Essential Travel Information Before Going to Italy

Piacere una vacanza di una vita in Italia magnifica! Yes, Italy is the vacation of a lifetime and one where the opportunities for enjoyable experiences are endless. From the Renaissance artwork of Florence, to the latest fashions of Milan, to the supreme heavenliness of Vatican City, to the impressive empire of Rome and all points between, Italy is incomparable.

However, Italy travel can be an experience most Americans are foreign with. For instance, there are a number of differences between the Italian way of life and what Americans are used to. There are also things you should keep in mind when visiting Italy to help your vacation be as enjoyable as possible. Here is some essential travel information you should know before going to Italy.

What You Should Know Before Going to Italy

The climate in Italy varies throughout the year with November seeing the most rainfall and July being not only the driest, but the hottest month as well, with temperatures rising into the 90s. January is typically Italy's coldest month.

Not surprisingly, Italian is the language of choice in Italy; however, you will find many English-speaking locals in the busier tourist areas. Still, it always pays to bring along a small translation dictionary to be safe.

Know About the Italian Money Before Traveling to Italy

Italian commerce falls under Euro, since Italy is a member of the Eurozone. Italy can also prove to be a pricey place to visit if you don't pay attention. For example, hotels in Italy costing 400 Euro per night actually cost $553 American dollars per night after conversion. It certainly pays to get a good handle on how the Euro converts to American dollars so you can get the best value for your money.

Italian Cuisine Isn’t Italian-American Cuisine

Don't expect Italian cuisine to be what you're used to in the U.S. The real Italian food consists of a healthy, Mediterranean-style cuisine and goes light on the red sauce that we're accustomed to having. Pizza is an entirely different meal in Italy as well, and it's usually only served for dinner due to the time it takes for the wooden stoves they're baked in to come to temperature. Traditional Italian pizza is a flatbread with healthy toppings like vegetables, olive oil and a light amount of cheese. Ordering dishes like spaghetti is somewhat frowned upon. Each city has a cuisine that's independently its own. Do some research before you visit and try the regional fare of Italy.

The Voltage in Italy is Different than the U.S.

On their Italy tours, travelers who bring their cameras, camcorders or iPods with them will need a voltage converter since Italy is wired for 220V, 50HZ electricity. Adapters can be purchased in most Italian markets.

Be Aware of Different Attitudes Before Traveling to Italy

During August, the country's industry pretty much universally shuts down, as for two weeks much of Italy takes vacation. Also, you can expect businesses to shut down for two hours each afternoon for lunch. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Italy and most businesses take one hour to eat their lunch and use the second hour as a naptime. Most businesses remain open later into the evening to compensate.

Before visiting Italy, the U.S. Center for Disease Control suggests that travelers should get a Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccination.

Visiting Italy

Italy is separated into five regions as well as the Italian Islands. Each region has its own lifestyle, cuisine and culture. In fact, if you travel from southern Italy to northern Italy, it may actually feel like you've changed countries. Across these five regions, you will notice differences in scenery, slight variations of dialect as well as differences in their opinions of travelers. Understanding what makes Italy different from the U.S. will greatly enhance your visit to this remarkable and rich country. By accepting the differences and respecting the land and the people, you'll be able to declare, "Amo l'Italia!"

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