ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
Credit and debit cards can be used in ATMs (which are widespread and known locally as bancomat). Most ATMs have multilingual screens, making life easy for English-speakers, but in a pinch, the Italian term for international cash withdrawal is prelievo internazionale. Visa and MasterCard are widely recognised, as are Cirrus and Maestro. Remember that every time you withdraw cash there will be fees. Typically you'll be charged a withdrawal fee as well as a conversion charge; if you're using a credit card, you'll also be hit by interest on the cash withdrawn.
If an ATM rejects your card, don't despair. Try a few more ATMs displaying your credit card's logo before assuming the problem lies with your card.
Credit & Debit Cards
Though widely accepted, credit cards are not as ubiquitous in Sicily as they are in the UK or the US, and it's always a good idea to have some cash on hand. Some small guesthouses, trattorias and shops don't take credit cards, and you can't always use them at petrol stations, parking meters or motorway ticket barriers.
Major cards such as Visa, MasterCard and Eurocard are accepted throughout Sicily. Amex is also recognised but it's less common.
Before leaving home, make sure to advise your credit-card holder of your travel plans. Otherwise, you risk having your card blocked – as a security measure, banks block cards when they notice out-of-the-ordinary transactions. Check also any charges you'll incur and what the procedure is if you experience problems or have your card stolen. Most card suppliers will give you an emergency number you can call free of charge for help and advice.
Italy's currency is 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.
Money can be exchanged in banks, post offices and exchange offices. Banks generally offer the best rates, but shop around as rates fluctuate considerably.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
- Restaurants Most have a cover charge (coperto, around €2), and some also levy a service charge (servizio, 10% to 15%). If there is no service charge, consider rounding the bill up.
- Bars In cafes people often place a €0.10 or €0.20 coin on the bar when ordering coffee. Consider leaving small change when ordering drinks.
- Taxis Optional, but most people round up to the nearest euro.