Rome enjoys a typically Mediterranean climate.
Early Autumn, September and October and Spring, March to June are the best times to visit Rome, with lovely blue skies and mild temperatures.
Winter tends to be moderate, at least by northern European standards, with temperatures averaging around 10°C to 15°C between December and February. Snow, although not unheard of, is extremely rare.
November and December are considered the two wettest months. Rain, however, does not tend to last for long periods.
Summers (from June to September) are hot and dry with temperatures often soaring to 37°C. High humidity is also common, particularly in July and August.
In Italy, you are likely to find lots of people who speak English and are eager to practice with you. In a unique city like Rome, visited all year round by tourists from everywhere else in the world, there will be no communication difficulty. Romans are used to speak different languages when getting in touch with visitors.
Shopping hours are generally Monday from 4:00 to 7:30pm or 8:00pm, and Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 or 10am to 7:30 or 8:00pm.
Shops which are located in the city centre and in big shopping centres around the city may be open on Sunday.
Local markets: Full of character and real life, Rome's busy markets are an integral part of local life. Their goods include fresh vegetables, flowers, antics and handycraft. They are held in many districts of the city and are open only in the morning from 7:00am to 2:00pm.
The Italian currency is the Euro, the single European currency, whose official abbreviation is "EUR = €." Exchange rates of participating countries are locked into a common currency fluctuating against the dollar.
The seven euro notes come in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. The eight euro coins are in denominations of €2 and €1, and 50, 20, 10, five, two and one cents.
ATMs (known in Italy as bancomat) are widely available in Rome and most will accept cards tied into the Visa, Amex, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro systems. As a precaution, though, check that the appropriate logo is displayed on the ATM before inserting your card.
Banks opening hours are 08:30 to 13:30 and 14:45 to 15:45, Monday to Friday.
You can change your money in banks, at post offices or at a cambio (exchange office). There are exchange booths at Stazione Termini and at Fiumicino and Ciampino airports.
Always make sure you have your passport, or some form of photo ID, at hand when exchanging money.
Major cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, Cirrus, Amex and Eurocheques are widely accepted.
Travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere. Those in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars are the easiest to cash.
Taxes & refunds
A value-added tax of around 20%, known as IVA (Imposta di Valore Aggiunto), is included in the prize of just about everything in Italy.
Non-EU residents who spend more than €155 at shops with a ‘Tax Free for Tourists’ sticker are entitled to a tax rebate. You’ll need to fill in a form in the shop and get it stamped by customs as you leave Italy.
In Italy service, which usually ranges from 1 to 3 Euros depending on the restaurant, is automatically added to the check and must be visible on the menu. Therefore, there is no need to tip. Normally, however, Italians just round up the bill, a few Euros.
Hotel staff, such as luggage handlers, happily accepts a small tip. Generally, no other public service workers expect tips.
Also remember to take your receipt, even if paying cash. It is required by the law as you must be able to prove that you paid and the owner rang it in for tax purposes.
Electric appliances in Italy work with 220 volts, CA. 50 Hz and plugs conform to the European system of round pins with two holes.
Population: 2.8 million inhabitants
Area: 1,285 km2 (580 sq mi)
Time: GMT/UTC + 1 hour (+ 2 hours in summer)
Telephone area code: +39(06)
Emergency numbers: Dial 112 for Police, 118 for Ambulance, and 115 for Fire.
Airports: Ciampino (CIA) 13.5 km and Fiumicino (FCO) 26 km.
Smoking: On January 10, 2005, a nationwide smoking ban went into effect in bars and restaurants.
Water: Tap water is safe everywhere. In addition, Rome’s ubiquitous public fountains provide water that is not only clean and drinkable, but also free. Unsafe sources will be marked ACQUA NON POTABILE.