With its rich history, world famous food, and diverse set of regional identities, Italy has long been a popular destination for tourists. The country is one of regional dialects and stark identities: Istrians may have more in common with their neighbors in Slovenia than with Calabrians or Sicilians, for example. However, some travel information is the same throughout Italy.
Italy is a member of the Eurozone, and has a reputation of being an expensive country even within Europe. Rome and Milan both made it into the top 20 of the World's Most Expensive Cities for 2009.
Italy is in the EU's Schengen Zone, which makes entry easy for citizens from other Western countries. Passports will be stamped automatically with a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival at an international airport, and probably will not be checked at all for overland crossings.
Italy uses 220 volt electrical outlets, so a travel voltage converter will be necessary to use or charge electronics from North America there. However, not all Italian plugs use the two round prong "europlug" format, so it is a good idea to bring a multi-prong plug adapter too.
Keep in mind that a small tip is automatically included in your bill, so only a little more is necessary to round it out. A modest 5 percent tip is normal, and 10 percent or higher is a big tip.
"Italian food" as served in North America (and even in many European countries) is an Americanized amalgam of selected regional dishes from across Italy; an authentic menu may look very different from a menu at an Italian restaurant in America.
English is not as widely spoken in Italy as it is in other parts of Europe. In the most heavily trafficked parts of Italy, one will find English-speakers in hotels and restaurants easily enough, but this is not so in the smaller towns and villages, or even the cities that are merely off the beaten tourist path.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.