USEFUL INFORMATION

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Local Time
Itaian Standard Time (IST) is Central European Time Zone and it corresponds to UTC/GMT +1:00 hours.
Italy has daylight savings time.

Language
Italian; English widely spoken.

Climate
The weather should be pleasant at the period of the Congress, with a temperature varying between 12ºC (53ºF) and 23ºC (73ºF), and relative humidity ranging around 68%. Clothing should be warm, and some rain can be expected.

Electrical Current
AC line (mains) voltage in Italy is 220 volts nationwide and AC frequency is 50 Hz. Power outlets are flat, parallel 2-prongs identical to North America.

Currency
Euro, the same currency used in most countries of Europe. Almost all restaurants, hotels, bars, and shops accept international credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, etc. The cash machines with the Mastercard or Maestro signs allow cash withdrawals in local currency with direct access to the user account in a foreign bank. Most commerce stores and restaurants accepts the same cards as debit cards. See current exchange.

Tipping
There is no tipping in Italy. Customers pay the exact amount that appears on the bill. Italy has a 22% consumer tax nationwide on all goods and services. All published prices (including restaurant menus, taxi fares, supermarket prices) include consumer tax.

Tax
The VAT in Italy is the value-added tax. It is an indirect tax on all business transactions involving goods and services, and is also known as "imposta sul valore aggiunto” or IVA. The VAT is applicable for all countries in the European Union and is different for each country. Italy's VAT for business transactions and purchases is 22 percent, and the tax for basic products 4 to 10 percent. The VAT is only paid by European Union consumers.

Driving and parking
The whole area of the historical center of Florence is part of the Unesco Heritage sites and has very strict rules about driving and parking. This area is known as ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato), which literally means Limited Traffic Zone. Only cars with special permits are allowed to drivie and park within its limits. Cars without permits can expect to pay fines - starting at 100 Euros and up - and might take up to 6 months to reach your mailbox with payment being mandatory. Its known that the city department responsible for these charges issue a large number of fines, every day. The ZTL is surrounded by several ‘access passages' which are controlled by telematic doors and marked by special signs. These access passages are equipped with devices that automatically ID the license plate of the car and send the information to a central data base.

Street Numbering
The civic numbers in Florence's historical center can be confusing for newcomers. Note that civic numbers for residential, hotels, and some offices are the color black; whereas civic numbers for business and shops are red (followed by the letter "r”). Therefore it is normal, for example, to find 34 black next to 160/r on the same street.

Shopping 
Florence offers a vast variety of shops, from famous designers' boutiques to vintage shops, from hand-crafted products to mass produced souvenirs and much more. If you are looking for: Luxury  items in Via Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna; leather goods in Piazza Santa Croce and Piazza San Lorenzo; antiques in Via Maggio and Via de' Fossi, Jewellery on Ponte Vecchio.

Typical Opening Hours
Shops open from 10.00am-1pm and 3.30pm-7.30pm daily. In the main shopping area you find all day opening stores.

Useful Numbers
Florence Airport - switchboard Ph. +39 055 3061300
Florence Airport Lost Luggage Ph. +39 055 3061302
Trenitalia (National Railway Information) Ph. +39 892.021
Tourist Information Center in Via Cavour 1/r Ph. +39 055 290832
Tourist Information Center in Piazza Stazione, 4 Ph. +39 055 212245
Taxi +39 055 4242 / +39 055 4390

Emergency Numbers
Carabinieri (local police) Ph. 112
Police Emergency Ph. 113
Fire Station Ph. 115
Ambulance - First Aid Ph. 118