Things to know, before you go

Travel Documents;
Your travel documents include your tour itinerary, hotel information, nametags, luggage tags, flight schedule(s) and airline tickets when applicable.

Passport & Visas;
It is the responsibility of each passenger to obtain the necessary documents for travel including Passports & Visas.
U.S. citizens; A VALID passport is required and must be valid 6 months AFTER the date of departure. At various points in the airport, your photo ID will be verified. We recommend that you keep your documents in a safe and accessible place along with your airline ticket(s).

Airline Seating;
You will be issued a boarding pass when you check-in at the airport. Unfortunately, BellaVista Tours does not have control over seat assignments. If you made any special requests to us, they have been communicated to the airline, however, the airline controls all seat assignments/changes. Each airline has different policies for advance seating assignments and in most cases,  are only available at the airport, on the day of departure and is based on the airline’s ticketing and seat control policies.    


Hotels;

The hotels used within our tours are selected for quality, comfort and location. Names and telephone numbers of the hotels are listed with your documents. We forward all requests, including non-smoking rooms, to the hotels, although requests can not be guaranteed. There may be a delay in gaining access to your room due to check-in time usually starting at 3:00 pm, local time, along with the early arrival of some other flights. Most hotels require a credit card for telephone charges and incidentals upon check-in. In addition, due to the recent establishment of occupancy tax in various cities/towns throughout Europe, all guests, irrespective of when booked, will be required to pay this tax directly to the hotel, in cash, before the end of your stay.  This occupancy tax varies from €1-7 per night based on the hotel classification and location.  


Motor Coach Seating & Driving Laws;

In order to have all passengers share in the advantage of various seating locations on the motor coach, seats will be rotated daily in accordance to the announced plan made by your Tour Director.  The choice of seating at the beginning of a tour is on a first-come, first-served basis.  Drivers are regulated to 9 hours of driving maximum time.  9 hours driving and 10 hours at disposal which means if driver starts working at 9 am,  he is required, by law, to stop the motor coach at 6 pm and rest for 12 hours before being able to start driving again.  


Smoking;

In accordance with the laws and in the interest of the health and comfort of all our passengers, there is no smoking on motor coaches. A typical day will allow time for rest and lunch stops which give those who smoke the opportunity to do so. Your Tour Director will advise you of the rest stops along the way.  


Baggage;

Each passenger is limited to 1 checked bag and 1 carry-on bag on a tour.  Carry-on luggage must be kept with you on the motor coach and luggage size is regulated by the airlines.  


Money  Matters;

How much money should you bring?  Consider the cost of meals that are not included in the tour, personal souvenirs, tips and essentials. We suggest that you let your bank know of your travel plans before leaving and ask a few questions such as; (1) Do they impose a limit on daily cash withdrawals through the ATM.  (2)  Do they impose a currency fee on transactions and how much. (3) Do they have “Sister” banks in the area’s you will be visiting. The currency in Italy is the Euro and exchanges can be made at airports, hotels and banks.  


Suggested  Gratuities & Tips;

Your tour includes all necessary tips for hotel and restaurant staff for meals included in your tour and all related taxes unless otherwise mentioned. Gratuities for your motor coach Driver,  Tour Director and any Local Guides are not included in the tour price. We suggest  €4-5 per person, per day for the Tour Leader,  € 2-3 per person/per day  for the motor coach Driver, €1-2 per person/per day for any local Tour Guide. The gratuity amount should always reflect the service provided.  


Bank Hours/Shopping Hours;

Bank hours usually are; 8:30am to 1:30pm Monday through Friday, many re-open in the afternoon.  Shopping hours usually are 8:30am to 1:00pm and re-open again from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. Shops are closed Monday mornings and also, from mid-June to mid-September on Saturday afternoons.  

Best Buys;

Leather shoes, belts, gloves, silk scarves, ties, jewelry, Florentine tooled leather, Venetian glass, Venetian lace and art books.  

Climate and Clothing;

The tourist season has become an all-year-round affair in Italy for the touring and good weather sports such as golf, swimming, etc.  April to late October and early November is best. Of course, December to March is the ideal time for winter sports. In spring, summer, and autumn  for women, lightweight clothes like cotton are usually best. A light sweater will be useful on the occasional cool evening. Low-heeled shoes or sneakers are best and are suggested for sightseeing. A cocktail dress or short evening dress might be useful for dinner times at restaurants. For men lightweight suits, a light topcoat or sport jacket and/or light slacks will be useful. Heavy clothes are recommended for all the winter. When visiting churches, shorts, sleeveless shirts, short dresses/skirts are prohibited. It is respectful to wear hats or scarves on the head too. You will be turned away from any church that feels you are not dressed appropriately. If it is very hot out, you  may want to bring along the appropriate clothes to cover up before visiting the church. In September, Rome averages approximately 75-80 degrees, whereas Sicily averages 75-90 degrees. From Rome south, September is still summer weather.  

Food and  Drink;

Italian cuisine is not only pasta, each of the 20 regions of the country has its own distinctive cuisine, for example in Rome “Abbachio” is Roast Lamb, in Florence “Bistecca alla Florentina” is Steak Florentine and “Porcini” is Mushrooms.  

Drinks/Water;

Wine is usually served with the meal accompanied by mineral water.  Tap water is safe to drink although it is not always tasty.  We recommend you to buy bottled mineral water.  "Aqua Non Potabile" means “The water is not safe to drink.”
 

Postal Information;

Most main post offices open around 8:30am and may remain open as long as 9:00pm in Rome, 2:00pm in Florence and 7:00pm in Venice. However, stamps are also sold at tobacconist and some hotel desks.

Telephone;
International telephones are situated at post offices and railway stations. Hotels will get a number for you, but be prepared to pay more. Phone cards are available in most newsagents but you must remember to break the corner off the card before use.  

USA Embassies and Consulates;

Citizens with lost or stolen passports must go in person to apply for a same-day emergency passport at one of the following Consulates General in Italy: Rome, Milan, Florence or Naples. Consular Agencies in Genoa, Palermo, and Venice are unable to accept or process emergency passport requests.
  Via Vittorio Veneto, 119a, 00187 Roma, Italy
Telephone:  39 06 46741
www.italy.usembassy.gov  

Italian Customs;

It is considered courteous to shake hands warmly on  both arriving and leaving. "Ciao" is a word you will hear everywhere, and can be used to say hello or goodbye. Speaking a few words of Italian is always appreciated by the locals. Since family is a very important institution within Italy, Italians eat their main meal in the afternoon around 1:00pm.
 

Good Traveler Code;

Travel is unpredictable by nature. Though we work hard to anticipate any unwelcome surprises, that is not always possible due to the sheer number of variables involved in group travel.  An understanding of this as well as a good-natured attitude and a sense of humor will make for an enjoyable experience for all.

Time Difference
Rome             12 Noon
New York       6:00 p.m.
Chicago         5:00 p.m.
Los Angeles   3:00 p.m.  

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