Do You have a Passport? Visa FOR ITALY
To enter Italy you need a valid Passport. For visits of up to 90 days, nationals from EU countries and passport holders from the following countries do not need to have a visa to visit Italy: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, U.S.A., Uruguay, Venezuela.
If your country is not listed above or is not part of the European Union, you will need to have a visa to stay longer in Italy.
IMMUNIZATIONS NEEDED IF TRAVELING TO ITALY
You will not need any shots to travel to Italy.
CURRENCY IN ITALY
Italy uses the Euro (€), just like all the EU countries (except the UK). Look for the coins to be nationalistic – each country stamps its own distinctive designs on the coins, but the bills are the same throughout the EU, and all the money is worth the same amount in every EU country. For more about using your money in Italy see Dealing with Money, How to Pay for Things When Traveling in Italy.
ITALY'S TIME ZONE
Italy is on Central European Time, which is GMT plus one hour. Italy does observe Daylight Savings Time – it begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October.
CAPTIAL OF ITALY
Rome is the capital of Italy.
LANGUAGE SPOKEN IN ITALY
As you might guess, Italian is the official language of Italy. What you might not know is that this has happened relatively recently and there was quite a bit of controversy about it. You will hear very diffenent dialects in each of the Regions you plan to visit.
COUNTING AND NUMBERS
Dates in Italy are written with the day first, then the month, then the year – so the 2nd of May in the year 2007 is written 02/05/07. With written numbers, commas and decimal points are swapped from what you might be used to. So, three Euro and fifty cents is written €3,50 and one thousand five hundred Euro is written €1.500.
Italy uses the Metric system for measurements and Celsius for temperatures.
ELECTRICITY AND PLUGS
Italy operates on a 220V 50Hz electrical system, and the electrical outlets you will find will require European plugs with two narrow cylindrical prongs (sort of like a pig’s snout, only smaller). If your electrical appliances are not 220V 50Hz, you will need a converter (to convert the electricity) and adapter (to make your appliances fit into the Italian plugs) set so you do not start fires or explode anything. For most Smart phones and computers the charging system is dual voltage, however always check to be sure, you will on need a plug adapter to charge. If you forget your adaptor a Ferramenta (hardware store is the place to find one).
BANKS AND ATM MACHINES
Travel is easier these days with bank cards which work overseas. Just be sure to notify your bank that you will be traveling in Italy so they do not assume someone has stolen your card and gone on vacation. An Italian cash machine is called a “Bancomat.” To use your ATM card in Italy you will need to know your PIN number in numbers, not letters (there are no letters on Italian bank machine keypads). American Express is not as common in Italy as Visa and MasterCard are, so do not rely only on your AmEx card to get cash during your trip.
Many Bancomats are enclosed in a glass enclosure in front of the bank, but not inside the bank (so they are still accessible when the bank is closed), and you may need to insert your bank card in order to get the enclosure’s door to open. This is safe, as it just shows that you actually intend to withdraw money and you are not trying to use the enclosure as a shelter for the night. Always pay attention to your surroundings when entering one of these glass enclosures and when withdrawing money.
Big hotels and restaurants will likely accept credit cards, but when shopping for souvenirs and eating in small local places you will be asked to pay with cash.
USING THE TELEPHONE IN ITALY
The country code for Italy is 39. To call Italy from the U.S., you will first need to dial out of the U.S. and then into Italy – so that is 011 + 39 and then the phone number itself. To call Italy from another European country, you will dial 00 + 39 and then the local number. To call an Italian number from within Italy, simply dial the local number as you have it. To call the U.S. from within Italy, dial 00 + 1 and then the area code and telephone number.
Public telephones in Italy do not accept coins, so to use one you will need to purchase a phone card. They are sold at most tobacco shops (the ones with the big “T” hanging over the door), post offices, some newspaper shops and sometimes machines near phone booths, and they are very easy to use. There are two common forms – one which you insert into a slot on the phone and which deducts time/money as you use it, and one which you dial a toll-free number and then enter a PIN number (printed on the card) to use. The former requires a phone which has a card slot, and the latter can be used with basically any phone – public or otherwise.
More and more travelers are using mobile phones when they travel, which is easy if you have an unlockable GSM phone or one where you can swap out the existing SIM card for an Italian or European one. You can also rent or purchase a phone which works in Italy to use just for one trip or every time you travel to that region. Most of these kinds of phones work by loading them up with prepaid minutes (on a prepaid SIM card) or by using them with prepaid calling cards. Getting a prepaid call phone in Italy is easy (click on that link for a video about how to set one up) and it’s pretty cheap.