All about Italy basics
British citizens need a valid 10 year passport. EU nationals do not require a visa. All other visitors should check with the Italian Consulate.
Money The Italian currency is the Euro.
Opening times vary but as a general rule it is safer to go in the morning as in some areas the banks are not open in the afternoons. In most regions they will be open from 8.00 or 8.30 am through to around 1.30. Some, but not all, will open again for about an hour in the afternoon.
N.B. A visit to an Italian bank to cash travellers cheques can be quite a lengthy process. We no longer recommend this method. Too much form-filling, photocopying of passports etc! They are very security-conscious and highly bureaucratic organisations. Pre-paid currency cards which you load up with Euros before you start your trip are very handy instead. Use then in shops, restaurants etc. and at cash point machines (called Bancomat in Italy).
It is a good idea not to rely solely on these as they are not as widely used in Italy as elsewhere. In the cities and large hotels of course there is no problem, but in the country areas they will not be accepted at supermarkets or petrol stations for example. The situation is changing but it is best to have pre-paid cashcards with you as back-up, so that cash can be obtained if necessary.
Shop Opening times
Opening times vary from region to region but generally Monday – Friday shops will be open in the morning from around 8.30-12.30 or 1.00, then open up again at 3.30 or 4.00 until around 7.00 or 7.30 pm. In tourist areas you may find that shops may remain open throughout the siesta period.
On Saturdays, particularly in the smaller towns and villages, it is best to shop in the morning as afternoon opening can be unreliable. Most shops will be closed on Sundays, but for basic provisions the supermarkets at some motorway service stations are useful.
Some shops will be closed on Mondays, particularly in the larger towns.
Museums and Galleries are usually closed Mondays and sometimes also on Public Holidays.
Stamps (“Francobolli”) may be bought not only at the Post Office (PTT) but also at tobacconists. These have signs outside showing a large white T on a black background.
N.B. Postcards can take up to a month to reach the UK! A trick is to bring an envelope with you and put the postcard inside. Write AIRMAIL or put an airmail sticker on the outside and hope it arrives before you get home!
January 1st and 6th
|Easter Sunday and Easter Monday
|April 25th (Liberation Day)
|June 2nd (Republic Day)
|December 8th, 25th and 26th
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