Tips and Information

General Information


  • If you are have anything mailed to you in Italy from Canada, make sure that it is clearly labelled: "used personal belongings" or you will be charged duty on the stated value (usually 20% or more)
  • You can receive mail in studio, please address to:
    Your Name/ co Waterloo Studio
    Piazza S. Apollonia 3 – 00153 Roma


  • Do not mail any medications – they will be stopped and held at customs until you get a doctor's release confirming that you need the medication.
  • Have enough of your prescribed medication to last you the entire term. Talk to your doctor before you leave. 


  • May/July: t-shirt or polo or other light cotton top, light cotton long pants or capri pants, or a long skirt, cardigan, pullover, and/or light jacket. Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen!
  • You must bring at least one sweater for October/November in Rome. Heat is not turned on until mid-November in the apartments, therefore it can become extremely cold. 
  • Walking shoes are a must. You will be walking more than you ever have before. The surface in Rome is very uneven, so make sure to bring the sturdiest pair you have. 

Italian Climate

  • May/July: In the beginning of May, it can still rain a bit, and temperatures are in the low 20s (°C) during the day, and chilly in the evening. By the end of May, the nice weather is definitely settling in and you can count on fairly consistent long, warm sunny days and perfectly comfortable evenings. In July it is hot and humid. During the day it's in the mid 30s (°C)
  • September/October: Summer weather conditions until October. 
  • October/November: wear layers, the temperature tends to drop.
  • After mid-October, it may begin to rain, so bring rain gear.
  • By December, daytime temperatures fall to between 5 to 12°C.
  • Given the temperature range, layering is a good idea.


  • Before going to an Italian phone carrier, make sure your phone is unlocked, meaning it’s not bound by a contract with Rogers, Telus, and Bell etc. Once you know your phone can use other SIM cards, you can choose an Italian phone provider like Vodafone, Tim, 3, and Wind.
  • All of these carriers offer prepaid plans that you can choose from depending on your priorities with data, calling, and messaging. Vodafone offers a great international plan with 8GB of data, 300 international minutes, and 500 local minutes for just  €10 a month. Tim, 3, and Wind offer similar plans to choose from, and all come with a downloadable app to track and reload your credit.
  • You may need a codice fiscale to purchase a sim card and your passport.
  • Calculate your codice fiscale here

Electrical outlets and plugs

  • Plug adapters need to say 100-240V otherwise you need a step down converter from 240V to 110V
  • North Americans’ main electrical supply is 110-120 volts, but the Italian supply is double this amount: 220-230 volts.
  • Most computers have a voltage input adjustment switch – look at the back or underneath your computer, or possibly on its power supply cable unit if it has one. Make sure you set it to 220 or 230 volts.
  • If your computer or peripheral hardware does not have a built-in voltage-change switch, you will need to buy a separate voltage converter (also known as a transformer). The converter plugs into the wall and you then plug your computer into the converter. They range in price from between $50 and $300.
  • You will not be able to plug your computer into the wall sockets in Italy, as the North American plug is a different shape than the Italian socket. You can, however, buy an adaptor, which quickly and simply allows the American plug to fit into the Italian socket.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase a new computer cable in Italy from an electrical store like Edom, Eldo, or Computer World.

Personal belongings

  • Do not bring any valuables. Watch your pockets at all times! Around $10,000 was stolen from the 2006 class.
  • Keep all your valuables as concealed as possible. Do not leave any valuables alone in your room or the studio. 
  • Do not let thieves distract you when you first arrive. Do not get distracted by their questions, many are capable of stealing from  your backpack or pockets. 
  • Do not bring any jewelry that you are not willing to lose.
  • When on the bus, keep your backpack in front of you, and have your wallet in sight at all times.  
  • Photocopy your passport and credit card and leave it at home (Canada) with the emergency number to call in case one gets lost.
  • In your irreplaceable sketchbook, put your name on the front with your phone number/e-mail address.  
  • At your apartment and in the studio, be sure all the windows are secured when you leave. Listen to hear the doors click closed securely when you go in and out.

Other tips:

  • Student identification: Get your student letter early in the term, and use it in as many places as possible! With a letter from the school, you can get in free or at a reduced price to many of the tourist sites in Rome.
  • Portaportese: An enormous Sunday market off Viale di Trastevere that sells pretty much anything you could possibly want. It is a great place to get bikes, furnishings, clothes, and miscellaneous items - pretty much anything. Even if you don't need anything, it's worth going there just to check it out.

Bank Information


The easiest way to get money while in Italy is to use your ATM or credit card to take out money from your home bank account. ATM machines (Bancomat) that have corresponding symbols (e.g., VISA, MasterCard, Cirrus, STAR, etc.) are everywhere in Europe.

IMPORTANT: be sure to activate your credit cards and ATM cards for international use before you leave and check to make sure your PIN number will work in Italy. Ask your bank what the service fee is to withdraw money, and budget accordingly.

There is a maximum daily limit (which will vary according to your bank), so you may need to make multiple withdrawals on successive days to make larger payments such as rent. There are numerous bank machines in close proximity to the studio, mainly on the Viale Trastevere. If you set up Internet banking before you leave Canada, you will be able to receive bank transfers via email into your Canadian account, then withdraw the money at almost any bank machine. This is an excellent method for dealing with emergency cash requirements.

Using Small Bills: We recommend bringing or using small bills. It is very difficult to find storeowners who will accept or give change for large bills. The post office, for example, does not accept €500 bills, and banks will change them only if you have an account with that bank.

It is very difficult for a foreigner to open a bank account in Italy, so you should not plan on attempting to do so. It is also difficult to make a bank transfer of money to Italy from Canada (it can take about two weeks), so you should not plan on that as your normal method for obtaining money. You should arrive in Italy with a small amount of cash to pay immediate expenses, such as train or taxi fare and lunch (€100 to €150 is reasonable).

You can change your money in banks, at a post office or at a cambio (exchange office). There are exchange booths at Stazione Termini and at Fiumicino and Ciampino airports. In the centre, there are numerous exchange booths, including the following:

American Express (06 6 76 41; Piazza di Spagna 38; 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-12.30pm Sat)

Thomas Cook Travelex (06 420 20 150; Piazza Barberini 21a; 9am-8pm Mon-Sat, 9.30am-5pm Sun)

Online Account

Suggestion from Conrad Johann Erwin Speckert, former Rome student:

N26 online bank account. The account is especially beneficial because there are no monthly fees and no transaction fees and up to 5 free ATM withdrawals per month. Following this referral link will give a  €10 credit once you use the card. 

The account also works seamlessly with Transferwise to fund the account by converting Canadian Dollars to Euros. Money from a Canadian bank account canbe brought into Transferwise and convert it to Euros for the lowest currency exchange fee and receive mid-market rates, and then send the converted Euros to theN26 account using the IBAN code.This is Conrad Johann Erwin Speckert's referral for Transferwise to receive first conversion for €500 for free. 

Traveller's cheques

Increasingly overlooked by card-wielding travellers, traveller’s cheques are a dying breed. They are, however, an excellent form of back-up, especially as you can claim a refund if they are stolen (provided, of course, that you have kept a separate record of their numbers).

American Express, Visa and Travelex cheques are the easiest to cash, particularly if in US dollars, British pounds or euros. Increasingly, though, banks are charging hefty commissions, even on cheques denominated in euros. Always take your passport as identification when cashing in traveller’s cheques. If your cheques are lost or stolen, call the following:

Amex (800 91 49 12)

MasterCard (800 87 08 66)

Travelex (800 87 20 50)

Visa (800 87 41 55)

[Information provided by Lonely Planet.]

Credit cards

The Deutsche Bank at the Largo del Tritone, 161 (near the Trevi Fountain) is the main bank dealing with MasterCard and Visa in Rome. This is where you can go to have any MasterCard or Visa problems addressed.

There is a large branch of American Express in the Piazza di Spagna (close to the foot of the Spanish Steps). If you use an Amex card, you can obtain all of their services at this location. Amex does not charge a fee to cash Amex traveler's cheques (banks do: €3.50 to €5).

At the Thomas Cook office located at Via del Corso, 23 (near the Piazza del Popolo) you can cash a Thomas Cook or MasterCard traveler's cheque for no fee.

Visa requirements

Students who are not Canadian citizens will need to determine if you need a Visa to be in Italy and, if so, you must make arrangements to obtain the necessary travel document.

European passport holders do not need a visa or a residence permit.

Declaration of presence for stays of less than 90 days

Non-EU exchange students intending to stay in Italy for less than 90 days must present a declaration of presence (they do not need to apply for a residence permit).

If you are entering Italy from a country not included in the Schengen Area, the uniform Schengen stamp, placed on the passport during border controls, replaces the declaration of presence.

If you are entering Italy transiting through a country included in the Schengen Area, you must deliver the declaration of presence within 8 days following your entry into Italy to the Police station (Questura) in the Province you are domiciled in (Frauke has the forms).

If you are staying in a hotel, the declaration of presence is represented by the declaration made to the hotelier and undersigned by you.
You must always carry a copy of the declaration of presence, as you may be asked to show it in case of police checks.

Work/holiday visa 

Be in possession of a Visa obtained in order to work or travel in Europe preceding the Rome Program. Students who do obtain a work/holiday visa can go directly to the immigration office, bringing their passport, a payment receipt of €70,46 (to be paid at the post office) and on the spot they will start working on the permit (valid for 1 year), to be issued, in this case within, 30 days. This means students who want to travel before or after the term can apply for a work/holiday visa and then be able to travel after the term without any problems.

Permesso di Soggiorno (residence permit)

If you need to apply for a Permesso di soggiorno, Frauke can help with all the paper work, but you need to apply within 8 days of your arrival in Italy.

What to do

  • Get a "kit giallo" (yellow kit) from Frauke.
  • Complete all information with a black pen, following the instructions carefully.
  • As well as the completed kit you will need to present:
    • identification document (valid at the time of submission of the application) for the purpose of personal identification
    • A4 photocopy of said identity document, copying pages
      with the personal data, visa information and stamped pages.
    • "Bollettino" of €70.46 for issue of the residence permit on medium.
    • Marca da bollo of €16.
    • Photocopy of health insurance valid in Italy [date of expiration should be stated]


  • €70.46 "Bollettino" of for issue of the residence permit
  • €30 printing of the electronic document
  • €16 for marca da bollo
  • €30 for cost of the application
  • €1.50 payment fees

Keep your receipt

The post office gives you a receipt that will work temporarily as your permit. Make sure to keep it on you and show it to the public forces in case they ask for it.

How to get the permit

Once your documents have been processed, you will receive a letter with an invitation to come to the "Ufficio Immigrazione" to get your fingerprints taken and to get your official permit card. Once the card is ready you need to pick it up at the local police station in Trastevere.

Unfortunately, the permesso hardly ever gets printed by the time you leave Italy, but the receipt is valid for travelling.

What to expect in Italy

The following are a few things to expect during your stay in Rome

  • Unusual floor plans: apartments have small rooms, and minimal closet or dresser space.
  • Several flights of steep and narrow stairs: elevators are rare!
  • Different beds: Low to the floor with thin futon-type mattresses and no box springs.
  • Hard, cold floors: wood, marble, stone, and tile.
  • Small refrigerators: therefore, shopping often at local markets for your food will be required.
  • Older/different appliances:  your stove, washer, water heater will need to be reviewed with your roommates and landlord. They operate differently compared to Canadian appliances. 
  • Fussy hot water heaters, electrical circuits, and plumbing:  buildings are 600-700 years old so some issues are to be expected. Do not run more than one heat-producing appliance at a time!
  • Short showers and low water pressure: water heaters are generally large enough for a 10-minute shower
  • Longer laundry times: Small washing machines, takes over an hour to wash. 
  • No dryer: Plan for extra drying time, since you need to use a line dryer. 
  • A lot of walking: bring comfortable shoes
  • Noise: Between construction, traffic and little insulation, be prepared for noise. Take earplugs if you are a light sleeper!
  • Neighbours: your neighbours will be very aware of your noise level, arrivals, and departures, so be respectful.
  • No air-conditioning: plan to open windows 
  • Not to have any overnight guests: When you rent your apartment you will sign a contract stating you will not have overnight guests.
  • Poorly ventilated rooms:  when drying your clothes, cooking, or taking a shower, make sure to open windows – mold grows quickly in old Italian buildings. It is important to air out every room for 15 minutes a day, even in the winter.