Do I have to pay the full amount of the trip at the time I register?
- No. To reserve a seat on the trip, you will need to pay a $500, non-refundable deposit at the time you submit your trip registration form. The trip will need to be paid in full by January 15, 2016. Exceptions to this will be at the discretion of Indus Travels.
If I don’t have a roommate, will you help me find one?
- We can’t guarantee that we can find a roommate for you, but the tour operator will do everything possible to pair together individuals who wish to have a roommate. Ultimately, each participant is responsible for finding his/her own roommate, and single rooms must be paid for if a roommate is not secured.
What travel documents do I need?
- You must have a valid passport with expiration date not less than six months after your return date. No visas are necessary for individuals with U.S. or Canadian passports. Keep your passport with you at all times.
Do I need a visa to travel to Italy?
- Most nationalities (including citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US) do not need a visa to enter Italy.
All Passengers are responsible for securing proper documentation prior to joining the tour. Passports are required; in addition travelers are advised to check with local consulates for full details regarding Visa requirements. Please note securing a valid visa for entry is sole responsibility of the traveler.
What type of currency is used and how do I make purchases?
- The monetary unit in Italy is the Euro (€).Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
XE.com is a useful site for currency conversion.
- ATMs are widely available throughout Italy. Look for the ‘Bancomat’ sign for machines with multilingual interfaces. Pickpocketing and petty thievery can be problematic in tourist areas, so take care to keep belongings secure and be vigilant when making cash withdrawals.
- Travellers cheques:
- Traveller’s cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller’s cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.
- Banking hours:
- These vary from city to city but, in general, Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1500-1600.
- What about using credit cards?
- MasterCard, American Express, Cirrus, Maestro and Visa are widely accepted. Some restaurants charge an extra ‘service fee’ if you pay the bill by credit or debit card – ask the establishment whether this is the case before using your card.
- NOTE: As of early 2013, Vatican City has imposed a temporary ban on use of credit cards in an attempt to thwart possible money laundering; only cash will be accepted.
What about communications? Cellphones, payphones, Internet?
- Telephone kiosks only accept phonecards, which can be purchased at post offices, tobacconists and some newsagents.
- Mobile phone:
- Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good.
- Rome, Venice, Milan and Bologna have now instituted city-wide Wi-Fi hotspots, and the majority of hotels now offer free internet access. In most towns, internet cafes also offer access at €2 to €6 per hour.
- Post office hours:
- Mon-Fri 0830-1730, Sat 0815-1345. Smaller offices may close at midday during the week.
Can you accommodate special food requests for those with special dietary needs?
- For the flights, you can make a request through Tordes and Indus Travels for special food accommodations. It is also wise to call the airline yourself a few days before the flight to confirm they have received and processed your request. At the hotels, the wide variety of food choices makes it relatively easy for most individuals to find the foods they can eat. Those with very special needs might want to bring along some snack items. Also, on our last trip, each hotel made a special effort to accommodate the special dietary needs of some of our travelers.
What meals are included in the tour?
- An American Buffet Breakfast is provided each day.
- 5 dinners are included in the tour cost at local restaurants, as indicated on the itinerary
- Lunches, snacks and all other dinners are the responsibility of the traveler.
- See Things to know – “Aperitivo” below for more details on early evening food options.
What can I expect to pay for meals, like lunches, that are not included in the cost of the tour?
- Lunches are not included, to give you more freedom and flexibility. Some travelers opt to bring snacks or pack along some food items from the breakfast buffet.
- Others find the opportunity to eat like the locals exciting. Approximate costs for meals and snacks not included are shown below. Please note:the exact cost varies widely depending on whether you are in the capital cities or smaller regional towns.
- Simple snack – € 5-15
- Light meal – € 15-25
- Fancy restaurant – € 25+
The umbrella term, “Italian cuisine”, barely begins to cover the rich, regional variations that make up the Italian table. To the north, French and Austrian influences make for dishes heavy in meat, cream, butter and rice, while further south, beyond the central region of Emilia-Romagna, the cooking turns lighter centering around the southern ingredients of olive oil, aubergines (eggplants), tomatoes and fish.
Locals are fiercely proud of their regional specialities, with each town or village proclaiming their local salami or cheese to be the best. Notable regional dishes include Neapolitan pizza, Milanese risotto with saffron, Sicilian sardines and ice-cream, Tuscan bean soup, Roman offal, Pugliese bread, Bolognese pasta, Parma ham and cheese and Piedmontese truffles, plus a whole array of regional cheeses such as gorgonzola, parmesan, pecorino and taleggio. The secret, of course, is in the ingredients, which are chosen with careful consideration for ripeness, texture and flavour.
So eat local and eat seasonal and you’ll be hard pressed to have a bad meal.
- Gnocchi alla romana (semolina dumplings).
- Bagna caoda (an anchovy dip, served with vegetables).
- Panettone (Christmas cake with sultanas and candied fruit).
- Pesto (sauce of basil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese).
- Parmigiano (parmesan cheese).
Things to know – “Aperitivo”
Aperitivo are popular in most Italian towns, but particularly in the north, the aperitivo hour is a post-work drink between 1700 and 2000. During this time bars serve cocktails and drinks with complimentary snacks, where the ‘snacks’ can run to a heaving buffet of tasty morsels including salami, cheese, olives, crostini and even pasta.
Can I drink the water?
- We recommend drinking bottled water when travelling abroad as it is safest. But in Italy, most people will find drinking table water to be palatable and safe.
- Bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available throughout the country.
What’s the time difference?
- The time change from Bellingham/Vancouver to Greece is nine (9) hours. When it is 6:00am in Vancouver, it is 3:00pm in Rome.
What will the weather be like?
- Italy is a great destination to visit year round, particularly if taking a city break, though for the warmest and most reliable weather April to June is the prime tourist season.
- In central Italy, the climate is milder and wetter with a less pronounced difference between summer and winter temperatures.
- Spring should be relatively cool with average temperature in April of 55.7 F and May, 62.5 F.
Do you have any packing tips?
- As a general guideline, clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting, hard-wearing and easily washed. In Italy’s hot summer months, cotton clothing is much more comfortable than man-made materials like nylon.
- Italy has fairly relaxed attitudes about dress and for the most part shorts and short sleeved tops are perfectly acceptable. However if you intend to visit churches and monasteries it is important to dress more conservatively (i.e. cover shoulders and knees).
- Make sure you allow for climate changes and remember that night-time and early morning temperatures can be cold. You will generally find it is better to have several thin layers rather than one thick layer as it gives you more flexibility and warmth.
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking
Will my electric appliances work in Italy?
- The electrical current in Italy is AC. Sockets are European two pronged round pin variety. A European Plug Adapter (round pin) is needed to use American or Canadian appliances.
What about shopping?
- As time permits along the tour, there will be opportunities to shop for souvenirs and smaller items. However, this is a busy itinerary, so lengthy shopping will be optional and likely during scheduled ‘leisure time’ during the tour.