In the whole Italian peninsula the time zone corresponds to the Greenwich meridian (GMT+1); just remember there is daylight saving time in the summer, which consists of advancing the time on all clocks by one hour during the summer season. Daylight saving time starts the last Sunday of March, and terminates the last Sunday of October.
Since 2001 the currency in Italy is the Euro. A Euro is divided in 100 cents, and there currently are 8 different metallic coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 & 50 cents and 1 and 2 Euro) and 7 different notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 & 500 Euro).
The official language is Italian, but in the various regions there are a number of accents and dialects, sometimes very different from each other.
There are two regions where there is a second official language other than Italian. In Valle d’Aosta they also speak French, and in Trentino Alto Adige they also speak German.
The knowledge of English is slowly spreading around the country, even though not in a homogeneous fashion: however, in public venues and in the Tourism industry, personnel usually has at least a decent knowledge of English.
Country Code (telephone)
To call Italy you need to include the international prefix 0039.
To call another country from Italy you need to enter 00(+) and the international prefix of the country you are trying to call, followed by the phone number of the receiver.
To call China, the prefix is 0086. For Hong Kong it is 00852 and for Taiwan 00886.
Power plugs and sockets
In Italy electrical current has a voltage of 220 volt and runs through alternated current with a frequency of 50 hertz. The types of electrical plugs present in Italy are: C, F and L. In most hotels you will find adaptors for particular types of plugs.
Shopping (payment methods, tax refund)
For non-EU citizens it is possible to make cash purchases of up to Euro 15,000.00. Other than by cash, payments can also be made by the most common credit cards.
In order to obtain the VAT tax refund, the beneficiary needs to respect these conditions: he/she must reside outside the EU; the goods purchased must be for personal or family use and have to be transported with personal luggage; the overall value of the goods must exceed Euro 154.94 (VAT included); the purchase needs to be accompanied by a commercial invoice that provides a description of the goods and states the traveler’s personal details as well as the details of his/her passport or other equivalent form of ID; the goods need to be taken out of the EU within three months of the end of the month in which the product was originally purchased; routine customs formalities need to be taken care of; the invoice needs to be given back to the Italian seller within four months from the end of the month in which the goods were purchased.
The goods purchased, together with their invoice also need to be showed at customs when leaving EU territory. After inspecting the goods and the attached documentation, the Customs Office will release the customs visa which proves the successful exit of the goods from EU territory.
It is important to remember that the goods always need to be shown at the Customs Office: if the traveler intends to fit the goods in the checked-in luggage, he/she needs to stop at the Customs Office before check-in operations.
Customs Office check-ups and certifications can, especially in large airports, require a fair amount of time: therefore, in order to avoid inconveniences, it is advisable for non-EU travelers to turn up at the airport at least two hours before departure.
Shops (working hours)
Retailers are usually open from Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 12.30pm and from 3.30pm to 7.30pm, while others work through lunch. Some shops, especially in big cities and shopping centres, stay open during certain Sundays.
Banks (working hours)
Banks generally stay open from 8.35am to 1.35pm and from 3pm to 4pm Monday through Friday.
In case of an emergency call the following phone numbers:
– 118 Health Emergency: It is operational 24/7, in any part of the Italian territory, including the islands.
– 113 State Police: It is operational 24/7 and all kinds of situations can be reported, including thefts, robberies, brawls, suspicious individuals or vehicles etc.
– 115 Firefighters
– 112 European number for emergencies: It is operational 24/7 for whoever faces an emergency within EU borders. It works contemporarily to national emergency numbers (113,115 and 118).