Rome Packing & Advice List

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ECON 315: Italy Packing List

1.    Clothes. Though you may be planning to purchase clothes once you arrive in Italy, here are some tips to pack before departure.

Bring layers: Bring warm clothes for January. Rome can be quite pleasant – 65 degrees and blue skies, but don’t count on it.

Milan Weather: January 5 – 6 temperature and rainfall averages are: High: 44F, Low: 35F, and 0 inches of rainfall.

Rome Weather: January monthly temperature and rainfall averages are: High: 53F, Low: 37F, and 4 inches of rainfall.

Shoes. You will be walking greater distances and at quicker speeds than on the PLU campus, and the paving in Rome can be very uneven, so bring sensible and comfortable shoes with a sole firm enough to easily manage the cobbles, wet or dry. Rome street pavement is very slippery when wet!!!

Dressier Clothes Alert. Italians dress up more frequently than Americans and they do so for just about every occasion, even for minor errands and chores such as walking the dog. If you don't want to stick out as a tourist, you have to pay attention to style and appearance. Public image is important in Italian culture. Bring one set of good clothes for going out to dinner at something other than a trattoria/pizzeria. Save your white sneakers and your flip-flops for your hotel room. (This is, of course more important in Rome than in Vernazza)  

Collapsible Umbrella – handy when those January rains come

2. Money. Euro is the official currency in Italy and the EU. Generally, using an ATM to withdraw money from a checking or savings account, or charging items directly, are the least expensive way to handle money, as little or no commission is charged in the conversion to Euro (though you may have a small withdrawal fee charged by your bank). Students should make sure their ATM cards are on the Cirrus or PLUS networks to access them in Italy and the United Kingdom. This should be determined before you leave the US. Carrying more than one card with two separate pin numbers can also be helpful since there are generally daily withdrawal limits. If you have problems with your ATM card, you will have to deal directly with your bank in the US. Since Italian banks can not help fix this, you should carry the contact phone numbers for you bank’s credit card department (including international dialing instructions) in case of problems with your credit card while abroad. Note also that not all Italian retail establishments take plastic. In fact, many do not, so having Euro (cash) or travelers' checks on hand is sometimes a necessity (especially in case of emergencies when ATM cards or credit cards do not work). If you choose not to use an ATM card, we recommend that you bring at least $500 in travelers' checks. Otherwise, once in London and Rome, you should plan on getting cash from an ATM rather than an “Exchange” or "Cambio" place, which charge a service fee for converting currency.

Note: You should notify the fraud department of your credit card provider bank of your itinerary so that they don’t shut off your card due to the sudden appearance of strange foreign transactions. Your credit card provider can give you a toll-free 800 number you can call for the details.

3.    Telephone Communication. Long distance calls can be made from most pay phones in Italy and with pre-paid Italian calling cards (which are the cheapest way to call home), or with cards from US carriers, like AT&T, MCI, etc. (but these are much more expensive!)

·For example, if you purchase an MCI 575 minutes card at Costco the international contact numbers are:

Italy ($0.20 per minute): 800905825

World Service Code: 26

After dialing these numbers from a pay phone and entering the world service code, you receive the usual friendly voice “Welcome to MCI…”

Enter you PIN # and then dial 1 + area code + local US phone number

·Purchase pre-paid international calling cards in Italy at a tabaccaio, which will be marked on the outside with a large T on a sign. Ask for EUROPA or EUROCITY cards or simply ask for "una scheda internazionale per gli Stati Uniti," which can be used from public phones through local access numbers. As of December, 2005, rates range from .06 -.10 cents per minute to the US, Canada, the Continent, and Australia/NZ, with slightly higher rates to some parts of Asia.

·      Purchase pre-paid domestic calling cards for calls within Italy. These TELECOM SCHEDA are good for domestic calls but rates within Italy are high. Working payphones are also becoming harder to find as almost everyone in Italy carries a mobile phone. Nonetheless, carry a domestic calling card while traveling and on field trips in Italy.

·      Buying a mobile/cell phone (telefonino) once in Italy is cheap and easy to do. No annual contract is necessary and you can simply refill your account with prepaid calling cards. You are not charged for incoming calls, so people can call you from anywhere in the world at no expense to you. Beware that some cell phones sold in Italy work only while in Europe and may not work in the US or other non-European countries. If you want to bring the phone back with you to the US, make sure you purchase a triband phone in Italy.  

4.    Security. Students should be aware of their surroundings. Though generally safer than most large American cities, Rome battles with the chronic plague of petty theft. It's a good idea not to carry a bag that closes only with a magnetic clasp. Small, zippered packs and money belts worn around the waist are also favorite targets of the city's talented pickpockets. We recommend that you carry the cash you think you need for a particular outing in a pocket, so that you do not have to frequently go into your pack to extract a wallet (at least while you're settling in). Keep a hand on your bag while on the bus; when in a bar; do not leave your backpack unattended while at the counter ordering. Stay alert and use common sense.  

5.    Health Services. Doctors and dentists. You will be required to pay up front (they do not do billing to the company for you), and some plans will not pay for all expenses, or will reimburse only a small percentage of the charge. Be clear about how to handle your claims before you depart. Students should do all check-ups or other anticipated medical procedures before their departure if possible. Also, many of these medical professionals do not accept credit cards at their practices, so if an office visit becomes necessary, count on needing cash.  

6.    Sufficient Supply of Prescription Drugs. Typically, European medicines are calibrated differently than medicines in the US. If you are now taking prescription drugs, it is advisable to note the strength of each dosage. The local pharmacies do stock an abundance of medications, but you should enter with a sense of what you want or need. Also, if you get motion sickness on twisty roads, we recommend you purchase a supply of Bonine, a less drowsy alternative to Dramamine. Medication cannot be shipped from the US, so plan ahead.  

7. Computers and other electrical appliances. Very important for those bringing laptops: bring a special computer adapter for the proper power conversion. Contact a computer dealer to be sure the right item is purchased. Voltage in Italy and Europe is 220 volts. A little stereo adapter cannot be used for computers. It will short out the computer! For standard electrical appliances, Italy uses: 230 volts and 50 Hz. It is a "Schuko" plug and receptable with side grounding contacts (see picture)

Italy – Schuko Italy – 3-prong

|[pic] |[pic] |

An adapter will allow you to plug an appliance designed for one type of outlet into another type of outlet. Despite the fact that more than a dozen different types of plugs are in use in Europe, a typical travel adapter kit usually contains about five adapters which are capable of dealing with most of the outlets shown here. Adapters often manage this versatility by bypassing the ground/earth wire.

Beware: an adapter by itself will not change the electrical voltage. You must be sure that your appliance can handle different voltages (either automatically or through a voltage switch). If it can't, you will need a voltage converter.

8. Specialized Products. You should bring items such as contact lens solution to last the entire trip. Though this is available in Italy, it is usually more expensive and many pharmacies do not offer the whole range of options available in the US. Be sure to bring an extra pair of contacts or glasses if you have them, along with your eyeglass prescription. You'll be able to buy almost any toiletry you need in Rome, including some very fine Italian brands at prices no higher than what you are paying now. Consider taking travel-size items with you and then re-stocking in Rome after you settle into your routine.  

10. Miscellaneous Items to Bring:

·A knapsack or day pack for the day-trips.

·A small pocket-size Italian-English phrasebook.

·A favorite guidebook or two.


11. Baggage Restrictions: We will be traveling in a 20-25 passenger mini-bus so it is crucial that our luggage fit in the luggage space available. This is probably the most severe constraint on baggage that we will face. Please, pack as lightly as possible.

(Sources: Cornell University; ; )


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