We are now roughly one month away from EGMO, and we are looking forward to welcoming you in Florence. We decided to collect some basic information about Italy and Florence to help you better plan your visit and pack your luggages.
Language. While most places, especially in the city centre, have workers speaking English decently, you may not be able to speak English with elder residents, in which case you should rely on your guide.
Currency is Euro. Credit and debit cards are accepted in most restaurants, museums and shops, though there are smaller places (both shops and restaurants) where cash is the only option. In particular in Italy it is not very common to pay by card if it is a small amount (say, less than 10 euro), so you should have some cash with you if you go for a coffee or a cappuccino.
(By the way, you can order a cappuccino after midday, but that is going to give you away as a foreigner ;-))
The weather in April is usually chilly in Florence, but warming up. It might feature some rain, but also warm sunshine. Hard to say in advance, keep track of weather forecast. On average, the climate is hot and humid compared with most of European countries.
Getting around. Public transportation is available in Florence, though it might not be the simplest thing to navigate. Remember to buy your tickets before getting on the bus (or you will have to pay a higher price) and to validate them as soon as you board. Be careful that not validating your ticket is considered the same as travelling without a ticket and results in a fine. We would recommend walking. Florence is a small medieval city, and given the location of the hotel (20 minutes to the city centre) you will have a much better and more personal experience of the place.
Power plugs. The standard socket in Italy is Type L, also compatible with C plugs, though Type F (also called “Schuko” or “German”) is also present and compatible with plugs of Type C and E. Standard voltage is 230v and frequency is 50Hz.
If you come from a EU country you should be able to use your mobile phone as if you were home, without any roaming surcharges for neither calls nor data. For non-EU countries you have to check with your provider.
WiFi access in public places and cafes or restaurants is quite widespread (but not always offered, depending on how tourist-friendly the place is), you might have to register or you might need to ask for the password.
Pickpockets. Though there are pickpockets, there is no need for money belts, just be sure to keep an eye on your purse and keep it closed. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your documents and cards stashed somewhere else, just in case.
EU citizen do not have to carry their documents with them all the time, only legally required to identify themselves if asked by police officers (which come in different flavours in Italy). Non-EU citizens are required to carry their passport with them at all times.
Public restrooms usually are accessible by paying a fee (50c or 1 euro). In cafes or restaurant restrooms are open only to customers, and smaller bars might not have one.
It is customary to greet people working in shops. Tipping in restaurants is not required, but of course is always well accepted. Polite manners regardless of age and gender are important in Italian culture.
In Italy the drinking age is 16 for fermented drinks, such as beer or wine, and 18 for distilled ones. The legal age for buying tobacco products is 18 as well.