European Campus


 Study in Italy
a ABOUT Italy

STUDY IN  ITALY - Living in Italy


Social Scene     |    Customs and Culture    |    Transportation

Accommodation    |    Health Care    |    Emergency Contacts

Social Scene

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 good.

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 Carnival.

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, for example:

  • Como (Lombardy) for silk
  • Prato (Tuscany) for textiles
  • Empoli (Tuscany) for the production of bottles and glasses in green glass
  • Deruta (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.
  • Castelfidardo (Marche) is famous for its accordion factories, and for its production of guitars and organs.
  • Two small towns concentrate on producing their speciality:
  • 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 shells.

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 Wednesday afternoon.



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: 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 under 26.

For further information, contact Trenitalia (website: or Railchoice (tel: (020) 8659 7300; fax: (020) 8659 7466; e-mail:; website:; or Freedom Rail (tel: (0870) 757 9898; fax: (01253) 595151; e-mail:; website:

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 times.

More information on the Italian motorway network is available from the Società Autostrade (website:

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).

Information 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:; 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.

CAMPING/CARAVANNING: Camping 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:; website: 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: or; website:

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:; website:

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:; website: 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.

Health Care

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:

Emergency Contacts
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