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.
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.We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
We advise that you pack in layers. Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is also recommended for exploring the cities. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and/or rainwear are advised. You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended for outdoor activities. A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road. Also, remember that it is preferable not to visit religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and 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.
Venice and Northern Italy are known for flavorful meats and pastries. Tuscany is world-famous for its wine, oil, sauces and pasta. Menus favor subtle, lighter pastas and desserts made with nuts, fruit and honey. Try a dish featuring the region’s Chianina beef, perhaps the most prized breed of cattle in all of Italy. For wine, popular Tuscan reds include Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which are primarily made from the Sangiovese grape. Well-known white wines are also made around the San Gimignano region. In Umbria, be sure to sample the reds and whites produced around Orvieto and Perugia. The cuisine of Southern Italy is often what diners think of when imagining Italian flavors—pasta with tomato sauces, olives and olive oil, zucchini, veal and fish are all featured prominently on menus throughout the region. Roman food is typically freshly prepared and varies depending on the season. Must-try bites include cacio e pepe (a simple dish of pasta, cheese and pepper) and supplí (a fried rice ball similar to Sicily's arancini). For more authentic meals, try trattorias, small restaurants set away from the main piazzas. A typical Italian meal includes wines and the occasional beer, followed by a few sips of after-dinner drinks like grappa or limoncello.
Round-trip flights for tours beginning or ending in Italy will arrive or depart from Milan or Rome, depending on the itinerary. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. In your free time, you may wish to explore the main cities by public transportation. Your tour coordinator can provide local transportation information to you for each city visited.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Italy. At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov. Especially during the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications may be banned in one or all of the countries on this tour. Importing these drugs can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to departure to ensure that any drugs you may want to bring with you are legal in all countries you will visit. If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us by calling 855-355-8728 at least 30 days prior to your departure.
You will use the Euro on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise using ATM/debit cards and credit cards, both of which are accepted in most countries. 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. International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
Italy operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and use Types C, F or L plugs with two or three small, round pins. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. The strength of the air conditioning in European hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel. Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
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.