Will I be traveling with other people?
Are cars safe?
Are your vehicles full insured?
Where will I find my driver?
Do you supply for baby seats?
Lost & Found
Can we pay with more than one credit card?
How much should we tip?
Do you work with Travel Agents ?
Can I change an option (or more) on one of your suggested private tours?
What is Custom Your Tour?
How does the booking process work?
Your prices are in Euros. How do you calculate the final amount of the trip in US or other currency?
Are your private guides and drivers licensed and do they speak English?
Is it safe to travel in Italy?
Do I need a VISA to visit Italy?
When is the best time to visit Italy?
What are the must see cities for a first time traveller to Italy?
Can I use my hairdryer, curling iron, etc in Italy?
Can I use my ATM card in Italy?
What should I expect from your hotels?
We have points with a hotel chain, can we use your services if we book hotels with our points?
...AND SOME TIPS....Passport Regulations
A visa is not required for US or Canadian citizens holding a valid passport unless they expect to stay in Italy for more than 90 days or are entering the country for study or employment reasons. Anyone who decides to stay over 90 days once they have entered the country should make an application once only to any police station (questura) for an additional 90-day extension. Proof will be required to ascertain that the person is a bona fide tourist with adequate means of support and that the extension is not for study or employment purposes. Generally, permission is granted immediately. Non-American citizens should check current visa requirements with the nearest Italian Consulate before departure.
Registration for Tourists
The paperwork related to registering with the police within 3 days of arrival in Italy is dealt with by the hotels the tourist is staying in. If staying with friends or in a private home, tourists must register in person at the nearest police station within three days of arrival. In Rome there is a special police information office to assist tourists. (Interpreters are available) telephone: 06.461-950 or 06.486-609
A traveller entering Italy with a dog or cat must have a veterinary certificate stating that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against rabies between 20 days and 11 months prior to entry into Italy. The certificate must also state the breed, age, sex and color of the pet, as well as the owner's name and address. The certificate is valid for 30 days. Forms are obtainable at all Italian diplomatic and consular representatives and from the Italian Government Travel Office. A dog must be on a leash or muzzled when in public. Customs officials may require a health examination of any pet if they suspect that it is ill or has come directly from tropical regions.
Healthcare and Medical Assistance
Tourists requiring urgent medical care should go to the nearest hospital emergency ward (airports and many train stations also have medical teams and first aid facilities). Those with serious illnesses or allergies should always carry a special note from their physicians giving detailed information on the treatments they are following or that may be necessary. Pharmacies (Farmacia), generally follow shop opening times (approx. from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 3 to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, but in large cities many are open throughout the day. Night time service is provided on a shift basis. Business hours and night shifts are displayed outside each pharmacy and are published in local papers. It is advisable to procure a document certifying coverage by the national health care service before departure.
Health Services and Insurance Policy
Italy has no medical program covering citizens from the US and Canada. US and Canadian tourists are therefore advised to take out an insurance policy before traveling. First Aid Service (Pronto Soccorso) with a doctor on hand is found at airports, ports, railway stations and in all hospitals. Medicines, be they prescription or over the counter, can be obtained only in pharmacies.
Italy is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the USA and Canada. Daylight saving time in Italy goes into effect each year usually from the end of March to the middle of October.
Banks are generally open Monday through Friday from 8.35am to 1.35pm and from 3 - 4pm; in many tourist areas they are open non-stop from 830am. to 4pm and closed all day on Saturday and Sunday and on national holidays.Some banks also open in the afternoon.
The new monetary currency is the Euro which is divided as follows: bills of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500; coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 Euros, 20 and 50 cents.
» The Universal Currency Converter
All the Post Offices are open 8am-6.30pm Monday-Friday and 8am-12.30pm Saturday.
If you want stamps, you can buy them in tabacchi too, they will often also weigh your letter.
Shops opening times
Although shops are normally open from 9am to 1pm and from 3.30/4pm to 7.30/8pm, in some tourist areas they tend to stay open uninterruptedly from 9.30am to 7.30pm, allowing for slight variations from town to town. Large department stores like La Rinascente, Coin or Upim are open throughout the country from 9.30am to 7.30pm.
IVA tax refunds
Like most other European countries, Italy imposes a value added tax (VAT) on most goods and services purchased in the country. This tax is known as the Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto, or IVA. It is normally included in the price of most goods and services. Generally the rate stands at 20% of the sale price.
Residents outside of the European Union visiting Italy may obtain a VAT refund on purchases of new goods. VAT refunds may be claimed for purchases of merchandise (not for services such as hotels, car rentals, entertainment, meals or transportation) in excess of € 155.
Here is an outline of the procedures that should be followed for claiming VAT refunds on goods purchased in Italy:
Tax Free Italy Stores
If a "Euro Tax Free" sign is displayed in a shop window, the store in question adheres to the "Tax Free Italy" programme. Show your passport at the cash desk when purchasing goods in these stores and ask the store clerk to issue a "Tax Free Shopping Cheque" along with a receipt for the goods. The store will charge you tax at the time of sale. The Tax Free Shopping Cheque will indicate the amount of VAT refund you will be eligible to claim later.
You must present the merchandise, Tax Free Shopping Cheque and store receipt to the Customs Office at the airport upon your departure from Italy. The customs official will examine the merchandise to check that it matches the description on the receipt and cheque and will stamp the Tax Free Shopping Cheque.
To obtain an immediate tax refund once your Tax Free Shopping Cheque has been stamped, simply present it at any "Tax-Free Cash Refund" booth at the airport.
If you are purchasing goods in a store that does not adhere to the "Tax-Free Italy" programme, ask the store to issue you a special invoice known as a fattura, which should be made out to you and include the phrase "Esente IVA ai sensi della legge 38 quarter". The fattura should also indicate the amount of VAT included in the purchase price. The fattura and the goods should be presented at the Customs Office on your departure from Italy to be stamped. You must then mail the stamped fattura back to the store (either from Italy or your home country) within 90 days of the purchase date. The store will then send you the VAT refund by return mail to whatever address you specify. This can take quite some time.
If you require merchandise to be shipped directly to your home address, your purchase is exempt of VAT. The store will charge you no tax at the time of purchase and will issue you with a "Tax-Free Receipt", rather than a "Tax Free Shopping Cheque".
Luggage is inspected on entering and leaving Italy. Free entry is allowed for personal effects: clothing (new and used), books, camping and household equipment, fishing tackle, 1 pair of skis, 2 tennis racquets, portable typewriter, record player with 10 records, tape recorder or dictaphone, pram, 2 still cameras with 10 rolls of film for each camera, 1 movie camera with 10 rolls of film, binoculars, personal jewelry, portable radio set (subject to a small license fee), 400 cigarettes and a quantity of cigars or pipe tobacco not exceeding 500 grams (1.1 lb).
All items mentioned above may be imported duty free only on condition that they are for personal use and are not be sold, given away or traded. A maximum of two bottles of wine and one bottle of spirits per person may be brought duty free. The bottles must be opened. A maximum of 4.4 lbs of coffee, 6.6 lbs of sugar and 2.2 lbs of cocoa are allowed duty free.
Overseas tourists arriving in Italy after visiting other countries are allowed to bring souvenirs purchased in other countries for a total value of $500. Only a verbal declaration is required for these goods. Purchases may include up to a half litre of perfume.
Exports from Italy
There are no restrictions on gifts purchased in Italy except for antiques and works of art. These require the authorization of the Culture Ministry.
US Regulations on Purchases Abroad
Each US tourist may bring back to the US $400-worth of duty free goods purchased abroad. The goods must accompany the traveller. A flat rate of 10% is assessed on the next $1,000-worth of goods purchased. Parcels containing gifts may be sent to the US duty-free, providing the total value of parcels received by one person in one day does not exceed $50. Each package should be marked "Unsolicited Gift". The amount paid and the contents of the package should be declared.
Churches are generally open in the morning from 7.30am-noon and in the afternoon from 4-6.30pm. Most churches and cathedrals that are popular with visiting tourists remain open until 1pm. Sightseeing is not permitted during services.
Some churches operate a very strict dress code - strappy sundresses, tank tops, shorts and miniskirts are not considered respectable clothing. The solution for women is simple - carry a large but lightweight wrap to put round your shoulders. Men will either have to wear long trousers and suffer the heat, or do their church visiting (in long trousers) in the relative cool of the morning and change clothes after visiting.
Sites of interest
Museums, monuments and archeological sites are usually closed on Sunday afternoons and all day Monday. Their opening follow two patterns:
Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-7pm in summer, and 9am-5pm the rest of the year; or 9am-2pm (Sundays until 1pm). These given hours should be considered mere guidelines.
Are cars safe? The cars we use are all newly registered, safe, reliable to travel in comfort! Each car is equipped with municipal permission, and drivers are entitled by having passed specific exams. They are all equipped with air conditioned, radio cd, darkned windows for more privacy, sat navigator, cell phone.
Where will I find my driver? In ports, trains stations or airports your driver will be waiting for you showing a sign with your name on it; if you stay in hotel he will look for you in the lobby; if you stay in a private house or villa, he will simply come to your address.
Do you supply for baby seats? Families are welcome, that's why we can supply for baby seats (from 1 to 5 years age) and stroller, without any charge.
Lost & Found We are not responsible for items left in the vehicle. Please be sure to inspect your belongings, the back of the vehicle and the trunk, before dismissing your chauffeur. As a courtesy to our clients, we will make any effort to locate your "lost" items. We will send them to you at you own expense, or your are welcome to have it picked up from our offices in Florence.
Can we pay with more than one credit card? Yes! You can pay with up to two cards per tour. Or multiple tours can be charged separately on separate cards.
How much should we tip? This is up to you and only if you are pleased with our service (we're sure you will be!). Tips to your driver or guide are not included in the tour price. By the way count on a tip in the amount around 20 / 30 eur per day.
Do you work with Travel Agents ? We are happy to support travel professionals. Please send us an email with your agency name, phone number and Industry ID number and we will send you details as to how we can work together.
Can I change an option (or more) on one of your suggested private tours? Yes you can. These tours are fully customizable. In fact we offer a varied list of optional activities to replace or add to the ones suggested on the tours. If you do not find what you are looking for on our list, we can make further arrangements just for you.
What is Custom Your Tour? Custom trip planning is what we specialize in. Our tour designers will work with you to create the ideal trip for you based on your interests and budget. Knowledge and contacts are everything in coordinating a successful customized trip. We live here in Italy so we can handle all details, from the most basic to the most personalized request.
How does the booking process work? Once you contact us, and in case you want to customize the tour, your tour designer will work with you to create an itinerary that suits your needs and budget. Once you approve the program and confirm your dates, we will book the accommodations. At this point, or if you want to book one of our pre-designed tours, we require a 30% deposit to hold the space in the hotels. The final payment is due 45 days prior to your departure. A personalized and detailed day by day itinerary will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to your departure with all necessary contact informations.
Your prices are in Euros. How do you calculate the final amount of the trip in US or other currency? The USD or other currency will be calculated for the deposit at the applicable current exchange rate as per our currency broker. The balance is due on or before 45 days prior to the start of the program. The USD or other currency amount for the balance will be calculated at current exchange rates at the time of your payment.
Are your private guides and drivers licensed and do they speak English? Yes. Our guides and drivers are personally picked by us so we know them well. They are fluent in English. All guides have gone through extensive training in their particular specialized areas and are licensed with the local guide associations which are strictly regulated by Italian tourism laws. Our all drivers have special tourism licenses for their vehicles.
Is it safe to travel in Italy? Italy is a very safe country, renown for its warm friendly people. Having said that, you must use caution in large cities around tourist areas where tourists can become magnets for pick pockets. Common sense precautions will help you to avoid unpleasant situations.
Do I need a VISA to visit Italy? If you are a Canadian or US citizen you need only a valid passport. The passport should be valid for six months after the date of travel. Other nationalities should check with the Italian Embassy or consular office for Visa requirements from their countries.
When is the best time to visit Italy? Italy is a year round destination. The climate is very moderate all year long but there is a winter, spring, and summer.
April to end of June, and September to end of October, are the best months for weather. Not too hot or rainy. For bargains, off season is great - November to March and also the month of August for city hotels.
What are the must see cities for a first time traveller to Italy? Whatever you choose to see in Italy will be worth while and a wonderful experience. However, for a first trip we would strongly suggest you visit the 3 main art cities; Rome: ideally 3 days to visit St. Peters, The Vatican & Sistine Chapel, and the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Florence: 2 days to see the main sites, 3 days if you want to visit the Uffizi Gallery which is one of the most important museums of the world, or if you want to take an excursion into the countryside. Venice: 2 days to take in the main sites and ambiance. Have a look at our Rome, Florence, Venice suggested tour.
Can I use my hairdryer, curling iron, etc in Italy? In Italy the voltage is 220 and in North America it is 110. The electrical sockets are round not flat. So in order to use your personal appliance you need a conversion plug and if the appliance is not dual voltage, a converter. You can purchase a kit with everything you need from you local travel shop or in the luggage section of your local department store or at most airports. You should note that most of our hotels have hair dryers in the bathrooms.
Can I use my ATM card in Italy? Yes you can. You will need a 4 digit pin number. We suggest that you also bring with you some cash to start .
What should I expect from your hotels? We offers a great selection of centrally located city hotels and charming country inns. We select our hotels from 3 -star to 5-star deluxe, based on cleanliness, friendliness and helpfulness of the staff, location, and best value for the dollar. Our staff visits hotels yearly to make sure that the standards remain high. Our clients benefit from our quality control checks and from our long standing relationship with our partner hotels.
We have points with a hotel chain, can we use your services if we book hotels with our points? We will be happy to work with clients who want to use their own hotels because of points or other reasons. However, we cannot vouch or be responsible for any problems with hotels not contracted by us directly.