Best time to go: April – June and mid-September – October. From July – September there are many holiday makers. In August, many Italians also go on holiday, making the holiday regions very busy, but the urban areas may be quieter during this month.
Best for: Art and Architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Wine
The Italian welcome is as warm and traditional as a glass of fine wine and you will find the Italians to be the ultimate hosts throughout your stay.
Italy is one of the most popular vacation countries in Europe as all seasons are good for a visit. It`s an international playground in summer with many famous resorts inland and at the water`s edge. In winter, the Italian Alps are unequalled for scenery and skiing conditions. And in spring and autumn, the visitor can take in all that Italy has to offer, at a more leisurely pace.
Go shopping in Milan (Milano), Italy`s most sophisticated city. Do not miss the chance to wear an elaborate costume and mask at the Venice Carnival. Be fascinated by Rome`s historical sites – the Colosseum. Enter the Vatican City an independent sovereign state best known for the magnificent St Peter`s Basilica. Among the principal features of the Vatican Palace (the Pope`s residence) are the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum.
In Milan (Milano), appreciate Leonardo da Vinci`s masterpiece, The Last Supper, which may be viewed at the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
For up to date Health & Visa information click here
Capital: Rome (ROM)
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Language: Italian (dialects vary across regions). Albanian, Slovenia and Greek are spoken in certain regions. English, French and German may be spoken in tourist areas.
Dialling code from SA: 0039
Time Zone: UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)
Side of the Road: Right
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs either have two round pins or three pins in a row
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink, including fountains unless there is a sign to indicate otherwise.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. Dress is casual, but smart as clothing and appearance are important to Italians. Beachwear should be confined to the beach. Conservative clothing should be worn when visiting religious buildings and rural communities. When visiting churches, you should not bring food inside or drink from your water bottle, and cell phones should be switched off. Public drunkenness is not appreciated. “Ciao” is only used among friends, if greeting strangers use the more formal greetings such as “buonasera.”
Travel Tips / Warnings: A service fee may be charged for using credit / debit cards in restaurants. If visiting Vatican City, check for local restrictions on use of debit/credit cards and ATM withdrawals, as they have been subject to suspension. Italy has a Charter of Rights for Tourists (click here: http://www.italia.it/en/useful-info/rights-for-tourists.html). Strikes by transport workers happen regularly. Avoid protests.
Duty Free: Italy is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs – all at tax-free equivalent prices.
If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption. Goods imported for commercial purposes are subject to duty and the following guideline amounts are in place to determine whether this is the case:
• 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.
• 10L of spirits over 22% volume, 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume, 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine) and 110L of beer.
If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Italy by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume.
• Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers (reduced to €150 for children under 15).
Prohibited Imports: Meat and milk and any derivative products from most non-EU countries, protected animal and plant species, unlicensed firearms and weapons, and counterfeit goods.
Prohibited Exports: Cultural artefacts which are more than 50 years old must be accompanied by an export licence.