About Italy

Italy has been, since antiquity, the centre of history, culture and art. The Italian museums, collections and archaeological sites reveal countless tokens of the past and the many civilizations that have passed across this country, evidence of which is still inextricably woven into the present day landscape.

Artistic wonders can be found everywhere, and every corner of the country holds countless and wonderful surprises. The Italian artistic and cultural heritage is one of the most valuable in the world. Italy has more cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country. Rome, Florence, Assisi, Venice, Siena, Pisa, and Naples are its most renowned cities of art, but the whole country can boast towns of breathtaking beauty, as these numbers demonstrate: 95,000 monumental churches, 40,000 forts and castles, 30,000 historical residences with 4,000 gardens, 36,000 archives and libraries, 20,000 historical cities and towns, 5,600 museums and archaeological sites, and 1,500 convents. 

Tourists can explore and discover the private residences of ancient and noble families; visit world famous museums such as the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Capitoline Museums in Rome, or the Brera Art Gallery in Milan; explore impressive archaeological sites, such as Pompei and Herculaneum, to immerse themselves in an exciting, grandiose past. That is by no means all - there are numerous cultural, artistic, and musical events that animate Italian life. 

Italy offers a rich combination of masterpieces from different areas, blending landscape and culture, history and art, architecture and city planning - it offers an exciting journey through time, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans to the present day, which is also filled by a wealth of art and culture.


The climate varies considerably from the north to the south of Italy. 

In the north of the country - the area between the Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines - the climate is harsh, with very cold winters and very hot, particularly humid summers. In central Italy the climate is milder, with a smaller difference in temperature between summer and winter and a shorter and less intense cold season than in the north; summers are longer, but the sultriness of the northern cities is mitigated by the sea. In southern Italy and the islands winters are never particularly harsh, and spring and autumn temperatures are similar to those reached in the summer in other areas of Italy.

Average temperatures 

Temperatures vary widely in Italy, in the north, centre or south of the country. The table below illustrates the monthly average minimum and maximum temperatures in Rome.


Min. Temperature

Max Temperature



37.4 °F  

53.6 °F 

4.0 in


39.2 °F 

55.4 °F

3.8 in


41 °F

59 °F

2.6 in


46.4 °F

64.4 °F

2.5 in


46.4 °F

73.4 °F

1.8 in


59 °F

80.6 °F

1.3 in


62.6 °F

86 °F

0.9 in


59 °F

86 °F

1.2 in


59 °F

80.6 °F

2.6 in


51.8 °F

71.6 °F

3.7 in


44.6 °F

60.8 °F

5.1 in


39.2 °F

55.4 °F

4.3 in

Time Zone, Shop Hours, National & Local public holidays

Italy is in the Central European Time (CET) Zone, 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and observes Daylight Saving Time: at the beginning of spring the clocks go forward an hour in order to take advantage of an extra hour of sunlight in the late afternoon/evening. At the beginning of autumn the clocks are shifted back an order to standard Central European Time.

Shop opening hours 

Shops are generally open from Monday to Saturday, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., although shopping centers and department stores often stay open all day, from 10.00 a.m. to 9.00 or 10.00 p.m. Shopping centers and stores are also open on several Sundays throughout the year.

Pharmacies have the same opening hours as shops, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.; in the larger cities, some pharmacies are open 24 hours. For emergencies during the night, or when the pharmacies are normally closed, a number of them remain open, on a rotational basis. A calendar listing the nearest one open can be found on the doors of all local pharmacies. 

National public holidays

There are 12 national holidays on the Italian calendar: 

1 January - New Year's Day 
6 January - Epiphany, 
Easter Sunday (date varies from year to year)   
Easter Monday (the day after Easter Sunday) 
25 April - Anniversary of the Liberation   
1 May - Labour Day 
2 June -Republic Day 
15 August - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( Ferragosto ) 
1 November - All Saints Day 
8 December - Immaculate Conception 
25 December - Christmas Day 
26 December - Boxing Day

Festività locali e feste patronali

The local patron saint's day is generally a local public holiday: offices are closed and a range of events and markets are held. Below is a list of the patron saints of the capital cities of the Italian regions:
29 January - San Costanzo, Perugia (Umbria) 
23 April - San Giorgio, Campobasso (Molise) 
25 April - San Marco, Venice (Veneto) 
4 May - San Ciriaco of Jerusalem, Ancona (Marche) 
9 May and 6 December - San Nicola, Bari (Apulia) 
30 May - San Gerardo, Potenza (Basilicata) 
10 June - San Massimo d'Aveia, L'Aquila (Abruzzo) 
24 June - San Giovanni, Genoa (Liguria) 
24 June - San Giovanni, Florence (Tuscany) 
24 June - San Giovanni, Turin (Piedmont) 
26 June - San Vigilio, Trent (Trentino) 
29 June - San Pietro, Rome (Lazio) 
15 July - Santa Rosalia, Palermo (Sicily) 
16 July- San Vitaliano, Catanzaro (Calabria) 
7 September - San Grato, Aosta (Aosta Valley) 
19 September - San Gennaro, Naples (Campania) 
11 luglio - Santa Rosalia, Palermo (Sicilia) 
4 October - San Petronio, Bologna (Emilia Romagna) 
30 October - San Saturnino, Cagliari (Sardinia) 
3 November - San Giusto, Trieste (Friuli Venezia Giulia) 
7 December- Sant'Ambrogio, Milan (Lombardy)  


Since 2001, the currency used in Italy is the euro. One euro is divided up into 100 euro-cents. There are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros). Bank opening hours are  Monday to Friday 08:30 -13:30 and 15:00 -16:00.

Credit cards

As well as in cash, purchases can be paid for using the most common credit cards. This payment system is common in Italian shops, which generally display the symbols of the credit cards they accept on the outside door. If you pay by credit card you will be asked to show an identity document. Travelers cheques (in USD or Euros) can also be cashed in Italian banks.


Tips are not compulsory and in Italy there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.

Esistono otto monete metalliche diverse (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 e 50 centesimi e 1 e 2 euro) e sette banknote (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 e 500 euro).

Language & Religion


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.   


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. 

Driving in Italy

Documents required to drive in Italy 

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

General rules for driving 

Driving licences issued by any of the EU Member States are valid throughout the European Union, including Italy.
Drivers with a licence issued by any EU country do not require an international driving permit or a legal translation of their own licence. 
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 seatbelts in both the front and rear seats is compulsory. Seatbelts 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 travelling without their seatbelt fastened. 

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.

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 tyre; 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. 


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
Police 113 
Fire Brigade 115 
Ambulance 118
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.

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 

Electricity & Water

Electrical system

In Italy the electrical current is 220 volts AC (50 Hz). Electrical sockets comply with European regulations. In most hotels you will find adaptors for different types of plugs.


The supply of drinking water is guaranteed throughout Italy. The water from taps and fountains is checked regularly, and is perfectly safe to drink, unless there is a notice indicating otherwise.