Essential Facts and Tips…
For an Incredible Lake Como Holiday
Everything you need to know before coming to Lake Como Italy…
- Entrance Requirements for foreigners embarking upon Italian vacations including a list of consulates and customs information.
- Health & Travel – Medical assistance while in Lake Como. Tips for getting travel insurance.
- Fun Facts about the lake – Interesting information about Lake Como including water depth, altitudes, and some things the locals wouldn’t even be able to tell you!
Below you will find some practical information for planning your vacation. But above all, don’t forget to enjoy yourself and have a great time…
PHONE SERVICES IN LAKE COMO
Telecom Italia runs the network of public telephones in Lake Como. You can buy phone cards at all Tabacchi shops. You can usually make calls from your hotel room, but this is the most expensive option.
Dialing to Italy. The country code for Italy is "39". To dial from the USA, you would dial 011 + 39 + area code (including the first "0") + number. Southern Lake Como towns such as Como, Italy generally use the area code ’031′, Mid to Northern towns use ’0344′, and towns in the Lecco Province (on Lake Como’s eastern leg) use ’0341′.
Confusion regarding zeros: When dialing to Italy you have to include the "0" before the area code of the town you are dialing. When dialing to the U.K., for example, you delete the first zero of the number’s area code.
A few examples of how to dial from Italy…
- U.K. – 0044 + area code (drop the first "0") + number
- Canada, U.S. - 001 + area code + number
- Germany – 0049 + area code + number
Cell phones. GSM mobile phones work in Italy. However, you can also rent cell phones from TIM, Omnitel or Wind shops or even get your own Italian phone number by purchasing an SIM card. You don’t need to buy a year-long subscription to get an SIM card, you can pay-as-you-go recharging your account at any Tabacchi shop. Reception is generally excellent all along the lake.
Prepaid Calling Cards. Looking to save Euros on long distance? We’ve discovered time and time again that it is far cheaper and easier to bring your own calling card from home into Italy than it is to buy one while there. Several internet companies offer you the convenience of a dial-in number and PIN you can carry with you during your stay in Italy, while debiting only the amount of time you use up directly from your credit card!
You can use this search engine to find out exactly what it would cost you per minute to dial long distance from Italy to your country of origin should you decide to use such a prepaid calling card service.
In order to continue providing this free and convenient service, LakeComoGuide.com may receive a small commission should you wish to purchase a calling card from the service provider above.
BANKS & ATM MACHINES
Every town in Lake Como has several banks to choose from including international ones such as Deutsche bank S.P.A. The local ones are usually named after a particular region or town such as Sondrio or Vicenza.
Most bank hours in Italy are from Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 1:30pm and in the afternoon from 3pm to 4pm (plus or minus 15 minutes).
Almost all Italian banks have ATM machines accepting all major credit cards which allow you to withdraw Euros from your foreign account.
Note: Be sure to have a PIN number in order to withdraw money from your credit card, as tellers are generally not able to give out cash advances, even when you present your passport.
The Euro is the official currency of Italy since 2002 when it replaced the Lira. You can change money at all Milan Airports upon arriving. At Milan Malpensa airport you will find an exchange counter in the departures area and at Milan Linate airport you must go to international arrivals.
To exchange money in Como, you can visit Banca Ponti (Piazza Duomo 19) or CIT Travelcafe (Via Dante 6).
You will need cash for small shops, tabacchi bars (where you get bus tickets), and taxis. It is advisable not to carry large amounts of cash as pocket-picking is quite common in large cities such as Milan and Rome.
Traveler’s Checks are a very safe way to carry money and are widely accepted at restaurants, stores and major hotels. American Express and Visa are the most recognized brands of traveler’s checks. Always have a photo ID, and never sign them until you are ready to use them. If they are lost or stolen, contact the company that issued them. It may also be wise to contact the police as some of the companies may require a police report.
Prepare for your Lake Como holiday by using this handy tool to convert to Euros from your country’s currency.
All hospitals have a 24-hour emergency room. Police are called Carabinieri in Italy and are easily recognized by their blue vehicles and uniforms.
Use the following numbers if you are ever in an emergency situation.
General Emergencies: 113
Fire Department: 115
Ambulance (called Pronto Soccorso): 118
Accidents and Breakdowns: 116
Foreigners are required to have a valid driver’s license from their own country AND an International Driving Permit if their original license is not from an EU country (although this doesn’t pertain to U.K. or Swiss residents). Often times an agency will rent out a car to a foreigner without an IDP, only to run into trouble at the end with the local police.
You may use your foreign license (and IDP, if required) for up to one year in Italy upon which you must get an Italian license.
HOLIDAYS IN LAKE COMO ITALY
- Jan 1 - New Year’s Day
- April 25 - Liberation Day
- May 1 - Labor Day
- June 2 - Festival of the Republic
- June 24 - Festival of San Giovanni
- August 15 - Ferragosto
- November 2 - All Saints Day
- November 8 - Immaculate Conception
- December 7 - St. Ambrose day (Milan)
- December 25 - Christmas
- December 26 - Feast of St. Stephen
The entire month of August can also be interpreted as a Lake Como holiday (and the rest of Italy). Since Roman times, it has been common for everybody in Italy to escape the hottest month of the year by going on vacation. Keep in mind that many lake como hotels close during this time.
Many owners choose to close down their shops during the middle of the day to go home for lunch or just to take a break. This Italian siesta is a natural occurrence in Italin life. Maintain a flexible and relaxed attitude while in Lake Como, after all, isn’t that the reason why you are coming?
Many Lake Como museums close down completely during the winter months.
Internet access is usually found in most hotels however it can be difficult to find internet points in the northern Lake Como towns. The highest concentration of internet cafes are in Bellagio, Como and Menaggio.
Expect to pay anywhere between 2 euros an hour to as much as 13 euros an hour in remote, luxury hotels.
Each town in Lake Como has a post office. They are generally open from 8:30am to 2:00pm, Mon. to Sat.
15-20% is customary and often expected in many restaurants and for cab drivers. Tips are usually not included in the bill in restaurants. It is optional to tip carros publicos (public transportation) about 10%. It is not necessary to tip on businesses where you pick up your food at the counter.
TOURIST OFFICES IN LAKE COMO
Get even more helpful tips, brochures, free maps, and smiling faces on your Lake Como holiday by visiting any of the following Tourist Offices.
A.P.T. Azienda Promozione Turistica del Comasco
Office for the provinces of Como and Lecco
Piazza Cavour, 17 (Como)
Tel. +39/031/3300111 – 269712 Fax +39/031/240111
A.P.T. Azienda Promozione Turistica del Lecchese
Via N. Sauro, 6 (Lecco) – Tel. +39/0341/362360 Fax +39/0341/286231
Ufficio turistico di Bellagio
P.zza della Chiesa, 14 – Tel. e Fax +39/031/950204
Ufficio turistico di Menaggio
P.zza Garibaldi, 8 – Tel. e Fax +39/0344/32924
Ufficio turistico di Argegno
Via Cacciatori delle Alpi, 42 – Tel. +39/031/821652
Ufficio turistico di Cernobbio
Via Regina (Villa Erba) – Tel. e Fax +39/031/510198
Ufficio turistico di Canzo
P.zza Chiesa, 4 - Tel. e Fax +39/031/682457
Ufficio turistico di Domaso
Via Garibaldi, 81 – Tel. +39/0344/96322
Ufficio turistico di Dongo
Info-point Alto Lario (Palazzo Manzi) – Tel. +39/0344/82572
Ufficio turistico di Gravedona
P.zza Trieste – Tel e fax: +39/0344/85005
Ufficio turistico di Griante Cadenabbia
Via Regina, 1/1 – Tel. e Fax +39/0344/40393
A Permit is required for all foreigners planning to work in Italy. EU citizens are allowed to work for 90 days without a permit.
We wish you a healthy, safe, and relaxing trip to Lake Como, Italy. If there is any other information that you feel would be useful on this page, please send us an e-mail…your feedback is very much appreciated!