ENIT maintains 23 offices in 11 European countries and ten more in eight countries outside Europe, as well as offices at Italy’s major border posts and airports. The national travel agency, Sestante-Compagnia Italiana di Turismo, known as CIT or Citalia outside Italy, has offices throughout the world and provides extensive information on travelling in Italy, including hotel and train bookings.
Regional Tourist Offices (Ente Provinciale per il Turismo/EPT or Azienda di Promozione Turistica/APT) are located in around 20 provincial capitals and provide information about the local region and towns. In most large towns and cities there are the useful and approachable Informazioni e Assistenza ai Turisti (IAT) or Azienda Autonoma de di Soggiorno e Turismo (AAST), which provide information about the local area, including maps, public transport and the opening times of local attractions. In smaller towns look for Ufficio Turistico or Pro Loco offices.
In major tourist cities there’s also a useful tourist office for students, Centro Turistico Studentesco (CTS), which provides a free accommodation-finding service and information about student discounts. Airports and main railway stations usually have a tourist information office and some main cities have street tourist guides during high season. Most tourist offices answer telephone or written requests for information.
The quality and quantity of tourist information dispensed by tourist offices varies considerably, as do office opening hours. Offices in main towns are usually open from around 8.30am to 7pm, while smaller offices close for lunch from about 12.30 or 1pm to 3pm. Most offices open from Mondays to Fridays and in major cities and resort offices also open at weekends during summer. Many offices provide an accommodation-finding service, for which there may be a small fee.
National, regional and local tourist authorities publish free brochures and pamphlets in many languages. However, it’s recommended to collect information before visiting Italy, as local offices often run out, and local and regional offices don’t provide information about places outside their area. Staff at tourist offices in larger towns and main tourist areas speak English.
A wealth of information about Italy is available on the internet, where the best websites include www.italiantourism.com, ww.travel.it, www. dolcevita.com, http://goitaly.about.com, www.initaly.com, www.italytour.com, www.travel.org/italy.html and www.traveleurope.it.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.