All that US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand nationals require to stay as a tourist in the city for a period of up to ninety days is a valid passport. It is almost impossible to extend you stay beyond this amount of time unless you leave the country and re-enter it once again. EU residents are free to travel and work in the country with a valid passport but it is extremely difficult for other nationalities to obtain a working visa. Citizens of all other countries should check with the Italian embassy in your home country to see what the requirements for your particular nationality.
The currency used in Italy is the Euro which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.
The principal language in Rome is Italian but English, French and German are also widely spoken, particularly in the major tourist areas.
Due to its northern location in Italy, Milan isn’t as warm as other cities, but still gets quite hot. The best time to visit is either in spring or autumn. In summer it gets very hot and humid with temperatures remaining in the nineties for days on end. These high temperatures begin in May and can last until as late as October.
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect an E111 form from your local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices also. Australia’s Medicare system also has a reciprocal health-care agreement with Italy.
In case of an emergency call 118. The city’s public hospital Ospedale Maggiore Polinico is at Via Francesco Sforza.
It is advised that you take out travel insurance before going. You can now purchase travel insurance on Youthhostelmilan.com. Click here for further details.
Milan is located in the Central European Time (CET) zone which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and six ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Shops in Milan are generally open from 9.00am until 1.00pm and from 3.30pm until 7.30pm from Monday to Saturday. Most still remained closed on Sundays although this is beginning to change. As this is the fashion capital of Italy, many shops don’t close between 1pm-3pm.
Government Offices are open from 8.30am until 2.00pm but they do open until 5.00pm in the major cities. Museums are open from 9.00am until 7.00pm, some close between 1.00pm and 3.00pm and all are shut on Sunday and Monday.
Banks are generally open from Monday to Friday between 8.35am and 1.35pm and again from 3.00pm to 4.00pm. In some of the larger cities, however, they do not close for lunch.
The main APT tourist office in the city is at 11 Via Marconi 1 in the Piazza del Duomo, open from 8.15am until 7.00pm from Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturdays and until 5pm on Sundays. There is another branch at Stazione Centrale. Staff in both offices will be able to provide you with whatever information you should need while you are staying from bus timetables to private tours and they also speak English which will probably be a big help for a lot of you.
There is a value added tax included in the price of all goods in Italy but the good news is that for all non EU residents, this is something which you can get back after you leave the country. This rebate only applies, however, if the item purchased cost more than €155. If this is the case, you need to fill in a form in the shop where you buy the item, have it stamped at customs and return it to the shop within sixty days. Following this your refund will be issued by cheque or to your credit card. At major airports and border crossings there are facilities which will provide you with an immediate cash refund.
While traveller’s cheques are widely accepted, there are some places which will refuse to do so. Therefore, it is advised that you change them into euro as soon as you arrive in Italy. For all currency exchange, banks are generally the most reliable and offer the best rates. There are also exchange offices at all major airports and train stations whose opening hours are usually more convenient but the commission is more expensive.
Electricity in Italy is 220V, 50 Hz but in some places including Milan, 125V is still used.
To call Milan from abroad you first dial 00, followed by 39 which is the country code for Italy, the local area code (0)2 and the local number. If you wish to call abroad from Milan again you dial 00, followed by the international calling code for your particular country and then the local number. It is worth noting that you also need to drop the first zero from the local area code for both types of call.
Public telephones are widely available throughout the city. Most telephones will now only accept phonecards. These cards come in various denominations, €2.58, €5.16 etc. and these can be purchased at newsstands, tobacco shops or from vending machines in Telecom centres.
The main post office is at Via Cordusio 4, off Via Dante. Its opening hours are between 8am-7pm from Mon-Fri and from 9.30am-1pm on Saturdays.
While a service charge of between 15 and 18% is included in all restaurant bills, it is customary to leave a small tip if the service merits it. Between 5 and 10% of the total is sufficient. If you are in a café or a bar where the service charge is not included you should tip between 10 and 15%. Taxi drivers are usually given 10% of the fare and tour guides and drivers should be given about 15% of the total cost of the tour price.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Italy they take place on January 1st and 6th, Easter Monday, April 25th, May 1st, August 15th, November 1st and December 8th, 25th and 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.