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Italy - Country Profile

Summary

Italy is a land of myth, history and artistic achievement. This mountainous, boot-shaped country is surrounded by the Mediterranean sea and separated from the rest of Europe by the Alps. Italy has an immense depth of history and culture with its Roman ruins, medieval hill towns, renaissance arts and beautiful churches. There are also the more modern sights with vibrant cities and hundreds of miles of sandy beaches.

Highlights

Weather and times to visit

Italy has a temperate climate which does vary from region to region. The north is generally cold in the winter and warm in the summer, while the south has mild winters and very hot, dry summers.

July and August are the busiest months with the country hot and full, while many seaside resorts and campsites close for the winter months. In the off season, from April to June and September to October the weather is generally good with lower prices and fewer tourists.

Language

The official language of Italy is Italian, with many regional dialects prevalent. English is widely spoken in the north especially in campsites and tourist destinations, but less so in the south.

Currency and Money Matters

Italy uses the Euro. Travellers cheques are less widely accepted than in the past with AMEX being the most common. There is a good network of ATMs throughout the country and Visa, Mastercard and AMEX are widely accepted.

Opening hours vary from bank to bank but most are open from 8.30 to 1.30 and 2.30 to 4.30 Monday to Friday.

Visas and Entry Conditions

Not generally required. Italy is a member of the Schengen area so there are no border controls with Austria or France.

Business Hours

Business hours Vary from city to city but general opening hours would be from 8.30 to 1 and 3.30/4 to 7.30/8 from Monday to Saturday. Some shops open Sunday mornings and most museums close on Mondays.

General Campsite Conditions

Campsites in Italy are generally well equipped with English widely spoken. Many are open all year round while others, particularly those in seaside resorts will close in the winter.

People and Society

Italians are very regionally proud - the country has only been a nation for the last 100 years or so. Local customs are still very important and the south is very conservative.

Modest dress is expected in all churches and is strictly enforced in the larger cathedrals.

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Destinations