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  • Frequently Asked Travel Questions About Italy

    I've heard so much about the problem of pickpockets that I'm becoming paranoid about it. I bought the little money pouches that tuck under clothes for everyone in my family, and I also bought a special travel bag/purse that has a flap covering a zippered compartment to prevent theft. I'll put my camera, maps and other stuff that won't fit into the little pouches in the travel bag. Am I right to be so paranoid?

    Pickpockets are a bit of a problem, especially during the summer. But if you've taken all the precautions and you keep a close eye on the people surrounding you, you should be fine. Be weary, however, of people striking up conversations with you on public transportation. I hear in Naples there is a group of people that have women start conversations with people on the bus, so that the men can pickpocket them while they are distracted. I personally have never had a problem, and I felt very safe in Venice last year and always in Rome.

    Is public transportation generally safe? I know that I should use common sense like I would anywhere-- not traveling late at night, etc., but are there any special considerations in Venice, Rome or Florence? It seems that just about the only public transportation in Venice is various kinds of boats.

    I always use public transportation in Italy, and I've never had any problem with safety. I've even taken the bus in Napoli, which is probably the most dangerous city in the country right now. You must buy bus tickets at a newspaper stand or where they sell tobacco. When you go on the bus, you have to pass your tickets through a machine that marks them to show you paid for your ride. Hang onto these tickets because plain clothes police officers often ride the bus and ask to see your marked ticket.

    Is non-carbonated bottled water widely available?

    If you want non-carbonated water, you just ask for acqua naturale. You can find acqua naturale everywhere.

    Is milk usually served in restaurants?

    I'm not sure how available milk is at restaurants. You certainly can find it at the supermarkets and if it's for children, you can bring it with you without a problem.

    What kinds of kid-friendly beverages are generally available in restaurants?

    Most restaurants in Italy, to be honest, do not cater to children. There are no kids meals, for example, outside of the McDonald's, which you'll find just about everywhere. You should find juices and soda at most restaurants. Ice tea and lemonade are also popular during the summer months.

    I've been told various things by various people about the best way to get euros. Everybody has told me to wait until I get to Italy to get the euros. Have you ever had a problem getting money using a debit card at an ATM machine in Italy? We will have a visa card, a mastercard, and 2 debit cards, so hopefully something will work.

    If you have two credit cards, an ATM, and a bit of cash on you, you should have no problem whatsoever with money. You can change money in Italy or in the airport in America before you leave. Remember, bigger bills ($100 bill versus 5 $20 bills) will get a better exchange rate. You'll also get the best exchange rate when you buy things with your credit card.

    Do Italians wear shorts, or do only tourists wear shorts? I think the temperature in Venice is around 100 degrees, but I've heard that shorts are considered inappropriate. I would never wear shorts to a church, but are shorts considered appropriate attire for other sightseeing places? We don't want to offend anyone.

    There are some Italians who wear shorts only to the beach. They also seem to find our plastic flip flops and sweats to be in bad taste. But you certainly can wear shorts to travel around. However, in most of the churches in Italy, you must have your shoulders covered and wear long pants. They might not let you enter with a skimpy tank top, for instance, or in shorts. It will be hot there and many Italians think air conditioning is harmful to your health. You will find places that don't use AC, so dress appropriately for the heat.

    Do you need a visa to enter Italy?

    Depending on your citizenship, the stability of that country and the duration and reasons for your stay you may need to obtain a visa before coming to Italy. The Ministero degli Affari Esteri has a visa section that will answer all of your questions.

    Will any of my electrical appliances work in Italy?

    The electrical current in Italy is 50 Hz and 220 volts. Prongs are round and not flat. You will be required to purchase an adaptar if you want to be able to use your appliances. Adaptars can be purchased online or at hardware/electrical stores.

    Will my cell phone work in Italy?

    This is a very good question and one you want the answer to before you land in Italy. We have put together a guide that should help you determine if your phone will work in Italy and what some of your options are if it does not.


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