The Italian lire disappeared into history on March 1, 2002, replaced by the euro, the single European currency, whose official abbreviation is "EUR." Exchange rates of participating countries are locked into a common currency fluctuating against the dollar.
Money & Costs
Frommer's lists prices in local currency.
Exchanging Money & ATMS
Exchange rates are more favorable at the point of arrival though be careful about using airport ATM machines, as many are owned by exchange bureaus and give a less than favorable exchange rate. Instead, change just a small amount of money at the airport, and then use your ATM card once you're in the city. It will give you a better exchange rate than you'd get exchanging cash at an exchange bureau. ATMS are known as Bancomats in Italy. The Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (www.visa.com) networks span the globe; look at the back of your bank card to see which network you're on; then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination. Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) before you leave home and be sure to find out your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Also keep in mind that many banks impose a fee every time a card is used at a different bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more) than for domestic ones. On top of this, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. To compare banks' ATM fees within the U.S., use www.bankrate.com. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
Never ask for a cash advances on your credit card at an ATM; you will be hit with crazy-high fees and often, a high interest rate. Keep in mind that credit card companies try to protect themselves from theft by limiting the funds someone can withdraw outside the home country, so call your credit card company before you leave home.
Credit cards are a safe way to carry money. They also provide a convenient record of all your expenses, and they generally offer relatively good exchange rates. Keep in mind that when you use your credit card abroad, most banks assess a 2% fee above the 1% fee charged by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express for currency conversion on credit charges.
Some credit card companies recommend that you notify them of any impending trip abroad so that they don't become suspicious when the card is used numerous times in a foreign destination and block your charges. Even if you don't call your credit card company in advance, you can always call the card's toll-free emergency number if a charge is refused -- a good reason to carry the phone number with you. But perhaps the most important lesson here is to carry more than one card with you on your trip; a card might not work for any number of reasons, so having a backup is the smart way to go.