Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Strikes in Italy


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When you plan internal transfers from various Italian locations, it’s always a good idea to budget some buffer time for unforeseen circumstances. Strikes (scioperi) and delays (ritardi) are normal everyday events.
In my last trip home, the Venice airport personnel announced a couple of hours strike on the spot because some union negotiations weren’t going as they hoped. After traveling for 14 hours from Seattle, that wasn’t necessary the best ‘Welcome home’ news I was expecting. I was lucky to see my luggage showing up on the belt right at the announcement, but I bet the next load of passengers weren’t that happy.
Sometimes friends ask me to review their itineraries. When I see their Italian vacation scheduled by the hour and packed with various transportation from city to city, I warn them that is a recipe for frustration. Trains have gotten better in recent years, but strikes are very common. Be flexible and prepared to cope with some delays and you’ll enjoy your trip even more.

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If you travel to Italy from the US, you may find it hard at first to understand the Italian units and conversion systems. As we cover this topic extensively in our eBook, we decided to make it simple for you to carry along this information by extracting the entire chapter and make it available in a new, practical and curious format: a paper PocketMod.
PocketMods are tiny 8-page booklets that fold together from a single letter size sheet of paper. You can print one on your printer, fold it together, and carry it around, in your pocket.

Here is how this works:
- Download our Units & Conversions chapter in PocketMod format (320K – PDF)
- Print the document in high resolution (possibly in colors)
- Go to the PocketMod web site, click on Create a PocketMod (top right link) and follow the video instructions on how to fold your paper into a PocketMod (or review the folding diagram)

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the extreme virtualization of information and enjoy once again the good old paper :-)

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What is the best way to exchange your US dollars to Euros in Italy? The answer is simple: ATMs. Out of the several available options (exchange offices, traveler’s checks, credit card withdrawals, etc), the most convenient and practical way remains to use your debit card in one of the many Bancomat machines (that’s how ATMs are called in Italy).
Although both yours and the Italian bank may charge a little fee, in our experience a few Euros fee is well worth your piece of mind to avoid carrying along large amount of cash all the time.
That said, it’s always a good idea to keep a safe amount of cash for emergencies, possibly in a hidden money belt like Rick Steves’ silk one.