Money & costs
Your budget will almost entirely depend on where you stay. Naples is one of Italy’s less-expensive cities, and accommodation (your greatest expense) is widespread and varied. A realistic high-season budget covering accommodation in a comfortable midrange hotel, two square meals a day, transport and admission to a museum would total about €115 per day per person.
Land transport in the region is inexpensive: a bus ticket from Sorrento to Amalfi, for example, costs €2.40; a train ticket from Naples to Pompeii, €2.30. Car hire starts at about €55 per day, but to this you’ll have to add the cost of petrol and parking, which can be very expensive on the Amalfi Coast. The price of ferry tickets depends on whether you take a regular ferry or a hydrofoil: a ferry from Sorrento to Capri costs €7.80, a hydrofoil costs €12.
To save money, look out for museum discounts – admission is often free to EU citizens under 18 and over 65 years, and discounted to those between 18 and 25. On the accommodation front, agriturismi (farm stays) are often good value, particularly for families, although without a car they can be difficult to get to.
You are not expected to tip on top of restaurant service charges, although if you feel the service merits it feel free to leave a small amount, perhaps €1 per person. If there is no service charge, you should consider leaving a 10% to 12% tip, but this is by no means obligatory. In bars, Italians often place a €0.10 or €0.20 coin on the bar when ordering coffee. Tipping taxi drivers is not common practice, but you are expected to tip the porter at top-end hotels.
Since 2002 Italy’s currency has been the euro. The euro is divided into 100 cents. Coin denominations are one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, €1 and €2; the notes are €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
Exchange rates are given on the inside front flap of this book. For the latest rates check out www.xe.com.
The best way to manage your money is to use your debit/credit cards while keeping a fistful of travellers cheques as backup.
You can change money in banks, at post offices or in a cambio (exchange office). Banks are generally the most reliable and tend to offer the best rates. Cambio offices usually, but not always, offer worse rates or charge higher commissions. Hotels are almost always the worst places to change money.
Increasingly overlooked by card-wielding travellers, travellers cheques are a dying breed. They should not, however, be written off entirely as they’re an excellent form of backup, especially as you can claim a refund if they’re stolen (providing you’ve kept a separate record of their numbers).
Amex, Visa and Travelex cheques are the easiest to cash, particularly in US dollars, British pounds or euros. Increasingly banks are charging hefty commissions, though, even on cheques denominated in euros. Whatever currency they are in, cheques can be difficult to change in smaller towns. Always take your passport as identification when cashing in travellers cheques.
For lost or stolen cheques call: Amex 800 72 000; Travelex 800 33 55 11; Visa 800 874 155.
Tax & refunds
A value-added tax of around 20%, known as IVA, is slapped on to just about everything in Italy. If you are a non-EU resident and you spend more than €180 on a purchase, you can claim a refund when you leave the EU. The refund only applies to purchases from affiliated retail outlets that display a ‘Tax Free for Tourists’ sign. You have to complete a form at the point of sale, then get it stamped by Italian customs as you leave the country. At major airports you can get an immediate cash refund; otherwise it will be refunded to your credit card. For further information, pick up a pamphlet from participating stores.