Accessible Travel

Most Tuscan towns and cities are not easy for travellers with disabilities to navigate, and getting around can be a problem for wheelchair users – many streets are cobbled, and narrow pavements in historic centres are not wide enough for a wheelchair.

An increasing number of museums, including the Uffizi in Florence, include tactile models of major artworks for visitors with impaired vision.

Sage Traveling ( is a European accessible-travel specialist. Its website gives tips and advice on accessible travel in Florence, and it offers a range of wheelchair-accessible guided city tours; book online.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from


Tuscans don't bargain, so neither should you.

Dangers & Annoyances

The region is a safe place generally.

  • The usual street-smart rules apply in Florence, Siena and other key urban hubs: avoid wandering around town alone late at night; stick to main roads rather than narrow back alleys.
  • Watch out for pickpockets in heavily touristed zones such as around Florence's Piazza del Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa and Piazza del Duomo in Siena.
  • Keep alert on crowded buses to/from Florence and Pisa airports.
  • Rural Tuscany is, well, rural: horseflies, mosquitoes and various other pesky insects come out in their droves in the height of summer. Bring repellent and/or cover up.

Limited Traffic Zones

Many towns and cities (Florence, Siena and Lucca included) have a ZLT (Zona a Traffico Limitato; Limited Traffic Zone) that is off-limits to motorised traffic, making driving in these cities highly inconvenient. For your own sanity, dump your car in an out-of-town car park and walk.


Street hawkers flogging everything from bottles of water, sunglasses and cheap knock-off handbags to phone covers, mobile power banks and selfie sticks (now banned for good reason in most museums) can be extremely annoying in Florence, Pisa and other tourist-busy towns. Don't be intimidated: simply say 'no' politely and move on.


Standing in queues to get into major sights and museums is highly irritating (bring an umbrella or sun parasol to avoid melting in the midday sun): plan ahead and book admission tickets online where possible.

Discount Cards

Free admission to many galleries and cultural sites is available to youths under 18 and seniors over 65 years. EU citizens aged between 18 and 25 also often qualify for a 50% discount.

In many towns – Siena and San Gimignano included – you can save money by purchasing a biglietto cumulativo, a ticket that allows admission to a number of associated sights for less than the combined cost of separate admission fees.

Youth & Teacher Cards

  • The European Youth Card (Carta Giovani Europea;; €14, depending on place of purchase) is available to anyone, worldwide, under 30. It offers thousands of discounts at Italian hotels, museums, restaurants, shops and clubs, and can be bought online.
  • Student, teacher or youth travel cards ( can save you money on accommodation, travel, food and drink. They're available online and worldwide from student unions, hostelling organisations and youth travel agencies such as STA Travel ( Options include the International Student Identity Card (ISIC; for full-time students), International Teacher Identity Card (for full-time teachers) and the International Youth Travel Card (for travellers under 31).
  • Many places in Italy give discounts according to age rather than student status. An ISIC may not always be accepted without proof of age (eg passport).

Firenze Card

When in Florence, consider purchasing a Firenze Card (€72;, which is valid for 72 hours and covers admission to 72 museums, villas and gardens in Florence, as well as unlimited use of public transport and free wi-fi.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Italy country code39
International access code00
Emergency from mobile phone112

Entry & Exit Formalities

  • EU and Swiss citizens can travel to Italy with their national identity card alone. All other nationalities must have a valid passport and may be required to fill out a landing card at airports.
  • By law you are supposed to have your passport or ID card with you at all times. You'll need one of these documents for police registration every time you check into a hotel.
  • In theory, there are no passport checks at land crossings from neighbouring countries, but random customs controls do occasionally still take place between Italy and Switzerland.

Customs Regulations

Visitors coming into Italy from non-EU countries can import the following items duty free:

  • 1L spirits (or 2L wine)
  • 200 cigarettes
  • up to a total of €430 (€150 for travellers aged under 15) in value for other goods, including perfume and eau de toilette

Anything over these limits must be declared on arrival and the appropriate duty paid. On leaving the EU, non-EU citizens can reclaim any Value Added Tax (VAT) on any purchases over €154.94.

For more information, visit


Not needed for residents of Schengen countries or for many visitors staying for less than 90 days.

More Information

  • European citizens of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area can enter Italy with nothing more than a valid identity card or passport. British nationals only need a passport.
  • Residents of 28 non-EU countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and the USA, do not require visas for tourist visits of up to 90 days.
  • All non-EU and non-Schengen nationals entering Italy for more than 90 days, or for any reason other than tourism (such as study or work), may need a specific visa. For details, visit or contact an Italian consulate.
  • EU citizens do not require any permits to live or work in Italy but, after three months' residence, are supposed to register themselves at the municipal registry office where they live and offer proof of work or sufficient funds to support themselves.
  • Non-EU foreign citizens with five years' continuous legal residence may apply for permanent residence.
  • You should have your passport stamped on entry as, without a stamp, you could encounter problems if trying to obtain a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). If you enter the EU via another member state, get your passport stamped there.

Permesso di Soggiorno

Non-EU citizens planning to stay at the same address for more than one week are supposed to report to the police station to receive a permesso di soggiorno. Tourists staying in hotels are not required to do this.

A permesso di soggiorno only really becomes a necessity if you plan to study, work (legally) or live in Italy. Obtaining one is never a pleasant experience; it often involves long queues and the frustration of arriving at the counter only to find you don't have the necessary documents.

The exact requirements, such as specific documents and marche da bollo (official stamps), can change. In general, you will need a valid passport (if possible containing a stamp with your date of entry into Italy), a special visa issued in your own country if you are planning to study (for non-EU citizens), four passport photos and proof of your ability to support yourself financially. You can apply at the ufficio stranieri (foreigners' bureau) of the police station closest to where you're staying.

EU citizens do not require a permesso di soggiorno.

Study Visas

Non-EU citizens who want to study at a university or language school in Italy must have a study visa. These can be obtained from your nearest Italian embassy or consulate. You will normally require confirmation of your enrolment, proof of payment of fees and adequate funds to support yourself. The visa covers only the period of the enrolment. This type of visa is renewable within Italy but, again, only with confirmation of ongoing enrolment and proof that you are able to support yourself (bank statements are preferred).


  • Greetings Shake hands and say buongiorno (good morning) or buonasera (good afternoon/evening). If you know someone well, kissing both cheeks (starting with their left) is standard.
  • Polite language Say mi scusi to attract attention or to say 'I'm sorry', grazie (mille) to say 'thank you (very much)', per favore to say 'please', prego to say 'you're welcome' or 'please, after you', and permesso if you need to push past someone in a crowd.
  • Cafes Don't linger at the bar; drink your espresso and go.
  • Body language Be wary of making a circle with two hands (which in Italy means 'I'll kick your arse'), an A-OK signal ('You might be gay') or the devil horns with your hand ('Your wife is cheating on you').
  • In churches Never intrude on a mass or service.
  • Selfie sticks Officially banned in Florentine museums. Elsewhere don't stick them in front of other people's faces or those trying to view world-class art in relative peace.


A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a good idea. Some policies specifically exclude dangerous activities, which can include scuba diving, motorcycling and even hiking – read the fine print.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at You can buy, extend and claim online any time – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Most locals have home connections and practically every hotel, B&B, hostel and agriturismi (accommodation on working farms or wine estates) offers free wi-fi (albeit patchy at times given many properties' centuries-old thick walls or deeply rural location). Specialised internet cafes are practically nonexistent.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is legal in Italy and well accepted in the major cities. On the Tuscan coast, Viareggio and Torre del Lago have lively gay scenes.

Resources include the following:

Arcigay ( Bologna-based national organisation for the LGBTIQ community.

Azione Gay e Lesbica Firenze Active Florence-based organisation for gays and lesbians. ( English-language site produced by, featuring events and information on homophobia issues and the law. ( Website featuring LGBTIQ news, feature articles and gossip.

Pride ( National monthly magazine of art, music, politics and gay culture.


Once you meander off the main road and dip into rural Tuscany, a map definitely comes in handy. Several sheet maps cover the region, including Michelin's Toscana (1:200,000), Marco Polo's Toscana/Tuscany (1:200,000) and Touring Editore's Toscana (1:200,000). Buy them from bookshops and some petrol stations.

If you're relying on digital maps, download off-line versions before departure: in rural Tuscany you will frequently find yourself with zero connectivity.


Newspapers Major dailies include Corriere della Sera ( and La Repubblica (in Italian, Florentine ( covers local news, views and classifieds, and is published monthly in English online and in print (free).


ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted at most hotels and many restaurants.


Bancomats (ATMs) are widely available throughout Tuscany and are the best way to obtain local currency.

Credit Cards

International credit and debit cards can be used at any bancomat displaying the appropriate sign. Cards are also good for payment in most hotels, restaurants, shops, supermarkets and tollbooths.

If your card is lost, stolen or swallowed by an ATM, you can telephone toll free to have an immediate stop put on its use:

American Express 06 7290 0347

Diners Club 800 393939

MasterCard 800 870866

Visa 800 819014


The euro is Italy's currency. Notes come in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and €1, and 50, 20, 10, five, two and one cents.

Exchange Rates

Australia A$1 €0.67
Canada C$1 €0.72
Japan ¥100 €0.76
New Zealand NZ$1 €0.58
UK UK£1 €1.15
US US$1 €0.75

For current exchange rates see


You can change money in banks, at the post office or in a cambio (exchange office). Post offices and banks tend to offer the best rates; exchange offices keep longer hours, but watch for high commissions and inferior rates.


  • Taxis Round the fare up to the nearest euro.
  • Restaurants Many locals don't tip waiters, but most visitors leave 10% to 15% if there's no service charge.
  • Cafes Leave a coin (as little as €0.10 is acceptable) if you drank your coffee at the counter or 10% if you sat at a table.
  • Hotels Bellhops usually expect €1 to €2 per bag; it's not necessary to tip the concierge, cleaners or front-desk staff.

Opening Hours

Opening hours vary throughout the year. We’ve provided summer (high-season) and winter (low-season) opening hours, but be aware that hours might differ in the shoulder seasons.

Banks 8.30am to 1.30pm and 3.30pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants 12.30pm to 2.30pm and 7.30pm to 10pm

Cafes 7.30am to 8pm

Bars and pubs 10am to 1am

Shops 9am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 7.30pm (or 4pm to 8pm) Monday to Saturday


Le Poste (, Italy's postal system, is reasonably reliable, but if you are sending a package you might want to use DHL or FedEx, which can be safer.

Francobolli (stamps) are available at post offices and authorised tabacchi (tobacconists; look for the official sign: a big 'T', often white on black). Since letters often need to be weighed, what you get at the tobacconist for international airmail will occasionally be an approximation of the proper rate. If you've any concerns about ensuring an accurate stamp price, use a post office. Tabacchi keep regular shop hours.

Public Holidays

Most Italians take their annual holiday in August, with the busiest period occurring around 15 August, known locally as Ferragosto. This means that many businesses and shops close for at least a part of that month. Settimana Santa (Easter Week) is another busy holiday period for Italians.

Individual towns have public holidays to celebrate the feasts of their patron saints. National public holidays:

New Year's Day (Capodanno or Anno Nuovo) 1 January

Epiphany (Epifania or Befana) 6 January

Easter Sunday (Domenica di Pasqua) March/April

Easter Monday (Pasquetta or Lunedì dell'Angelo) March/April

Liberation Day (Giorno della Liberazione) 25 April – marks the Allied victory in Italy, and the end of the German presence in 1945

Labour Day (Festa del Lavoro) 1 May

Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica) 2 June

Feast of the Assumption (Assunzione or Ferragosto) 15 August

All Saints' Day (Ognissanti) 1 November

Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Immaculata Concezione) 8 December

Christmas Day (Natale) 25 December

Boxing Day (Festa di Santo Stefano) 26 December


Smoking Banned in all enclosed public spaces.

Taxes & Refunds

A Value Added Tax (VAT) of around 22%, known as Imposta di Valore Aggiunto (IVA), is slapped on most goods and services in Italy; a discounted rate of 10% applies in restaurants, bars and hotels. It’s sometimes possible for non-EU residents to claim a refund of VAT paid on goods.

Claiming Tax Refunds

If you’re a non-EU resident and spend more than €154.94 on a purchase, you can claim a refund when you leave. The refund only applies to purchases from affiliated retail outlets that display a 'tax free for tourists' (or similar) sign.

You have to complete a form at the point of sale, then have it stamped by EU customs as you leave the zone (if you are visiting one or more EU countries after visiting Italy, you'll need to submit the form at your final port of exit). For information and a list of refund offices in Florence, visit Tax Refund for Tourists (


Domestic Calls

  • Italian telephone area codes all begin with 0 and consist of up to four digits. The area code is followed by a number of anything from four to nine digits. The area code is an integral part of the telephone number and must always be dialled, even when calling from next door.
  • Mobile-phone numbers begin with a three-digit prefix such as 330.
  • Toll-free (free-phone) numbers are known as numeri verdi and usually start with 800.
  • Nongeographical numbers start with 840, 841, 848, 892, 899, 163, 166 or 199.
  • Some six-digit national rate numbers are also in use (such as those for Alitalia and rail and postal information).

As elsewhere in Europe, Italians choose from a host of providers of phone plans and rates, making it difficult to make generalisations about costs.

International Calls

  • The cheapest options for calling internationally are free or low-cost computer programs such as Skype or Viber.
  • Cut-price call centres can be found in all of the main cities; rates can be considerably lower than from Telecom Italia pay phones for international calls. Place your call from a private booth inside the centre and pay when you've finished.
  • International calling cards, sold at newsstands and tabacchi (tobacconists), also offer cheaper rates. They can be used at public telephones.
  • To call another country from Italy, first dial 00, then the relevant country and area codes, followed by the telephone number.
  • To call Italy from abroad, call the international access number (011 in the USA, 00 from most other countries), Italy's country code (39) and then the area code of the location you want, including the leading 0.

Mobile Phones

Local SIM cards can be used in European and Australian phones. Other phones must be set to roaming.

More Information

  • Italy uses GSM 900/1800, which is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia but not with North American GSM 1900 or the totally different Japanese system.
  • Many modern smartphones are multiband, meaning they are compatible with a number of international networks – check with your service provider about using your phone in Italy.
  • Beware of mobile calls being routed internationally; it can be very expensive for a 'local' call.
  • You can get a temporary or prepaid account from several companies if you already own a GSM, dual- or multiband mobile phone.
  • Always check with your provider in your home country to see whether your handset allows use of another SIM card. If yours does, it can cost as little as €20 to activate a local prepaid SIM card (sometimes with €10 worth of calls on the card). You'll need to register with a mobile-phone shop, bring your passport and wait for about 24 hours for your account to be activated.
  • You can easily top up an Italian account with ricarica (prepaid minutes) from your selected mobile company at tabacchi, supermarkets and banks.
  • TIM (, Vodafone ( and Wind ( have the densest networks of outlets across the country.
  • If you have an internet-enabled phone, turn off data roaming when you're not using it, otherwise it devours credit.

Pay Phones & Phonecards

  • Telecom Italia public phones can be found on the streets, in train stations and in Telecom offices.
  • Most pay phones accept only carte/schede telefoniche (phonecards), although some also accept credit cards. Prepaid phonecards (costing €1, €2.50, €3, €5 and €7.50) are sold at post offices, tabacchi and newsstands.
  • Telecom offers a wide range of prepaid cards for both domestic and international use.


Italy operates on a 24-hour clock. It is one hour ahead of GMT/UTC. Daylight-saving time starts on the last Sunday in March, when clocks are put forward one hour. Clocks are put back an hour on the last Sunday in October. This is especially valuable to know in Italy, as 'summer' and 'winter' hours at museums and other sights are usually based on daylight-saving time.


Public toilets are non-existent. Your best bet, when the urge strikes, is to nip into the closest cafe, order an espresso at the bar and consider the cost of €1 the price for using their facilities. Can't turn on the tap to wash your hands? Press the floor pedal beneath the sink with your foot to get the water flowing.

Tourist Information

Visit Tuscany ( is the website of Tuscany's regional tourist authority.

Travel with Children

There is far more to Tuscany than churches and museums. The region is a quietly child-friendly destination and, with savvy planning, families can revel in a wonderful choice of creative, educational, culinary and old-fashioned fun things to see, do and experience.

Best Regions for Kids

  • Florence

Fascinating museums – some interactive, others with creative workshops and tours for children – make Florence a favourite for families with children who are school age and older. For the under fives, gentle riverside ambles, vintage carousels, fantastic gelaterie (ice-cream shops) and a vast choice of dining options add appeal.

  • Southern Tuscany

Marammese cowboys, archaeological ruins, sandy beaches and snowy mountains: this region might be rural, but it's a cracker when it comes to farm-stay accommodation, outdoor action and quirky sights to pique kids' natural curiosity.

  • Central Coast & Elba

There's beaches and boats, Livorno's aquarium and 'Venetian' waterways to explore, and the paradise island of Elba to sail to.

  • Northwestern Tuscany

Head to the Apuane Alps and Garfagnana to stay on Tuscan farms, see marble being mined, and explore subterranean lakes and caverns. Then there's Pisa's Leaning Tower to climb and Lucca's fairy-tale city walls to cycle.

Tuscany for Kids

Tuscany for children is wonderfully varied. Buckets, spades and swimming are a natural element of coastal travel (hit the Etruscan Coast or the island of Elba for the best sandy beaches), but there are mountains of things to see and do inland too. Urban centres such as Florence and Siena are finer (and more fun) than any school textbook when it comes to learning about Renaissance art, architecture and history – an increasing number of museums cater to younger-generation minds with superb multimedia displays, touchscreen gadgets, audio guides and creative tours.

The pace slows in the countryside. Rural farmsteads and agriturismi (accommodation on working farms or vineyards), wineries and agricultural estates inspire and excite young minds with traditional pastimes such as olive picking, feeding the black pigs, bread making in ancient stone ovens and saffron cultivation. There's bags of space to run around in, nature trails to explore, alfresco art sculptures and installations to gawp at and sufficient outdoor activities to keep a kid entertained for weeks.

Food & Drink

Appeasing most children's natural love of gelato, pizza and pasta is simple in Tuscany, a region that couldn't be easier when it comes to family dining. Children are warmly welcomed in restaurants, especially in casual trattoria and osteria – often family owned, and with overwhelmingly friendly and indulgent waiting staff and a menu featuring simple pasta dishes as well as more elaborate items. If you really cannot find anything on the menu that your child will eat – many restaurants have a menù bambini (children's menu) – ask for a plate of pasta with butter or olive oil and Parmesan.

Getting Around

Distances are not particularly long and there are plenty of 'count the churches' opportunities to entertain kids while driving. Children under 150cm or 36kg must be buckled into an appropriate child seat for their weight and are not allowed in the front.

On public transport, a seat on a bus costs the same for everyone (toddlers and babies on laps are free). Children under 12 pay half the fare on trains.

Children's Highlights

Cool Stuff

  • Cave di Marmo Tours, Carrara Take a Bond-style 4WD tour of the open-cast quarry or follow miners inside 'marble mountain'.
  • City walls, Lucca Hire a bike and ride along the top of the walls.
  • Grotta del Vento, Garfagnana Go underground to explore subterranean abysses, lakes and caverns.
  • Cabinovia Monte Capanne, Elba Ride a 'bird cage' up Elba's highest peak.
  • Pistoia Sotteranea, Pistoia Discover subterranean rivers underneath a 13th-century hospital.
  • Bagni San Filippo, Val d’Orcia Free backwoods bathing in thermal springs.
  • Terme di Saturnia, Southern Tuscany Not the plush luxe spa; rather the hidden cluster of natural pools by the actual springs, at the end of a dirt path.

Medieval to Modern Art


  • Le Biancane, Monterotondo Marittimo Geothermal park with trails through steam-belching woods.
  • Vie Cave, Southern Tuscany Excite young historians with a trail along sunken Etruscan roads.
  • Parco Archeologico di Baratti e Populonia, Golfi di Baratti Incredible trails around quarries and ruined tombs.
  • Elba Tuscany's largest island is walk perfect, with plenty of capes and beaches.
  • Fortezza del Girifalco, Cortona Kids love the stiff scamper uphill to this ruined Medici fortress atop the town's highest point.

Towers to Climb

  • Torre del Mangia, Siena Steep steps and awesome views at the top.
  • Duomo & Campanile, Florence Climb up Giotto's bell tower or into Brunelleschi's dome.
  • Torre d'Arnolfo, Florence Clamber up 418 steps to reach Palazzo Vecchio's battlements.
  • Leaning Tower, Pisa Accessible to children aged eight years and up; otherwise have fun taking photos of your kids propping up the tower.
  • Torre del'Ore, Lucca Beware the resident ghost in this 13th-century clock tower.
  • Torre Guinigi, Lucca Count 230 steps to the top of this 45m-high tower crowned with seven oak trees.
  • Monteriggioni It's not a tower, but there are atmospheric 13th-century ramparts (reconstructed in the 19th century) to clamber around for aspiring knights, plus a small armour museum with chain mail and helmets to dress up in.

Wildlife Encounters


  • Museo Galileo, Florence Astronomical and mathematical treasures, with ample hands-on opportunities to explore how they work.
  • Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Guided tours for children and families through secret staircases and hidden rooms; led by historical personages.
  • Museo Piaggio, Pontedera Learn about Italy's iconic Vespa scooter at this fun museum near Pisa.
  • Museo Stibbert, Florence Life-size horses, and knights in suits of armour from Europe and the Middle East.
  • Museale Santa Maria della Scala, Siena Fantastic art space especially for kids in a fascinating museum in a 13th-century pilgrims' hospice.

Food & Craft

  • Curious Appetite, Florence Learn how to make gelato (and eat it).
  • Martelli, Lari Watch spaghetti being made at this artisanal pasta workshop.
  • Antonio Mattei, Prato Watch bakers working the ovens at Tuscany's most famous biscottificio (biscuit shop).
  • La Citadella di Carnevale, Viareggio Meet artists and watch them crafting giant clowns, kings et al for carnival floats; papier-mâché workshops for families too.
  • Barbialla Nuova, Montaione Kids can get their hands dirty with a bread- or pizza-making workshop on an idyllic Tuscan cattle farm and truffle estate.
  • Al Benefizio, Garfagnana Learn how honey is made with a skilled beekeeper.


Travelling with children to Florence and Tuscany involves little extra planning. Your most important decisions will be about the time of year you go – perhaps timing your visit with one of Tuscany's many vibrant festivals with particular appeal for kids, such as Siena's Palio, Viareggio's carnevale or Florence's Scoppio del Carro – and the accommodation you choose. Agriturismi (accommodation on working farms or wine estates) and country resorts, such as Borgo Corsignano and Fattorie de Celli near Poppi in eastern Tuscany, are invariably the best option for families; they often have self-catering facilities and plenty of kid-friendly activities like swimming, tennis, horse riding and mountain biking.

Museums & Activities

Many museums and monuments are free for children, generally until they're six (but there is no blanket rule about this). In Florence state museums are free to EU passport holders aged under 18. Otherwise, museums offer a reduced admission fee (usually half the adult price) for children – usually those aged six and up. Some exceptions make no concession: the Leaning Tower of Pisa has a flat rate of €18 for everyone aged eight and over (under eights are not allowed up the tower).

Most sights offer multilingual audio guides (usually for a fee of €5) – an instant way to catch the interest of children from eight years (it really does not matter if they don't understand or listen to every last word). Only museums in Florence and other larger towns tend to organise guided tours and workshops for children in English.

Weights & Measures

Weights & Measures Italy uses the metric system.