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Italy

 

 

 

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St Peter’s Basilica

Built as the center of Roman Catholicism, the aim of St Peter’s was to impress upon the visitor the glory and might of the church. With Bernini’s piazza to its front, a dome designed by Michelangelo and a facade by Moderno, the basilica certainly achieves its objective.

Among the treasures inside are Bernini’s “St Peter’s Chair”, the statue of St Peter by Cambio and the immensely touching “Pieta” by Michelangelo. You should note that, should you wish to climb to the top of the dome, there are nearly 500 steps. The lift only goes a third of the way, so it’s still an arduous climb.


 

The Grand Canal

No matter how many times Venice has been seen in pictures and film, nothing can detract from the impact of the visitor’s first journey down the Grand Canal.

The overwhelming beauty of this famous waterway lined on both sides by palaces, churches and museums is truly breathtaking. Disembarking in front of the Doge’s Palace visitors are further enthralled by the elegant majesty of St Mark’s Square with its basilica filled with Byzantine mosaics.


 

The Colosseum

No visit to the city would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum, the symbol of Rome and the amphitheater that lends its name to all others. The structure dates to the first century AD and it was here that the legendary gladiator fights and grand spectacles were held. A gallery on the second level offers a visual display and information on the bloody entertainment that took place within the amphitheater’s encircled space. The best view is from the Colle Oppio above the Colosseo metro station. Across Piazza Colosseo you can see the remains of the “gladiator school”.


Trevi Fountain

Designed in 1732 by Nicola Salvi, this is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Located in the piazza of the same name the fountain is a magical spectacle, despite the crowds of visitors. It is best seen during an after dinner stroll when the crowds have died away. Custom has it that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain you will one day return to Rome.

The fountain is hidden away in the city center. From via del Corso turn into via Muratte which leads to the fountain or from the bottom of via Nazionale turn into via della Pilotta and follow the road to the fountain.


Amalfi Coast

South of Naples the short stretch of coast between Positano and Amalfi, known to locals as the “Costiera Amalfitana“, is one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe.

Mountains plunge vertically into the azure sea and, at intervals, small bays and creeks provide secluded beaches and intriguing inlets for exploration. The brightly colored towns and villages that cling precariously to the mountainsides enhance the outstanding natural beauty of the area.


Cinque Terre

Rooted in antiquity, Cinque Terre’s five villages date from the early medieval period. Monterosso, the oldest, was founded in AD 643, when beleaguered hill dwellers moved down to the coast to escape from invading barbarians. Buildings aside, Cinque Terre’s unique historical feature are the steeply terraced cliffs bisected by a complicated system of fields and gardens that have been hacked, chiseled, shaped and layered over the course of nearly two millennia. So marked are these artificial contours that some scholars have compared the extensive muretti (low stone walls) to the Great Wall of China in their grandeur and scope.


Siena & Tuscany

In a country in which every region is filled with small, historic towns, Siena is still something special. At the heart of Tuscany it is simply one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Italy.

The city owes much of its splendor to the local bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which for centuries has plied its profits into the conservation and enhancement of the town. A perfectly preserved medieval settlement retaining its original walls, the town is criss-crossed by small alleys and streets lined with Gothic palaces and houses.


Leaning Tower

One of the most famous buildings in the world, the leaning tower, or torre pendente, is undeniably the star draw. Although victim of a catalog of follies and mishaps, this endearing monument is actually very beautiful, its tilt adding a unique character to the Romanesque Piazza dei Miracoli which surrounds it. The campanile was re-opened to the general public in 2001 and visitors can now climb up to the top. It’s quite a peculiar feeling ascending the stairs, as you’re aware of the floor being at a slight angle to the surrounding scenery.

Pisa Duomo

Pisa’s beautiful cathedral, rivals many more famous churches in Italy, yet continues to be overshadowed by its quirky neighbor. The 11th-century masterpiece is a blend of Classical, Byzantine and Moorish influences, its columned facade adorned with tiers of white marble arches and statuary. The design is elaborate yet elegant; built in black and white marble in a striped effect, the nave is lined with rows of pillars, leading up to gilded ceilings. There are a number of notable works of art housed in the cathedral, one of the most beautiful of which is on the vault of the apse, a 14th-century mosaic representing Jesus Christ the Redeemer. Also look out for the Gothic marble pulpit designed by Giovanni Pisano (1301-11), depicting the life of Christ.


The Uffizi Gallery

Opened at the end of the 16th century, this is one of the world’s truly great  collections of paintings.

Housed in a 16th-century palace, originally designated for public office, the  list of artists exhibited reads like a Who’s Who of art history. The Uffizi  collection includes masterpieces by Botticelli, Canaletto, El Greco, Giotto, Goya, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci  amongst others. English is spoken and tickets can be collected from the museum ticket office prior to entrance time.

La Galleria dell’Accademia

Originally an academy of drawing, the gallery was transformed into a general arts academy in the 1760s. 20 years later Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo founded the nearby Galleria dell’Accademia with a collection of paintings from suppressed religious foundations, along with altarpieces from Florentine churches.

The Accademia’s pièce de resistance is Michelangelo’s David, the world’s most famous sculpture, carved in 1504 when the artist was just 29 years old.


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Italy Travel Information and Tips

What documents are required to enter Italy?
European Citizens whose country is under the authority of the Schengen Treaty may enter Italy with nothing more than a valid identity card or passport. Citizens from all other countries must show their passport on the border; where a visa is required, this must also be presented to the border authorities and must indicate the length of the holder’s stay and his or her destination. Visa applications – specifying the reason for the trip –  must be made to the Italian Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence, and are generally issued 90 days after the application was been made.

Once visitors arrive in Italy, those who will not be staying in a hotel or similar accommodation facility must register with the local police headquarters within 8 days of their arrival in the country. Visitors staying in hotels or other tourist accommodation facilities will automatically be registered upon reception there.

Are their any restrictions on goods that may be brought into the country?
There are no limits to what may be bought or carried on trips within the European Union, provided such purchases are for the traveler’s own personal use.

Italy is a safe country. However, should you find yourself in a difficult situation, it is best to turn to the police forces in charge of safety for Italian and foreign nationals residing in or visiting the country.

Emergency numbers

An efficient, modern, integrated network, with the switchboards of the various police forces, emergency services, organisations and agencies is ready to respond to emergency calls from anywhere in Italy. Access to this network is simple and quick: all you have to do is call the national emergency numbers, which are well known and easy to remember.

Italy Emergency Number: 112 (if you dial 911 it redirects to 112 as well)

Useful links: 

State Police : www.poliziadistato.it
Ministry of Interior : www.interno.it
Carabinieri : www.carabinieri.it
Ministry of Defence : www.difesa.it
Guardia di Finanza : www.gdf.it
Forestry Corps : www.corpoforestale.it

Language

Italian is the official language of the country, although accents and dialects may vary widely from one region to another. A large number of local dialects are spoken in Italy.

There are two regions, however, which have a second official language: the Aosta Valley, where French is also spoken, and Trentino Alto Adige, where German is also spoken. In these regions, road signs, as well as place names, for example, appear in both languages. There are also a number of small areas in which languages other than Italian are used, although these languages do not have official status: in Friuli-Venezia Giulia there is a Slovenian-speaking area, and in Calabria (in the Bovesìa area) and in Apulia (in the Grecia Salentina zone), Greek is spoken in some areas. In Sicily, in Piana degli Albanesi, you will find the largest Albanian community in Italy, where the Albanian language is widely used, even in official documents and on road signs.

Religions

The Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Most of the population is Catholic; there are also, however, a large number of minority religious communities, some of them of Christian or Catholic inspiration, such as the Apostolic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), the Waldensian Evangelical Church and the Holy Orthodox Archdiocese, as well as Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist communities.

What metric system is used in Italy?

In Italy, the basic unit of measurement is the meter. The International System of Units (SI), the standard metric system in use in the European Union, defines the seven fundamental units used (meter, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela)

What sizes are used in Italy?

Italian sizes are in centimeters, unlike US sizes, for example, which are in inches. Women’s clothing sizes generally range from about 38 to 56, men’s sizes from about 42 to 60. Adult shoe sizes generally go from about 35 to 46.
Sizes and measures can be converted by visiting one of the various internet sites that offer conversion tables.

Documents required to drive in Italy
Driving licenses issued by any of the EU member states are valid throughout the European Union, including Italy.
Drivers in possession of a license issued by any EU country do not require an international driving permit or a sworn translation of their own license.

General rules for driving
Driving licenses issued by any of the EU Member States are valid throughout the European Union, including Italy.

Drivers with a license issued by any EU country do not require an international driving permit or a legal translation of their own license.
To drive in Italy, you must be over 18. Keep right and overtake on the left. Dipped headlights must be used on two-lane motorways. When driving through towns and villages, the horn may be sounded only in the event of an emergency. Trams and trains have right of way.

The use of seat belts in both the front and rear seats is compulsory, and failure to keep them fastened may result in fines for both drivers and passengers. On three-lane motorways, the lane on the right is reserved for slow vehicles and vehicles that are not overtaking. At crossings, vehicles approaching from the right always have right of way. Seat belts must be fastened both in the front and the rear (provided the vehicle is fitted with them). Fines may be issued on-the-spot to drivers and passengers stopped by the police and found traveling without their seat belt fastened.

Mopeds below 150cc may not be driven on motorways under any circumstances. Helmets are compulsory to drive all motorcycles and mopeds, whatever the engine size.

What are the speed limits?
Cars and motorbikes (vehicles with engine size over 150 cc):
urban areas 50 km/h (31 mph);
minor out-of-town roads 90 km/h (56 mph);
major out-of-town roads 110 km/h (68 mph);
motorways 130 km/h (81 mph).
In the event of rain on snow, the limit is lowered to 110 k/h on motorways and 90 k/h on trunk roads.

In order to ensure that these limits are complied with, numerous speed cameras have been installed throughout the road and motorway network to keep electronic checks on speed.

Cars with trailers or caravans: in urban areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph); on minor out-of-town roads 70 km/h (44 mph); on major out-of-town roads 70 km/h (44 mph); on motorways 80 km/h (50 mph).
Camper vans weighing over 3.5 tonnes and under 12 tonnes: in urban areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph); on minor out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph); on major out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph); on motorways 100 km/h (62 mph).
Compulsory equipment on board : triangle; spare tire; extinguisher (recommended) and reflective safety jacket, which must be used outside towns and villages in the event of a stop during the night or in poor visibility conditions, or when stopping on emergency lanes or lay-bys.
Insurance : Civil Liability insurance is compulsory. For visitors arriving from abroad, the best option is the Green Card, an insurance policy that can even be taken out at the border and is valid for 15, 30 or 45 days.

Drinking and driving : in Italy, driving is not permitted with a blood alcohol content superior to 0.5 grams per liter, in line with the European average.

Useful numbers and emergency numbers :
Police 113
Fire Brigade 115
Ambulance 118.

Useful links:
Highway code: www.aci.it

Making calls to Italy

To call an Italian telephone number from outside Italy, either from a land line or a mobile phone, you will need to add the international dialing code for Italy, which is 0039 (+39), followed by the telephone number you require.

To call another country from Italy, you will need to add the international dialing code for the country you are calling, followed by the telephone number you require.
To make calls within Italy, dial the number you require without adding the international country dialing code.
To make calls from public telephones (which you can find on the street, in some bars, restaurants, etc and in shopping centers), you may use coins or phone cards, which can be purchased from tobacconists, news kiosks and telephone shops. Mobile phone reception in Italy is based on GSM technology, which is not compatible with that of a number of countries (including the USA and Japan), unless you have a three-band mobile phone.
Before traveling to Italy you should contact your telephone services provider to activate the international roaming service (if it is not already activated automatically).
Making international calls from a mobile phone may be very expensive, and it is often advisable to purchase a phone card to call home from a public telephone.

Internet and e-mail usage

There are numerous internet points and cafés offering internet access. In many hotels (especially higher-category ones) a direct internet connection is provided in the rooms. In addition, in Italy you will find Wi-Fi access available in many airports, hotels, train stations and other public places where travelers pass through or stop off.

Can pets be brought into the country?

Dogs, cats and ferrets may be brought into Italy accompanied by their owners; the conditions applicable depend on whether or not the animals come from EU countries.

Animals coming from EU countries

Animals must be identified by means of a microchip or a clearly legible tattoo, and must be in possession of a valid EU passport certifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies. This passport is issued by the veterinary health services of the country of origin. These same conditions may also be applied to animals coming from Andorra, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Vatican City, provided that those states apply health regulations equivalent to those of the European Union.

Animals coming from non-EU countries

Animals from non-EU countries may enter the country, provided they possess a certificate stating to their origin and state of health (issued by foreign public health authorities recognized in Italy), which must include the details of both the animal and the owner and must state that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against rabies no later than 20 days before entry and no earlier than 11 months before the issue of the certificate. Animals coming from non-EU countries that are not included in the list drawn up by the European Union (which can be consulted on the website of the European commission) must have successfully passed the test for the titration of neutralizing antibodies against rabies virus no later than three months before the date of entry into Italy.

It is forbidden to bring into Italy dogs and cats under three months of age and those that have not been vaccinated against rabies. No preventive measures are required against ticks or echinococcus, wherever the animal comes from.

What are the regulations governing the various means of transport?

› Airplanes

Each airline has its own rules. Generally speaking, one small dog (weighing less than 10 kilos) or cat per passenger may be transported in the cabin in suitable pet carriers, while medium- or large-size dogs may travel in the pressurized hold of the aircraft, in reinforced cages that can be purchased from specialized shops. Some airlines guarantee the presence of specialized staff, and in many airports there are special areas that provide assistance and food and drink for animals during stop-over periods.
Guide dogs for non-sighted travelers may be transported along with their owner, provided they are wearing a muzzle.
For further details, consult the website of the airline you intend to travel with.

› Trains

In general, small domestic animals travel free provided they are transported in suitable pet carriers not exceeding 70x50x30 cm in size. In trains divided into compartments, small dogs may travel freely alongside their owner, provided they are carefully supervised and that there are no objections from the other passengers in the compartment. They may travel second class only, upon payment of a fare with a 40% reduction.

Large dogs are allowed to travel only if they do not disturb other passengers. They must be kept on a leash and fitted with a muzzle; otherwise, in addition to payment of the applicable reduced fare, the entire compartment must be reserved. In couchette compartments, dogs may travel upon payment of a second-class fare with a 40% reduction plus a supplement payable for disinfection. On local trains that are not divided up into compartments, animals may be transported only if they are kept on the platform or the vestibule of the carriages.
Medium- or large-size dogs are not allowed to travel on high-speed trains, because there is no room for them to travel alongside their owners; small dogs may travel free of charge, provided they are transported in suitable pet carriers, placed in the appropriate spaces.
On Eurostar Italia trains, only guide dogs for non-sighted passengers are admitted, and may travel on any train and in any class free of charge, provided they are muzzled.

Since the conditions governing the transport of pets on trains are subject to modifications, it is advisable to check before traveling by visiting the Services section of the Trenitalia website (see traveling by train with your pet on board).

› Ships and ferries

Dogs may travel on ferries provided they are muzzled and kept on a leash; cats must be transported in a suitable pet carrier.
Small dogs may travel in the cabin with their owner, provided the other passengers in the cabin have no objections.
Medium- or large-size dogs may travel in the kennels provided on board, but it is generally possible to keep them on deck, provided they are muzzled and leashed.
Some shipping companies request a health certificate for dogs, and to travel to Sardinia, previous anti-rabies vaccination is required.

For further information, consult the website www.ministerosalute.it

What metric system is used in Italy?

In Italy, the basic unit of measurement is the meter. The International System of Units (SI), the standard metric system in use in the European Union, defines the seven fundamental units used (meter, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela)

What sizes are used in Italy ?

Italian sizes are in centimeters, unlike US sizes, for example, which are in inches. Women’s clothing sizes generally range from about 38 to 56, mens sizes from about 42 to 60. Adult shoe sizes generally go from about 35 to 46.
Sizes and measures can be converted by visiting one of the various internet sites that offer conversion tables.

When traveling to a foreign country, tourists vacationing in Italy may encounter problems if they are not familiar with the laws and regulations safeguarding their rights regarding travel, reception and hospitality.

Having the right information at hand is always a good idea, particularly information about your rights as a tourist in Italy; about your destination and the services and transport you use; and about formalities such as documents, visas, healthcare and currency.

Please visit this site for those details