Accessible Travel

Italy is not an easy country for travellers with disabilities and getting around can be a problem for wheelchair users. Even a short journey in a city or town can become a major expedition if cobblestone streets have to be negotiated. Although many buildings have lifts, they are not always wide enough for wheelchairs. Not an awful lot has been done to make life for the hearing/vision impaired easier.

The Italian National Tourist Office in your country may be able to provide advice on Italian associations for travellers with disabilities and information on what help is available.

If travelling by train, ring the national helpline 199 303060 to arrange assistance (6.45am to 9.30pm daily). Airline companies should be able to arrange assistance at airports if you notify them of your needs in advance. Alternatively, contact ADR Assistance ( for assistance at Fiumicino or Ciampino airports. Some taxis are equipped to carry passengers in wheelchairs; ask for a taxi for a sedia a rotelle (wheelchair).

Italy's official tourism website ( offers a number of links for travellers with disabilities.

Accessible Italy A San Marino–based company that specialises in holiday services for people with disabilities. This is the best first port of call.

Sage Traveling ( A US-based agency offering advice and tailor-made tours to assist mobility-impaired travellers in Europe.


Gentle haggling is common in markets. Haggling in stores is generally unacceptable, though good-humoured bargaining at smaller artisan or craft shops is not unusual if making multiple purchases.

Dangers & Annoyances

Despite mafia notoriety, southern Italy is not a dangerous place and the biggest threat you face is from faceless pickpockets and bag-snatchers. The following tips will help ensure a safe and happy stay:

  • Leave valuables in your hotel room and never leave them in your car.
  • If carrying a bag or camera, wear the strap across your body and away from the road – moped thieves can swipe a bag and be gone in seconds.
  • Be vigilant for pickpockets in crowded areas, including at train stations and ferry terminals, on buses and in markets (especially those in Naples, Palermo and Catania).
  • Never buy electronics, including mobile phones, from market vendors – one common scam sees the boxes filled with bricks.
  • Always report thefts to the police within 24 hours, and ask for a statement, otherwise your travel insurance company won't pay out.

Discount Cards

Free admission to many galleries and cultural sites is available to youth under 18 and seniors over 65 years old; in addition, visitors aged between 18 and 25 often qualify for a discount. In some cases, these discounts only apply to EU citizens.

If travelling to Naples and Campania, consider buying a Campania Artecard (, which offers free public transport and free or reduced admission to many museums and archaeological sites.


Electricity in Italy conforms to the European standard of 220V to 230V, with a frequency of 50Hz. Wall outlets typically accommodate plugs with two or three round pins (the latter grounded, the former not).

Emergency & Important Numbers

From outside Italy, dial your international access code, Italy's country code (39) then the number (including the '0').

Italy country code39
International access code00
Police112, 113

Entry & Exit Formalities

Entering Italy from most other parts of the EU is generally uncomplicated, with no border checkpoints and no customs thanks to the Schengen Agreement. Document and customs checks remain standard if arriving from (or departing to) a non-Schengen country.

Customs Regulations

Within the European Union you are entitled to tax-free prices on fragrances, cosmetics and skincare; photographic and electrical goods; fashion and accessories; and gifts, jewellery and souvenirs where they are available and if there are no longer any allowance restrictions on these tax free items. On leaving the EU, non-EU residents can reclaim value-added tax (VAT) on expensive purchases.

Duty Free Allowances

Spirits & liqueurs1L
Wine4L (or 2L of fortified wine)
Other goodsup to a value of €300/430 (travelling by land/sea)


  • European Union 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.


Generally not required for stays of up to 90 days (or at all for EU nationals); some nationalities need a Schengen visa.

More Information

  • Italy is a signatory of the Schengen Convention, an agreement whereby participating countries abolished customs checks at common borders. EU citizens do not need a Schengen tourist visa to enter Italy. Nationals of some other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA, do not need a tourist visa for stays of up to 90 days. To check the visa requirements for your country, see
  • 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. See or contact an Italian consulate for details.
  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your departure date from Italy.


Italy is a surprisingly formal society; the following tips will help avoid awkward moments.

  • Greetings Greet people in shops, restaurants and bars with a buongiorno (good morning) or buonasera (good evening); kiss both cheeks and say come stai (how are you) to friends. With older people, only use first names if invited.
  • Asking for help Say mi scusi (excuse me) to attract attention; use permesso (permission) to pass someone in a crowded space.
  • Dress Cover shoulders, torso and thighs when visiting churches and dress smartly when eating out at restaurants.
  • At the table Eat pasta with a fork, not a spoon; it's OK to eat pizza with your hands. Summon the waiter by saying mi scusi (excuse me).
  • Gifts If invited to someone’s home, traditional gifts are a tray of dolci (sweets) from a pasticceria (pastry shop), a bottle of wine or flowers.


A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a very good idea. It may also cover you for cancellation or delays to your travel arrangements. Paying for your ticket with a credit card can often provide limited travel accident insurance and you may be able to reclaim the payment if the operator doesn't deliver. Ask your credit-card company what it will cover.

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

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

  • Several cities and towns offer public wi-fi hotspots, though to use them you will generally need to register online using a credit card or an Italian mobile number. An easier option (no need for a local mobile number) is to head to a cafe or bar offering free wi-fi.
  • Most hotels, B&Bs, hostels and agriturismi offer free wi-fi to guests, though signals can vary in quality. There will usually be at least one fixed computer for guest use.


The city maps provided by Lonely Planet, combined with the good, free local maps available at most Italian tourist offices, will be sufficient for many travellers. For more specialised maps, browse the good selection at national bookshop chain Feltrinelli (, or consult the websites listed here.

Touring Club Italiano ( Italy's largest map publisher offers a comprehensive 1:200,000, 592-page road atlas of Italy (€54.90), as well as 1:400,000 maps of northern, central and southern Italy (€8.50). It also produces 15 regional maps at 1:200,000 (€8.50), as well as a series of walking guides with maps (€14.90).

Stanfords ( Excellent UK-based shop that stocks many useful maps, including cycling maps.


ATMs are widespread in southern Italy. Major credit cards are widely accepted but some smaller shops, trattorias and hotels might not take them.


Italy’s currency is the euro. The seven euro notes come in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. The eight euro coins are in denominations of €2 and €1, and 50, 20, 10, five, two and one cents.


  • ATMs (known as 'Bancomat' in Italy) are widely available throughout the country and most will accept cards tied into the Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro systems.
  • Beware of transaction fees. Every time you withdraw cash, you'll be hit by charges – typically your home bank will charge a foreign exchange fee (usually around 1%) as well as a transaction fee of around 1% to 3%. Fees can sometimes be reduced by withdrawing cash from banks affiliated with your home banking institution; check with your bank.
  • If an ATM rejects your card, try another one before assuming the problem is with your card.

Credit Cards

  • Major cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, Cirrus and Eurocheques are widely accepted. Amex is also recognised, although it’s less common than Visa or MasterCard.
  • Virtually all midrange and top-end hotels accept credit cards, as do most restaurants and large shops. Some cheaper pensioni, trattorie and pizzerias only accept cash.
  • Do not rely on credit cards at museums or galleries.
  • Note that using your credit card in ATMs can be costly. On every transaction there’s a fee, which can reach US$10 with some credit-card issuers, as well as interest per withdrawal. Check with your issuer before leaving home.
  • Always inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid your card being blocked for payments made in unusual locations.

Exchange Rates

New ZealandNZ$1€0.61

For current exchange rates see

Changing Money

  • You can change money in banks, at post offices 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.
  • Take your passport or photo ID when exchanging money.


Italians are not big tippers. Use the following as a rough guide:

  • Taxis Optional, but most people round up to the nearest euro.
  • Hotels Tip porters about €5 at high-end hotels.
  • Restaurants Service (servizio) is generally included in restaurants – if it's not, a euro or two is fine in pizzerias, 10% in restaurants.
  • Bars Optional, though many Italians leave small change on the bar when ordering coffee (usually €0.10 per coffee). If drinks are brought to your table, a small tip is generally appreciated.

Opening Hours

Opening hours vary throughout the year. We've provided high-season opening hours; hours will generally decrease in the shoulder and low seasons. 'Summer' times generally refer to the period from April to September or October, while 'winter' times generally run from October or November to March.

Banks 8.30am–1pm or 1.30pm and 2.30–4.45pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants noon–3pm & 7.30–11pm or midnight

Cafes 7.30am–8pm, sometimes until 1am or 2am

Bars and clubs 10pm–4am or 5am

Shops 9am–1pm & 4–8pm Monday to Saturday; some also open Sunday, some close Monday morning and some in large cities and tourist areas open Sunday


Poste Italiane, Italy's postal system, is reasonably reliable, though parcels do occasionally go missing. Francobolli (stamps) are available at post offices and authorised tobacconists (look for the big white-on-black 'T' sign). 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. Tobacconists keep regular shop hours.

Postal Rates & Services

The cost of sending a letter by aerea (airmail) depends on its weight, size and where it is being sent. Most people use posta prioritaria (priority mail), Italy's most efficient mail service, guaranteed to deliver letters sent to Europe within three working days and to the rest of the world within four to nine working days.

Using posta prioritaria, mail up to 50g costs €3.50 within Europe, €4.50 to Africa, Asia and the Americas, and €5.50 to Australia and New Zealand. Mail weighing 51g to 100g costs €4.30 within Europe, €5.20 to Africa, Asia and the Americas, and €7.10 to Australia and New Zealand.

Public Holidays

Most Italians take their annual holiday in August, with the busiest period occurring around August 15, known locally as Ferragosto. This means that many businesses and shops close for at least a part of that month. It also means that southern Italy's islands and coastal resorts become incredibly lively (and crowded). Settimana Santa (Easter Holy Week) is another busy holiday period for Italians.

National public holidays:

New Year's Day (Capodanno) 1 January

Epiphany (Epifania) 6 January

Easter Monday (Pasquetta) March/April

Liberation Day (Giorno della Liberazione) 25 April

Labour Day (Festa del Lavoro) 1 May

Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica) 2 June

Feast of the Assumption (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 enclosed public spaces, which includes restaurants, bars, shops and public transport. Allowed (and very popular) at outdoor restaurant and bar tables.

Taxes & Refunds

A 22% value-added tax known as IVA (Imposta sul Valore Aggiunta) is included in the price of most goods and services. Tax-free shopping is available at some shops.

Non-EU residents who spend more than €155 at one shop at a single time can claim a refund when leaving the EU. The refund only applies to purchases from stores that display a ‘Tax Free’ sign. When making the purchase, ask for a tax-refund voucher, to be filled in with the date of the purchase and its value. When leaving the EU, get this voucher stamped at customs and take it to the nearest tax-refund counter where you’ll get an immediate refund, either in cash or charged to your credit card. For more information, see


Directory Enquiries

National and international phone numbers can be requested at 1254 (or online at

Domestic Calls

  • Italian telephone area codes all begin with 0 and consist of up to four digits. The area code is followed by anything from four to eight digits. Area codes are an integral part of all Italian phone numbers and must be dialled even when calling locally.
  • Mobile-phone numbers begin with a three-digit prefix starting with a 3.
  • 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 Trenitalia).

International Calls

  • To call Italy from abroad, call your international access number, then Italy's country code (39) and then the area code of the location you want, including the leading 0.
  • Avoid making international calls from a hotel, as rates are high.
  • The cheapest options are free or low-cost apps such as Skype and Viber, connecting by using the wi-fi at your accommodation or at a cafe or other venue offering free wi-fi.
  • Another cheap option is to use an international calling card. Note, however, that the number of public payphones are shrinking, so consider a pre-paid card that allows you to call from any phone. Cards are available at newsstands and tobacconists.
  • To call abroad from Italy dial 00, then the country and area codes, followed by the telephone number. To make a reverse-charge (collect) international call from a public telephone, dial 170. All phone operators speak English.

Mobile Phones

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

More Information

  • Italian mobile phones operate on the GSM 900/1800 network, which is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia but not always with the North American GSM or CDMA systems – check with your service provider.
  • The cheapest way of using your mobile is to buy a prepaid (prepagato) Italian SIM card. TIM (, Wind (, Vodafone ( and Tre ( all offer SIM cards and have retail outlets in most Italian cities and towns. All SIM cards must be registered in Italy, so make sure you have a passport or ID card with you when you buy one.
  • You can easily top up your Italian SIM with a recharge card (ricarica), available from most tobacconists, some bars, supermarkets and banks.

Payphones & Phonecards

Although public payphones still exist across southern Italy, their numbers continue to fall. Those that are still available take telephone cards (schede telefoniche), available from tobacconists and newsstands.


  • All of Italy occupies the Central European Time Zone, which is one hour ahead of GMT. When it is noon in London, it is 1pm in Italy.
  • Daylight-saving time (when clocks move forward one hour) starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October.
  • Italy operates on a 24-hour clock, so 3pm is written as 15:00.


Beyond museums, galleries, department stores and train stations, there are few public toilets in southern Italy. If you're caught short, the best thing to do is to nip into a cafe or bar. The polite thing to do is to order something at the bar. You may need to pay to use public toilets at some venues (usually €0.50 to €1).

Tourist Information

The quality of tourist offices varies dramatically. One office might have enthusiastic staff, another might be indifferent. Most offices offer at least a few brochures, maps and leaflets, even if they're uninterested in helping in any other way. Outside major cities and international tourist areas, it's fairly unusual for the staff to speak English.

Four tiers of tourist office exist: local, provincial, regional and national.

Local & Provincial Tourist Offices

Despite their different names, provincial and local offices offer similar services. All deal directly with the public and most will respond to written and telephone requests for information. Staff can usually provide a city map, lists of hotels and information on the major sights. In larger towns and major tourist areas, English is generally spoken.

Main offices are generally open Monday to Friday; some also open on weekends, especially in urban areas or during peak summer season. Affiliated information booths (at train stations and airports, for example) may keep slightly different hours.

Regional Tourist Authorities

Regional offices are generally more concerned with planning, budgeting, marketing and promotion than with offering a public information service. However, they still maintain some useful websites. In some cases you'll need to look for the Tourism or Turismo link within the regional site. There is currently no official tourism website for the Campania region.

Basilicata (

Calabria (

Puglia (

Sicily (

Tourist Offices Abroad

The Italian National Tourist Office ( maintains offices in 22 cities on five continents. Contact information for all offices can be found on its website.

Travel with Children

Southern Italians adore bambini (children) and acts of face pinching are as common as Vespas, espresso and olive groves. On the flipside, Italy's southern regions offer few special amenities for little ones, which makes a little planning go a long way.

Children's Highlights

Outdoor Thrills

  • Aeolian Islands Seven tiny volcanic islands off Sicily with everything from spewing lava to black-sand beaches.
  • Mt Vesuvius Play 'spot the landmark' from the summit of Naples' formidable, slumbering volcano.
  • Ischia Catch a water taxi to a bubbling thermal beach or pool-hop at a verdant spa resort.
  • Pollino National Park Kids over 10 can join the grown-ups for white-water-rafting adventures in Calabria's wilds.
  • Maratea Shallow, sandy beaches and a very walkable town centre.

Brushes With History

  • Tunnel Borbonico Escape routes, hideouts and vintage smugglers' cars bring wartime Naples to life.
  • Herculaneum Smaller and better-preserved than Pompeii, Herculaneum is easier to visit in a shorter time.
  • Valley of the Temples Agrigento's astounding Greek temples come with picnic-friendly grounds and space to move.
  • Castel del Monte Puglia's octagonal 13th-century castle boasts Europe’s very first flush toilet.

Kooky Kicks

  • Cimitero delle Fontanelle Tour Naples' bizarre Fontanelle Cemetery, stacked with skulls, shrines and fantastical tales.
  • Alberobello Was that Snow White? Imagination runs riot in this World Heritage–listed town in Puglia, famous for its cone-roofed trulli abodes.
  • Matera Relive the Flintstones exploring Matera's Unesco-protected sassi (stone houses carved out of caves and cliffs).
  • Piccolo Teatro dei Pupi Syracuse's little Sicilian puppet theatre brings old Sicilian tales to vivid life.



Southern Italy's agriturismi (farmstays) are especially wonderful for families: think self-catering facilities, fresh air and outdoor activities that might include any number of options, from horse-riding, cycling and swimming, to animal feeding, olive picking and cooking. Kids will love slumbering in conical-roofed trulli and atmospheric masserie (fortified farmhouses), among them family-friendly Masseria Torre Coccaro near Alberobello in Puglia.

Self-contained apartments are also sound options for families, offering multibed rooms, guest kitchens, lounge facilities and, often, washing machines. In high season (July and August), many camping grounds offer activities for kids.

Book accommodation in advance whenever possible. In hotels, some double rooms can’t accommodate an extra bed for kids, so always check. If your toddler is small enough to share your bed, some hotels will let you do so for free. The website specifies the ‘kid policy’ for each hotel listed and any extra charges incurred.

Getting Around

Arrange car rental before leaving home. Car seats for infants and children are available from most car-rental agencies, but should be booked in advance.

Public transport discounts are available for children. In some cases, young children travel free if accompanied by a paying adult. Check details in specific destination coverage or ask at the tourist office. Inter-city trains and buses are safe, convenient and relatively inexpensive.

Cobbled stones and potholes can make stroller use challenging. Consider purchasing an ergonomic baby carrier before leaving home.

Mangia! Mangia!

Kids are more than welcome at most eateries. Highchairs are often available and though kids’ menus are rare, it’s perfectly acceptable to order a mezzo piatto (half portion).

Arancini (rice balls), crocchè (potato croquettes) and pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) are great on-the-run snacks, as are panini from little grocery stores.

You can buy baby formula in powder or liquid form, as well as sterilising solutions such as Milton, at pharmacies. Fresh cow’s milk is sold in cartons in supermarkets and in bars with a ‘Latteria’ sign. UHT milk is popular and in many out-of-the-way areas the only kind available.

Best Websites

Italia Kids ( Family travel and lifestyle guide to Italy, packed with practical tips and accommodation listings.

Context Travel ( Superb guided walks for families in Naples.

Ciao Bambino ( Tours, activities, recommendations, and planning advice, put together by a group of travel-avid mums.

Baby Friendly Boltholes ( Search for the Italian holiday property of your pre-schooler's dreams.

Southern Italy for Kids

Southern Italy bursts with extraordinary archaeological sites and museums. But while Pompeian frescoes might thrill mum or dad, a youngster unversed in the wonders of history and art might not be quite as keen. Kids' books or films about the places you visit can help bring these sights to life.

If you're travelling with young children, punctuate museum visits with plenty of rest stops – gelaterie (ice-cream shops), parks and beaches are always a good back-up – and always ask tourist offices about any special family activities or festivals, especially in the high-season.

For more information, see Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children book.


Discounted admission for children is available at most attractions, although there is no fixed rule as to how much – or not – children pay. State-run museums and archaeological sites usually offer free entry to EU citizens under the age of 18. Otherwise, museums and monuments offer a reduced admission fee (generally half the adult price) for children, usually from the ages of 6 to 18. Some offer money-saving family tickets covering admission for two adults and two children or more.

Admission to state-run museums and monuments is free for everyone on the first Sunday of each month across Italy.

The Regions

  • Naples & Campania

Subterranean ruins and secret passageways in Naples will intrigue those over five. Kids under 10 may need a piggyback for part of the walk up Mt Vesuvius, though most kids and teens will enjoy exploring ancient Pompeii and Herculaneum. Ischia's bubbling beach and thermal pools have wide appeal.

  • Puglia, Basilicata & Calabria

Valle d'Itria in Puglia and Matera in Basilicata intrigue with otherworldly abodes. Puglia's countless soft, sandy beaches suit all ages, while its relatively flat terrain makes for easy cycling adventures. The national parks of Basilicata and Calabria offer hikes, skiing and white-water rafting for active teens.

  • Sicily

Fire up the imagination of primary (elementary) and high-school students with ancient temples and glittering Byzantine mosaics. Younger kids will love Sicilian puppet shows, while teens will get a kick from climbing a volcano. Young and old will appreciate Sicily's superlative sweet treats.


Concordia International Volunteer Projects ( Short-term community-based projects covering the environment, archaeology and the arts.

European Youth Portal ( Has various links suggesting volunteering options across Europe. Navigate to the Volunteering page.

Legambiente ( Offers numerous environmentally focused volunteering opportunities.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms ( For a membership fee of €35 this organisation provides a list of farms looking for volunteer workers.

Women Travellers

  • Generally speaking, southern Italy is not a dangerous region for women to travel in. That said, in some parts of the country, solo women travellers may be subjected to a high level of unwanted attention.
  • Eye-to-eye contact is the norm in Italy's daily flirtatious interplay. Eye contact can become outright staring the further south you travel. If ignoring unwanted male attention doesn't work, politely tell your interlocutor that you're waiting for your marito (husband) or fidanzato (boyfriend) and, if necessary, walk away.
  • If you feel yourself being groped on a crowded bus or metro, a loud 'che schifo!' (how disgusting!) will draw attention to the incident. Otherwise take all the usual precautions you would in any other part of the world; avoid wandering around alone late at night, especially in parks and desolate urban areas.
  • You can report incidents to the police, who are required to press charges.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is legal (over the age of 16) and attitudes towards LGBT people in southern Italy have generally improved in recent years. That said, the region is notably conservative in its attitudes. Overt displays of affection by LGBT couples can attract a negative response, especially in smaller, less cosmopolitan towns and among older generations.

You'll find gay scenes in Naples, Catania and Taormina (the latter mostly in the summer), and to a lesser extent in Palermo and Bari.

Online resources include the following (mostly Italian-language) websites:

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

Circolo Mario Mieli ( Rome-based cultural centre that organises debates, cultural events and social functions, including Gay Pride.

Coordinamento Lesbiche Italiano (CLR.; The national organisation for lesbians, holding regular conferences, literary evenings and other cultural special events. ( Website featuring LGBT news, feature articles and gossip. ( English-language site produced by, featuring information on everything from hotels and events, to LGBT rights.

Pride ( Culture, politics, travel and health with an LGBT focus.