Local laws and customs

By law you must be able to show some form of identification at all times. In most cases a photocopy of the data page of your passport should suffice, but in this case you’re advised to also carry a second form of photo ID. The police will normally ask for your full passport if you are stopped while driving.

Tickets on public transport must be endorsed in a ticket machine before you start a journey. The machines are usually positioned at the entrance to platforms in railway stations, in the entrance hall to metro stations and on board some buses and trams. Officials patrol public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of 100 to 500 euros (reduced to 50 euros if paid immediately) if you don’t hold an endorsed ticket. Tickets can be purchased from shops displaying the ‘T’ sign, and are usually bars or tobacconists.

Many major cities in Italy now impose a small tax on tourists. The tax is levied by hotels and is usually not included in any pre-paid arrangements or package deal. The rate of tax varies from city to city, and can depend on the star rating of the hotel. Hotels often ask for payment of this tax in cash. Make sure you get a receipt. For more information check with the local tourist information office.

Under Italian law, young people and children aged 17 and under cannot check into hotels or holiday accommodation without an accompanying adult.

In the Rome area, restaurants must:

  • display a menu outside the restaurant
  • only charge for bread if you specifically request it
  • inform you of the prices you will pay before you order
  • not make any cover charge (coperto)
  • give a proper receipt

In some Italian towns and cities you may be fined for dropping litter and in some towns or cities it’s an offence to sit on monument steps or to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of main churches, historic monuments and public buildings. It’s also an offence to enter or bathe in public fountains. A fine of up to €10,000 can be imposed for urinating in a public place.

The Municipality of Capri forbids the use of any disposable plastic objects such as bags, cutlery, plates, cups, food packaging, trays, straws on the island of Capri. Violations can incur a fine of up to 500 euros.

Illegal traders operate on the streets of all major Italian cities, particularly tourist cities like Florence, Venice and Rome. You should not buy from illegal street traders. If you do, you could be stopped by the local police and fined.

It’s illegal to remove sand, shells or pebbles from coastal areas in Italy. Doing so may result in heavy fines. It’s also forbidden to collect various species of flowers, plants and herbs from mountain and wooded areas. For more information, check with the regional authorities of the area you’re visiting.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.