There is no getting round the fact that Venice is the most expensive city in Italy. If you're on the least luxurious of expeditions - camping, walking wherever possible, cooking your own food - it would just about be possible to get by on £30/$45 a day. Assuming, though, that you share a double room in a one-star hotel, eat out in the evenings, and go to a museum each day, your minimum will be nearly twice that amount. Even in the dead of winter there are few double rooms in Venice costing less than L120,000/?62 - that's £20/$35 per person, even when the exchange rate is at its most favourable, and a strict diet of coffee and croissant ( cornetto ) in the mornings, a picnic at lunchtime and pizza in the evening will account for another £15/$23 at least. Add onto this the cost of the odd entrance fee and boat ticket, and you've passed the £45/$65 mark before you know it. Allowing for the occasional excursion onto the mainland and other contingencies, it's reasonable to budget for a basic outlay of £50/$75 per person per day for a summer trip to Venice. However, if you want to enjoy the occasional special meal or do a bit of shopping without worrying that your money will run out before the end of your holiday, you should set aside about £40/$60 per day as your spending money, not counting accommodation costs . And don't forget that, as ever, costs are higher for the person travelling alone: for single rooms, you'd be doing well to find anything for less than 75 percent of the cost of a double room.
Currency and banks
Italy is one of eleven European Union countries who have opted to join the European single currency, the euro (?). The euro comes in coins of 1 to 50 cents, ?1 and ?2, and notes of ?5 to ?500. Prices in this guide are given both in lire and in euros. With euro having taken over completely, prices have been rounded upwards.
The lira (plural lire ), almost always abbreviated as L (though confusingly, the £-sign is occasionally used in writing), comes in banknotes of L1000, L2000, L5000, L10,000, L50,000 and L100,000, and coins for L50, L100, L200, L500 and L1000. Smaller value coins still float around and you might get given them as change.
It's an idea to have at least some cash for when you arrive, but the most painless way of dealing with your money is probably by using credit or debit cards . In conjunction with your personal identification number (PIN), these give you access to cash dispensers ( Bancomat in Italian). Found even in small towns, these accept all major cards, with a minimum withdrawal of L50,000/?25.82 and a maximum of L500,000/?258.23 per day; a small fee is charged, usually of around 1.5 percent. Cards, including Visa, American Express and Mastercard (the least widespread), can also be used in most hotels, restaurants and shops.
The other option is to carry your money in the form of travellers' cheques , available from nearly all banks, whether or not you have an account, as well as post offices and some building societies in Britain. The most widely accepted brands are American Express, followed by Visa and Thomas Cook. The usual fee for travellers' cheque sales is 1 or 2 percent and you'll usually pay a small commission when they're cashed - American Express doesn't charge for cashing its own cheques.
If you run out of money, the quickest way to get money sent out is to contact your bank at home and have them wire the cash to the nearest bank. Branches and agencies of Thomas Cook, Western Union and American Express can also wire money for a fee; often their service is virtually instantaneous.
Banking hours vary slightly, but generally banks are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 1.20pm and from 3 to 4pm, with major branches often opening for a couple of hours on Saturday morning. American Express and Thomas Cook offices are open longer hours, and in the largest towns you'll find exchange kiosks that stay open late, often at the train station. As a rule, though, the kiosks offer pretty bad rates - the only places where you'll get less for your money are the exchange desks of the biggest hotels.
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