Currency

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The currency used in Italy is the Euro, the same currency used throughout most of Europe.

The euro comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 & 500 euro notes, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 & 50 cent coins.

Each country prints its own euro notes and mints its own euro coins. Every country has its own design on one side of its notes and coins, and a common design on the other. All euros, however, are the same size, have the same value, and can be used in all euro-based countries.

Exchange rates can be found in your local paper and financial website.

You won't need to convert much currency. It is fine to pay for larger purchases, as well as things like meals in restaurants, in Italy using your credit card. The exchange is calculated for you, and at a favorable rate.

It is a good idea to have at least enough euro cash with you for a cab ride or phone call – just in case, but convert a minimum in the US, at a US airport or at your Italian hotel. The rates there are not particularly good. You’ll do better at a bank, especially one in Europe.

The easiest way to get local currency is by using your ATM card at a bank machine that shows an international logo.

On your return trip, remember to convert any extra euros to dollars before you go. And make sure you have enough dollars to bail your car out of the airport lot or pay the cabbie.

Keeping track of currency, especially coins, when in a foreign country can be a little tricky. Have a good look at the different denominations and learn the difference.

Before shopping, see how much you have in coins to speed up transactions and avoid accumulating lots of coins. Also, try to have a few smaller notes for the less expensive items.

Use the hotel safe.

Traveler's checks can be useful if you don't have a credit card. For convenience, buy them already denominated in euros before you leave the US.

In Italy, banks are usually open Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings, and are closed on public holidays. ATMs are available in many places, but check with your US bank to make sure they are part of a European ATM network.