If you are coming to Italy, be sure to have a credit card that does not charge for foreign transaction fees. Several competing companies have such cards and, in the long run, can provide considerable savings to a traveler. Very few merchants do not take credit cards. Do not withdraw money from just any ATM (Bancomat in Italy) in order to have some euros on hand; airport ATMs give poor rates and money exchange kiosks exchanging cash have even higher rates.Banks with ATMs, and especially if away from major tourist areas, give better rates. If getting cash, check to see if your debit card affiliates to the system of that ATM (for example, Plus, Accel, Cirrus) or your costs will be higher. Definitely notify your bank and credit card company that you are traveling, so you do not have the surprise of having your charge or withdrawal denied.
The post office, postale, is an essential contact in Italy if you are staying for awhile. Utility bills, other official fees, and banking occurs there in addition to postal services. Be prepared to stand in line, and outside now due to COVID – when utility bills are sent out by the local utility company, expect an extra long line. When going to the postale, one takes a ticket and awaits one’s turn. Utility bills may be paid with a credit card, including a small fee, but this is a less expensive transaction than obtaining cash from an ATM to pay the bill.
We are fortunate to have a washing machine in our apartment, but not many people have dryers. Therefore, we have an Italian dryer (seen in the featured photo).
Italy is the third largest economy in Europe. While they have considerable national debt, there seems to be prosperity in many areas. Around Florence there is considerable new construction. The autostradas (interstate to us) are in good shape and undergoing repair (at least in the north and central areas) before there is serious deterioration. Many autostradas have tolls, but it is easy to pay with a credit card.
Try new foods or preparations, because only eating lasagna, pizza and familiar pasta dishes gets old quickly. You may find new dishes (especially away from tourist centers) that you will want to come home and figure out how to make. Wild boar (cinghiale), rabbit (coniglio) and hare (leper) preparations are amazing.
If staying for over 90 days (a residence visa required) and considering a bank account, research this carefully. Fees are high relative to the US, and it may be less expensive in the long run to use a no foreign exchange fee credit card for most transactions.