Travel Tips



Travelling by train is one of the easiest ways to move in Italy. Railways have grown in these years and you can reach almost every place, in many cases it is better than moving by bus or by plane.

There are different train lines depending on the length of your journey and the speed of the train:

  • Regional trains
    They run on short and medium-long routes among different cities. They are used as public transport for every reason like tourism, work or study, and usually routes have a fixed price.
  • High-speed trains (“Alta Velocità”)
    They cover long-distance routes in less time, going at 250/300 km per hour. They have comfortable seats and the ticket price depends on the occupancy of the train. On the main routes (Milan to Naples or Venice to Rome, for instance) they are very frequent, and you arrive right in the city centre, without taking a flight with all its restrictions (bag policy, transfers, etc.)

Before travelling, check your ticket to be sure of your departure and arrival station, the time of the trains, the train company name and, of course, your seat number. Also, you should:

  1. Get an app
    The railway apps are free to download and help you with all the information you may need during your trip. For instance, if you need to change different trains you may need platform details in advance; you can also be up to date about delays, strikes and change of route.
  2. Count your luggage
    Keep your luggage to a minimum to help you move faster and easier within the station, especially when you need to change trains and platforms. And remember your umbrellas and sweatshirts, if you have them!
  3. Arrive early at the station
    When travelling on your own without being picked up, try to get to the station at least half an hour before your train departure. In this way, you can see if there are delays or other problems and get to the correct platform with no rush. Always check the timetables on the departures board and search for your train by the alphanumeric series that distinguishes it. Look for the number of your platform and follow the right directions. Before boarding, check your ticket for the cabin and seat number, this will help you to find your seat without struggling and walking through the wagons when the train is running.
  4. Make your journey comfortable
    On long-distance trains, there is always a bar or restaurant wagon, still you may want to bring some snacks and water with you. Heating and air conditioning make the air inside the wagons very dry, therefore hydration during the journey is very important. Also, during the hot season always keep a sweatshirt at hand, you never know how cold it can be with the air conditioning!
  5. Hygiene first
    If you have to go on a long journey, you may need to use the train's toilets. Remember to bring some sanitizing wet wipes and a disinfectant travel cleaner.
  6. Getting off
    Do not stay too close to the train door and open it only when the train is completely stopped.



Renting a car in Italy is one of the best options to explore the country. There are so many cities and small villages that you can reach only by car and, especially in some regions of the south, the public transport system is not so reliable.

The road classification depends on technical and functional characteristics.

  • Autostrada (Highway)
    It is a toll high-speed road with multiple lanes, rest areas, motorway restaurants and petrol stations along the way. The speed limit is 130 km/h (80mph).
  • Superstrada” (Freeway) and “Strada Statale” (State Road)
    They are high-speed roads that run in certain major regions to connect different areas; they have multiple lanes and the speed limit ranges from 70 (43) to 110 km/h (68 mph).
  • Strada Comunale” (City Road)
    The speed limit depends on which part of the city you are, centre or outskirts; usually, it goes from 50 (31) to 70 km/h (43 mph)

When choosing a rental car, pay attention to the following:

  • Driver's age: the minimum age to rent a car is 21 years old. Drivers under 25 years of age pay an additional supplement.
  • Additional drivers: You will pay a daily fee for each additional driver.
  • Drop-off: if it is different from the pick-up you will pay an additional cost.
  • Types of car: from “Economy” to “Luxury” depending on the model and size of the vehicle you are choosing. Just remember that in Italy most of the cars have manual transmission, so you will need to ask if you want automatic transmission!
  • Navigator: it is always better to request it, as the maps on your mobile phone may not work depending on the internet connection or the area in which you are travelling (for example in the mountains or other remote locations).
  • Unlimited mileage: it should always be unlimited, check it out.
  • Insurance: It is better to know exactly what is "covered" by the insurance included in the rental of the vehicle and what is not, and also how the procedures are implemented, who covers the damage, when and how. If necessary, add additional paid coverage.

Upon check-in:

  1. Read the contract carefully or have it explained carefully, to avoid running into clauses that you do not like. You’ll waste a few minutes but at least you’ll know what you are signing, especially in terms of deductibles and procedures in case of damage. Get a phone number where someone can answer to help you.
  2. To avoid discussions when you return it, take some pictures from every angle with your smartphone. Check the interior/exterior and the equipment: if it has any damage or something is missing, have it noted on the contract.
  3. If you are not familiar with the vehicle (for example, you do not know how to operate the handbrake), ask the person in charge to explain to you how it works.

And when you return it:

  1. Return the car during opening hours, check that there is no new damage and have a written certificate issued. If you have an early flight, be sure to know the procedure for returning the car when the offices are closed.
  2. Return the car with the amount of fuel stated on the contract you signed.
  3. Take some pictures of the car, to be sure not to have any problems later.



The Euro (€) is the only currency accepted in Italy. Shops accept all kinds of payments but cash is still the king. Digital transactions are on the rise, but in some places you’d better have some cash to avoid unexpected problems.

  • Take cash before you leave
    Have some cash with you, a couple of hundred € to ensure that you have something for your petty expenses: taxi cabs, sandwiches, phone calls, public transport tickets, etc. Remember that many small shops do not take a credit card for small payments, even in big cities.
  • Withdrawing money
    You can withdraw money at ATMs (called “Bancomat” in Italy), but the daily limit is 250 €, so make sure you have enough cash for your expenses.
    Banks have different opening hours: they are usually open from 9:00 to 16:00 and close during lunchtime, but ATMs are accessible 24/7. Tell your bank operatives the dates you will be travelling, so your card will not be blocked for security reasons.
    You will find Money Change Shops in the airports, stations and city centres of major cities, but not in smaller cities. Keep in mind that most smaller bank branches do not even hold foreign currency.
  • Using your Credit Card
    All stores in bigger cities take credit cards but some in small towns don’t. MasterCard and VISA are the most commonly accepted cards. Each credit card company has its policy about international exchange rates, they may even add an international exchange fee on top of the exchange rate, so check with your bank or credit card company about their policy.
  • Mobile payments and Apps
    Digital payments are on the rise in Italy. You can pay contactless with Google Pay or Apple Pay in many shops and restaurants. There are also some mobile apps for paying for car parking or renting bicycles and scooters in major cities, which you can download from Apple Store or Google Play.



In Europe, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and most Asian countries the normal power outlets are 230 volts with a frequency of 60 Hz, and the high-power appliances are fed 380 volts. In North America and other countries such as Mexico and Brazil, it is 240 volts with a frequency of 50 Hz, then it is split into two 120-volt lines. The 120-volt outlets are for lighting, small appliances, and other devices (TV set, computer, toaster, etc.). The oven, cooking range, air conditioner, electric water heater, EV charger, and other high-power devices use the full 240 volts, with special grounded plugs and outlets that are larger than the 120-volt type. Not only voltages and frequencies but sockets themselves are different.

  • Always check the voltage
    Plug adapters allow you to plug your electrical device into the Italian wall socket, but they do not convert the electricity and volts used so if your appliance is designed to run only on 110-120 volts, you are likely to see smoke, if not fire. You will need a step-down power converter or transformer to safely step the voltage down from 220 to 110. You can get along with just a plug converter for many of today's small electrical devices designed to run on dual voltages. You should check the back of the device or the "power brick" for the electrical input specifications. Be careful with your hair dryers and curling irons because these devices cannot often be used in dual voltage situations!
  • Using your mobile phone
    You can charge any mobile phone in Italy by using the correct power converter. Nowadays all mobile phones have a USB-charger, so you will not have any problem. Just remember to get your phone unlocked to use a local sim card.
  • Wi-fi and Internet in Italy
    Almost all hotels and country houses in Italy offer free wi-fi access to the internet.
    Free wi-fi hotspots in Italy are not as common as elsewhere in Europe, though there are public spaces in major cities where you may connect. A cheaper although more expensive alternative is to purchase a pre-paid mobile SIM card, which provides mobile data packages and offers high-speed internet access from most areas in the country. Prepaid SIMs can be purchased online, in provider branches, grocery stores and at some newsstands. In some cities there are also “Internet points”, allowing you to print documents and use Pcs.



The healthcare system in Italy, known as Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), provides universal coverage to citizens and residents on a regional basis, with public healthcare largely free of charge. In every major town there is a public hospital; for minor issues (headaches, stomachaches, etc,) “Guardia medica” (a doctor answering on the phone) is on duty for weekends and holiday emergencies. There is also a parallel private medical service that can be covered by private medical insurance or out-of-pocket payment.

Emergency Numbers

The universal European emergency number is 112. There are also individual numbers specific to Italy for emergency services:

- Police: 113
- Fire Brigade: 115
- First Aid: 118

Remember that, in case of emergency, foreign citizens (from EU and non-EU countries) can show up at the emergency department of a public hospital and have the right to be treated the same way as the Italian citizens, free of charge.

  • You can ask the Pharmacist
    With a green cross outside the window, pharmacies usually have the same opening hours as shops. In larger towns and cities, you’ll find at least one open all night and others offering 24-hour service; their addresses are displayed outside all the local pharmacies.
    Pharmacies also act as walk-in clinics for minor health problems. They are usually the first point of medical advice for most Italians, as pharmacists have a certain level of medical training. When travelling, carry extra medications that may be needed as well as copies of prescriptions.
  • Travel medical insurance
    If you are insured, check your insurance cover while abroad (many companies offer limited or no coverage).
    See also Travel Insurance
  • Is tap water safe?
    Water is drinkable throughout Italy, from taps or designated fountains, so long as there is no “Acqua non-potabile” sign.
    That being said, travellers often have more sensitive stomachs, plus there is the matter of taste. Bottled water is easily available at reasonable prices and it is aòmos always served in restaurants and bars.



Travel insurance can minimize the considerable financial risks of travelling: accidents, illness, missed flights, cancelled tours, lost baggage, theft, are only some of the inconveniences that may occur during your trip.

The insurance menu includes five main topics: trip cancellation and interruption, medical, evacuation, baggage, and flight insurance. Supplemental policies can be added to cover specific concerns (identity theft, for example).

Some travel insurance is reimbursement-only: you'll pay out-of-pocket for your expenses, then submit the paperwork to your insurer to recoup your money. In other cases, for example with medical coverage, you may arrange to have expensive hospital or doctor bills paid directly. Either way, if you have a problem, contact your insurance company immediately to ask them how to proceed. Major insurance companies are always accessible by phone 24 hours a day.

Here are some of the most common types of coverage:

  • Trip-Cancellation or Interruption Insurance
    A standard trip-cancellation or interruption insurance policy covers the nonrefundable financial penalties or losses you incur when you cancel a prepaid tour or flight for an acceptable reason, such as:
    You, your travel partner or a family member cannot travel because of sickness, death, layoff, or a list of other acceptable reasons
    Your tour company or airline goes out of business or can't perform as promised
    A family member at home gets sick
    You miss a flight or need an emergency flight for a reason outside your control (such as a car accident, inclement weather, or a strike)
    Trip cancellation is when you don't go on your trip at all. Trip interruption is when you begin a journey but have to cut it short; in this case, you'll be reimbursed only for the portion of the trip that you didn't complete.
  • Medical Insurance
    Travel medical insurance may include supplemental travel benefits (i.e. Trip Interruption, Lost Checked Luggage, or Travel Delay), but its primary function is to protect you in cases of unexpected illness or injury that might occur abroad. It provides an array of medical benefits and access to quality emergency care. Depending on the contract you signed, it may include the cost of transporting you to different hospitals, coverage in case of death, the cost of transporting a family member to your side if you are hospitalized due to a medical emergency.
  • Theft Protection
    Considering the value of the items you pack along (laptops, tablets, smartphones….), this insurance may help you in case of theft during your trip. If anything is stolen and you plan to file an insurance claim, you'll need to get a police report.
  • Baggage insurance
    This policy is usually included in other plans and covers lost, delayed, or damaged luggage. If you check your baggage for a flight, it's already covered by the airline.
    Homeowners or renters insurance typically covers your possessions anywhere you travel; the baggage insurance covers the deductibles and items excluded from your homeowner's policy.
  • Flight insurance
    Basically a life insurance policy, it covers you when you're on the airplane and it’s included in the price of your airplane ticket.



As in most of Europe, tipping isn’t expected in Italy. However, if you receive exceptional service, which meets or exceeds your standards, tipping would be appropriate. People in the service industry may refuse your generosity at first, but they are just being polite.

  • When eating out
    - “Coperto”: it is a charge per person (generally 1 to 3 €) used by restaurants to cover the cost of the service as well the bread, oil, salt you might be using. It is not a tip, but it is mandatory to pay.
    - “Servizio”: The fact that a “service” charge will be added should be clearly stated on the menu. It is a tip, so there is no need to leave anything more (unless you want to reward your waiter).
    - Tip as much (but not too much) or as little as you like. It is fully optional and there is no fixed percentage.
    - If you're having an espresso at the counter of a coffee bar, it's perfectly okay to leave the extra change behind (usually small coins).
    - Don’t get upset if the waiter doesn't bring you the bill when you finish eating. It is considered rude to give a client their bill if they haven’t asked for it.
  • At the hotel
    - Tipping at hotels is not required but it will be appreciated. You can tip the porter, the concierge or the room service, if they provide good service.
  • Tour guides
    - Tipping tour guides is not expected but very much appreciated. If you're happy with the tour, give your guide a few euros from each person in the group. A fair tip for a 3-hour tour of 4 people can be 50 €.
  • Cabs
    - You can tip your cab driver, but it isn’t expected nor is it common. Feel free to tip if they are extra helpful, they will appreciate it.



These tips can help you have a more peaceful and less stressful travel experience.

  • Do the check-in online for your flight.
  • Swap ‘must-visit’ for ‘lesser-known’: opting out of popular or ‘trending’ destinations is one of the easiest ways to avoid large crowds.
  • Travel during shoulder season, prices are higher and places are more congested during peak season
  • Pre-purchase tickets for major attractions online.
  • Hire a private guide, it is one of the easiest ways to venture beyond the popular sites and discover the quieter corners of a city or town.
  • Wake up and get out early: there’s usually less traffic, fewer people, and better light for photography as well.
  • Take advantage of siesta hours: businesses close up, people go home to eat, streets are a little emptier.
  • Walk or hire a bicycle: using public transport is often the cheapest and most efficient way to get around a city, but it’s always the most congested. If it’s reasonable to do so, consider walking or using a bike instead.



In Italy, VAT (Value Added Tax, IVA in Italian) is already included in all prices. If you are not a resident of the EU, you can get a part of the VAT back. Tourists aren't obliged to pay the tax, but because VAT/IVA is incorporated into the price of nearly everything you purchase, the tax is simply part of the purchase price. Here are some instructions to get your VAT back:

  • You are eligible for Tax-Free Shopping if you have a permanent residence in a non-EU country. Travellers under 18 years old should be accompanied by their parents.
  • The minimum purchase amount is 154.95 €, all spent in one store at one time. Receipts can be accumulated to reach the minimum amount if the purchases were made on the same day and in the same store.
  • VAT is not levied on books and therefore they are not eligible for tax refunds. However, the cost of books can contribute to the minimum purchase amount, if the books are bought at the same time as other VAT-qualifying products.
  • Petrol, accommodations and cars are considered non-refundable goods.
  • The Italian Tax-Free Form is valid for 3 months from the issuing month.
  • You must present your passport, or a scanned copy, in-store when purchasing the goods.
  • Refunds are paid on goods that are exported in the traveller’s luggage. If goods are too large to be carried in hand luggage, you better contact Customs in advance.


How to get the refund

  1. Shop in stores that display a Tax-Free Shopping or Euro Tax-Free sign on their window. In these stores, you’ll need to show your passport and they will give you a check for the VAT amount along with the receipt for the goods.
  2. At the airport, go to the customs office (look for the line “VAT refunds”) and have your receipts stamped, then take the receipts along with the check the merchant gave you to the “Tax-Free” booth in the airport where they’ll give you cash for that check.


  • If the Tax-Free Form is incomplete, you will not get any refund.
  • At the airport, allow enough time for the refund process before your flight departs.
  • The goods have to be sealed and unused. Don’t pack them away in your check-in luggage as you may need to show them to the Customs Officer.

If you’ve done too much shopping and you need to ship something home, we recommend to:

  • Weigh your luggage: the cost of shipping depends on the weight and measures of your luggage/box.
  • Properly choose the shipping box and pack your items. If necessary, put the “Fragile” label on it.
  • Put the proper shipping label inside the box and outside as stated in your shipment contract.
  • Write the correct address and the person name who will receive the shipment without any abbreviations.
  • Track the shipment in transit.



The climate of Italy is highly variable, depending on how far north or south you are. Though the country is small, the weather varies from the coasts to the valleys and the cities. From the tip of the boot to the most northern regions, travellers will be greeted with a range of different climates, from snow-covered mountains in the north to warm breezy shores in the south. Generally speaking, it is warm and dry in summer and mild in winter.

  • Northern regions, between the Alps and the Tuscan Apennines, can have particularly harsh climates.
    - Winters can be cold and summers often hot and humid.
    - In July and August, temperatures may reach 37 – 38°C (98 – 100°F) with high humidity; sometimes, due to high temperatures, thunderstorms may turn into hailstorms.
    - The first snowfall in the Alps is typically in November, though it isn’t too surprising to see snow in September and October. During the fall and into winter, you may also experience fog. In “Pianura Padana” (the Po Valley), winters are foggy but snow is occasional.
    - The best seasons for visiting this area are spring and fall.
  • In central regions (Southern Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Lazio with Rome), the climate is generally mild.
    - In summer, temperatures can climb up to 40°C (104°F), but the climate can be drier due to fresh air flowing from the mountains
    - In winter, temperatures usually never go below 0°C (32°F) and in the plain it doesn’t snow. Rainfall and thunderstorms are quite common. On the mountains (Abruzzo) it can snow heavily.
    - This area is great to visit during the off-season since the climate doesn’t get too cold and there aren’t as many tourists.
  • Southern regions (Campania, Puglia, Sicilia) are warmer all year round.
    - In summer, temperatures can get higher than 40°C (104°F). A hot, dry desert wind, the “Scirocco”, could cause severe heat, particularly in the cities. Fortunately, in the areas bordering the sea the cool sea breeze alleviates the stifling temperatures.
    - The weather can change between inland and coastal areas, especially in winter. This area includes some mountain ranges which can in winter be wet and cold, with some snowfall.
    - The islands, such as Sicily and Sardinia, have a varied climate, except for summer when temperatures can get up to more than 42°C (107°F)
    - April to June and September to October are the best months to visit, when it isn’t too hot.

Travellers who want to enjoy a sunny summer climate throughout the country should plan a visit from June through August. Early April and October are also very good times for those wanting to experience Italy with cooler weather and less traffic. However, whether it rains, snows or the sun is shining, any time of the year is the right time to experience the beauty of the country.

Always bring with you:

  • a jacket, in case it gets a bit cooler especially at night
  • an umbrella, for rainy days and sudden summer thunderstorm
  • a hat, to prevent your head from boiling under the sun
  • comfortable shoes: there is a lot to walk around!



  • Packing
    - Packing may seem simple, but it is a science with rules that travellers often learn with the experience.
    - The bigger your suitcase, the more you will put into it: the simplest way to avoid bringing too many things is to restrict the number of luggage and the size of the suitcase you’ll bring.
    - Do the clothing countdown: limit yourself to no more than a certain number of t-shirts, shorts, underwear, tops, shoes, etc. The list should be adjusted to suit your needs.
    - Think Tetris: the best way to fit everything into one bag is by filling every inch of space. Among the popular strategies, you can use packing cubes or roll your clothes, this helps to maximize space and minimize wrinkles.
    - Keep liquids in easy reach: Security may ask for inspection at the airport.
  • Laundry
    - Take Advantage of Hotel Laundry Services: most hotels in Italy, particularly the ones affiliated to hotel chains (Marriott, Sheraton…) offer laundry services. But be aware that hotels in small towns, small boutique hotels and country houses usually don’t provide it.
    - Find a Laundromat, which could be self-service or drop-off laundry service. Laundromats are easy to find in cities, but in some areas, especially in the south, they are not so frequent.
    - Use a Travel Laundry Wash Bag, that is an all-in-one solution to doing laundry that you can pack directly into your suitcase. They’re a simple solution to doing laundry, and one that you can do from the comfort of your hotel room or apartment.



Italy is generally considered a safe country. The nation’s violent crime rates are low and global safety rankings consistently place Italy among the safest countries in the world. That said, it’s still good to take some precautions.

  • Pickpocketing: near tourist destinations and landmarks, in public transportation or crowded places such as train stations, bus stations, keep your valuables in a safe place, make sure nothing of value is in your back pockets, and never keep all your money in the same place.
  • Scams: be on the lookout for anyone trying to distract you, help you with your luggage or groups of people acting strange, particularly in large, popular cities and landmark areas.
  • Beggars: begging can happen in large cities, but tourists are unlikely to experience aggressive beggars.
  • Cabs: stick to officially licensed vehicles with a taxi sign on the roof and make sure that the driver resets the meter before you get going.
  • Uber: rides are available only in Rome and Milan. Choose a busy, well-lit area when waiting for your ride, confirm that your vehicle’s license plate and driver match what’s listed on your phone, sit in the back, share your ride’s progress with a friend or loved one. Also, don’t tell the driver your name when you arrive; ask for the name on the booking instead.
  • Italy, like other popular European destinations, is very safe for women travellers.
  • Terrorism: Italy hasn’t been as plagued by terrorism as other European countries. However, report suspicious packages and people, listen to local authorities in the event of an attack and sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that you become easier to find in case of emergency.

Even if you take all the necessary precautions, you may still be the unlucky victim of some kind of theft.

  • Before you travel, make photocopies of the signature/photo page of your passport and keep them in different places than your actual passport. You’ll need all that information to get an emergency replacement.
  • Write down the “in case of emergency” phone numbers.
  • If possible, carry two or more credit cards separately, just in case one is taken. If you find your credit card has been stolen:
    a) Call your bank(s) immediately to block the stolen cards and dispute the charges that you don’t recognize.
    b) Report the theft to the police and get a police report.



Italy can be a great destination for vegetarian and vegan travellers. The average everyday Italian diet is vegetarian-friendly; most traditional preparations of “cucina povera”, classic recipes and regional specialities are meatless and in all restaurants you can easily find dishes without meat. There are also many vegetarian and vegan restaurants all over the country.

When eating out, learn about the local specialities and ask for a menu in English, it is available in most restaurants. To be on the safe side, specify that you are vegetarian (“Sono vegetariano/a”). And when you order a dish, just ask:

  • E’ senza carne? - Is it without meat?
  • E’ senza formaggio? - Is it without cheese?
  • E’ senza latte? - Is it without milk?
  • E’ senza uova? - Is it without eggs?

Most Italian menus are split into the following categories:

  • Antipasti (appetizers)
  • Primi piatti (first courses)
  • Secondi piatti (main courses)
  • Contorni (side dishes)
  • Dolci (dessert)

As a general rule, most “primi piatti” and “contorni” will be vegetarian and/or vegan while “secondi piatti” will focus on meat or fish. Remember that in general Italians use more olive oil than butter.

All this being said, many Italian dishes will have hidden meat in it. Most soups will be made with beef or chicken broth. “Fritto misto” (or mixed batter-fried dishes) may be stuffed with pork or beef. “Guanciale” (cured pork jowl) is used frequently as a base in certain sauces, including “pasta all’amatriciana” and “spaghetti alla carbonara”. Cream or eggs are frequently used as the base in desserts. Always ask which ingredients are used.

If everything else fails, you can always count on pizza and pasta:

  • You will find pasta under “Primi Piatti”. You can usually always find pasta with tomato sauce or vegetables, olives and capers. Specify that you want dried (“secca”) pasta and not fresh (“fresca”), the latter is made with eggs.
  • You can find vegetarian pizza everywhere and you can build your pizza as you like.

Italians have a high rate of lactose intolerance, so most ice-cream shops have dairy-free options. Just ask for “gelato senza latte” (without milk) or “gelato di soia (soy).