BasicsTime: GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)
Electricity: Electrical current in Italy is 230 volts, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European-style two-pin plug.
Money: The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM or bureau de change. ATMs are widespread. Credit cards are accepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities. Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates than foreign exchange houses.
Currency Exchange Rates
Language: The official language of Italy is Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country.
Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond their intended stay in Italy. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: Passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, must be valid on arrival. British passports with other endorsements must be valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Italy. A visa is not required for British passports endorsed 'British Citizen' or 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), nor for holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom'. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period for holders of British passports with other endorsements.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond their intended stay in Italy. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond their intended stay in Italy. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond their intended stay, and a valid Schengen visa, to enter Italy.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passports valid for three months beyond period of intended stay in Italy. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Furthermore, all foreign passengers to Italy must hold visible proof of financial means to support themselves while in the country, return/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Note that visitors may be refused entry, either for public security, tranquillity, order or health reasons. Extensions of stay in Italy are possible, by applying to local authorities. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health: There are no specific health risks associated with travel to Italy and you should be able to travel without special vaccinations and medications. Medical facilities in Italy are good but travel insurance is still recommended for non-EU citizens as medical attention can be expensive. EU citizens can make use of Italy's health services provided they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Although it should be possible to get most medication in Italy, travel authorities always suggest that you take any prescribed medication that you require with you, in its original packaging, and with a signed and dated letter from your doctor explaining what it is and why you need it.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Italy and 10 to 15 percent of the bill is acceptable in restaurants (unless, as is increasingly the case, a 15 percent service charge has already been added to the bill). Hotels add a service charge of 15 to 18 percent, but it is customary to tip the service staff extra. Italians rarely tip taxi drivers, but a 5 to 10 percent tip is always appreciated.
Climate: Florence enjoys a humid, subtropical climate, with the city's location in a valley making its climate slightly different to the rest of Tuscany. Summers are hot and muggy with temperatures higher than those found along the coast. In the hottest months, July and August, temperatures range between 88°F (31°C) and 63°F (17°C). Visitors should note that in August many locals take their holiday and a number of restaurants and businesses close down for at least part of the month. In the coldest month, January, the temperatures range between 50°F (10°C) and 34°F (1°C). Rainfall prevails in the winter, with cool to cold temperatures and occasional snow. November is the wettest month but visitors should anticipate rain in October, December, March and April as well. The peak tourist season in Florence is summer, between June and August, when it is hot but beautiful. However, the sheer amount of visitors during summer can be off-putting for serious art-lovers and sightseers, and the best time to visit Florence is therefore in spring or autumn. Winter is definitely also an option, with the bonus that the galleries and museums are far more peaceful at this time, but come prepared for rain if you holiday in Florence in winter.
Safety Information: Tourists are vulnerable to pickpocketing in the bigger cities, particularly on public transport, in crowded areas and around tourist sites. It is advisable to be careful when carrying large amounts of cash and valuables. Make intelligent use of hotel safes and split valuables between people, bags and pockets to limit the damage of being pickpocketed. Be particularly careful around the main train station, Termini. Visitors should be wary of groups of children, some of whom will distract attention while the others try to steal what they can.
Strikes by transport workers take place regularly
throughout Italy and delays are possible. Anti-austerity strikes
have also become common and travellers are advised to avoid these
mass gatherings which can degenerate into violence.