Useful Tips

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Useful Tips 2010-11-26T19:15:30+00:00

Tips for emergencies during a holiday in Italy:

Identity papers stolen/lost
Inspite of the Schengen Agreement and open frontiers, one still needs a valid identity paper for identification that is also necessary for check-in at the airport. In case of loss, you should immediatelygo to a local police station (Carabinieri) and file a complaint. You need the complaint at the embassy of your country that will be able to release a temporary identity card/passport. Usually, besides the complaint, one should be organized with passport pictures (automatic machines in every train station or outside) as well, if not lost, also the driving licence, to ascertain your identity. Normally this is only possible during the normal opening hours of the embassy/consulate, but in urgent cases it is possible as well. Usually, urgent cases, the costs of the temporary identity paper are a little bit higher. In case that a person being a citizen part of the Schengen Agreement does not use plane and only moves by car, only the complaint of the loss should be necessary. To make sure that this is your case, please contact the embassy of your country.

Useful general Tips moving in Italy:

Shop opening hours:
Most shops are open in the morning from 9.00/10.00 until 2.30/13.00 Uhr. In the afternoon, during the winter months in towns, opening hours are between 3 and 4 p.m. until about 7.30/8 p.m. During the summer months, and especially during peak season in holiday resorts, shops are also open in the evening. The reason is that most people are mainly on the beach and in the early afternoon it is simply too hot that an Italy would go shopping (except huge supermarkets). Therefore, shops use to be open during the summer months in the afternoon between 5 pm. and 7.30/8 p.m. , maybe closed for dinner and then opened again from 21.30 until midnight. Huge supermarkets open generally at 8 a.m. and are opened non stop until 7.30/8 p.m. In many holiday resorts supermarkets are open during the summer months until 9 p.m.

Pharmacies:
Pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 – 13.00/16.00 – 19.30 Uhr geöffnet. In many towns, on Saturday there are only a few “emergency” pharmacies open. If you are standing in front of a closed pharmacy, there will be a board with the name and the address of the pharmacy/ies that are open, called Farmacia di turno. A new kind of pharmacy is the so called Parafarmacia that are selling only medicine (for headache etc.) one can buy without any prescription.

Banks/Money/Cards:
Italian banks are open from Monday to Freiday in the morning from about 8/8.30 until 13/13.30 and in the afternoon from 2.30 until 3.30/4.00 p.m. (depending on the bank). Most banks in the meantime have a system that is similar to a cheese counter in a huge supermarket that is you have to get a number! Furthermore, many banks do have directly outside a cash dispenser as inside, called (Bancomat). Maybe the one inside is more secure than outside. For security reasons, always here every bank has its own security measures to enter. From fingerprint until scanning system… During the peak season, especially during the weekend, when people arrive and/or depart and banks are closed, it is possible that the cash dispensers run out of money or only the direct clients of the bank are allowed to get money. Furthermore, there are differences of the amount one can get. One should take this in consideration, if one needs to pay for the holiday, restaurant etc. Many smaller restaurants such as Osteria and Pizzeria often do not have the possibility to pay with credit card or cash card.

Pronto Soccorso/Guardia Medica:
In case of a health problem, many places (also without a hospital) have a Pronto Soccorso or Guardia Medica. Usually treatment is free. If you go to a normal doctor (medico) or dentist (dentista) usually one needs to pay the whole amount, thus it is advisable to have a health insurance for holidays.

Petro Stations:
Most of the petrol stations on the Italian Motorways (autostrade) are open 24 h/day. On busier roads or the so calles Superstrada it might happen thaat also an Autogrill as well as the petrol station are open. Otherwise, they are open in the morning from 7.00 or 7.30 until 12.30/13.00 and in the afternoon from 15.00/15.30 until 19.30/20.00. Usually, right next to the cash desk house there is with service (costs a bit more) and the do-it-yourself, it. Fai da te are a bit further. On Sundays or holidays, not all petrol stations are open. Usually it works exactly as with the pharmacies, that means there should be a sign on which it is written, which petrol station will be open.

Churches:
In case that you are visitin Italy during the hot summer months, you should take into consideration that it is not possible to enter a church with short trouses or sleevless shirts or tank-tops. Women should cover their shoulders with a  scarf. In many huge towns such as Florence, you might find some stands outside the important churches with scarfs for sale…

Bars:
The Italian bars are similar to a café. Italians usually have poor breakfast and that’s why many Italians prefer to have breakfast outside. The typical Italian breakfast is composed of a Cornetto vuoto (a croissant without filling), con la marmellata or con la crema accompanied by a Caffè Macchiato (an espresso with a splash of hot or cold milk in a small espresso cup) or a Cappuccino (an espresso in a normal tea cup or cappuccino cup filled with lots of warm milk foam) or a Latte Macchiato (a glas of warm or cold milk with a splash of espresso coffe). In this kind of bars it is possible to get until lunch time small snacks such as pizza pieces, schiaccia (similar to pizza bread), panini (sandwiches), salad etc. Many bars offer in the evening starting from around 6 p.m. on Happy Hour. There, it is sufficient to buy a drink to make use of the delicious buffet that could be a dinner. In a bar, normally you need to pay first and then with the sales receipt (scontrino) one goes to the counter to get the desired product. In fact, in many bars is written (mosttimes only in Italian): Si prega di fare prima lo scontrino alla cassa!  Just a useful tip, especially for beautiful cafés in important squares such as in Piazza della Signoria in Florence: Get your drink directly at the counter and then go to the table. If you order at the table and a waiter brings it to you, you’ll pay as much as for a complete meal at a restaurant. Cappuccino and Espresso rates are fixed by law! In every bar there is a price list behind the counter!

Pasticceria:
Is the confectioner’s. Many Pasticcerie also have a small bar, where one can taste in the morning the delicious fresh baked croissants and other delicious sweet things of an Italian breakfast. They are usually closed during lunch time and re-open in the afternoon until evening. Nobody will have breakfast anymore, but if an Italian is invited for dinner, he usually brings a dolce as present that he will have ordered or get freshly at the Pasticceria.

Pizzeria:
Pizzerias are generally closed for lunchtime (some exceptions in huge touristic places such as Florence or Rome), as pizza is not a proper lunch for Italians. Therefore, in smaller places you’ll find them open only in the evening.

Ristorante/Spaghetteria/Osteria:
Ristorante is the most elegant one (usually also more expensive), whereas Spaghetteria and Osteria are more simple and similar to an inn. Most of them are open for lunch and for dinner. Opening is normaly for lunch from 12.00 until 15.00 and in the evening from 7 /7.30 p.m. until  10/11 p.m.

Squares:
Also on many squares, on the stars to churches, museums etc. in art towns such as Florence, it is not allowed anymore to have a snack or make a “picknick”. In such cases there will be signs that are indicating the prohibition.

Adaptor:
In case that you forgot your Adaptor for the plugs, you might find them in a bigger supermarket.

No Smoking:
From January 2005 on, smoking is prohibited in all public buildings and public means, in public and private offices, shops, restaurants, bars and discotheques. There must be a signi indicating Vietato Fumare or No smoking.
Smoking is only possible if there are special smoking rooms that must correspond to the regulations. In case if acting against the law, there will be fine that is between 27.50 Euro and 275,- Euro. The fine will be doubled in case that there is a pregnant person or child nearby.  

High fines for purchasing non original products:
Be careful and do not buy false watches, sun glasses, bags etc. you might be offered alla luce del sole, that is often in public places such as squares, in front of the supermarket, on the beach or at the market. The fine will be up to 10,000 Euro, which is quite a lot if you’ve spend 10 Euros to get the latest false eye glasses which might cost originally around 200 and are also not safe to protect your eyes from the sun! 

Stamps:
Stamps will be find at post offices (Ufficio Postale) or in tobacco shops (Tabacchi) or also where you’ll find postcards. If you’re buying a postcard ask for a Francobollo. For a letter or a postcard within Europe you’ll pay 65 Cent. Especially during the summer months it will take a lot of time from Italy….

Dogs:
It is important to know that in public places it is compulsory to have your 4footed family member on a leash and to have a muzzle with you (even if not used, but have it on the leash, just in case!). If you enter in a public mean, your doggy must wear the muzzle or, if small enough, should be carried in a bag. In the ladder case, you won’t pay the ticket. It is also compulsory to pick-up your dog’s “hard business”. Sometimes policemen might check if you’ve plastic bags etc. with you. Dogs are not allowed during the summer months, that is when bathing establishments are open on the beach. An exception are special dog beaches. Click here about more info of Dog Beaches in Tuscany.