I have been travelling to Italy for many decades and have had a variety of experiences as I have taken people on tours in many of its regions. In my personal travels I have had to go to the Police to file reports on damaged hire cars and stolen property to generous help from locals who have gone to great lengths to assist a total stranger.
Emergency numbers – why not print this out and keep with you
State Police 113
Fire Dept 115
Road Rescue 116
Financial Guard 117 (I don’t actually know what this guard does)
Medical Emergency 118
Marine Rescue 1530
Australia’s Medicare has an arrangement with the Italian health department – we are an accredited nation so you should be able to receive basic temporary care until you organise full cover for anything serious.
Medical Insurance – based on my experience with a client of mine who arrived already ill to begin one of my Tuscan tours, was that a hospital or doctor in Italy has to declare you unfit to travel and must sign off on a form for you to request your medical cover travel company to fly you home. You cannot contact them and ask them to assist you to get home without an Italian doctor signing off.
Daylight saving in Italy starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October.
Telephone – the international dialling code is +39
Buy a phone card that you can use in phone boxes for cheap calls home or outside Italy or take a spare mobile phone and buy an Italian sim card. It works for us. We use it for making calls around Italy.
Cost of making or receiving mobile phone calls is too high – Remind your friends that if they ring you on your mobile, it costs you to take the call if you are with Telstra. They should SMS you instead. I get all my guests travelling with me to put the mobile phone numbers in their phones of all people on the tour. It really helps if people get lost or are running late.
TO TAKE A CAR OR NOT TO TAKE A CAR….
Hill towns and walled cities – If you decide to take accommodation in either, be prepared to leave your car outside or to have limited access. If you are travelling by train you may still have to take a taxi from the train station into the walled town. These towns are ideal for walking around but tend to be incredibly busy by day with tourists – it is only at night and early hours of the morning when you have a chance to walk around and enjoy the town. We stayed inside the Tuscan town of San Gimignano and could drive in – albeit on a special back of the town route to drop off or pickup but had to park the car in a car park outside town, not the safest idea but having said that, we did not have an incident.
Here is a good example of a perfectly positioned hotel in one of Italy’s medieval towns. Umbria’s Spoleto has Hotel San Luca, it is on the edge of town, you can park your car and comfortably walk up into this hill perched town.
If you stay in very expensive hotels inside some of these towns they often do provide parking so it pays to enquire. We stayed in Bologna and although the hotel had a parking place, it was outrageously expensive so they directed us to an open car park nearby and each day we paid the 24 hour parking fee. Not ideal but manageable in the circumstances. We have friends who would not even attempt to drive into Bologna and we understand why. It is difficult to find the right way to drive in and out and I recommend the train to Bologna any day.
If this information is useful for you please let me know on the blog or send any other helpful basic information for fellow blog reading travellers. Ciao Roz