Since 2001, the currency used in Italy is the euro.
One euro is divided up into 100 euro-cents.
There are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros).
As well as in cash, purchases can be paid for using the most common credit cards. This payment system is common in Italian shops, which generally display the symbols of the credit cards they accept on the outside door. If you pay by credit card you will be asked to show an identity document.
Travellers cheques (in USD or Euros) can also be cashed in Italian banks.
Tips are not compulsory and in Italy there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.
Italian is the official language of the country, although accents and dialects may vary widely from one region to another. A large number of local dialects are spoken in Italy.
There are two regions, however, which have a second official language: the Aosta Valley, where French is also spoken, and Trentino Alto Adige, where German is also spoken. In these regions, road signs, as well as place names, for example, appear in both languages. There are also a number of small areas in which languages other than Italian are used, although these languages do not have official status: in Friuli-Venezia Giulia there is a Slovenian-speaking area, and in Calabria (in the Bovesìa area) and in Apulia (in the Grecia Salentina zone), Greek is spoken in some areas. In Sicily, in Piana degli Albanesi, you will find the largest Albanian community in Italy, where the Albanian language is widely used, even in official documents and on road signs.
The Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Most of the population is Catholic; there are also, however, a large number of minority religious communities, some of them of Christian or Catholic inspiration, such as the Apostolic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), the Waldensian Evangelical Church and the Holy Orthodox Archdiocese, as well as Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist communities.
To call an Italian telephone number from outside Italy, either from a landline or a mobile phone, you will need to add the international dialling code for Italy, which is 0039 (+39), followed by the telephone number you require.
To call another country from Italy, you will need to add the international dialling code for the country you are calling, followed by the telephone number you require.
To make calls within Italy, dial the number you require without adding the international country dialling code.
To make calls from public telephones (which you can find on the street, in some bars, restaurants, etc and in shopping centres), you may use coins or phone cards, which can be purchased from tobacconists, news kiosks and telephone shops.
Mobile phone reception in Italy is based on GSM technology, which is not compatible with that of a number of countries (including the USA and Japan), unless you have a three-band mobile phone.
Before travelling to Italy you should contact your telephone services provider to activate the international roaming service (if it is not already activated automatically).
Making international calls from a mobile phone may be very expensive, and it is often advisable to purchase a phone card to call home from a public telephone.
There are numerous internet points and cafés offering internet access. In many hotels (especially higher-category ones) a direct internet connection is provided in the rooms. In addition, in Italy you will find Wi-Fi access available in many airports, hotels, train stations and other public places where travellers pass through or stop off.
Dogs, cats andferrets may be brought into Italy accompanied by their owners; the conditions applicable depend on whether or not the animals come from EU countries.
Animals must be identified by means of a microchip or a clearly legible tattoo, and must be in possession of a valid EU passport certifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies. This passport is issued by the veterinary health services of the country of origin. These same conditions may also be applied to animals coming from Andorra, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Vatican City, provided that those states apply health regulations equivalent to those of the European Union.
Animals from non-EU countries may enter the country, provided they possess a certificate stating to their origin and state of health (issued by foreign public health authorities recognised in Italy), which must include the details of both the animal and the owner and must state that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against rabies no later than 20 days before entry and no earlier than 11 months before the issue of the certificate. Animals coming from non-EU countries that are not included in the list drawn up by the European Union (which can be consulted on the website of the European commission ) must have successfully passed the test for the titration of neutralising antibodies against rabies virus no later than three months before the date of entry into Italy.
It is forbidden to bring into Italy dogs and cats under three months of age and those that have not been vaccinated against rabies. No preventive measures are required against ticks or echinococcus, wherever the animal comes from.
Each airline has its own rules. Generally speaking, one small dog (weighing less than 10 kilos) or cat per passenger may be transported in the cabin in suitable pet carriers, while medium- or large-size dogs may travel in the pressurised hold of the aircraft, in reinforced cages that can be purchased from specialised shops. Some airlines guarantee the presence of specialised staff, and in many airports there are special areas that provide assistance and food and drink for animals during stop-over periods.
Guide dogs for non-sighted travellers may be transported along with their owner, provided they are wearing a muzzle.
For further details, consult the website of the airline you intend to travel with.
In general, small domestic animals travel free provided they are transported in suitable pet carriers not exceeding 70x50x30 cm in size. In trains divided into compartments, small dogs may travel freely alongside their owner, provided they are carefully supervised and that there are no objections from the other passengers in the compartment. They may travel second class only, upon payment of a fare with a 40% reduction.
Large dogs are allowed to travel only if they do not disturb other passengers. They must be kept on a leash and fitted with a muzzle; otherwise, in addition to payment of the applicable reduced fare, the entire compartment must be reserved. In couchette compartments, dogs may travel upon payment of a second-class fare with a 40% reduction plus a supplement payable for disinfestation. On local trains that are not divided up into compartments, animals may be transported only if they are kept on the platform or the vestibule of the carriages.
Medium- or large-size dogs are not allowed to travel on high-speed trains, because there is no room for them to travel alongside their owners; small dogs may travel free of charge, provided they are transported in suitable pet carriers, placed in the appropriate spaces.
On Eurostar Italia trains, only guide dogs for non-sighted passengers are admitted, and may travel on any train and in any class free of charge, provided they are muzzled.
Since the conditions governing the transport of pets on trains are subject to modifications, it is advisable to check before travelling by visiting the Services section of the Trenitalia website (see travelling by train with your pet on board).
Dogs may travel on ferries provided they are muzzled and kept on a leash; cats must be transported in a suitable pet carrier.
Small dogs may travel in the cabin with their owner, provided the other passengers in the cabin have no objections.
Medium- or large-size dogs may travel in the kennels provided on board, but it is generally possible to keep them on deck, provided they are muzzled and leashed.
Some shipping companies request a health certificate for dogs, and to travel to Sardinia, previous anti-rabies vaccination is required.
For further information, consult the website www.ministerosalute.it
Italy is in the Central European Time (CET) Zone, 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and observes Daylight Saving Time: at the beginning of spring the clocks go forward an hour in order to take advantage of an extra hour of sunlight in the late afternoon/evening. At the beginning of autumn the clocks are shifted back an order to standard Central European Time.
Italians usually have breakfast from 7.00 a.m. onwards. Hotels generally set a time (around 10.00 a.m.) after which breakfast may no longer be ordered. In restaurants, lunch is served from 12.30 to 2.30 p.m, and dinner between 19.30 and 23.00. These times are merely indicative, and may vary significantly, depending on the area of the country you are visiting: in the north they tend to be earlier, becoming later the further south you travel.
Shop opening hours
Shops are generally open from Monday to Saturday, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., although shopping centres and department stores often stay open all day, from 10.00 a.m. to 9.00 or 10.00 p.m. Shopping centres and stores are also open on several Sundays throughout the year.
Pharmacies have the same opening hours as shops, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.; in the larger cities, some pharmacies are open 24 hours. For emergencies during the night, or when the pharmacies are normally closed, a number of them remain open, on a rotational basis. A calendar listing the nearest one open can be found on the doors of all local pharmacies.
There are 12 national holidays on the Italian calendar:
1 January - New Year's Day
6 January - Epiphany,
Easter Sunday (date varies from year to year)
Easter Monday (the day after Easter Sunday)
25 April - Anniversary of the Liberation
1 May - Labour Day
2 June -Republic Day
15 August - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( Ferragosto )
1 November - All Saints Day
8 December - Immaculate Conception
25 December - Christmas Day
26 December - Boxing Day
Patron Saint's Days in the main Italian cities
The local patron saint's day is generally a local public holiday: offices are closed and a range of events and markets are held. Below is a list of the patron saints of the capital cities of the Italian regions:
29 January - San Costanzo, Perugia (Umbria)
23 April - San Giorgio, Campobasso (Molise)
25 April - San Marco, Venice (Veneto)
4 May - San Ciriaco of Jerusalem, Ancona (Marche)
9 May and 6 December - San Nicola, Bari (Apulia)
30 May - San Gerardo, Potenza (Basilicata)
10 June - San Massimo d'Aveia, L'Aquila (Abruzzo)
24 June - San Giovanni, Genoa (Liguria)
24 June - San Giovanni, Florence (Tuscany)
24 June - San Giovanni, Turin (Piedmont)
26 June - San Vigilio, Trent (Trentino)
29 June - San Pietro, Rome (Lazio)
15 July - Santa Rosalia, Palermo (Sicily)
16 July- San Vitaliano, Catanzaro (Calabria)
7 September - San Grato, Aosta (Aosta Valley)
19 September - San Gennaro, Naples (Campania)
11 luglio - Santa Rosalia, Palermo (Sicilia)
4 October - San Petronio, Bologna (Emilia Romagna)
30 October - San Saturnino, Cagliari (Sardinia)
3 November - San Giusto, Trieste (Friuli Venezia Giulia)
7 December- Sant'Ambrogio, Milan (Lombardy)
In Italy the electrical current is 220 volts AC (50 Hz).
Electrical sockets comply with European regulations. In most hotels you will find adaptors for different types of plugs.
The supply of drinking water is guaranteed throughout Italy. The water from taps and fountains is checked regularly, and is perfectly safe to drink, unless there is a notice indicating otherwise.
In Italy, the basic unit of measurement is the metre. The International System of Units (SI), the standard metric system in use in the European Union, defines the seven fundamental units used (metre, kilogramme, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela).
Italian sizes are in centimetres, unlike US sizes, for example, which are in inches. Women's clothing sizes generally range from about 38 to 56, men's sizes from about 42 to 60.
Adult shoe sizes generally go from about 35 to 46.
Sizes and measures can be converted by visiting one of the various internet sites that offer conversion tables.