Holiday à la "Dolce Vita" – Welcome to Italy!
Anyone who thinks about Italy almost always conjures up the characteristic image of a boot-shaped peninsula surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. "Bella Italia" is the first choice of many travellers. Besides art and culture in the splendid Italian cities, this sunny country is also ideal for a relaxed holiday on one of the many beaches along the extensive coast. And of course, enjoying pizza and pasta is a must on any Italian holiday – it’s simply a part of "La Dolce Vita", the sweet life.
Here are a few tips and some background information to help you have a great holiday in this great country:
General information on Italy as a holiday destination
Entry requirements/visa: Please find out about the current entry requirements before going on your holiday, for example visit the website of the Foreign Office (http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Laenderinformationen/00-SiHi/ItalienSicherheit.html)
Information for car drivers: A driving licence (EU driving license is recommended), registration documents and nationality plates indicating the country of registration are required. A driver who is not driving his own car requires a letter from the owner giving him permission to drive the vehicle. At vehicle checkpoints you may have to show an international "green insurance card" and, in the event of an accident, you will need this as proof of insurance. It is recommended to take out short-term comprehensive insurance for your stay in Italy. Driving on motorways is subject to a toll. Dipped headlights must always be switched on when driving, even during the day. Lead-free petrol (senza piombo) is available at almost all petrol stations. In central and southern Italy it is better to fill up sooner rather than later. It is not permitted to carry a reserve fuel canister or fill up canisters at petrol stations. In the event of a breakdown you can contact the Italian automobile club ACI by phoning 116. In August it is recommended when you are in a tourist centre if possible to reserve a garage or a car parking space as there is often a lack of parking areas.
Safety vests in the car: When in travelling by car in Italy, you must have for each traveller a safety vest with high-visibility reflective stripes. Plan ahead and take with you as many safety vests as there are seats in your vehicle. Make sure that the vests are approved and marked with the European EN471 code. Not only do safety vests have to be available, but they also have to be within easy reach at all times in the interior of the vehicle, and not stored in the boot.
Train lines: The main railway line runs more or less along the coast. That way, you can enjoy fantastic views on a train journey.
Bank hours (approx.): Mon-Thur: 8.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. - 4 p.m., Fri: 8.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. and 2.45 p.m. - 3.45 p.m.
Credit cards and traveller's cheques: Credit cards are accepted in many hotels and shops in Italy. Traveller's cheques may be cashed in banks and currently also in hotels if you show an ID. Cash can be withdrawn at many ATMs using an EC card. To a great extent it is possible to pay by EC card.
Business hours of post offices (approx.): Mon-Fri 8.30 a.m. - 2.00 p.m., Sat 8:30 a.m. - 11.00 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. at the end of the month.
Local language: Italian. German is spoken in many hotels, restaurants and shops.
Local time: There is no time difference to Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
Ferragosto: This is on August 15th and is the peak of the Italian holidays. "tutta l'Italia" is on the move to the holiday resorts around that time.
Eating and drinking out: Besides a service charge, there is also a charge on the restaurant bill for "pane e coperto" (bread and cover charge), regardless of whether or not you have eaten any bread. In bars, a drink at a table costs more than one you have when standing at the bar. Always keep the bill. The Italian finance police (SOCA) are entitled to check whether you have a receipt even outside a bar (you may have to pay a fine if you have no receipt).
Power: In the hotels you will find 110 or 220 volts. An adapter is required almost everywhere. Energy and water: the government permits heating in hotter regions only up to approximately the end of March and from the end of October (or in extreme weather conditions). Air-conditioners are usually in operation only during the summer months, and then only during the day or possibly on an hourly basis.
Drinking water: Please do NOT drink tap water!
Tipping: 5 - 10% is typical in the country.
Illness on holiday: People who have German medical insurance have a right to treatment in Italy - if urgently required - by doctors, dentists, hospitals and so on, which are approved by the foreign statutory health insurance company. Present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or alternatively an equivalent document as proof of your insurance (you can obtain both documents from your health insurance company). Independently of this, we urgently recommend you take out travel health insurance for the duration of your holiday.
Smoking: There has been an absolute ban on smoking in Italy in all public areas since 01.01.2005.
For more information, visit the website of the Italian Tourism Office: