for registered mail and telegram services.
The electrical current in Italy is AC - the cycle is 50Hz 220 V. A tourist carrying electrical appliances to Italy should have a transformer, either obtained before leaving your country or bought at an electrical appliance shop in Italy. Plugs have round prongs, not flat, therefore an European Plug Adapter (round pin) is needed.
An efficient, modern, integrated network, with the switchboards of the various police forces, emergency services, organisations and agencies is ready to respond to emergency calls from anywhere in Italy. Access to this network is simple and quick: all you have to do is call the national emergency numbers, which are well known and easy to remember.
STATE POLICE: 113 This is the single national number for all kinds of emergencies: to report theft, robbery or assault, or accidents and health emergencies. This number corresponds to the switchboard network of the State police, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
CARABINIERI POLICE FORCE: 112 Dialing 112 will put you through to the switchboards of the Carabinieri police. In 1991, the European Union introduced 112 as the single emergency number for all member states, in order to make life easier for tourists and foreign citizens in general on their travels within the continent. For this reason, a reply service in a number of languages is provided for calls to this number.
FIRE SERVICES: 115 In the event of fire, smoke or gas leaks, you can call the Fire Services directly. They are present throughout Italy and can intervene swiftly also in the event of earthquakes or other disaster situations.
HEALTH EMERGENCIES - AMBULANCES: 118 You can call this number from anywhere in Italy (including the islands) to alert the healthcare network and request ambulance transport to the nearest hospital or healthcare facility. A helicopter ambulance service is also available to access the more isolated or difficult to reach areas.
ROAD RESCUE: 803.116 This is the ACI Road Emergency number, available to ACI members and customers to request ACI servies throughout Italy (road emergencies, car replacement, car towage, medical assistance, etc). The number is free of charge, active in Italy only, 24 hours a day and all the year round.
FOREST FIRES: 1515 This is the number to call for the environmental emergencies of the State Forestry Corps. The service is active 24 hours a day, all year round. The Forestry Corps is in charge of safeguarding the country's environmental and landscape heritage, and deals in particular with forest fires, which are a permanent problem, especially during the summer months.
COASTGUARD- SEA RESCUE: 1530 If your pleasure boat breaks down, or for any other kind of emergency in Italy's territorial waters, you can contact the national coastguard on this number.
Animals coming from EU countries
Animals must be identified by means of a microchip or a clearly legible tattoo, and must be in possession of a valid EU passport certifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies. This passport is issued by the veterinary health services of the country of origin. These same conditions may also be applied to animals coming from Andorra, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Vatican City, provided that those states apply health regulations equivalent to those of the European Union.
Animals coming from non-EU countries
Animals from non-EU countries may enter the country, provided they possess a certificate stating to their origin and state of health (issued by foreign public health authorities recognised in Italy), which must include the details of both the animal and the owner and must state that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against rabies no later than 20 days before entry and no earlier than 11 months before the issue of the certificate. Animals coming from non-EU countries that are not included in the list drawn up by the European Union (which can be consulted on the website of the European commission ) must have successfully passed the test for the titration of neutralising antibodies against rabies virus no later than three months before the date of entry into Italy.
It is forbidden to bring into Italy dogs and cats under three months of age and those that have not been vaccinated against rabies. No preventive measures are required against ticks or echinococcus, wherever the animal comes from.
What are the regulations governing the various means of transport?
National public holidays
Each airline has its own rules. Generally speaking, one small dog (weighing less than 10 kilos) or cat per passenger may be transported in the cabin in suitable pet carriers, while medium- or large-size dogs may travel in the pressurised hold of the aircraft, in reinforced cages that can be purchased from specialised shops. Some airlines guarantee the presence of specialised staff, and in many airports there are special areas that provide assistance and food and drink for animals during stop-over periods.
Guide dogs for non-sighted travelers may be transported along with their owner, provided they are wearing a muzzle.
For further details, consult the website of the airline you intend to travel with.
In general, small domestic animals travel free provided they are transported in suitable pet carriers not exceeding 70x50x30 cm in size. In trains divided into compartments, small dogs may travel freely alongside their owner, provided they are carefully supervised and that there are no objections from the other passengers in the compartment. They may travel second class only, upon payment of a fare with a 40% reduction.
Large dogs are allowed to travel only if they do not disturb other passengers. They must be kept on a leash and fitted with a muzzle; otherwise, in addition to payment of the applicable reduced fare, the entire compartment must be reserved. In couchette compartments, dogs may travel upon payment of a second-class fare with a 40% reduction plus a supplement payable for disinfestations. On local trains that are not divided up into compartments, animals may be transported only if they are kept on the platform or the vestibule of the carriages.
Medium- or large-size dogs are not allowed to travel on high-speed trains, because there is no room for them to travel alongside their owners; small dogs may travel free of charge, provided they are transported in suitable pet carriers, placed in the appropriate spaces.
On Eurostar Italia trains, only guide dogs for non-sighted passengers are admitted, and may travel on any train and in any class free of charge, provided they are muzzled.
Since the conditions governing the transport of pets on trains are subject to modifications, it is advisable to check before travelling by visiting the Services section of the Trenitalia website.
Ships and ferries
Dogs may travel on ferries provided they are muzzled and kept on a leash; cats must be transported in a suitable pet carrier.
Small dogs may travel in the cabin with their owner, provided the other passengers in the cabin have no objections.
Medium- or large-size dogs may travel in the kennels provided on board, but it is generally possible to keep them on deck, provided they are muzzled and leashed.
Some shipping companies request a health certificate for dogs, and to travel to Sardinia, previous anti-rabies vaccination is required.
There are 12 national holidays on the Italian calendar:
Is tapwater drinkable in Italy?
1 January - New Year's Day
6 January - Epiphany,
Easter Sunday (date varies from year to year)
Easter Monday (the day after Easter Sunday)
25 April - Anniversary of the Liberation
1 May - Labour Day
2 June -Republic Day
15 August - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( Ferragosto )
1 November - All Saints Day
8 December - Immaculate Conception
25 December - Christmas Day
26 December - Boxing Day
The supply of drinking water is guaranteed throughout Italy. The water from taps and fountains is checked regularly, and is perfectly safe to drink, unless there is a notice indicating otherwise.
What metric system is used in Italy?
In Italy, the basic unit of measurement is the metre. The International System of Units (SI), the standard metric system in use in the European Union, defines the seven fundamental units used (metre, kilogramme, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela)
Italian sizes are in centimetres, unlike US sizes, for example, which are in inches. Women's clothing sizes generally range from about 38 to 56, men's sizes from about 42 to 60.
Adult shoe sizes generally go from about 35 to 46.
Sizes and measures can be converted by visiting one of the various internet sites that offer conversion tables.
Luggage is examined on entering and leaving Italy. Free entry is allowed for personal effects: clothing (new and used), books, camping and household equipment, fishing tackle, 1 pair of skis, 2 tennis racquets, computer, CD player with 10 CD's, tape recorder or Dictaphone, baby carriage, 2 still cameras with 10 rolls of film for each camera, 1 movie camera, binoculars, personal jewelry, portable radio set (subject to a small license fee), 400 cigarettes and a quantity of cigars or pipe tobacco not exceeding 500 grams (1.1 lb).
All items mentioned above may be imported duty-free only on condition that they are for personal use and are not be sold, given away or traded. A maximum of two bottles of wine and one bottle of hard liquor per person may be brought in duty-free. The bottles must not be open. A maximum of 4.4 lbs. of coffee, 6.6 lbs. of sugar and 2.2 lbs. of cocoa are allowed duty-free.
Overseas tourists arriving in Italy after visiting other countries are allowed to carry with them souvenirs purchased in other countries up to a total value of $500 and only a verbal declaration is required. Purchases may include up to a half litre of perfume.
A visa is not required for a U.S. or Canadian citizens holding a valid passport unless they expect to stay in Italy more than 90 days.
No vaccinations are required to enter Italy or to reenter the U.S. and Canada.
Telephone & Mail
Emergency Telephone Number
For Medical Emergency dial 118
Healthcare and Medical Assistance
Tourists requiring urgent medical care should go to the nearest hospital emergency room (airports and many train stations also have medical teams and first aid facilities). Those with serious illnesses or allergies should always carry a special note from their physicians certifying in detail the treatments in progress or that may be necessary.
Pharmacies (Farmacia), generally follow shops times approx. from 8:30 a.m. to 13:00 p.m. and from 16:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday, but in large cities many are open no-stop. Night-time service is provided on a shift basis. Business hours and night shifts are displayed outside of each chemist's (they are also published in local papers). Before departure, it is advisable to procure a document certifying coverage by the national health-care service.
Health Services and Insurance Policy
Italy has no medical program covering U.S. and Canada citizens. Therefore, U.S. and Canadian tourists are advised to take out an insurance policy before traveling. First Aid Service (Pronto Soccorso) with a doctor on hand is found at airports, ports, railway stations and in all hospitals. Medicines can be obtained only from the pharmacy, whether they are on prescription or over the counter.
Things to know about Campania Region
Emergency Telephone Numbers
12 Phone Directory Assistance
112 for Carabinieri's service
113 for Emergency Police Help
115 for the Fire Department
116 for the A.C.I. (Italian Automobile Club) - for road side assistance
118 for Medical Emergencies
176 International Inquires
Public telephones are available throughout Italy. Either local or international calls require the use of a phone card (Carta Telefonica) which may be purchased at any newsstand, tobacco shop or "bar"(coffee shop).
The region faces the Tyrrhenian Sea and includes one of the finest coastlines in Italy. The hinterland is essentially mountainous, with irregular massifs broken here and there by valleys and plains. In front of the Gulfs of Naples and Salerno, we can admire marvelous and enchanting islands: Capri, Ischia, Procida.
Things to know about Sorrento Coast
Cities : Naples is the regional capital. Other important cities are Caserta, Benevento, Salerno and Avellino.
Art : Campania is extraordinarily rich in remains of the classic antiquity, which can be found in Herculaneum, Pompeii, Paestum and Cuma. Amphitheaters, triumphal arches, villas, bridges and tombs of the Roman Imperial Age are numerous and remarkable. The Paleolithic art is present in Naples and Nocera, while architectural specimens of the Longobard Age can be found in Capua and Benevento. Cathedrals in the Byzantine and Arab-Norman styles are numerous and outstanding. The Royal Palace of Caserta is the most striking expression of Baroque.
Museums: In Naples: the National Museum, which houses one of the most important archaeologic collections in the world (statues by the great Greek masters Policleto, Lisippo and Prassitele); mosaics and wall paintings from Pompeii; the collection of jewels, small bronzes, household goods and utensils. In the Museum and Galleries of Capodimonte, tourists can admire all-time pictorial masterpieces by Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Caravaggio; sculptures, tapestries and ceramics. The National Museum of San Martino has historic, artistic and monumental sections. In Benevento, the Museum of the Sannio holds an important archaeological room with Samnitic, Italic, Italiot relics and an interesting collection of coins, with very rare gold coins of the Longobard Princes. Precious works of art can be admired in the Cathedral Museum and the Provincial Museum in Salerno.
To be visited: The splendid Sorrento coast; the marvelous islands; the Imperial Villa in Capri; Amalfi, the Royal Palace of Caserta with its splendid Italian gardens; Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Regional web site: www.turismoregionecampania.it
Business Hours : Shops generally open from 9.30am to 1.30pm and 4.30pm to 9pm ( in winter) or 4.30pm to 10pm (in summer) Monday to Saturday. They may close on Saturday afternoons or Thursday afternoons.
Banks open from 8.30am to 1.30pm and 2.45pm to 3.45pm Monday to Friday. They are closed at weekends but it is always possible to find a cambio ( exchange office) or an ATM machine.
Major post offices are open from 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday such as Sorrento Post office (Piazza Lauro, Corso Italia n 210)
Bars and cafès generally open from 7.30am to 9pm, although some stay open until the small hours, typically 1am or 2am. Clubs and discos might open around 10pm but often there'll be no-one there until midnight at least.
Restaurants open from noon to 3pm and 7.30pm to 12pm. Restaurants and bars are required to close for one day each week although in busy tourist areas this rule is not always observed.
Opening hours for museums, galleries and archeological sites vary enormously, although many are closed on Mondays.