Money and Banks

The currency in Italy is the Euro, the common European currency in use together with another 11 countries in the European Union since January 2002 (with the addition of Slovenia since 1st January 2006).

Money
There are seven different banknotes: Euro 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. The coins, on the other hand, come in eight different sizes, two Euro coins (Euro 1 and Euro 2) and six different cent coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents). Using credit cards to withdraw money is very easy, thanks to the large number of ‘bancomat’ cashpoints throughout the country, linked up to all the major international circuits. Credit cards can also be used to pay directly in hotels, restaurants, shops and supermarkets. In any case, if you need to exchange some currency, you can do so at the bank, the post office or in one of the private-owned bureaux de change, keeping in mind that their commissions are higher.
Citizens who are not residents of the European Union who spend more than Euro 155 while shopping in Italy can ask for a VAT refund (19%) on departure. The refund only applies to purchases made in the circuit of shops displaying the “tax free for tourists” sign in the window. You will need to fill in a form at the time of purchase and have it endorsed by Italian customs on departure. The refund can be obtained in all the main airports or credited directly onto your credit card.

OPENING HOURS On working days, shops are generally open from 9 am to 1 pm in the morning and then from 3/4 pm to 7/8 pm in the afternoon, on weekdays and Saturday. Shops are closed on Sunday, although department stores and hypermarkets stay open all day from 10 am to 7/8 pm throughout the week and some even stay open on Sunday morning. Chemists tend to have the same opening hours as other shops; the majority of chemists are closed on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and on national holidays, but every municipal administration organises a rota system to ensure a few chemists are open at any time during the week. Chemists that stay closed are forced to display a sign in the window indicating the nearest open chemists. Banks usually open at around 8:30 am and close at 1:30 pm, and they reopen in the afternoon between 3 or 4 pm and 6 or 7 pm, from Monday to Friday. At the weekend, however, bureaux de change agents in all the major cities and main tourist resorts are in full swing. Post offices are open all day without a lunch break from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm from Monday to Saturday. Some central offices close at 1 pm on Saturday. Cafés and bars are open all day and some even stay open until the early hours. Nightclubs and other nightlife hotspots open around 10 pm but things only really begin to get going at around midnight. Italians looking for fun do so at their own pace, and they may only be ready to actually go out the front door at around the time people in other countries are going to sleep after a night out. So don’t rush to the nightclub entrance early: go out for dinner first at about 9 or 10 pm (a normal dinner time, especially in the South of Italy) and take your time.

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