Make a photocopy of your passport and your air tickets and pack those separately from the originals. In case your luggage doesn’t arrive at your destination always take important items in your carry-on bag, of course passport, air tickets, prescription medications, your working and reading material, a light sweater, a warm and soft Hedonies shawl.
In the last years I have started layering moisturising masks during the flight, it helps keeping my skin from over-drying, and Clarins masque crème anti-soif is definitely one of my preferred. Take it with you in a small container or buy it at the duty free inside the airport.
Remember to bring only half of what you think you need. It is very hard, I know … but it will leave some space for something to buy along your itinerary… and there are so many nice things to bring back!
Remember that you will not find irons and boards at hotels so, if you can, bring a small travel iron with you as well as electrical adapters.
The voltage may vary, but in most of the cities it is either 125 or 220. Adapter/converter kits can be obtained at most electrical supply stores.
Never forget to pack sunglasses and sunscreen of your recommended filter according to your skin tone and type.
Passports and Health Requirements
A valid passport is required for any international travel. It is the responsibility of each passenger to have a passport valid for the duration of the trip. U.S. citizens do not require visa unless they expect to stay in Italy more than 90 days, to study or seek employment. Vaccinations are not a requirement for anyone.
Airline Security Rules
The new rules concerning your carry-ons are very strict. Do not carry knives, scissors, or any sharp instruments on board with you.
Do not bring liquids on board, unless you buy them after security check at the airport.
U.S. Customs Regulations
Prescription drugs should be labelled and kept in their original containers to avoid misunderstandings. All insulin-dependent diabetics should bring a letter from their physician confirming the need to carry insulin syringes and testing lancets, and these should be brought in their original containers clearly marked with the pharmacy prescription label.
Luggage is subject to examination upon arrival and departure. Returning to the U.S., residents are granted a tax exemption on articles totaling up to $400 in retail value provided they accompany you, are for your own use, and are declared. This amount may vary, therefore check it out with the customs offices when you leave your Country.
Timezone and Conversion
– A liter is just under 34 ounces. Therefore, a half-liter is a little more than a pint. Wine service by the glass is usually in the 125–200 milliliter (ml) range. A 330 ml package is equal to 12 oz.
– A meter is around 3 inches longer than a yard (39” more or less…). A kilometer (km) is slightly over 0.62 mile. Multiply km by 0.6 if you want a rough idea of how many miles you’ve gone.
– A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds. Therefore, 500 grams is 1.1 lb, 250 grams is about a half-pound and so on.
Italy is six hours ahead of ET: when it’s 9:00 in New York, it is 15:00 in Italy.
Tipping should be considered in your budget for the trip.
The amount is more or less the same as you would give in the U.S. In most restaurants, the basic tip is already included in the bill (you will see it in the item called “servizio”). Please keep in mind that most restaurants do not accept that you include a tip on a credit card payment, so be prepared to have cash with you.
- Local guides – € 10,00 per tour
- Maid at the hotel € 1,00/person/day when checking out of the hotel
- Private drivers € 10,00 per day
- Porters at the hotel € 1,00 per baggage, per way
I.V.A. / VAT – Tax Refund
Foreign tourists making purchases in Italy can claim an I.V.A. (purchase tax) rebate on every purchase (for example a print, dress, handbag, jewel etc.). I suggest you to ask the vendor and check with stores for the minimum sales amount for VAT. Refund.
Also, ask the vendor for a proper receipt describing what has been purchased, then send it back to the store upon returning to your country of origin, no later than 90 days after the date of receipt. This receipt must be checked and stamped by Italian Customs at the departure airport.
Personal Security Precautions
As in any other Country, carry your wallet, purse in a safe way.
Food & Drink
Water is generally safe for drinking. Bottled water is always a good alternative if you are very cautious. Cocktails and mixed drinks are not common and many names have different meanings in Europe, and can be expensive especially at hip hotels and trendy bars.
Wine and beer are very very special all over Italy! It is worth trying the wine of the region wherever you go, they are so different one from the other according to the area the grapes are cultivated.
As far as coffee, remember that if you ask for ‘latte’ you will get simple milk as this is what ‘latte’ means in Italian… maybe what you want is ‘latte macchiato’ …
Street food is safe all over Italy but avoid raw fish and seafood outside restaurants.
Most cell phone plans require that you activate the phone for international service before you can use it overseas. Some cell phones that are in use in the US will not work in Italy and in Europe. Check with your cell phone service provider before you leave.
Banks in Italy are open Monday through Friday from 8:35 AM to 1:35 PM and from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and are closed all day on Saturday and Sunday and on national holidays. A “Cambio” is a currency exchange office that may be open when banks are closed.
Italy uses the Euro “€”. The approximate exchange rate as of today is 1 Euro = $1.12 .
For the best exchange rate, I would recommend changing dollars to Euros in banks. Keep exchange receipts, as you may need them to exchange the Euros that you have not spent when you leave the country. Major credit cards are widely accepted by shops and hotels however please be aware that Diners is not very common and American Express is often not accepted because of very high charges for shop keepers.
There are many ATM machines throughout Europe, even in the small towns. If your ATM card is in the PLUS or CIRRUS network you should be able to use your card during your trip without any problem. A lot of travellers find using their ATM card abroad more safe and convenient than carrying large amounts of cash. The exchange rate on currency withdrawn from an ATM machine is usually better than you would receive for exchanging currency.
Some tips on what to wear and Dress code
Venice, Rome, Florence and most Italian nice smaller cities are made for walking; most areas are in stone (and cobblestone!) and I would encourage to choose comfortable shoes and add a pair of dressy as Italians like to dress up when going out for dinner.
Do not wear beachwear in the cities and villages and do wear gym attire only if you are headed to the gym.
Italians are very style-conscious and they pride in respecting dress rules. It is a way to show respect dressing according to the venue and the people we are visiting, even if there is no formal dress code mentioned in explicit way.
In general, when in Italy, do not overdo, not even using famous luxury brands.
Last but not least, dress modestly and respectfully when visiting churches or holy sites. Visitors are not permitted to enter wearing shorts or showing bare shoulders.
Buon viaggio and buon divertimento!