Italian is the official language, though many regions still use their unique dialect as well, with Neapolitan and Sicilian the best-known examples. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, although in a few remote rural districts, inhabitants may only speak the local dialect.
Italy is a member of the Eurozone as well as the European Union, with the euro its official currency. Notes come as €500, 200,100, 50, 20, 10 and 5, and coinage is €2 and 1 plus cents at 100 to one euro. Other currencies are rarely accepted and can be exchanged at all banks, airports and rail stations. Hotels offer currency exchange, but rates offered may not be favorable. Travelers’ cheques are best in $US, euros or sterling, and are accepted everywhere. ATMs are widely found and all major credit and debit cards are accepted.
Italy lies in the Central European Time Zone, one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in summer and two hours ahead in winter.
Italy uses electricity at 220V/50H, and wall sockets allow for two or three-pin round-pin plugs. Small, dual-voltage electrical appliances such as laptops can be used safely with a plug adapter if necessary, but appliances using 110/120V will need a step-up power converter. The rating of the power converter should match or, preferably, exceed the rating of the device itself.
The dialing code for Italy is +39, and area codes vary according to location. The major mobile phone service providers are TIM, Omnitel Vodaphone, Wind and H3G. TIM covers 99 percent of the country, has low airtime rates and is the most recommended service for visitors. WiFi or fixed line internet access is available at many hotels for a charge, and internet cafés are common in the cities. Areas with free WiFi access are becoming more common. Towns and villages set at higher altitudes often have no broadband access.
All international airports in Italy provide duty-free stores for overseas travelers with a few, including Milan and Rome, elevating duty-free shopping to an art-form. Customs allowances are tailored to the customs requirements of the destination country, with US allowances set at one litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, and US$400 worth of gifts.
Milan Tourist Office: +39-027-740-4343 or www.visitmilano.it/turismo_en/ Rome Tourist Office: +39-06-06-08 or www.rome.info/ Florence Tourist Office: +39-05-529-0832 or www.firenzeturismo.it/ Naples Tourist Office: +39-08-140-2394 or www.inaples.it/eng/
Embassies in Italy
US Embassy: +39-06-852-721 UK Embassy: +39-064-220-0001 Canadian Embassy: +39-06-85-444-2911 Australian Embassy: +39-06-852-721
Emergency services: 911