Additional Information About Travel in Italy
TippingAt the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Round-trip flights for tours beginning or ending in Italy will arrive or depart from one of Italy's international airports, depending on the tour. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. During free time, you may wish to explore the cities by public transportation, and your tour coordinator and tour guide will have suggestions. The sights of the smaller towns and villages are usually within walking distances. The major cities of Venice, Florence and Rome have great public transportation. In Venice, each section of the city is connected by water bus (least expensive), water taxi or gondola. You can purchase discounted bulk passes from vendors, or purchase single tickets at each dock. Venice is also a great city to explore on foot. Florence is split into two separate sections by the Arno River, with most of the attractions spread out around the Duomo. The city is walkable, although frequent local buses are also available. Purchase tickets at tobacconists or at vending machines. Rome has one of Europe’s best metro systems, serving all the major attractions, from the Roman ruins to Vatican City. Tickets can be purchased separately or in bulk and also cover bus and tram travel.
Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sun hat, sunglasses and a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers are recommended for sightseeing. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and emergency rainwear are advised. If you plan to visit an especially elegant restaurant or attend the opera or theater, you will probably feel more comfortable with something more formal to wear. Also, remember that bare legs and shoulders are officially not allowed in churches or other religious sites. Entrance may be denied on this basis.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Italy is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and nine hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). When it is noon in California, it’s 9 p.m. in Rome.
In order to enter Italy, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Italian consulate for your specific entry requirements.
There are no major health risks when traveling to Italy. It is always advisable to check with your healthcare provider for the latest updates and overseas travel requirements.
While most of the staples of the Italian diet have already become favorites in America, be sure to try those less familiar pasta sauces and the vast range of cured hams, cheeses, rustic breads and desserts while on tour. In Italy, the cuisine varies by region. Venice and Northern Italy are known for their meats and pastries, Tuscany for its wine, oil and sauces, Rome and Southern Italy for their pizzas. For more authentic meals, try local trattorias—small restaurants set away from the main piazzas and squares. Italians tend to indulge in long, boisterous meals featuring wines and the occasional beer, followed by the requisite after-dinner drinks grappa or limoncello. American- or English-style bars and pubs are not as common, although they can be found in major cities and currently gaining in popularity, especially in Northern Italy and in Rome.
The euro is the currency you will use on tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Italy, although it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the Cirrus and Plus networks, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges and freeze your account..
Italy uses the European standard 220 volts.
The museums in Florence are popular attractions that you may consider visiting during your free time in the city, but we recommend that you make reservations two months in advance, if you would like to visit any of the museums in Florence, go online to www.polomuseale.firenze.it/english/musei. Refer to your itinerary for scheduled free time to know when to make your reservations. Please note that most museums are closed on Mondays.