Visas and Passports
A passport valid for 6 months (or a valid identity document
for nationals of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany,
Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden)
is necessary to enter Italy. Nationals of the UK, Australia,
Canada, USA and Japan require only a valid passport but do
not require a visa. All other nationals should consult the
relevant embassies about visa requirements. Tourists are permitted
to stay in the country for three months, for longer periods
enquiries must be made at Italian consulates abroad.
Foreign visitors are required to register with the police
upon arrival in Italy. Hotels will usually ensure that this
is done but if a visitor is not staying in a hotel then the
onus rests with the individual to ensure that his/her passport
has been registered.
GMT/UTC plus one hour (two hours ahead in summer).
When To Go
Spring (mid-April to mid-June) and autumn (mid-September to
the end of October) are the best times to enjoy Italy. During
these seasons, the weather is pleasant enough for you to enjoy
the picturesque Italian scenery without the massive crowds.
These are reserved for summer. From July to the first half
of September, Italy is full of tourists with the weather getting
hot and humid, and temperatures soaring to the high 90s F/34°C.
August is the worst month to go, as this is the time that
when most Italians are on the move, take their vacations,
and many shops and businesses are closed as a result. On Ferragosto,
the August 15 national holiday, Rome is deserted. Of course,
with residents away on vacation, this makes crowds less of
a bother for tourists.
Winters in Italy are relatively mild but always include
some rainy spells. It can get chilly (50s F/10°C) in the north
and much colder at night (often below freezing). In the south,
winters are more temperate, but it is too cool to lie on the
beach or too drizzly to tour happily.
Foreign tourists crowd Rome at Easter, when Italians flock
to resorts and to the country. From March through May, bus
loads of eager schoolchildren on excursions take the city
by storm. The ski season generally lasts from December to
late March; swimming is best between June and September; and
July and September are the best months for walking in the
Alps. The further south you go, the longer you can linger
into November and December without feeling the pinch of winter.
Bring a sweater for evenings year-round.
Air travel within Italy is expensive, making it a less-attractive
option than travel by train or bus, which offer good services.
ATI (the domestic service offered by Alitalia) and other domestic
airlines provide frequent flight between the Italian airports.
Ferries link the Italian mainland with many of its islands
and several other Mediterranean countries. Regular boat services
run to the islands of Capri, Elba, Sardegna, Sicilia and the
If youre looking to go around the country, consider
a two-week Italian Rail Pass as an alternative to the more
costly Eurail Pass. The Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) is the state
railway and there are also a few private railway companies.
The rail network is adequately developed and widespread, especially
between major urban centres and tourist areas. The fastest
trains operate on the networks between the major cities while
the regional trains are fairly slow. It is also fairly cheap
Escorted/hosted tours, self-drive and chauffeur-driven
cars, buses and taxis can also be used to see Italy. When
taking taxis, be aware that taxi drivers in Rome often charge
more after 6 pm, so ask about it prior to getting in. Also,
make sure that the taxi uses a working meter. Good coach services
run between cities and towns and there are also good local
bus services. The main operators are SITA, Autostradale and
There is an extensive and well maintained road network.
Tolls are charged on the autostradas (motorways). As in the
rest of continental Europe, vehicles travel on the right and
overtake on the left. The wearing of seatbelts is compulsory
for front- and back-seat passengers as well as for the driver.
Speed limits are fixed at 50km (31miles) per hour in urban
areas, 90km (56miles) per hour on secondary and local roads,
110km (68miles) per hour on main roads outside urban areas
and 130km (80miles) per hour on motorways.
The unit of currency in Italy is the lira, consisting of 100
centesimi (1543 lire equal U.S.$1; 1996). The Bank of Italy
is the Italian national bank. A public institution, the Bank
of Italy has branches in each provincial capital.
On January 1 1999, the Euro became the official currency
of 11 EU member states (including Italy). The Euro is currently
only used as 'written money' (cheques, bank transactions,
credit cards, etc). The first Euro coins and notes will be
introduced in January 2002; the Italian Lira will still be
in circulation until July 1 2002, when it will be completely
replaced by the Euro.
Most major world airlines serve Romes main international
airport, called both Leonardo da Vinci and Fiumicino. The
other airport in Rome, Ciampino, serves mostly European cities,
as do the airports in Milan (Malpensa and Linate), Florence,
Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Turin, Venice and Pisa.
Ferries connect the country with Greece, Turkey, Tunisia,
Malta, Albania, Egypt and Spain. There are ferries from the
UK running services to Italy; either direct to St.Malo or
International sailings to Italy run from the UK, Croatia,
Greece, Libya, South America, the Far East, Malta, Spain,
France, Tunisia and Turkey. Cruise lines include Italian ports
on their Mediterranean, European and around-the-world
itineraries. Ferries link the Italian mainland with many of
its islands and several other Mediterranean countries.
You can drive into Italy from France, Switzerland or Austria,
but be certain that the mountain pass youve selected
is open; many close during the winter. Escorted coach tours
from the UK are plentiful.
Unless youre pushed for time, train travel is a great
way to enter Italy from within Europe. Excellent European
and internal rail service is available connecting most cities.
The most popular route is from the UK through the Channel
Tunnel to Brussels or Paris, and onwards to Italy.
Although strikes and work stoppages seem to be frequent
in Italy, they generally last only a day or two, and pilots
or air traffic controllers seem to limit their work actions
to a few hours in the morning.