Capital city: Rome
Airports: Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) & Florence Airport (FLR)
Language: Italian with English as second language
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
Canadian embassy: A: Via Salaria, 243, 00199 Roma RM, Italy | T: +39 06 854441
passport & visa
Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your date of departure from Italy.
A visa is not required for Canadian tourism visits of 90 days and less.
currency & MONEY
1 EUR: 1.51 CAD (as of January 2019)
Arriving in Italy with some Euros is highly recommended.
ATMs are readily available throughout the country, 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
Daytime Average: 26ºC with warm sunny days | Overnight Average: 16ºC
Sunrise: 5:30am | Sunset: 8:50pm | Sunshine: 15hrs
Italy in summer is perfect - the days are warm to hot with abundant sunshine and the evenings stay warm enough to dine al fresco.
what to pack
Important documents: passports, drivers license, International Drivers Permit (IDP), travel insurance details, emergency contacts, credit cards and local currency (Euros)
City sightseeing: loose light layers: shorts, t-shirts, skirts and sundresses
Beach and pool: swimwear, beach bag, cover-up and sandals
Evenings: skirts, dresses, pants, shirts, cardigan, sweater and a light scarf
Practical: day pack or cross-body bag, sunglasses, sunhat, reusable water bottle, comfortable walking shoes
Toiletries & medicines: sunscreen, after-sun, prescription medications
Electronics: chargers, travel adapters, phone and camera
For fun: books, magazines, deck of cards, travel journal or notebook
CURIO TRIPS COMPREHENSIVE PACKING LIST...
electricity & PLUGS
Round two pin 220 volt “European” plug
Power in Italy comes out at 220V, which 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.
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.
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.
** 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.
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 when you're unsure where you're 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!
Even though English is widely spoken in Italy, especially in the tourism industry, here are a few helpful phrases to know in Italian
Good morning: Buongiorno
Good evening: Buonasera
Please: Per favore
Thank you: Grazie
Thank you very much: Grazie mille
You’re welcome/Okay: Prego
Good: Buono (masculine); Buona (feminine)
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:
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
Insalata di frutti di mare: seafood salad (usually including shrimp and squid) garnished with pickles, lemon, olives, and spice
Arrosto: roasted meat
Fiorentina: t-bone of meat, usually wild boar or rabbit
Ragu: meat sauce
Pancetta: herb-flavored pork belly, rolled into a cylinder and sliced - the Italian bacon
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
Calzone: pizza dough rolled with meat, cheese and/or vegetable filling then baked
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
Panforte: sticky cake
Biscotti: almond flour hard biscuit
Amaretti: almond flavoured macaroons
Gelato: flavoured ice cream
A FEW OTHERS
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:
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.
Sparkling white wine produced from Glera grapes
Lemon liqueur mainly produced in southern coastal regions of Italy
Stand-up espresso bars serving shots of coffee can be found all over the country
SOME FINAL THINGS
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%.
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.
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 and to ask reception staff to 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%. It is usually included in the ticket price, not added at the point of sale.