Italy is a country in southern Europe that extends into the Mediterranean Sea, Italy is bordered by Monaco, France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
Rome, Milan and Venice
The climate of the coastal regions is typically Mediterranean, with mild winters and generally hot and dry summers. During the winter, cloudy rainy days alternate with spells of mild sunny weather. Generally, the hottest month is July (where temperatures can reach 32’C/34’C); the coldest month is January; the wettest month is November, with an average rainfall of 129mm; while the driest month is July, with an average rainfall of 15mm.
Italian is the language of the majority of the population, but there are minorities speaking German, French, Slovene and Ladino. English is widely spoken in tourist establishments.
South African passport holders require a visa for Italy.
WHAT THINGS COST *
Bottled water 1L EUR 2.00
Can of coke EUR 1.50
Bottle of local beer EUR 4.50
Take away lunch EUR 10.00
Dinner at a restaurant EUR 25.00
20 minute taxi journey EUR 50.00
*Purchase price will vary depending on point of sale.
Below are a few hints that may help you when planning for your trip to Italy:
A visa is required for South African passport holders.
Italy has enacted a tourist tax for hotel guests that will be collected by the hotel at the time of check-in. The tax rate varies depending on the category of the hotel, location and dates of stay from €1.00 – €5.00 per person per night. Please ensure you have budgeted for this.
Italy is situated in the temperate zone, but with a great variance in temperatures and climates. In the Alpine regions the winters are severe and the summers warm and pleasant. Further south, a typical Mediterranean climate is the rule, with cool (and at times rainy) winters and warm and dry summers. As an example, average rainfall in Rome varies between 130 mm in November and 20 mm in July, average temperature in November – February is 5 – 14 degrees (Celsius), in the summer months (June – September) temperatures range between approximately 20 and 30 degrees.
The currency used is the Euro. The bills will come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. The design of the bills is the same throughout the euro zone. Coins will be worth either one or two euros or in euro cents — 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 or 1. The coins will have a common face on one side. But on the other side, the symbol will differ from one country to another. Whatever the denomination, the same euro bills and coins can be used in all of the euro zone countries.
Clothing depends on the time of year and your destination within Italy. Italians tend to dress quite formally except at the coastal resorts during the summer months. Casual clothing and footwear (such as trainers) are quite acceptable during the day but you should dress up when going out at night. “Modest dress” is required when visiting monasteries and churches. Comfortable shoes are a must.
English is relatively well spoken in tourist areas, but off the main tourist route, a basic knowledge of Italian would be an advantage.
Italy has the same voltage as South Africa (220V). The majority of electrical sockets take a two-prong plug. An adaptor- set (multi plug) is recommended.
Very few hotels offer porter service; so ensure that you can carry your own baggage.
This is done to a large extent on foot, so passengers must walk more than they normally do in S.A.
Although OK to drink from tap, tourism authorities recommend you drink bottled water. This is far cheaper if bought at kiosks rather than in your hotel.
The rail network is recommended between the cities. Taxis are relatively expensive, and seldom stop if one tries to hail them on the street. However, taxi stands are found in most tourist areas.
The location of your hotel is important, due to the relatively expensive public transportation system. The city centre is the place to see and be. It is usually cost-effective to pay a little more for a centrally located hotel, rather than “saving” on accommodation by booking in outlying areas – the saving will probably be negated by transportation costs to and from attractions.
Service is included in all restaurant bills, so there is no need to tip ifyou do not want to do so. However, the Italian service industry is so poorly paid and waitering is considered a profession, a tip for good services would not be amiss. The Italians themselves often leave small change when paying for a drink and tip approximately 5% at restaurants. Tip taxi drivers and porters approximately Euro 1.-, depending on distance and/or pieces of luggage.
Guides and drivers should also receive a small gratuity for good service.
SHOPPING & FOOD
A number of goods are particularly associated with Italy such as fashion, porcelain, leather – shoes, handbags, wallets and belts. Foodstuffs, such as cheeses, cured meats, olive oil and wine, and of course pasta, wine and delicious breads. Everywhere from the smallest village to the largest city, there is at least one weekly morning market where you can find everything from clothes to pottery and foods.
Shops’ general opening hours are:
Monday – Friday: 09:00 – 12:30 & 15:00 – 18:00
Saturday: 09:00 – 12:30
Many shops are closed half a day during the week. Usually, it is Monday morning or Wednesday afternoon. In tourist areas, the shops can open on Sundays and holidays.