Travel queries on Internet
Here is a selection of some of the most common queries and misgivings people have before visiting Italy . We hope our answers put you at ease.
We want to book a hotel for our Italian holiday but the owner has asked for scanned copies of our passports. Is this some identity fraud?
All hotels in Italy ask to see your passport when you first arrive as they are obliged to report all details to the local authorities. But as with most things in life you're always best checking out the hotel's credentials and references before you pass on important personal information.
I've heard the traffic is really bad in Italy and that even crossing the street can be dangerous . . .
Crossing the street can be one of the high points of your Italian holiday (just joking!). Do as you would in any other country - head for the nearest pedestrian crossing, wait for a lull in the traffic and walk in a decided manner towards the far kerb. Do not panic, the cars may seem to be inches away but they will (usually) stop. If your courage fails then wait for an Italian to come along and tag along behind him/her as they weave their way across the road.
(And don't forget to thank your favourite god or guiding spirit when you reach the far side.)
I'm American. Is it safe to travel to Italy now? Should I pretend I'm Canadian?
A general warning to American tourists travelling to Italy was announced by the US State Department following the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The warning makes pretty grim reading and you can get up-to-date details from the US Embassy in Rome.
US tourists to Italy should have no undue cause for concern. Things are relaxed and hopefully will continue that way. If you are worried avoid perceived targets - Embassies, Consulates and American Schools and remember thousands of Americans are currently living happily and safely on Italian soil.
I've read in all the guidebooks that Italy should be avoided during August. But I have to take my holidays in August. Help!
Italians tend to take their holidays during August so the beaches are crowded and the cities fairly quiet. (Having said that Venice in August is overcrowded and, given the heat, pretty smelly.) The tourist attractions usually stay open, as do restaurants, hotels etc. The weather can be unpleasantly sticky and hot, though most tourists come to Italy for the sun so they can't really complain. Do book ahead wherever you decide to go.
Is Italy dangerous for women? Are all Italian men lecherous Latin lovers waiting to pinch my bum?
Italy's not a dangerous country for women travelling alone - though be prepared for the odd wolf whistle or appreciative comment. In truth Italian men are more mammy's boys than Latin lovers - according to a recent survey some 70% of 29-year-old Italian men still live at home.
We'll be out trawling and surfing the Net near you . . . so look out for more travel tips and advice from ItaliaPlease's Survivor's Guide.