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 their 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 Venice is Italian but English, French and German are also widely spoken, particularly in the major tourist areas.
With the exception of July and August where the weather in Venice is very hot, there really are no extremes in Venice. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that it’s located on the Adriatic coast so thunderstorms and showers are commonplace but generally they don’t last very long and help clear the air during the hotter months.
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.
Venice lies one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Shops in Venice generally open between 9.00am and 12.30pm and 3.30pm and 7.30 or 8.00pm but this now varies quite a bit. For example in the downtown area, shops do not close during the afternoon and many open earlier while in tourist areas they often stay open later. Banks open between 8.30am and 1.30pm but also sometimes open again for an hour – usually between 3.00pm and 4.00pm. Most shops and attractions close on Sundays, and many also remain closed on Mondays.
The Azienda di Promozione (ASP) which is the provincial category of tourist office has three offices in Venice. The first is at the train station and is open from 8.00am to 7.00pm daily. The second branch is located at Piazza San Marco and is open between 9.30am and 3.30am daily and the third is in the Venice Pavilion which is located next to Giardini Ex Reali and is open between 10.00am and 6.00pm daily. As with all tourist offices, opening hours can vary from season to season but these are a pretty good guide as to what time to visit each office.
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 costs more than €155. If this is the case, you need to fill out 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.
All major credit cards are also widely accepted and if you have the PIN you can use these to receive cash in compatible bank machines. The same applies to bankcards which are members of any of the international banking networks or Eurocard
Electricity in Venice is 220V, 50 Hz.
To call Venice from abroad you first dial 00, followed by 39 which is the country code for Italy, the local area code 041 (excluding the initial zero) and the local number. If you wish to call abroad from Venice 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 will need to drop the first zero from the local area code for the latter type of call where applicable.
Public telephones are widely available throughout the city. A local call from a public telephone requires the use of a token (Gettone) which may be purchased at a newsstand or in any tobacco shop. Most telephones, however, will now only accept phonecards. These cards come in various denominations and these too can be purchased at newsstands, tobacco shops or from vending machines in Telecom centres.
The central post office in Venice is located behind the Rinascente department store which is across from Piazza Colonna at Piazza San Silvestro and it opens between 8.30am to 7.50pm from Monday to Friday but it also opens on Saturday and Sunday. There is also another office on via de Porta Angelica which is at the right of the Vatican colonnade on the way to the Vatican Museums and this opens between 8.00am and 2.00pm and 2.30pm and 5.30pm from Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings.
Stamps can also be purchased at tobacco shops but it is advisable to post airmail letters and postcards at the post office to ensure the postage is correct, otherwise the mail will be returned to the sender.
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 Italy 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.