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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Italy Travel Requirements

Travellers Essentials

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.

Time Zone
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/34C.

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/10C) 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.

Getting Around
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 Aeolian Islands.

If you’re 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 and efficient.

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 Lazzi.

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.

Money Matters
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.

Getting There
Most major world airlines serve Rome’s 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 via France.

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 you’ve selected is open; many close during the winter. Escorted coach tours from the UK are plentiful.

Unless you’re 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.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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