Listed below is important information to assist you in preparing for your upcoming trip. This information provided will help you have a more enjoyable experience while you are on your tour.
Standard Italian and numerous dialects, German, French and Slovene.
85% Roman Catholic, 5% Jewish and 10% Protestant.
220 Volts. Sockets are European two pronged round pin variety.
Jump to Section:
- Passports & Visas
- Local Currency
- Weather & Climate
- Suggested Tipping Scale
- Health & Medical
- Travel Insurance
Passports must be valid for at least six months from date of entry into Italy. Passports must also have at least one fully blank page for entry/exit stamps.
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.
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.
Be careful with your belongings when anywhere in Italy and make sure that you keep firm hold of your bags and wallet. As with many European cities, tourists can be especially targeted by pickpockets.
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. 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.
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.
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.
These vary from city to city but, in general, Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1500-1600.
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 even in the summer, 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.
Telephone kiosks only accept phonecards, which can be purchased at post offices, tobacconists and some newsagents.
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, B&Bs and even farmstays 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.
Breakfast is provided each day on most tours and many tours also include a number of dinners. Lunches are rarely included to give you more freedom. Approximate costs for meals and snacks not included are shown below but please note that 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, tomatoes and fish.
Locals are fiercely proud of their regional specialties, 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 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.
- Wines are named after grape varieties, village or area of origin. The most widespread is the Chianti group of vineyards in Tuscany.
- Roman wines include albano and frascati (whites); barolo in Valle d’Aosta; valpolicella in Veneto; pinot bianco and pinot grigio (whites); cabernet and pinot bero (reds) in Friuli-Venezia; and chianti, nobile di montepulciano and brunello in Tuscany.
- Vermouths are popular in Piemonte.
- Aperitifs such as Campari and Punt e Mes are excellent appetisers.
- Italian liqueurs include Amaretto, Limoncello, Grappa and Strega.
Given its long boot-like shape and varied geography, the weather in Italy varies considerably from north to south. In the alpine north of the country, cold, harsh winters with heavy snowfall are typical between December and March, while summers are sunny and fresh. Around the northern Italian lakes, however, a mild microclimate prevails, benefitting the olive groves and tropical gardens that surround the lake, most of which come into spectacular bloom between April and June.
In central Italy, beyond the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, the climate is milder and wetter with a less pronounced difference between summer and winter temperatures. Summer lingers longer and city centers, such as Florence, Siena and Rome can experience stifling humidity especially during July and August.
In the south, summers are far hotter and drier and temperatures more akin to those in North Africa prevail, often reaching above 30°C. Snow is rare and winter is especially mild, making the southern tip of the peninsula and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia ideal late season destinations.
Best time to visit:
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. Most Italians take their holiday in July and August so prices, and crowds, can soar during these months, which are also the hottest of the year. If you’re keen to avoid the main scrum of peak season but still bank on mild weather, late September to October is a good choice.
- Annual: 59.9° F
- JAN: 46.9° F
- FEB: 48.3° F
- MAR: 51° F
- APR: 55.7° F
- MAY: 62.5° F
- JUN: 69.1° F
- JUL: 74.1° F
- AUG: 74.4° F
- SEP: 69.6° F
- OCT: 62.6° F
- NOV: 54.8° F
- DEC: 49.1° F
SUGGESTED TIPPING SCALE:
Tipping is a way of showing your appreciation and will be welcomed by the recipient, although if you decide not to tip in a particular circumstance, this doesn’t mean you’ll receive a lower level of service. Ultimately, tipping is discretionary and should be done at a level that feels comfortable.
Here are some guidelines that you may find helpful:
|Service||Tipping amount per/person|
|1 – Drivers per/day||EUR 10 per person|
|2 – Guides per/day||EUR 15 per person – Private tour|
|EUR 5 per person – SIC tour|
|3 – Bellmen at hotels per/check in or check out||EUR 1 per bag|
|4 – Restaurant servers||A percentage of the bill if its not already included|
It is highly recommended that you purchase travel insurance. Your home country health plan may only provide limited coverage while traveling outside of the country. Indus Travels can offer you a complete travel insurance package. Some credit cards do offer travel insurance, however they do not always provide adequate coverage. Review and understand the terms of your credit card insurance policy. Extra travel insurance can be purchased. Most insurance companies do have exclusions in their coverage. Pre-existing medical conditions are not insurable.