A Big Journey Company Tour director and/or our local tour guide(s) will be accompanying you on your visit to ensure that you have the most amazing time whilst in Italy.
In the meantime; we have put together some useful information that will hopefully answer those pre-travel questions you may have.
Italy and La Dolce Vita need little introduction. You think you are prepared for Italy – that is until you get there! Walking off the plane, you realise how wrong you were - nothing can prepare you for the reality of Italy. The taste of a simple tomato, the craziness of the driving, the many types of pasta, the speaking volume of the locals, the chicness of the clothes and the amount of people that wear sunglasses at all times, including at night indoors. The north boasts some of the countries most visited areas, from business-like Milan, the stunning Lakes of Maggiore, Como and Garda, historic Verona and the unique floating city of Venice. Central Italy offers the rolling hills and wines of Tuscany, stunning Siena, historic Florence, Pisa and its leaning tower as well as the gastronomic cities of Emilia-Romagna. Rome, the eternal city, with thousands of years of history evident on every corner. Chaotic, lively Naples on the footsteps of Etna and gateway to some of the most scenic coastlines in the world. The undiscovered south of Puglia and its white houses, and of course Sicily. The island’s mix of Greek, Roman and African influences is not to be missed. You will be spoilt for choice of where to go, what to see and what to eat!
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
Italy is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S., Canadian, Australian and European citizens may enter Italy for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
• Consular Information
There are a number of major international embassies located in Rome, including those for the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. There are also a number of consulates based in Florence, Milan and Naples. However, embassies for a number of other countries are located in other European cities, offering coverage to Italy. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Italy tours are Activity Level 2 and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
There are currently no vaccination requirements for international travellers, but please consult your doctor before travelling for the latest immunisation information as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
We would recommend comfortable clothes and shoes for this tour. Feel free to include a smart-casual outfit for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code.
The weather should largely be warm and sunny throughout the journey, however it is always good to be prepared for every eventuality, so make sure you pack a light jacket in case of rain and the fact that it may be cooler in the evening.
Insect repellent and sun cream are also essential items. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Sicily Tour Extension – This tour includes an internal flight in Italy. Please check with The Big Journey Company regarding specific luggage allowances for this flight.
Luggage handling is not included in some but not all of our Italy tours – please check your tour paperwork for further details. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services are available in some hotels on the tour.
The main language of Italy is Italian, though German is spoken in some areas in the northern Dolomites. English is often spoken in tourist destinations but less so than in other European countries.
The time zone in Italy is GMT+1, 1 hour ahead of London GMT.
Italy is a great destination to visit all year round. Weather forecasts for spring/autumn are usually very mild with warm and sunny days. In summer, temperatures can rise quite high with most days sunny and temperatures dropping only slightly in the evenings. Please make sure to check the weather forecast for Italy before you depart as this will give you a better idea of what clothing to pack and what weather to expect whilst on tour.
In Italy, the standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. You will need a European plug adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Italy has a well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Italy with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Italy is the Euro € (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted at in city centre establishments, but it is advisable to carry cash, especially for smaller transactions and if wanting to pay quickly – it can take time to get the bill in Italian restaurants. Compared to other European countries, a large number of cafes and restaurants do not accept cards, especially foreign ones. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages. However, we do recommend that you do not carry or display large sums of cash.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
Important Note - European countries use chip-and-pin credit cards, so cards with magnetic strips on the back (commonly used in North America) may not work with certain automated machines. You might want to carry some extra cash in your wallet to use in these situations just in case. You may be asked to provide ID if you cannot pay by chip and PIN.
Italy can be quite expensive, especially when eating out. There is often a cover charge – approx. €1-4.50 per person – as well as supplements for eating outside on the terrace. Main dishes often do not come with accompanying vegetables, which have to be purchased separately and drinks frequently highly priced, pushing up the final bill. General shopping, transport and museums is comparable to other European countries. Please make sure you budget for high spending.
• Bank Opening
Bank opening hours in Italy are short, especially in summer. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday 8.30am – 1.30pm, closing for lunch before reopening from 3pm – 4.30pm. Please note, in summer months, hours may be reduced further.
Based on feedback and experience of previous groups, tipping collectively as an entire group is easier, stress free and potentially offers us better service throughout our itinerary. Furthermore, it will be one less thing to worry about! Gratuities will be offered to the local Italian tour guides, bus/ transfer drivers and hotel and restaurant staff for group meals.
Prior to departure, we will inform you the suggested gratuities package for the entire trip. At the start of your journey, we ask for you to place your gratuities into an envelope clearly marked with your name(s) and hand it to your tour director. They can then pay out the gratuities on your behalf to everyone who plays a part in the smooth running of the tour and provides any form of service to the group at the various locations throughout the trip.
Italian cuisine needs no introduction! From the pastas, the pizzas, the wines, salamis, cheeses, coffees, desserts… you will not know where to start! Centred on fresh, local, seasonal produce, you will be amazed at how simple ingredients can taste so good. Each region has its own specialities as well, often local variations on a better-known dish, and all well worth a try.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
The tap water in most Italian cities is generally of good quality and safe to drink. Unless otherwise advised, sometime in more rural communities, you can drink the local tap water. However, most Italians have a preference for bottled water and such that bottled water be readily purchased at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Food and wine will inevitably be on the list of things to bring home. As will clothes and leather goods. Just remember to make sure you have enough baggage allowance for all the pasta and jars of pesto!
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, shops generally open 9am-1pm, closing for lunch, then open from 3.30pm to 7.30pm Monday to Saturday. However, major shops in the big cities and souvenir shops are often open through the day. Most shops are closed on Sundays, with the exception of certain grocery shops and souvenir shops. In the summer, many shops may be closed for a month due to holidays.
• VAT/Tax Refund:
Numerous shops in Italy offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Though main crime levels in Italy are low, there’s a risk of petty theft, especially at airports in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. Keep valuables locked away and don’t wear expensive watches or jewellery, nor flash expensive cameras. It is advisable not to walk in deserted areas, rather go exploring in pairs wherever possible.
Smoking is banned in indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport. Smoking is still prevalent in Italy, more so than other European countries, and you will encounter many smokers outdoors.
Italy is a predominantly Catholic country, with the seat of the religion at the Vatican City in Rome.
Italy offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
ARRIVAL IN ITALY
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
For tours including arrival airport transfers, after collecting your luggage, proceed through to the arrivals hall where there will be a representative holding a sign with your name welcome you and transfer you to your hotel. Please advise your flight details no later than six weeks prior to travel.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
Please note - When staying in Venice, a city tax is payable locally to the hotel in cash, circa €4.50 per person per night (2019 rates) but this is likely to increase in 2020.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in Slovenia and Croatia, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated November 2019