We hope the following information will be useful to you in preparing for and during your trip.
Climate and wearing apparel: Italy enjoys Mediterranean climate with distinct winter, spring, summer and fall seasons. In spring and fall, temperatures range from the low 40’s to high 60’s during the day. We suggest medium weight apparel, with warm sweaters and jackets for early morning and evening. In summer, temperatures range from the high 60’s to high 80’s during the day. You may wish to pack light weight apparel, keeping in mind that shoulders and knees must be covered when visiting religious sites. In winter, temperatures range from the high 30’s to high 50’s during the day. We suggest heavier weight apparel, with warm sweaters and coats. It would be wise to pack a travel umbrella for an occasional shower that may occur.
Cuisine: Italian cuisine is world renowned for its excellence. You want to keep in mind that in a restaurant, it is customary to consume a full course meal of a pasta dish, a meat/fish dish and vegetables. Optional is the “antipasto” and the dessert. Your average full meal runs from $30 to $50, per person, depending on the choice of menu and wine. Café’s are ideal for quick lunches, where you can consume from the “cappuccino” and “cornetto”, typical Italian breakfast, to a variety of sandwiches and pasta/salad dishes. Know that most do not have sit down facilities and, if they do, what you consume will cost more due to service charges.
Currency: The local currency is the Euro (€). You will find coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, €1, €2, and paper bills of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500. For the current exchange rate, please visit Bloomberg.com. Our recommendation to obtain cash quickly and at a competitive rate is directly from an ATM, once your reach your first destination. Credit cards are accepted, at the hotels and some stores/restaurants, although many facilities do not accept American Express. If you intend using your bank card, consult your bank before departure to ensure that your ATM card is internationally compatible.
Dress code: Casual and comfortable are key words especially in footwear as there will be a lot of walking to do.
Hair dryers/Irons: Please note that the hotels are equipped with hair dryers. Irons/ironing boards are not provided.
Itinerary: Exact departure times can be found on the bulletin board that your tour leader will post each day, at your hotel.
Flights: Enclosed with your final documents, you will find a detailed flight itinerary. Check-in time varies from carrier to carrier. We suggest check-in at least two hours prior to departure.
Hotels: You will find the name/address/phone/fax numbers of your hotels, following your tour itinerary, in your final documents. Hotel rooms are usually available for check-in after 2:00 pm. Check-out time is usually 12 noon.
Insurance: Italy has a socialized medicine system. Anyone requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization will be accepted in public hospitals. We suggest checking personal insurance coverage, while traveling abroad.
Language: The national language is Italian, even though English is commonly spoken in hotels, some restaurants and stores. Useful words to know are “per favore” (please) and “grazie” (thank you).
Linen: General bed and bath linen are provided in your hotels. However, you will not find washcloths, as it is not customary.
Luggage: For convenience and faster handling during your trip, the baggage handling on tour is limited to one piece per person. Baggage allowance regulations limit the weight of the checked in luggage to 50 lbs. with linear dimensions (W+H+D) not to exceed 62 inches. The carry on weight limitation is 15 lbs. with linear dimensions not to exceed 45 inches. In addition to the carry on, you may bring with you a personal item such as a purse, briefcase or laptop computer. Cellular phones may be carried on board. You will find a travel bag included in your final documents of a convenient size for your personal items. For more information about U.S. carry-on baggage restrictions please read the complete details on the U.S. government airport regulations website, www.tsa.gov.
Mail: You may buy stamps for your postcards at any store bearing a rectangular black background with a white “T” sign. The cashier will be able to tell you the necessary postage for your mail. Better not tackle the post office as you may encounter long lines.
Medical: No special vaccinations are required for travel to Europe. Anyone taking prescription medicine should be careful to bring an adequate supply for the entire trip and should remember not to pack it in check-in luggage.
Passport and Visa: All U.S. citizens are required to have a valid passport, with an expiration date of no less than six months from the date of return. A visa is not required to enter Italy for U.S. citizens. Non U.S. citizens must check requirements with their respective consulate.
Phones: It is possible to make calls from all of your hotels with a service charge. Remember when you call the States to dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number you are trying to reach. We suggest checking if your carrier offers an internation call & data plan.
Shopping: Italy is known for its fine craftsmanship in leather, gold, lace and woodcarving. Fashion is another strong Italian product that you will find all over Italy. In Rome, you can purchase a great variety of religious articles.
Time difference: Italy 6, 7, 8 and 9 hours ahead of Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific Time, respectively.
Tips: General tips to porters at the hotel and waiters at the restaurants are included. It is customary to leave small change for restroom attendants, during your en route stops, and also at the café’s when consuming a beverage or snack. Tips to guides, tour escort and driver are not included. The suggested tip is $1.50 – $2.50 per service for the guide, $1.50-$2.50 per person per day for the driver and $3.50 – $4.50 per person per day for the tour escort.
Transportation: When taking public transportation, please be sure to put anything valuable in a safe place, out of reach of pick pockets that thrive in any large, tourist filled city. You may wish to make a copy of your passport to have with you and leave the original at the hotel. If taking a taxi, take only the official ones bearing the sign “taxi” on top and meters that should be turned on, as you enter the cab.
Voltage: The voltage is 220. Appliances you bring should have dual voltage and be equipped with the adapter from the two flat prongs to two round ones. It would be beneficial to purchase this adapter before leaving the U.S.