The following practical information is useful to prospective and current LdM students and their families. Upon arrival in Italy, students will be provided with an orientation booklet specific to each LdM campus and a complete list of local resources and relevant advice.
Mail and Postal Service
At the Italian post offices, you can send registered letters, mail packages, and buy stamps, although stamps (francobolli) are easier to purchase at Tabacchi- stores/bars where cigarettes are sold. Students will also be able to send international postal checks at the post office.
Postal Rates (Airmail Correspondence)
Postcards and Letters (up to 20 grams):
• Americas and rest of the world € 1,60
• Europe € 0,75
Simply attach the stamp to the envelope and place the letter in the correct slot of any red mailbox.
Sending Packages and Express Mail
Letters that need to be weighed or packages should be brought to a post office. Please keep in mind that letters generally take anywhere from 4-10 days to arrive according to the destination. Packages take longer: 45 days if sent by regular airmail, 3-6 days if sent by special shipping options in the Post Office (this costs more money). Express mail (Fed-Ex, DHL, etc.) takes about 2-4 days according to the destination.
Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici requires that all students have a cell phone that can receive text messages and phone calls in Italy, during their stay at LdM, so they can be contacted 24/7 or can call someone in case they require assistance. Students can use any unlocked GSM cell phone from their home city; without this, student will have to purchase an Italian SIM card. For more information and assistance, students are encouraged to contact their LdM Student Advisor.
With a Gmail account, students can also try using Google Chat to make calls. This is a good option when calling a phone, rather than a computer. When calling with a computer, students can use Skype, as it is free to call from computer-to-computer and charges a small fee for calls from computer-to-phone. Students with a smartphone can download lots of apps to make free calls and texts internationally. Students bringing their own phone (regardless of type) should check with their mobile phone provider in their home country to see what the options are before coming to Italy.
Local Currency and Banking
The Italian unit of currency is the Euro, which is indicated by the symbol € before the amount, and it is divided into cents. Banknotes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. They increase in size progressively according to the value and have different colors. There are 8 different coins which have a common European face and on the reverse, a different symbol representing the EU countries.
Only few banks have change windows. Banks generally offer the best exchange rates but also charge a commission. Many independent, non-bank exchange offices do not charge commission, but they do not always offer the best rates of exchange. Most banks are open Monday through Friday from 8:20 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. and again a few hours in the afternoon that may vary according to the bank.
While we recommend that students bring with them an initial sum of cash (~200 €), students should plan to use a pre-paid check card like the ones available here.
Students can also withdraw money in Italy from their bank account at home by using their credit card or ATM card. Walk-up bank counters and ATM’s with the various credit card symbols are available in all city centers. It is recommended that students contact their bank and credit-card companies before departing for Italy to let them know the dates they will be in Italy (or abroad), and to make sure their regular pin numbers will work abroad. Students should then be able to access funds from their checking account while abroad.