STUDY IN ITALY -
Living in Italy
Social Conventions: The social
structure is heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic
church and, generally speaking, family ties are
stronger than in most other countries in Western
Europe. Normal social courtesies should be observed.
Dress is casual in most places, though beachwear
should be confined to the beach. Conservative
clothes are expected when visiting religious buildings
and smaller, traditional communities. Formal wear
is usually indicated on invitations. Smoking is
prohibited in some public buildings, transport
and cinemas. Visitors are warned to take precautions
against theft, particularly in the cities. Tipping:
Service charges and state taxes are included in
all hotel bills. It is customary to give up to
10 per cent in addition if service has been particularly
|Local Customs & Culture
Special Events: Traditional
festivals are celebrated in most towns and villages
in commemoration of local historical or religious
events. For further details, contact ENIT, the
Italian State Tourist Board (see Contact Addresses).
The following are a selection of some of the events
taking place in 2004:
Jan-Mar Ivrea Carnival. Jan 6 Epiphany Celebrations,
nationwide (particularly Piana degli Albanesi
and Bordonaro). Jan 20 San Sebastiano in Mistretta
(religious procession). Jan 25 Naviglio Grande
Antiques Fair, Milan. Feb Baroque Carnival, Palermo;
Mandorlo in Fiore (spring festival), Agrigento.
Feb-Mar Florence Carnival. Feb 2-8 APT Tour (tennis
tournament), Milan. Feb 8 Viareggio Carnival (famous
for its puppets); Ravel Evening, Milan. . Apr
11-18 Holy Week, Rome. Apr 21 Birth of Rome Celebrations.
Apr 22-29 18th Turin International Gay & Lesbian
Film Festival. Apr 27-May 6 Bacchanalia, Campagnano.
May 1 San Filippo Apostolo (religious festival),
Aidone; Tomato Festival, Scicli. May 1-4 Italian
Open (tennis). May 1-6 Festival of the Tatarate
(dancing festival), Casteltermini. May 4-5 San
Angelo Festival (religious festival), Licata.
May 6 The Procession of the Snake Catchers, Cocullo.
May 9-26 May Antiques Fair, Rome. May 9-Jun 29
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Florence. May 15 Corsa
dei Ceri (traditional race and revelry), Grubbio.
May 15-Jun 1 World Press Photo Exhibition (photography
competition), Milan. May 16-18 Inforiata: Noto
in Bloom. May 25 Vogalonga (boat race), Venice.
May 27 Medieval Battle, Scicli. May 29 La Sfilata
dei Turchi (religious parade), Potenza. May 30
Crossbow Tournament, Grubbio. Jun Heineken Jammin
Festival (rock festival), Autodrome, Imola. Jun-Jul
Expo Tevere (arts and crafts fair), Rome. Jun-Aug
Arena di Verona (opera festival). Jun 11-24 Festival
of Saint John (religious festival), Florence.
Jun 21-22 Battle of the Flowers, Ventimiglia.
Jun 24 Calcio Storico (football game played in
costumes), Florence. Aug 28-29 La Perdonanza (day
of plenary indulgence), L’Aquila. Sep International
Urban Theatre Festival, Rome; Festa dell Nivola
(religious festival), Milan; Formula One Italian
Grand Prix, Monza. Sep 5-Nov 7 Architecture Biennale
of Venice. Sep 7-19 Naples Pizzafest. Sep 21 Palio
di Asti (medieval tournament), Asti. Sep 23-Oct
4 Milan Fashion Week. Sep 27 White Night, Rome.
Oct Autumn Festival, Abbadia San Salvatore. Oct
1-5 FIA World Rally Championship, San Remo. Oct
5 Grape Festival, Marino. Oct 23-Nov 6 Truffel
Festival, Acqualanga. Nov 13-14 Festival del Cormeto,
Rocco Cantanero. Dec Christmas Markets, nationwide.
Dec 3-5 Art in Ice, Sondrio. Dec 6 Feast of St
Nicholas, nationwide. Dec 26-Feb 24 Putignano
Food & Drink: Table service
is most common in restaurants and bars. There
are no licensing laws.
Pasta plays a substantial part in Italian recipes,
but nearly all regions have developed their own
special dishes. Examples of dishes from each region
are listed below. Italy has over 20 major wine
regions, from Valle d’Aosta on the French
border to Sicily and Sardinia in the south.
Wines are named after grape varieties or after
their village or area of origin. The most widespread
is the Chianti group of vineyards, governed by
the Chianti Classico quality controls (denoted
by a black cockerel on the neck of each bottle).
The Chianti area is the only area in Italy with
such quality controls. Denominazione di origine
controllata wines come from officially recognised
wine-growing areas (similar to Appellation Contrôlée
in France), while wines designated Denominazione
controllata e garantita are wines of fine quality.
Vermouths from Piemonte vary from dry and light
pink to dark-coloured and sweet. Aperitifs such
as Campari and Punt e Mes are excellent appetisers,
while Italian liqueurs include Strega, Galliano,
Amaretto and Sambuca. Examples of wine from each
region are listed below.
Nightlife: Nightclubs, discos,
restaurants and bars with dancing can be found
in most major towns and tourist resorts. In the
capital, English-language films can be found at
the Pasquine Cinema, Vicolo della Paglia, just
off Santa Maria in Trastevere. Restaurants and
cafes throughout Italy will invariably have tables
outside: in Rome, the Massimo D’Azeglio
is a hotel restaurant famous for its classic food.
Open-air concerts in summer are organised by the
Opera House and the Academy of St Cecilia, while
there is open-air theatre at the Baths of Caracalla.
Jazz, rock, folk and country music can all be
heard at various venues.
Shopping: Many Italian products
are world-famous for their style and quality.
Care should be taken when buying antiques since
Italy is renowned for skilled imitators. Prices
are generally fixed and bargaining is not general
practice, although a discount may be given on
a large purchase. Florence, Milan and Rome are
famous as important fashion centres, but smaller
towns also offer good scope for shopping. It is
advisable to avoid hawkers or sellers on the beaches.
Some places are known for particular products,
- Como (Lombardy) for silk
- Prato (Tuscany) for
- Empoli (Tuscany) for the production
of bottles and glasses in green glass
(Umbria) and Faenza (Emilia-Romagna) for pottery
- Carrara (Tuscany) for marble.
- Torre Annunziata
(Campania) and Alghero (Sardinia) are centres
for handicraft products in coral
- In several
parts of Sardinia business cards and writing paper
made of cork are produced.
- Cremona (Lombardy)
is famous for its handmade violins.
(Marche) is famous for its accordion factories,
and for its production of guitars and organs.
- Two small towns concentrate on producing their
- Valenza (Piedmont), which has a large
number of goldsmith artisans
- Sulmona (Abruzzo),
which produces ‘confetti’, sugar-coated
almonds used all over Italy for wedding celebrations.
- Vietri sul Mare (Campania) is one of the most
important centres of ceramic paving-tiles
- Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna) is famous for mosaics.
Main shopping areas are listed below:
Rome: offers a wide choice of
shops and markets. Every shop in the fashionable
Via Condotti–Via Sistina area offers a choice
of styles, colours and designs rarely matched,
but at very high prices. Equally expensive are
shops along Via Vittorio Veneto, a street famous
for its outdoor cafes. Old books and prints can
be bought from bookstalls of Piazza Borghese.
Rome’s flea market is at Porta Portese in
Trastevere on Sunday mornings, selling everything
from second-hand shoes to ‘genuine antiques’.
Milan: the city's industrial
wealth is reflected in the chic, elegant shops
of Via Montenapoleone. Prices tend to be higher
than in other major cities.
Venice: is still famous for
its glassware, and there is a great deal of both
good and bad glass; that made on the island of
Murano, where there are also art dealers and skilful
goldsmiths, has a reputation for quality. Venetian
lace is also exquisite and expensive; however,
most of the lace sold is no longer made locally
(only lace made on the island of Burano may properly
be called Venetian lace).
Florence: boasts some of the
finest goldsmiths, selling from shops largely
concentrated along both sides of the Ponte Vecchio
bridge. Florentine jewellery has a particular
quality of satin finish called satinato. Much
filigree jewellery can also be found. Cameos are
another speciality of Florence, carved from exotic
Southern Italy: In the south,
there are still families handmaking the same local
products as their ancestors: pottery and carpets
in each region; filigree jewellery and products
of wrought iron and brass in Abruzzo; products
in wood in Calabria; corals and cameos in Campania;
a variety of textiles, including tablecloths,
in Sicily and Sardinia. In Cagliari, it is possible
to find artistic copies of bronze statuettes from
the Nuraghe period of the Sardinian Bronze Age.
In the larger towns, such as Naples, Bari, Reggio,
Calabria, Palermo and Cagliari, there are elegant
shops with a whole range of Italian products.
Many smaller towns have outdoor markets, but souvenirs
sold there are sometimes of very low quality,
probably mass-produced elsewhere.
Shopping hours: Mon-Sat 0830-1230
and 1530-1930, with some variations in northern
Italy where the lunch break is shorter and the
shops close earlier. Food shops are often closed
RAIL: There are nearly 16,000km
(9400 miles) of track in the country, of which
more than half is electrified. The Italian State
Railways (FS) (website: http://www.fs-on-line.com) runs
a nationwide network at very reasonable fares,
calculated on the distance travelled, and there
are a number of excellent reductions.
A new rail pass, the Trenitalia Pass, is now the
only pass available to people resident outside
of Italy (it supersedes the old Italy Flexicard,
Railcard and Kilometric ticket). This allows from
4 to 10 days of unlimited travel within a 2-month
period. Any train in Italy can be used, although
a small supplement is payable on Eurostar Italia
services. The pass also entitles the holder to
discounts on some Italy-Greece ferry routes, hotels
and other special offers. Both first and second
class passes are available. Children aged from
4 to 11 pay half the adult fare, and there is
a reduced-rate Youth Pass for travellers aged
For further information, contact Trenitalia (website:
http://www.trenitalia.com) or Railchoice (tel: (020)
8659 7300; fax: (020) 8659 7466; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
or Freedom Rail (tel: (0870) 757 9898; fax: (01253)
595151; e-mail: email@example.com;
ROAD: There are more than 300,000km
(185,500 miles) of roads in Italy, including over
6000km (3700 miles) of motorway (autostrada) which
link all parts of the country. Tolls are charged
at varying distances and scales, except for the
Salerno–Reggio Calabria, Palermo–Catania
and Palermo–Mazara Del Vallo stretches which
are toll-free. Secondary roads are also excellent
and require no tolls. Road signs are international.
Many petrol stations are closed 1200-1500. Visitors
are advised to check locally about exact opening
More information on the Italian motorway
network is available from the Società Autostrade
URBAN: All the big towns and
cities (Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Genoa and
Venice) have good public transport networks. Underground:
In Rome there are two underground lines –
Metropolitana A from Via Ottaviano via Termini
station to Via Anagnina and also connecting with
the new Ottaviano-San Pietro link; and Metropolitana
B, which runs between Termini Station, via Exhibition
City (EUR) (Via Laurentina) and then onwards to
Rebibbia. Both day and monthly passes are available.
Line B was expanded considerably at the beginning
of the 1990s, when ten new stations were added
to its network. Line A has been expanded much
more recently to include five new stations via
the Ottaviano-San Pietro connection. Milan also
has a three-line underground system, with tickets
usable on both underground and bus. Tram: There
is a 28km (17-mile) network consisting of eight
routes in Rome; Milan, Naples and Turin also have
tram services. Bus: Services operate in all main
cities and towns; in Rome, the network is extensive
and complements the underground and tram systems.
The fare structure is integrated between the various
modes. Flat-fare tickets and weekly passes can
be bought in advance from roadside or station
machines or from tobacconists (tabacchi).
is available from the ATAC booth in front of the
Termini station. Trolleybuses also run in a number
of other towns. In larger cities, fares are generally
pre-purchased from machines or tobacconists (tabacchi).
Bus fares – generally at a standard rate
per run – can be bought in packets of five
or multiples and are fed into a stamping machinsted
on a rate card displayed in the cab with an English
translation. Taxis can only be hailed at strategically
located stands or booked by telephone. A 10 per
cent tip is expected by taxi drivers and this
is sometimes added to the fare for foreigners.
e on boarding the bus. Taxi: Available in all
towns and cities. Government-regulated taxis are
either white or yellow. Visitors should avoid
taxis that are not metered. In Rome, they are
relatively expensive, with extra charges for night
service, luggage and taxis called by telephone.
City tours: Rome: Run by many
travel agencies, these tours allow first-time
visitors to get a general impression of the main
sights and enable them to plan further sightseeing.
Information is available from the local tourist
office. Horse-drawn carriages are available in
Rome. Charges are high. Venice: Privately hired
boats and gondolas are available, as well as a
public ferry service.
HOTELS: There are about 40,000
hotels throughout the country. Every hotel has
its fixed charges agreed with the provincial tourist
board. Charges vary according to class, season,
services available and locality. The Italian State
Tourist Board publishes the official list of all
Italian hotels and pensions (Annuario Alberghi)
every year, which can be consulted through a travel
agent or ENIT, the Italian State Tourist Board
(see Contact Addresses section). In all hotels
and pensions, service charges are included in
the rates. VAT (IVA in Italy) operates in all
hotels at 10 per cent (19 per cent in deluxe hotels)
on room charges only.
Visitors are now required by law to obtain an
official receipt when staying at hotels. Rome
is well provided with hotels, but it is advisable
to book in advance. Rates are high with added
extras. To obtain complete prices, ask for quotations
of inclusive rates. Many luxury hotels are available.
Cheap hotels, which usually provide basic board
(room plus shower), offer an economical form of
accommodation throughout Italy, and there is a
wide choice in the cities. Again, especially in
the main cities, it is wise to book in advance
(bookings should always be made through travel
agents or hotel representatives). There are many
regional hotel associations in Italy; the principal
national organisation is Federalberghi, Via Toscana
1, 00187 Rome (tel: (06) 4274 1151; fax: (06)
4287 1197; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website:
GRADING: Hotels are graded on
a scale of 1 to 5 stars.
MOTELS: Located on motorways
and main roads.
SELF-CATERING: Villas, flats
and chalets are available for rent at most Italian
resorts. Information is available through daily
newspapers and agencies in the UK and from the
Italian State Tourist Office or the Tourist Office
(Azienda Autonoma di Soggiorno) of the locality
concerned. The latter are also able to advise
about boarding with Italian families.
TOURIST VILLAGES: These consist
of bungalows and apartments, usually built in
or near popular resorts. The bungalows vary in
size, but usually accommodate four people and
have restaurant facilities.
is very popular in Italy. The local Tourist Office
in the nearest town will give information and
particulars of the most suitable sites. On the
larger campsites, it is possible to rent tents/caravans.
There are over 2100 campsites and full details
of the sites can be obtained in the publication
Campeggi e Villaggi Turistici In Italia, published
by the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) and Federcampeggio.
An abridged list of sites with location map, Carta
d’Italia Parchi Campeggio, can be obtained
free of charge by writing to the Italian Confederation
of Campers, via Vittorio Emanuele 11, 50041 Calenzano
(Firenze) (tel: (055) 882 391; fax: (055) 882
5918; e-mail: email@example.com; website:
http://www.federcampeggio.it). The Italian State Tourist
Office (ENIT) may also be able to supply information.
The tariffs at Italian campsites vary according
to the area and the type of campsite. There are
discounts for members of the AIT, FICC and FIA.
Usually there is no charge for children under
3 years of age.
The Touring Club Italiano offers
campsites already equipped with fixed tents, restaurants,
etc. For details, contact Touring Club Italiano,
Corso Italia 10, 20122 Milano (tel: (02) 85261;
fax: (02) 852 6406; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or email@example.com; website: http://www.touringclub.it).
To book places in advance on campsites belonging
to the International Campsite Booking Centre,
it is necessary to write to Centro Internazionale
Prenotazioni Campeggio, Casella Postale 23, 50041
Calenzano (Firenze), asking for a list of the
campsites with the booking form.
YOUTH HOSTELS: There are 54
youth hostels run by the Italian Youth Hostels
Association (Associazione Italiana Alberghi per
la Gioventù), Via Cavour 44, 00184, Rome
(tel: (06) 487 1152; fax: (06) 488 0492; e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org; website: http://www.ostellionline.org).
Listings and opening dates can be obtained from
the Rome Tourist Office, Via Parigi 5, 00185 Rome
(tel: (06) 4889 9253 or 4889 9255 or 3600 4399;
fax: (06) 4889 9250; e-mail: email@example.com;
During the summer season in the major cities,
reservations are essential and must be applied
for directly from the hostel at least 15 days
in advance, specifying dates and numbers. There
are also student hostels in several towns.
A reciprocal health agreement with the rest
of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway allows
reduced-cost dental and medical (including hospital)
treatment on presentation of form E111; a fee
must be paid, plus part of the cost of any prescribed
medicines. Insurance is advised for specialist
treatment. Italy is well endowed with health spas,
some famous since the Roman era. The most important
and best equipped health resorts in Italy are
Abano Terme and Montegrotto Terme (Veneto), Acqui
Terme (Piedmont), Chianciano Terme and Montecatini
Terme (Tuscany), Fiuggi (Lazio), Porretta Terme
and Salsomaggiore Terme (Emilia-Romagna), Sciacca
Terme (Sicily) and Sirmione (Lombardy). At Merano
(Alto Adige), it is possible to have a special
grape-diet treatment. More information on health
spas in Italy is available from La Federterme
(Italian Federation of Thermal Industries and
Curative Mineral Waters) (website: http://www.spas.it).