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ACTV ENQUIRIES Piazzale Roma, daily 7.30am-8pm tel 041.528.7886.

AIRLINES Alitalia, Salizzada S. Moisè, San Marco 1463 tel 041.520.0355; British Airways, Riva degli Schiavoni, Castello 4191 tel 041.528.5026.

AIRPORT ENQUIRIES Marco Polo airport, tel 041.260.9260.

AMERICAN EXPRESS The American Express office is in Salizzada S. Moisè, a couple of minutes' walk west of the Piazza; Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm, Sat 9am-12.30pm; emergency number tel 041.1678.72.000 (toll-free).

BANKS Banks in Venice are concentrated on Calle Larga XXII Marzo (west of the Piazza), and along the chain of squares and alleyways between Campo S. Bartolomeo and Campo Manin (in the north of the San Marco sestiere). There's not much to choose between them in terms of commission and exchange rates, and their hours are generally Mon-Fri 8.30am-1.30pm and 2.30-3.30pm. The main ones are as follows:
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Calle Larga XXII Marzo, San Marco 2188.
Banca d'Italia, Campo S. Bartolomeo, San Marco 4799.
Banca Credito Italiano, Campo S. Salvador, San Marco.
Banco Ambrosiano Veneto, Calle Goldoni, San Marco 4481.
Banco di Roma, Mercerie dell'Orologio, San Marco 191.
Banco San Marco, Calle Larga XXII Marzo, San Marco 383.

BEACHES The Lido has two public beaches, at the northern and southern extremities of the island. The southern is the less crowded; better still, go down to Sottomarina, in the south of the lagoon.

CAR RENTAL
At Marco Polo airport:
Avis tel 041.541.5030
Europcar tel 041.541.5654
Hertz tel 041.541.6075
Maggiore Budget tel 041.541.5040
At Piazzale Roma:
Avis tel 041.522.5825
Europcar tel 041.523.8616
Hertz tel 041.528.3524
Mattiazzo tel 041.522.0884

CONSULATES AND EMBASSIES The British consulate is in the Palazzo Querini, Dorsoduro 1051 tel 041.522.7207 (by the Accademia); this office is staffed by an honorary consul - the closest full consulate is in Milan, at Via San Paolo 7 tel 02.723.001. The nearest US consulate is also in Milan, at Largo Donegani 1 tel 02.290.351. Travellers from Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada should contact their Rome embassies: Irish Embassy, Via Largo Nazareno 3 tel 06.678.2541; Australian Embassy, Via Alessandria 215 tel 041.06/832.721; New Zealand Embassy, Via Zara 28 tel 06.440.2928; Canadian Embassy, Via G. B. de Rossi 27 tel 041.06/841.5341.

ELECTRICITY The supply is 220 volts AC, but anything requiring 240V will work. Most plugs are two round pins: a travel plug is useful.

EMERGENCIES For all emergency services ring 113. Alternatively, dialling tel 112 puts you straight through to the Carabinieri (police) and tel 115 goes straight to the Vigili del Fuoco (fire brigade) .

EXCHANGE There are clusters of exchange bureaux ( cambios ) where most tourists gather - near San Marco, the Rialto and the train station. Open late every day of the week, they can be useful in emergencies, but their rates of commission and exchange tend to be steep. The best rates are at American Express and the main banks.

FOOTBALL Venice's football team, which recently has yo-yo'ed between Serie A and Serie B, plays in the Pierluigi Penzo stadium, the most ramshackle ground in top-flight Italian football. Tickets can be bought from the Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta: there are branches on Campo San Bartolomeo and Strada Nova.

HOSPITAL Ospedale Civile, Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo; casualty dept tel 041.529.4517, ambulance service tel 041.523.0000

INTERNET ACCESS A number of dedicated Internet points have opened in the last couple of years, most charging around L10,000/?5.16 per half-hour, though rates usually drop the longer you stay online.

San Marco : The Net House , Campo S. Stefano 2967 (24hr).

Dorsoduro : Omniservice , Fondamenta dei Tolentini; Internet Point , Campo S. Margherita.

San Polo : Café Noir , Crosera S. Pantalon; CreArte , Calle del Luganegher 1085 (daily 10am-8pm); Gibo Bar , Ponte della Donna Onesta (Tues-Sat 7.30pm-midnight); Horus Explorer , Fondamenta dei Tolentini 220 (Mon-Fri 8.30-1pm & 3-7pm); Internet Point , Calle S.Pantalon; The Netgate , Crosera S.Pantalon 3812a (Mon-Sat 11.15am-8pm, Sun 2.15-8pm).

Cannaregio : Planet Internet , Ponte delle Guglie 1519 (daily; 9am-11pm); Virtualia , Rio Terrà dei Franceschi 4563 (9.45am-1pm & 4-8pm).

Castello : Play the Game , Calle Lunga S. Maria Formosa 6187 (daily 9.30am-1pm & 3.30-7.30pm); Venetian Navigator , Casselleria 5300 (summer 10am-10pm; winter 10am-7.30pm), with another branch nearby on Calle delle Bande 5269 (same hours); Fondazione Querini Stampalia (Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight; free).

Eastern Districts : Internet Point , Via Garibaldi 1592; Internet Service , Corte dei Preti 3546a (daily 10am-1pm, 3-6pm & 9-11pm).

LAUNDRIES There are no self-service laundries in Venice any more, but every parish has a dry cleaners.

LEFT LUGGAGE The desk at the end of platform 14, in the train station, charges L5,000/?2.58 per item per 12 hours. For a shorter stay it makes sense to use the lockers alongside platform 1, which cost L3000/?1.55 per 6 hours. Both open 24hr.

LOST PROPERTY If you lose anything on the train or at the station, call 041.785.238; at the airport call 041.260.6436; on the vaporetti call 041.780.310; and anywhere in the city itself call the town hall on 041.520.8844.

NEWSPAPERS You'll find the main national newspapers on any newsstand: La Repubblica is middle-to-left with a lot of cultural coverage; Il Corriere della Sera is authoritative and rather right-wing; L'Unità is the Communist Party organ; and Il Manifesto a more radical left-wing daily. Venice's local papers are the Gazzettino and Nuova Venezia (good for listings). More widely read than any, however, is the pink Gazzettino dello Sport , essential for the serious sports fan. English and American newspapers can be found at the train station, by the Calle dell'Ascensione post office and at various stands throughout the city - usually a day or two late.

POLICE To notify police of a theft, report to the Questura on Fondamenta S. Lorenzo (tel 041.528.4666); in the event of a lost passport, notify the Questura and then your consulate or embassy; in emergencies, ring 113.

PORTERS Porters tout for trade at Piazzale Roma and the train station, and at places in the city where luxury hotels are concentrated - such as Riva degli Schiavoni and Calle Larga XXII Marzo. Their charges begin at L20,000/?10.35 for carrying one piece of luggage between any two points in the centre of the city, with a L10,000/?5.17 supplement for each additional item.

POST OFFICES Venice's main post office is in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, near the Rialto bridge. Any poste restante should be addressed to Fermo Posta, Fondaco dei Tedeschi, 80100 Venezia; it can be collected Mon-Sat 8.15am-6.45pm - take your passport with you. Stamps are on sale Mon-Sat 8.15am-7pm; the telegram service operates round the clock. The principal branch post offices are in Calle dell'Ascensione (Mon-Sat 8.10am-6pm) and at Záttere 1406 (same hours). Stamps can also be bought in tabacchi , as well as in some gift shops.

PUBLIC TOILETS The lack of public toilets in Venice used to be a common complaint from tourists, but AmaV ( Azienda multiservizi ambientale Veneziana ) has now installed facilities on or very near to most of the main squares, and all over the city you'll see green, blue and white AmaV signs high on the walls, directing you to the nearest toilet. Costing L1000 (you'll need coins for the turnstiles), the main facilities are at the train station, at Piazzale Roma, on the west side of the Accademia bridge, by the main tourist office at the Giardinetti Reali, off the west side of the Piazza, off Campo S. Bartolomeo, on Campo S. Polo, Campo Rialto Nuovo, Campo S. Leonardo, Campo San'Angelo and on Campo S. Margherita. Toilets are to be found in most of the city's bars as well - it's diplomatic, to say the least, to buy a drink before availing yourself.

TELEPHONES All Venice's public call-boxes accept phone cards (the vast majority accept nothing but cards), which can be bought from tabacchi and some other shops (look for the Telecom Italia sticker); the less expensive type of cards can be bought from machines by the Telecom Italia phone booths in Strada Nova (near S. Felice), Calle S. Luca, Piazzale Roma and adjoining the main post office building near the Rialto Bridge. You're never far from a pay phone - every sizeable campo has at least one, and there are phones by every vaporetto stop. For lengthy long-distance calls, however, it might be best to go to one of the two main Telecom Italia offices, where you can dial direct and be charged afterwards: the office at Piazzale Roma is open daily 8am-9.30pm, and the one at the main post office is open Mon-Fri 8.30am-12.30pm & 4-7pm.

TIME Italy is one hour ahead of Britain, six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and nine hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

TRAIN ENQUIRIES tel 1478.88.088.

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