General Information about Traveling in Italy

American Embassy
American Express
Antiques
Bars
Buses and Metros
Business Hours
Car Towing
Churches
Cigarettes
Crime
Currency Exchange
Customs
Dentist
Doctors
Drugstores
Electricity
Embassies/Consulates
Foreigner's Registration
Horse Carriages
Legal Aid
Liquor Laws
Lost and Found
Luggage Storage/Lockers
Mail
Newspapers
Pets
Radio/TV
Rest Rooms
Safety
Taxes
Taxis
Telephones
Theft and Losses
Tipping
 
 
 
 

AMERICAN EMBASSY

There are two official U.S. embassies in Rome: one to the Italian government and the other which represent the U.S. to the Holy Seats. Americans in need of services must go to the U.S. Consulate, 121 Via Veneto. The Consulate can provide the following services: Register your address and presence here, issue new passports, register your child's birth and give advice about dual citizenship, witness and notarize documents, provide Veteran's and Social Security benefits, process income tax, assist with voting needs and selective service registration, help with legal formalities in case of death inform your family if you are in difficulty, and provide a list of doctors and lawyers. The Consulate cannot give you money, settle your disputes or get you out of jail. They can only ensure that you are being treated according to the laws of the host country. Tel. 06.46741
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AMERICAN EXPRESS

The offices of American Express are at Piazza di Spagna 38 (tel. 06/67641). The travel service and tour desk are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30pm and on Saturday from 9am to 12:30pm (May to October the tour desk is also open on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 2:30pm). The financial and mail services are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
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ANTIQUES

Some antiques, regardless of private ownership or foreign origin, are considered part of the patrimony of Italy and may not be exported. So before you buy that Etruscan vase find out whether you can take it with you or whether you will have to return to Rome yearly to visit it!
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BARS

Most bars charge different prices at the counter then at the table. You may want to check posted prices before sitting down and decide if you feel it is worth spending $5 for a cappuccino and the pleasure of sitting at a sunny sidewalk café. Once seated you may sit there for as long as you please. If you choose to sit at table the waiter will bring the check.
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BUSES AND METROS

Tickets may be bought from ATAC/CO.TRA.L. windows at start or end of a line, tobacco shops, newsstands and vending machines. The METROBUS ticket cost € 1.00 and is valid for 75 minutes from the beginning of the trip. Bus tickets can also be used on the subway (metro) but are only valid for one ride instead of the allotted seventy-five minutes on the buses, which is printed on the tickets. It is wise to buy a number of bus tickets at one time to offset the non-functioning ticket machines, or unavailable tobacco shops or kiosks where they are sold. It's also available to have extra bus tickets for night use for the same reasons mentioned above; only more so in the very late night hours. Monthly passes are available. However, passes cannot be used to travel the airports. Pass holders board at the front of the bus, Italians do not usually show their "tessera", but you should be ready to do so if asked. Ticket holders board from the rear of the bus and must validate their ticket on a little orange machine. NEVER board without a ticket or a pass, if inspectors come on the bus the fine being without a ticket is € 51. The subway or METROPOLITANA runs from 5:30am until 11:30pm. The last train leaves the capolinea at 11:30pm.
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BUSINESS HOURS

In general, banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 1:30pm and again from 3 to 4pm. A U.S. bank in Rome is Citibank, Via Abruzzi 2 (tel. 06/478171). Shopping hours are governed by the "riposo" (siesta). Most stores are open year-round Monday to Saturday from 9am to 1pm and then from 3:30 or 4pm to 7:30 or 8pm. Most shops are closed Sunday and Monday morning.
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CAR TOWING

If your automobile was towed away, you probably parked in an illegal zone. The way to find your car (unless you are planning a bit of insurance fraud) is to call the Vigili Urbani, (tel. 06/67691), and give them the registration number, make of car, and place from which it was removed. They will tell you where to collect your car, but only after you pay the fine or "multa". Pay the designate amount at the Cassa of the Vigili Urbani, Via della Consolazione, 4 (Consolation Street), or at the Post office by Conto Corrente No. 54785001 in the name of the Comune di Roma - Comando Vigili Urbani, Servizio di Rimozione Veicoli. Take your receipt with you when you retrieve your car! Advice: Nothing is open Sunday, so don't park illegally on that day. You may also pay the fine directly at site where you will collect your vehicle.
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CHURCHES

Dress accordingly (which means no shorts, sleeveless tops, etc. ) and conduct yourself as if at a church service .Please remember that churches are primarily places of worship regardless of their frame as a tourist attraction.
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CIGARETTES

Though Italy is trying to match the States with its antismoking campaigns, tobacco stores or "tabaccai" exist by the thousands. Tobacco products are sold only in officials shops since they are a state monopoly and price-controlled. These shops sell a host of others goodies including postage stamps, household matches, greeting cards, playing cards, and bus and Metro tickets.
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CRIME

CALL FOR EMERGENCY POLICE 112 FIRE BRIGADE 115 Like all big cities, Rome has its share, some of it avoidable (do not tempt with flashy, expensive jewelry, dangling and/or open purses, easily accessible wallets, unlocked cars, etc.), some of it not (a home broken into even though furnished with six locks, an alarm system and a pit bull dog!). Hold on tightly to purses and briefcase and keep them away from the traffic side of the street. Keep your eyes open on buses for suspicious characters - especially on the heavily traveled bus 62, 64, 46, 218 and 23. Warn someone you think is a potential victim; you would want such a warning.
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CURRENCY EXCHANGE

This is possible at all major rail and airline terminals in Rome, including the Stazione Termini, where the "cambio" (exchange booth) besides the rail information booth is open daily from 8am to 8pm. At some "cambio" you'll have to pay commissions, often 1.5%. Banks, likewise, often charge commissions. To be on the safe side, we recommend that money be exchanged only at banks, hotels, or currency exchange booths.
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CUSTOMS

We are not speaking of quaint habits of the natives, but of the uniformed men at U.S. airport who will take away all the homemade sausage and cheeses that Aunt Luisa gave you. Check either before you leave the States or with U.S. Customs (06/46741) here for items which you will not be allowed to bring into the U.S. This will avoid great disappointment.
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DENTIST

To find a dentist who speaks English, call the U.S. Embassy in Rome (tel. 06/6741). You may have to call around in order to get an appointment. There's also the 24-hour G. Eastman Dental Hospital, Viale Regina Elena 287 (tel. 06/44831).
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DOCTOR

Call the U.S. Embassy (see "dentist" above), which will provide a list of doctors who speaks English. All big hospitals in Rome have a 24-hour first-aid service (go to the emergency room). You will find English-speaking doctors at the privately Ru Salvator Mundi International Hospital, Viale delle Mura Gianicolensi 67 (tel. 06/88961). For medical assistance, the International Medical Center is on 24-hour duty at Via Giovanni Amendola 7 (tel. 06/4882371). You could also contact the Rome American Hospital, Via Emilio Longoni 69 (tel. 06/22551), with English-Speaking doctors on duty 24 hours a day. A more personalized medical service is provided by Medi-call, studio medico, Via Salaria 300, Palazzina C, interno 5 (tel. 06/8840113). Staffed by a small core of administration who are available 24 hours a day, it can arrange for qualified doctors to make house calls to your hotel (or wherever) anywhere in Rome. In most cases, the doctor will be a general practitioner who's well versed in either prescribing an appropriate medication or, if the problem is most serious, referring a patient to a qualified specialist. Fees begin at around $100 per visit, but can go higher if a specialist or specialized treatments are necessary. Frankly, paying this organization's fee and waiting for a doctor to arrive at your hotel room is usually a lot more convenient than waiting in the emergency room of any hospital.
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DRUGSTORES

A reliable pharmacy is the Farmacia Internazionale, Piazza Barberini 49 (tel.06/6794680), open day and night. Most pharmacies are open from 8:30am to 1pm and then from 4 to 7:30pm. In general, pharmacies follow a rotation system so that several are always open on Sunday (the rotation schedule is posted outside each).
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ELECTRICITY

It's generally 220 volts, 50 Hz AC, but you might find 125 volt outlets, with different plugs and sockets for each. Pick up a transformer either before leaving home or in any appliance shop in Rome if you plan to use electrical appliances. Check the exact local current at your hotel. You'll also need ad adapter plug.
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EMBASSIES/CONSULATES

Canada: it's at Via Zara 30 tel. 06/445981, fax 06/44598754 open Monday to Friday from 10am to 12:30pm United Kingdom: consular offices are at Via XX Settembre 80A tel. 06/4825441, fax 06/4873324 open Monday to Friday from 9:15am to 1:30pm. Australia: the embassy is at Via Alessandria 215 tel. 06/852721 fax 06/85272300, open Monday to Thursday from 8:30am to noon and 2 to 4pm, and on Friday from 8:30am to 1:15pm. The Australian Consulate is around the corner in the same building at Corso Trieste 25 tel 06/852721. New Zealand: the consular office is at Via Zara 28 tel. 06/4417171, fax 06/4402984, and it's open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 12:45pm and 1:45 to 5pm. Ireland: The embassy is at Piazza di Campitelli 3 tel. 06/697912 fax 06/6792354. For consular queries, dial tel. 06/696791211. Open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 12:30pm and 2 to 4pm. South Africa the Embassy is at Via Tanaro 14 tel. 06/852541, fax 06 85254300, open Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 4pm. In case of emergency embassies have a 24-hour referral service.
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FOREIGNER'S REGISTRATION

Everyone is required to have a "permesso di soggiorno" to stay in Italy. Hotels automatically do this for paying guests. Those wishing to stay longer must register at the Questura, Via Genova 2 or at Via San Vitale 15. Take your passport and photocopy of the first 3 pages, 3 passport photos, and € 14.62 or a carta bollata of the equivalent amount bought at a "tabaccaio" and some proof of income (a letter from your employer on office letterhead is usually sufficient). Lines are long and this procedure may take several attempts before actual success. P.S. if you forget photos, they have a machine on the premises.
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HORSE CARRIAGES

The carrozzelle are a very pleasant and comfortable way to visit Rome - but can be dreadfully expensive (between € 100 and € 200). Establish the price and time involved with the driver BEFORE the trip. Insist he fulfill his part of the bargain - and you'll do likewise. At Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Venezia, there is almost always one waiting.
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LEGAL AID

The consulate of your country is the place to turn to. Although consular officials cannot interfere in the Italian legal process, they can inform you of your rights and provide a list of attorney out of pocket-there's no free legal assistance.
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LIQUOR LAWS

Wine with meals has been a normal part of Italian family life for hundreds of years. There is no legal drinking age for buying or ordering alcohol, and is sold day and night throughout the year.
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LOST AND FOUND

Report lost items to Ufficio Oggetti Smarriti, Via Nicolò Bettoni 1 tel. 06/5816040. Report items lost on a bus or Metro to their office on Via Volturno 65 near the rail station, and items left on trains to the Servizio Movimento delle Ferrovie dello Stato tel. 4669, ext 7682 at the main station
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LUGGAGE STORAGE/LOCKERS

These are available at the Stazione Termini along Tracks 1 and 22 daily from 5am to 1am. The charge is € 3 per piece of luggage per 12hours period.
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MAIL

Mailboxes in Italy are red and are attached to walls. The left slot is only for letters intended for the city; the right slot for all others destinations. The main Post Office if Rome is at Piazza San Silvestro 19 tel. 06/6771, between Via del Corso and Piazza di Spagna. It's open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and on Saturday from 9am to 2pm. To claim mail addresses to you in care of this central office, with "fermo posta" written after the name and address of the post office, simply present your passport as identification. Stamps "francobolli" can be purchased at "tabacchi" (tobacconist). Vatican City mailboxes are blue, and you can buy Vatican stamps at the Vatican City Post Office, adjacent to the information office in St. Peter's Square. It's open Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 6pm and on Saturday from 8:30am to 6pm. Letters mailed at Vatican City reach North America far more quickly than does mail sent from within Rome for the same cost. With both the Vatican and the Italian mail, letters and postcards to the U.S. cost about 80cent.
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NEWSPAPERS

English language papers are sold at the large newsstands (edicole). The International Herald Tribune and U.S.A. Today are published daily except Sunday. Wanted in Rome comes Out twice monthly is widely available and has mainly classified advertising and some articles.
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PETS

Italian law requires that your animal have a current rabies certificate, a statement from your veterinarian that no rabies have existed in your area in the last 6 months and a certificate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture verifying all the above as true. Even if you are not asked for these documents upon arrival, keep them on hand for future reference. Check with Italian authorities on the tax one must pay as a dog owner.
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RADIO/TV

Major radio and television broadcast are on RAI, the Italian state radio and TV network. Occasionally during the tourist season it will broadcast special programs in English; look in the radio and TV guide sections of local newspapers. Vatican Radio also carries foreign-language religious news programs, often in English. Short wave transistor radios pick up broadcasts from the BBC (Britain), Voice of America (United States), and CBC (Canada). More expensive hotels often have TVs in the bedrooms with CNN.
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REST ROOMS

All airport and railway stations, of course, have rest rooms, often with attendants who expect to be tipped (10cents to 30cents is fine). Bars, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, and all hotels have facilities as well. Public toilets are also found near many of the major sights, in particular, there are facilities at the Spanish Steps that you may want to know about. Usually they are designated as wc (water closet), "donne" (women), or "uomini" (men). The most confusing designation is "signori" (gentlemen) and "signore" (ladies), so watch those final i's and e's!
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SAFETY

Pick pocketing is the most common problem. Men should keep their wallets in their front pocket or inside jacket pockets. Purse snatching is also commonplace, with young men on Vespas who will ride past you and grab your purse. To avoid trouble, women should stay away from the curb, and keep their purse on the wall side of their body and the strap over both shoulders across their chest. In general, don't lay anything valuable on tablets or chairs where it can be grabbed easly. Children are a particular menace. You'll often virtually have to fight them off, as they can completely surround you. They'll often approach you with pieces of cardboard hiding their stealing hands.
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TAXES

As a member of the European Union, Italy Imposes a tax on most goods and services. It's a "value-added tax", called IVA in Italy. The tax affecting most visitors is at hotels, ranging from 9% in first - and second - class hotels and "pensioni" to 13% in deluxe hotel. The value-added tax is not the same for all items: for example it's 12% on clothing, but 20% on most luxury goods. Tax rebates may be given on large purchases.
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TAXIS

Always use the white (new) or bright yellow (older) taxis. Never use an unmarked cab or you'll wonder whether he is charging you for a ride or you are buying the taxi! Taxis in Rome started a base fare € 3 and the by the meter. Supplements are added when it is a question of traveling at night on Christmas Eve with a suitcase! As for tipping the driver, a modest 10% is more than adequate.
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TELEPHONES

Public phones are located throughout the city and accept change or the "phone" card (carta telefonica) sold in tobacco stores. It is wise to have a "phone" card because money taking machines are becoming harder and harder to find and many public machines will accept only the card. These cards are inserted in a special slot on the phone, and allow the users to make calls for the amount shown on the card. Thanks to ITALCABLE, International calls to the United States and Canada can be dialled directly. Dial 00 (the international access code from Italy) then the country code (1 for the U.S.A. and Canada), the area code, and the number. Calls dialled directly are billed on the basis of the call's duration only. A reduced rate is applied from 11pm to 8am Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. If you wish to make a collect call from a pay phone simply deposit 1 euro (don't worry-you'll get it back when you're done) and dial tel. 170 for an English-speaking Italcable operator. For calling-cards calls, drop in the refundable 1 euro, then dial the number for your card's company to be connected with an operator in the States: tel. 1721011 for ATT, tel. 1721020 for MCI, and tel 06/1721877 for Sprint. You can also call tel. 06/1721001 for Canada, tel. 06/1721061 for Australia, and tel. 06/1720044 for the United Kingdom. If you make a long distance call from a public telephone, there is no surcharge. However hotels have been known to double or triple the cost of the call so be duly warned.
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THEFT AND LOSSES

If your passport, driver's license, airline tickets, or Traveler's checks are lost report to the nearest Carabinieri or Polizia station (at the Questura on Via Genova there is also a special office "per stranieri") to fill out a report or denuncia. This denuncia may be used as a temporary driver's license and must be presented at the Consulate for a new passport. Report lost Traveler's checks to American Express, Piazza di Spagna 38: toll free - tel. 1678.72000. Report credit card losses to American Express tel. 06.72282, Master Card and Visa tel. 1678.68086, and Diner's Club tel. 1678.64064. HINT: Whether you are a tourist or a resident of Rome, you might want to photocopy all valuable documents, charge cards, driver's licences, etc, and keep these copies all together in a safe place in your home
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TIPPING

In restaurants a service charge of about 15% usually appears as a separate item on your check. A few restaurant state on the menu that cover and service charge are included. Either way, it's customary to leave an additional 5%-10% tip for the waiter, depending on the service.. Taxi and limos drivers are usually very happy with 15% of the trip fare. Railway and airport porters charge are fixed rate per bag and the type of establishment. Service station attendants are tripped only for special services. In hotel, give the portiere (concierge) about 15% of his bill for services,
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