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Need to know – Italy

Carnevale masks at Tragicomica on Calle Nomboli.
Image courtesy: Lonely Planet Images

In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Italy travel guide, we look at some of the important information you will need while planning a trip to the country.

Language: Italian
Time: 3½ hours behind IST
Currency: Euro (€)
Mobile phones: International roaming tariffs are steep, so it’s best to purchase a local SIM card; available at newsstands and tobacconists.
Internet access: Wi-fi is not widespread and often requires payment. You cannot use an internet cafe without an ID card/passport.
Tourist information: The Italian National Tourist Office (ENIT; has a branch in Mumbai (ph 022 6772 8186–90; Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, No 805, 8th Floor, 349 Business Point, Western Express Highway, Andheri East).

When to Go

Italian weather is mostly pleasant. It rarely gets cold in the south of Italy, though the north can get bitterly cold in the winter.
July–August: Peak summer months equal peak tourist season. Bright mornings, warm afternoons and breezy evenings are matched by long queues and hikes in room tariffs.
April–June & September–October: The right time to bag good deals on hotels, especially in the south. Spring is best for festivals, flowers and local produce, while autumn is best for warm weather and the grape harvest.
November–March: Although prices skyrocket for Christmas, New Year and Easter, this period is the quietest in terms of tourist arrivals. Prices are generally at their lowest. Note that high season extends from late December to March in the Alps and Dolomites.

What to Pack

• Smart casual clothes – T-shirts, shorts and dusty sandals don’t cut it in fashionable bars and restaurants. Sturdy shoes for walking are a must.
• Sunscreen and sunglasses.
• Licence and car documents for driving holidays.
• Prescription medicines and first-aid basics.
• A comprehensive travel insurance policy.
• Consider packing a few desi snacks. Many smaller towns do not have Indian restaurants. A bottle of chilli sauce is a good idea if you must have heat in your food.

Getting Around

• Air: Best for travellers on tight schedules; many budget airlines serve major cities. Especially convenient for Sicily.
Boat: Frequent ferries and hydrofoils connect Italy’s islands to mainland ports.
Train: Italy’s extensive and affordable train network spans high-speed intercity to slower regional services.
Bus: Handy for small towns. The extensive bus network spans local to intercity routes.
• Car: More freedom, but also more hassles; it’s a good idea to get an international driving permit.