fast facts

Capital city: Rome
Main international airport: Rome Fiumicino  Airport (FCO)
Language: Italian with English as second language
Currency: Euro/EUR/€
Time zone: Central European Time (EST + 6)
International dialling code: +39
Emergency services: Dial 112 for police, 113 for general EMS, 115 for fire, 118 for medical


passport & visa

A valid passport is required for entry to Italy. Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of departure. A visa is not required for tourist visits of 90 days and less. 
 

currency

1 EUR: 1.22 USD (as of April 2018)
Euros/EUR/€

  • Arriving in Italy with some Euros is highly recommended.
  • ATMs are readily available in Italy, even in small towns. ATMs usually offer the best exchange rate when compared to commercial exchange bureaus and hotels. Your bank may add a surcharge for every withdrawal you make. 
  • Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted throughout Italy, but may come with exchange rate and bank charges from your home bank. We urge you to contact them prior to departure to let them know you will be using your card abroad, and to ask what fees may apply. 
     

CLIMATE IN JUNE

Rome, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany: daytime average 80ºf, overnight average 60ºf
Sunrise: 5:30am         Sunset: 8:50pm
       Sunshine: 15hrs

Italy in spring is perfect - not too hot, not too cold. Days are typically sunny with over 12hrs of sunshine a day. As it it spring though, clouds and rain do occur, but luckily do not last long. The rain only helps to bring life to the country's stunning landscapes. 
 

what to pack

  • Important documents: passports, drivers license, IDP (International Driving Permit), travel insurance details, emergency contacts, credit cards and local currency (Euros)
  • City sightseeing: loose light layers: shorts, t-shirts, skirts, sundresses, cardigans, light sweaters and scarf
  • Beach: swimwear, beach bag, cover-up and sandals
  • Evenings: skirts, dresses, pants, shirts, cardigans and sweaters
  • Practical: day pack, reusable water bottle, comfortable walking shoes, light raincoat and umbrella
  • Toiletries & medicines: sunscreen, after-sun, insect repellant, aspirin and band-aids
  • Electronics: chargers, travel adapters, phone and camera
  • For fun: books, magazines, deck of cards, travel  journal

CURIO TRIPS COMPREHENSIVE PACKING LIST...


electricity

Round two pin 220 volts
Power in Italy comes out at 220V, this is a lot higher than appliances in North America are used to. For this reason we recommend purchasing a two prong round adaptor as well as a power convertor or transformer to reduce the voltage from 220 to 110. 
 

health

  • There are no compulsory inoculations for entry to Italy.
  • Pack prescription medications in their original containers with pharmacy labels in your carry-on luggage. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your medications or run out. Don't forget an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses.
  • Use sunscreen and stay hydrated throughout your trip. 
     

safety

  • Italy has a relatively low crime rate but petty crime is always a risk. Travellers should stay alert for pickpockets and purse-snatchers, particularly around tourist sites, in restaurants and on public transport. 
  • Never leave luggage or valuables unattended in your rental car and always ensure the car is locked when parked. 
  • Leave cash and credit cards when not needed in the hotel safe and only carry limited cash with you when you venture out for the day. 
  • Avoid ATMs in isolated or poorly lit areas at night.


LANGUAGE

A few helpful phrases:

  • Hello: Ciao
  • Goodbye: Ciao/Arrivederci
  • Please: Per favore
  • Thank you: Grazie
  • Thank you very much: Grazie mille
  • You’re welcome: Prego
  • Good: Buono (masculine); Buona (feminine)
  • Yes: Sì
  • No: No
  • Più (PYOO): more
  • Meno (MEH-noh): less
  • Basta (BAHS-tah): enough
  • Mezzo (MEHD-zoh): half
  • Good morning: Buongiorno
  • Good evening: Buonasera
  • Goodnight: Buonanotte (use this when you’re going to bed)


DRIVING

** Before you go remember to purchase your International Drivers Permit (IDP), which is valid for one year from the date received and can be obtained from CAA or AAA. 

  • Driving in Italy is on the right side of the road with overtaking on the left.
  • Seat belts are mandatory when driving.
  • You must carry photo identification and your drivers license when driving in Italy.
  • Italians drive fast and they are not known for their patience.
  • Inner-city driving can be somewhat stressful and chaotic when you are unsure where you are going. Highway and country road driving is quite smooth.
  • Be careful not to speed while in Italy as speed cameras and police will catch you without you even realising.
  • It is custom to flash lights at slow drivers ahead of you in the passing lane, so feel free to do as the Italians do.
  • Italians rarely come to a complete stop at stop signs, rather a rolling stop to full speed ahead.
  • Italians are frequent horn users, but not in an aggressive way, more to let people know they are coming around corners and to be aware.
  • Always look for scooters.
  • Take care of what is going on in front of you, as the person behind is taking care of your back.
  • Signal and go rather than signal to let someone know you are thinking about going.
  • Fold your side mirrors in when you park your car in cities. This will mean they are still there when you get back!


food & drink

Italy has some exquisite cuisine and is most famous for its pizzas, pastas, meats, cheeses, gelato and sweet desserts. It can be difficult for vegetarians and vegans as it is a very meat heavy destination. Dietary requirements such as celiac and lactose intolerance are becoming more understood and accommodated by chefs. Some standout foods and dishes are:

  • ANTIPASTI
    • Bruschetta: toasted bread topped with olive oil, garlic and tomatoes
    • Caprese salad: fresh tomatoes and mozzarella with basil, pepper, and olive oil
    • Carpaccio: thin slices of cured beef meat
    • Focaccia: bread garnished with tomato, garlic, herbs and oil
    • Mortadella: mild pork sausage served sliced
    • Panzanella: bread salad
    • Prosciutto:  thin-sliced cured ham
    • Seafood and shellfish: calamari, oysters, shrimp and mussels
       
  • CARNE (MEAT)
    • Arrosto: roasted meat
    • Fiorentina: t-bone of meat, usually wild boar or rabbit
    • Ragu: meat sauce
    • Vitello: veal
       
  • PASTAS
    • Bucatini: coarsely textured hollow spaghetti
    • Cannelloni: dough stuffed with meat, cheese and/or vegetables and baked in white sauce
    • Fusilli: spiral-shaped pasta
    • Gnocchi: potato or semolina dumplings served with meat, cheese and/or vegetables
    • Orecchiette: ear shaped Puglian pasta
    • Papardelle: wide and flat Tuscan pasta
    • Pesto: green sauce made from basil leaves, cheese, garlic,and pine nuts
       
  • PIZZAS
    • Calzone: pizza dough rolled with meat, cheese and/or vegetable filling then baked
       
  • FORMAGGI (CHEESE)
    • Fontina: rich cow's milk cheese
    • Gorgonzola: blue-veined strong, creamy and aromatic cheese
    • Mozzarella: non-fermented cheese made from the fresh milk of a buffalo boiled then kneaded into a rounded ball
    • Parmigiano: parmesan, a hard and salty yellow cheese usually grated over pastas and soups
    • Pecorino: sheep's milk hard cheese
    • Ricotta: soft cheese made from cow's or sheep's milk
       
  • DOLCI (SWEET)
    • Panforte: sticky cake
    • Biscotti: almond flour hard biscuit
    • Amaretti: almond flavoured macaroons
    • Gelato:  flavoured ice cream
       
  • A FEW OTHERS
    • Insalata di frutti di mare: seafood salad (usually including shrimp and squid) garnished with pickles, lemon, olives, and spice
    • Pancetta: herb-flavored pork belly, rolled into a cylinder and sliced - the Italian bacon
    • Polenta: thick porridge made from cornmeal flour
    • Risotto: Italian rice

And of course Italy is famous for its world-renowned wines with several regions in the country producing first class wines that are exported globally. Regions, wines and drinks to look out for include:

  • TUSCAN WINES
    • Chianti: Sangiovese red wine with the best known produced in the Chianti Classico subregion. A black rooster on the bottle symbolizes quality and Reservas must be aged for at least three years.
       
  • PROSECCO
    • Sparkling white wine produced from Glera grapes
       
  • LIMONCELLO
    • Lemon liqueur mainly produced in southern coastal regions of Italy
       
  • ESPRESSO
    • Stand-up espresso bars serving shots of coffee can be found all over the country

Some final things to note:

  • Tap water in Italy is safe to drink
  • Dining in Italy can be a slow affair with each course delivered to the table one at a time
  • Most restaurants add a cover charge, which is usually mentioned somewhere on the menu
  • Hotels and restaurants may add a service charge to your bill, but tipping is at your discretion in Italy. If you feel the service has been good enough to tip, a typical amount to add to the bill is 10%. 


COMMUNICATIONS

Before departing home contact your service provider to enquire about using your phone in Italy. They will let you know your call, text and data roaming options. If you purchase a roaming plan, once you arrive in Italy your phone will connect to a local service provider. We recommend turning data off for any apps you do not need to use regularly, as these will drain your data package with automatic updates. Packages vary by provider so be sure to check the rates for local charges and making and receiving calls and texts internationally. 

Alternatively you can purchase a local SIM card upon arrival in Italy, but you will need to provide your address in Italy and passport, which will be photocopied. The details of all telephone users and their numbers are registered in Italy. SIM cards expire after a certain period of inactivity, usually within 3 - 6 months, so it’s best to use all the pre-paid credit before returning home.
 

BUSINESS HOURS

  • Shops are typically open Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm, and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.
  • Restaurants are generally open for lunch from 12pm to 3pm and dinner from 7pm to 11pm. Many close on Sunday and one additional day mid-week. It is always best to check with locals or call ahead to ask if a restaurant is open when you want to go. 
  • Banking hours are usually Monday to Thursday 9.30am-4pm and until 5pm on Friday. Some branches open on Saturday mornings until 1pm. All banks are closed on statutory holidays.
  • Gas stations are typically open from 7am to 10pm with some open 24 hours on major highways
  • Italy has a Sales Tax (GST) of 22%.