ITALY & CROATIA TRAVEL TIPS
GMT + 1 hour.
Italy - the official language is Italian. Of all the major Romance languages, none bears a closer resemblance to Roman Latin than Italian - so close, in fact, that a grounding in Latin makes understanding Italian relatively easy. While proficiency in English is not widespread in country districts, major city centres have a larger percentage of fluent English speakers, especially among people whose work brings them into contact with visitors from abroad.
Croatia - Croatian is the national language and is written in the Latin alphabet. It belongs to the South Slavic language group and is understood in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Most people who come into regular contact with visitors from overseas speak English to some degree. English speakers can be rare, however, in rural districts.
Montenegro - The official language spoken in Montenegro is Serbian which is very similar to Croatian. However, Albanian is commonly spoken in several areas as well. English is often spoken in the capital, Podgorica as well as in coastal areas.
Slovenia - Slovene is the national language and is closely related to Croatian and Serbian. Although all belong to the South Slavic language group they are not mutually intelligible. Most Slovenes speak a second language, usually German, Italian or English.
Locals appreciate travellers' attempts to speak their language, so earn yourself some extra smiles by learning a few polite phrases.
In Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia, the official currency is the Euro, divided into 100 cents.
In Croatia, the official currency is the Kuna, divided into 100 Lipa.
The use of major credit cards is common throughout Europe, although American Express much less so.
Exchange currency only at authorised outlets such as banks and hotels, and in currency exchanges. Exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure.
Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
In Italy travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. In Croatia with credit card acceptance and ATMs becoming more popular, travellers cheques are becoming less frequently accepted and when presented may receive a less favourable rate of exchange.
Croatia - an amount equivalent to approximately 230 Kuna per full day of sightseeing is suggested as a tip for your local guide(s), with 150 Kuna suitable for your driver. For half-day excursions, equivalents of 140 Kuna and 90 Kuna are appropriate for guide and driver respectively. Transfer drivers should be tipped at a rate of about 60 Kuna per service.
Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia - an amount equivalent to approximately €30 per full day of sightseeing is suggested as a tip for your local guide(s), with €15 suitable for your driver. For half-day excursions, equivalents of €15 and €10 are appropriate for guide and driver respectively. Transfer drivers should be tipped at a rate of about €10 per service and transfer rep at your discretion. A driver-guide should be tipped €30 for a full day or €15 for a half day of service. These suggestions are per service.
Hotel porters will expect the equivalent of about 6 Kuna / €1 per bag. Tips to hotel maids and other hotel staff are at your discretion.
Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia - Service staff (such as waiters, taxi drivers, and hairdressers) receive a typical gratuity equal to 10% of the total bill. After a meal it is considered rude to leave money on the table after paying at a restaurant. The money should be given directly to the waiter.
Italy - taxi drivers would appreciate a tip of rounding up the fare (please note that there are two screens on the counter - the left hand is the counter, the right hand is the timer… some taxi drivers will charge on the timer! Please be aware and ask the driver to turn the other counter on!).
Italy - a charge for service is often added to restaurant checks but, if it's not, a typical gratuity would be equal to 10% of the total.
If a Guardian Angel performs a special service for you, it would be appropriate to tip him or her at your discretion.
For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.
Conservative "smart casual" clothing will be most useful for daytime touring in all countries. While jeans are acceptable daytime wear, "smart casual" attire in Italy often means stylish slacks or skirt outfit for women and a shirt with collar and slacks for men.
Cotton and other light fabrics are comfortable choices for summertime. Spring and autumn temperatures dictate medium-weight clothing selections. It would be advisable to bring clothing you can layer, remembering that autumn and winter temperatures can be very cold. Pack a coat, hat, gloves, warm socks and sleepwear, etc. if you are visiting between October and April.
When dining at better restaurants and for any special occasion during your journey, dress is more formal. For gentlemen, a "jacket and tie" standard is appropriate, with an equivalent standard of evening wear for ladies.
Bring comfortable walking shoes with low or no heels. An umbrella or light raincoat may come in handy. Pack a swimming suit, as some hotels have pools. Cathedrals, churches and other religious sites require conservative dress. Both sexes should cover their arms, legs and shoulders.
For up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations, please contact your doctor.
Electrical service in Italy is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz.
Arrival and Departure Formalities
In general you should have a signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
Croatia and Montenegro Departure Formalities: Authorities in Croatia and Montenegro will ask to see your passport and may ask to see the receipts from your purchases. Be sure to keep these handy to show Customs officials as you depart. Croatia limits the amount of local currency you can take out of the country to 2000 kuna. As with most countries, Croatia and Montenegro forbid the export of "national treasures." Generally, trade in bona fide antiques is illegal and buyers are open to prosecution.
The Roman Empire was one of the first to elevate cookery to a high art — and to make fine dining one of the prerequisites of civilized life. Modern Italians would agree: the good life requires good food. It's all around you in Italy. Italian wines, cheeses, pastas, pizzas and gelatos are famous throughout the country, but Italian cuisine does not end here. Italian cuisine is one of diversity, seasonality and variety incorporating a lot of vegetables, fish and meat and combining the Mediterranean diet with a wide choice of fresh and healthy ingredients together with regional flavours. The dishes in Italy rely on fresh products which are cooked on the spot.
In Italy, the tradition is to cook good food and enjoy it together, slowly. In fact, it is not all about the food, but about sharing and spending time with your loved ones.
In addition to the great cuisine, Italy is also a country of excellent wines. Italy produces and exports thousands of wines per year and can therefore respectably be called a wine country.
All along the Adriatic coast you will find excellent seafood dishes and Croatia is no exception. However, each region has its own specialities. We highly recommend eating freshly caught oysters at Ston or Prstaci (scampi). Also, Dalmatian brodet (mixed fish stewed with rice) is usually cooked in olive oil and served with vegetables. Burek is a layered pie made with meat and cheese and from the Zagreb region you will find piroska (cheese donut). Inland, some of the better known dishes include manistra od babica (beans and fresh maize soup) and struki (baked cheese dumplings).
Besides the food, Croatia produces excellent wines. There are several (but lesser known) wine regions in Croatia which have been cultivated for centuries to produce excellent quality wines with a unique character.
The cuisine in Montenegro is influenced by the Mediterranean atmosphere and surrounding countries. In addition to the basic European and Mediterranean cuisine, Montenegro differentiates itself by offering traditional, yet healthy specialities. These include for instance kastradina (dried mutton), popeci (a steak from veal’s meat which is surrounded by cheese), rastan (vegetables cooked with potatoes and spices) and prsut (smoked ham). In addition to this, many traditional recipes include lamb or steak. Montenegro predominantly serves meat dishes but coastal areas serve great fish dishes as well.
Furthermore, Montenegro offers a great selection of wines, beers and brandies.
Slovenian cuisine is greatly influenced by its neighbours. From Austria, sauerkraut, sausages (kolbasa) and apple strudel (zavitek) will make an appearance on menus and from Italy, its njoki (potato dumplings), rizota (risotto) and zilkrofi (a type of ravioli). Slovenia is known for its breads made for various special occasions. Often made to resemble wreathes or in the forms of braided loaves, the struklji may be stuffed with meat, vegetables or sweet fillings. Each region serves typical local dishes which are very different from each other and cannot be found anywhere else.
Besides their fantastic cuisine, Slovenia also produces some excellent, but lesser known wines. For true wine lovers Slovenia offers a lot of opportunities for wine visits where one can see the wine making process, taste some Slovenian wines and visit some wine cellars.