You will need plug adapters for all of your U.S. electronics. For any large appliance, such as a printer or a blender, you should have a 110- to 240-volt transformer. Your laptop and other commonly portable devices should already come with one. Remember that videocassettes and DVDs are on different systems in Europe. VCRs in Europe run on PAL, or Phase Alternating Line, not the U.S.-style NTSC, or National Television System Committee. (Italian camera operators, who swear that PAL offers more consistent quality, joke that NTSC should stand for Never Twice the Same Color.) Media companies have also set up separate DVD codes in Europe to prevent sneak previews of movies not yet released overseas. If your computer has a DVD player, be warned that you will be able to switch back and forth between European and U.S. systems only a few times, and then the computer will experience problems. By all means, buy any accessories for your computer or digital camera before you leave; not only are they more expensive in Italy, but many brands are not as common here, and stores may not have what you’re looking for. Also, pick up any software before you leave, unless you want the Italianlanguage version.

Other items that you should bring along for any extended stay include: tax documents, if you’re traveling in the filing season (though the U.S. Embassy and Consulates have all the necessary forms); a rsum and any letters of recommendation; a photocopy of your passport (tucked in a separate suitcase) in case the original is lost or stolen. It’s hard to get a replacement without the copy. Packing a load of aspirin is a good idea, since it can only be bought at pharmacies, as well as any prescription medication you may need. Also, if you are particularly prone to colds, pack a good supply of decongestants. I still cannot explain why pseudoephedrine tablets (unless mixed in minuscule doses with unnecessary agents for fighting the flu) are so difficult to acquire in the average pharmacy. Other than that, the toiletry aisle of an Italian supermarket looks almost identical to one in the United States.

Make sure to bring an umbrella if you’re visiting Italy in the fall. Dressing for the Weather Depending on the time of year, packing clothes for Italy can be simple or very tricky. The dozens of different climates have their own weather patterns in different seasons. The only constants are that the Alps are very cold in the winter, and everywhere else is torrid in the summer. Especially in the North, the humidity can be suffocating. Rains there come like clockwork in early September and midNovember, and you can count on a snowstorm or two just after Christmas. In the central regions and the South, you can usually get away with just a jacket in the spring and fall, and make sure to bring very light clothes for the summer. Except maybe during the week in early August, when the heat is absolutely dizzying, Italian men never wear shorts in the city. If you think it’s important to fit in, bring along some light linen pants and a few dress shirts that breathe.


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