Currency and Prices in Italy
The currency is the Euro, the single European currency. For currency conversion, consider that 1 Euro is approximately worth 2,000 lire, a bit less than one British pound and more than 1 US dollar. The Euro is divided into 100 cents.
Italy is not cheap. Expensive hotels, de-luxe restaurants and fashionable shops all compete for attention of Italians and visitors alike. You usually have to pay to visit galleries and museums. Renting a car is more expensive than, for example, in the US.
You could spend around 30 US dollars per day if you stay in youth hostels and avoid restaurants, but if you want to sleep in a good hotel and be a regular customer of trattorie serving nice meals, you could end up spending over US$100 daily. In bars, prices are much higher if you sit at the table than if you stand at the counter.
Banks are the best places to change travellers’ cheques. Credit cards are generally accepted everywhere.
If you like Italian goods but not so much Italian prices, you can find bargains by visiting factory outlets, stores owned and operated by the factory, which sell second-hand goods, samples, showroom items, remnants and warehouse surplus. There are over a thousand of them all over the country.
Their discounts vary, and they can be anywhere between 20% to 60% less than recommended retail prices. Bargains can be found in designer clothes, accessories, fabric, crafts, food, wine, tableware, kitchenware, and furniture, among other things.
Hotel and Restaurant Prices
These prices are examples, just to give you a general idea.
Four-star hotels: single room 120/150 euros; double room 140/200 euros; suites-de-luxe from 150 euros.
‘Business’ hotels: single room 50/60 euros; double room 70/90 euros.
Family hotels: single room 40/50 euros; double room 60/70 euros.
Remember that, normally, Italian hotel prices don’t include breakfast, but some can serve it if required. Better still, go out and have a delicious cappuccino and brioches (Italian croissants) in a bar. This is the closest that Italians have to a traditional breakfast: many working Italians before heading for their offices stop at the bar for ‘una brioche e un cappuccino’.
Meal in restaurants: from a minimum of 10 euros to 40 euros and upwards per person, excluding wine.
To call Italy from another country, remember that the international code for Italy is ++39. This has to be followed by the Italian area code including the initial 0, and then the number requested. For example: ++39-06-1234567 for a number in Rome (06 is the code of Rome, 02 of Milan, 055 of Florence, 050 of Pisa, 081 of Naples). This is different from other countries where the first 0 of the local area code is omitted when dialling from abroad. It used to be the same in Italy, but it has changed some years ago.
When you are in Italy, you always have to dial the area code before the number, even when you are phoning from the same city. For example, in Rome you dial 06 to place a local call to Rome.
Finding a Hotel in Italy
To find and book a hotel in Italy, the cheapest and least time-consuming way is by doing it via the internet.
There are excellent online hotel reservations services with many hotels all over Italy.
These hotel services often have arranged special rates and discounts with the hotels.
One of the best is Booking: