Italy: Useful Information
Way more than just good spaghetti bolognese.
1. The currency of Italy is the euro.
2. Major credit cards are widely accepted in the big cities, but you shouldn’t count on it in the countryside.
3. The Italian sales tax is called IVA. The rate is currently set at 20%. If you live outside the EU, you can claim back the IVA on your purchases, provided you spend over €155 in a single shop. You have to get your receipts stamped at customs in order to claim this.
4. Typical shop opening hours are 9am-1pm, then 3:30pm-7:30pm, or 4pm-8pm. There is some regional variation in shop opening hours in Italy; for example, closing time tends to be a little earlier in the north.
5. Voltage supply in Italy is 220 volts. Plugs come in different sizes; the safest bet is to take a universal adaptor with you.
6. The international dialling code for Italy is 39.
7. The emergency numbers in Italy are 118 for an ambulance, 112 for police and 115 for the fire brigade.
8. Mobile phone coverage in Italy is above average, even in the countryside. You shouldn’t have any problem with phone coverage in the major cities. Remember to inform your service provider that you’ll be visiting Italy with your mobile phone, so that they can give you advice on how to get the best rates for your network.
9. Tap water is generally safe and reliable in towns and cities, but many locals prefer to stick to bottled water. This is good advice for visitors to Italy, as there is no standardised form of water treatment across Europe, and you may find the slightly different chemical taste hard to stomach.
10. Italy is too far away to pick up UK television broadcasts, but the main Italian satellite TV provider is Sky Italia, which carries several English-language news and entertainment stations.
11. Internet access in Italy is excellent, with free wi-fi hotspots in many parts of Rome and the other major cities, in addition to internet cafes and other public internet access points.
12. Very strict drink driving laws apply in Italy. The alcohol limit is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per milliliter of blood. This is even tougher than the UK, which allows 0.8.
13. Italy is one hour ahead of GMT.
14. Italy is an overwhelmingly Christian country, and the majority of people are Roman Catholic.
15. Restaurants in Italy tend to open for lunch until about 3pm, and then for dinner until around 11:30. Hours tend to be longer in the southern part of the country.
16. Banks in Italy are open 8:30am-3:30pm Monday-Friday, with an hour for lunch at 1:30pm.