The currency used in Italy is the euro, whose official abbreviation is EUR. The symbol of the euro is a stylized E: €.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency, euros. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.xe.com to check up-to-the-minute rates. The price of meals at a trattoria serving home-cooked meals is much more affordable than in New York or London (expect to pay no more than 20€ to 30€ for a full meal for two). Bus fares in Palermo are the most expensive in Italy although, at 1.30€, U.K. visitors will find them very reasonable in comparison to prices at home.
The easiest and best way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine). ATMs are found in all Sicilian cities, towns, and villages that have a bank. 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. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank. That being said, the fees will ALWAYS be less than those of international currency exchange stores.
NEVER get cash advances on your credit card at an ATM. Credit card companies will charge interest from the moment of your withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time, making this a very pricey way to get cash.
Important note: Make sure that the PINs on your bank cards and credit cards will work in Sicily. You'll need a four-digit code (six digits won't work).
Credit & Debit Cards
Credit and debit cards are a safe way to carry money. They generally offer relatively good exchange rates.
Keep in mind that when you use your credit card abroad, most banks apply a 2% fee above the 1% fee charged by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express for currency conversion on credit charges. But credit cards are still the smart way to go when you realize the reason pickpockets target tourists is that they carry too much cash on their person. Credit cards can be replaced; cash can't be.
In Sicily, the most commonly accepted credit cards are MasterCard and Visa. Of secondary importance are American Express and Diners Club.
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.