Area Codes -- 081 for the province of Naples (including Sorrento, Pozzuoli, Ischia, and Capri); 082 for the provinces of Caserta, Benevento, and Avellino; 089 for the province of Salerno (including the Amalfi Coast); and 097 for the Cilento.
Automobile Organizations -- Two organizations operate in Italy and offer memberships: Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI; tel. 803-116 toll-free within Italy; www.aci.it) provides road assistance throughout the country. Their offices also help with car insurance, registration, and other regulation-related issues. Touring Club Italiano (www.touringclub.com) publishes maps and guides and maintains useful databases of services for car travelers.
Business Hours -- General business hours are Monday through Friday 8:30am to 1pm and 2:30 to 5:30pm. Banks are generally open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 1:30pm and 2:30 to 4pm. Some banks and businesses are also open on Saturday mornings. Shops are usually open Monday through Saturday from 8 or 9am to 1pm and 4:30 to 7:30 or 8pm, with one extra half-day closing per week at the shop's discretion. Note: A growing number of shops in tourist areas stay open during the lunch break and on Sunday.
Drinking Laws -- There's no minimum drinking age in Italy. Alcohol is sold day and night throughout the year, and the only limitations are the operating hours of bars and shops. The law is extremely tough though on drunken behavior, and disturbance of the quiete pubblica (public peace) will be punished with stiff fines and jail time. Littering (including potential littering such as drinking from your beer bottle while sitting on an ancient wall) is also severely penalized. Drinking and driving can result in jail time as well as loss of your driving permit.
Electricity -- The electricity in Italy is an alternating current (AC), varying from 42 to 50 cycles. The voltage is 220. It's recommended that any visitor carrying electrical appliances obtain a transformer (laptop computers usually have one built in their cord; check on the back for allowed voltages). Italian plugs have prongs that are round, not flat; therefore, an adapter plug is also needed. You can purchase both transformer and adapter in any local hardware store.
Embassies & Consulates -- Embassies are located in Rome, but you'll find most consulates in Naples: The U.S. Consulate is at Piazza della Repubblica 2 (tel. 081-5838111; fax 081-7611869; http://naples.usconsulate.gov); the Canadian Consulate is at Via Carducci 29 (tel. 081-401338; fax 081-406161; www.canada.it); the U.K. Consulate is at Via dei Mille 40 (tel. 081-4238911; fax 081-422434; www.britain.it).
Emergencies -- tel. 113 or 112 for the police; tel. 118 for an ambulance; and tel. 115 for a fire. For road emergencies dial tel. 803-116.
Gasoline (Petrol) -- Gasoline sells on average for 1.60€ per liter and diesel for about 1.50€ per liter, with small variations depending on the location. Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.
Insurance -- Buying insurance is a personal decision. We find that trip-cancellation policies are a good idea, particularly if you are investing a lot of money in your trip and you have made plans way in advance.
For information on traveler's insurance, trip-cancellation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling please visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Legal Aid -- If you are pulled over for a driving offense, you'll have the choice to settle the fine right there on the roadside (you will be given a copy of the fine and an official receipt) or pay it at the post office (you will be given a form to fill out). If you are taken to the police station, you can ask for a translator to be sure you understand the situation. If you are actually arrested, the consulate of your country is the place to turn for legal aid, although offices can't interfere in the Italian legal process. They can, however, inform you of your rights and provide you with a list of professional attorneys. If you're arrested for a drug offense, the consulate will notify a lawyer about your case.
Mail -- On the whole, Italian mail works well. Check with www.poste.it for any specific question. Postcards (not in regular letter envelopes) are the slowest: Your family and friends back home might receive your postcards after your return. You are better off slipping your postcard in an envelope and sending it letter rate or higher. International and internal mail is now all sent at the Posta Prioritaria rate. Your letter will take 3 to 8 days depending on the destination. Postcards and letters weighing up to 20 grams cost .75€ for Europe; 1.60€ for Africa, Asia, and the Americas; and 2€ for Oceania. You can buy stamps at all post offices and at tabacchi (tobacconist) stores.
Maps -- Tourist offices are the best places to find user-friendly local maps, usually available for free. If you are driving, the best maps are available from Touring Club of Italy (www.touring.it); buy directly from their website, at bookstores abroad, or from most bookstores and newsstands in Italy.
Newspapers & Magazines -- You'll find a large variety of magazines and newspapers in Italian at local newsstands and some bookstores. Those in cities and in tourist destinations also carry some international press. For instance you'll find the International Herald Tribune and sometimes USA Today, Time, and Newsweek.
Police -- Dial tel.113 or 112 for emergencies.
Smoking -- Smoking is still very common in the region, but is forbidden in enclosed public spaces, except those with separate ventilated smoking areas.
Taxes -- Taxes in Italy are usually included in the prices quoted, but some luxury hotels will show it separately on their bills. VAT, Value-Added Tax (called IVA in Italy) is imposed on most goods and services; the rate depends on the item and goes from 4% for basic food items to 20% for accessories and clothing. VAT is used in Italy for social purposes and, as a foreigner, you can ask for a refund: Non-E.U. (European Union) citizens are entitled to a refund of the IVA for purchases over 154.94€ before tax at any one store, on those goods you will take out of the country. To claim your refund, request an invoice from the cashier at the store and take it to the Customs office (dogana) at the airport to have it stamped before you leave. Note: If you're going to another E.U. country before flying home, you can have it stamped at the airport Customs office of the last E.U. country you'll be in (for example, if you're flying home via Britain, have your Italian invoices stamped in London). Once you're back home, mail the stamped invoice (keep a photocopy for your records) back to the original vendor within 90 days of the purchase. The vendor will send you a refund of the tax that you paid at the time of your original purchase. Reputable stores view this as a matter of ordinary paperwork and are businesslike about it. Less-honorable stores might "lose" your file. It pays to deal with established vendors on large purchases. You can also request that the refund be credited to the card with which you made the purchase; this is usually a faster procedure.
Many shops are now part of the "Tax Free for Tourists" network (look for the sticker in the window). Stores participating in this network issue a check along with your invoice at the time of purchase. After you have the invoice stamped at Customs, you can redeem the check for cash directly at the Tax Free booth in the airport (in Rome, it's past Customs; in Milan's airports, the booth is inside the duty-free shop) or mail it back in the envelope provided within 60 days. Check Global Refunds (www.globalrefund.com) for more information.
Time -- Italy and Campania are 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States and 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in the U.K. (GMT+1). Daylight saving time in Italy is from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
Tipping -- Tipping is not required in Italy as service charges are usually included in your bills. It is customary, though to leave a small tip if you are satisfied with the service: Give your hotel maid .50€ to 2€ per day, the doorman (for calling a cab) .50€, and the bellhop or porter 1€ to 5€ for carrying your bags to your room. A concierge might get up to 10% of his or her bill. In cafes you usually leave a small tip, such as .10€ if you had a coffee. In restaurants, your menu or your bill should say if the service charge is included; if you're not sure whether it is, ask, "È incluso il servizio?" (ay een-cloo-soh eel sair-vee-tsoh). If it is not included, add 10% to 15% to your bill. An additional tip isn't required, but it's customary to leave the equivalent of an extra couple of euros, if you've been pleased with the service. Checkroom attendants expect .50€ to 1€, and washroom attendants should get at least .50€. Taxi drivers can be tipped 10% of the fare.
Toilets -- Airports, train stations, museums, and major archaeological areas and attractions all have restrooms, often with attendants who expect to be tipped. Bars, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, gas stations, and hotels should have facilities as well, but they are open only to customers. Public toilets are found near many of the major sights. Usually they're designated WC (water closet) and bear international symbols or the signs DONNE (women) and UOMINI (men). The most confusing designation is SIGNORI (gentlemen) and SIGNORE (ladies), so watch that final i and e! Many public toilets charge a small fee or employ an attendant who expects a tip. It's a good idea to carry some tissues in your pocket or purse -- they often come in handy.
Water -- In restaurants, most locals drink mineral water with their meals; however, tap water is safe everywhere, as are public drinking fountains. Some areas of Naples have had long-term problems with the water supply, and this is why all public establishments in the city -- hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants, and so on -- have their own filtering devices. If you are staying in a private home, though, make sure you ask about the water supply. Unsafe sources and fountains will be marked ACQUA NON POTABILE.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.