Milan and Siena 2023

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Covid-19 information

Although aware of the continuous uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we are optimistic that the program will proceed as planned. Rest assured that the health and safety of our students is paramount. The Summer School has been monitoring the situation and will continue to do that with Harvard Global Support Services; please read their Advice for Travelers.

In the absence of Covid-19 symptoms, there are presently no restrictions for entry into Italy. As the situation could change, consult periodically (and again a few days before departure) this site of the Italian Ministry of Health.
Although not currently required, bring with you your CDC Vaccination Record Card or equivalent certification. If possible, download the digital vaccine card and QR code now available in many states. If you registered your vaccination in Massachusetts, access the new tool at MyVaxRecords.Mass.Gov,

There are presently no restriction for entry into the United States. Please visit the CDC webpage for updated information.

Public transportation in Milan










Public transportation card

To enable us to purchase upon your arrival in Milan the public transportation pass that will allow you unlimited rides on buses and subway trains within the city limits, you must have already registered on the ATM (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi) website and purchased at your own expense (10 €) the electronic card on which the pass will be loaded. Please follow the detailed instructions below to purchase the card. This is a process that may take half an hour; therefore, it would be convenient for you to complete it during the days prior to your arrival in Milan, perhaps during stops on your air travel to Milan.

1) First, obtain an Italian tax code (codice fiscale). Note that this is not an official tax code but only the code that would be assigned to you should you apply for it as an Italian citizen or resident at the Italian Agenzia delle Entrate (the Italian IRS).
Go to and fill out the form as in the image below (if you were not born in the United States please write in Italian your country of birth). Be careful that when writing dates numerically in Italy you put the day first, then the month and finally the year. In the “PROVINCIA” field, leave “EE.” Then click “Calcola il Codice Fiscale.”

The result should be a card similar to the one below. Save the card or copy the codice fiscale exactly.

2) Now go to In the “Richiedi una nuova tessera” page, enter your date of birth (day/month/year) and then click the green button (“Inserisci data”).


3) A new menu will appear. Select the only option available (“GIOVANI UNDER 26”) and click the long green button (“Avanti”):

4) In the following page be sure to select the select the first option: “Nessun abbonamento 0.00 €”:

5) Fill out the new form as in the example below. Do not forget to open the “Indirizzo di domicilio” menu and to tick off the box at the bottom. The fields circled in red should be filled out exactly as in the example below. Be sure that you have chosen to pick up your card at one of the self-service printers in the subway stations (“La più veloce: ritiro alle stampanti…”). It is also very important that you enter your correct email address because that is where the message will be sent to you with the information and codes needed to print and pick up your card.

Click the green button (“Avanti”).

6) On the next page, upload a passport photo of yourself (preferably with a definition of 300 pixels/inch and a size of 600×600 pixels). To take a photo on the spot with your device’s camera, tick off the box “Accendi webcam” (when I tried it, it didn’t work). The result should be similar to the example below:

Click the green button (“Avanti”).

7) The new page (see below) asks for confirmation of the data entered by showing an image of your card. If everything is correct click the green button (“Vai al pagamento”).

8) Pay with your credit card or PayPal.

9) When you receive confirmation of the transaction by email, save the message to your cell phone or copy the information and codes received (all of them). You will need them to print and pick up your card at one of the self-service machines at Zara station.




While you can visit most museums and tourist attractions in Italy without a reservation, there are a few that you will want to book in advance to avoid long waits and some where reservations are mandatory.
If you purchase tickets online you must be careful to avoid scams and resellers, which may charge you much more than the official site. This is the case with two sites called “” and “” which look very official but are not—the official site is and for tickets they will redirect you to B-ticket.
The following is a list of some important Italian museums and cultural sites. If you decide to visit the ones in the “most popular” section, purchase your ticket in advance at the suggested website.

Most popular museums:

Other museums:


Italy is a safe country; nevertheless, play it safe. Go with friends if you plan to stay out late at night, stick to populated streets after dark, and ask information in advance about which neighborhoods are safe and which are less so. You are welcome to do your own research, ask a local, or talk to Prof. Erspamer, Alberto, Bes, or Peter. Preferably do not travel in empty train compartments, especially at night. Violent crime is low in Italy; however, there is a high pickpocket risk, especially in crowded places, and scammers and con-artists try to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities and around major landmarks. More information will be provided at the pre-departure meeting and at the orientation in Milan.

Petty theft
Pickpockets and bag-snatchers operate in most cities, especially in Rome and Naples but including Milan and even Siena, most often in crowded places, stations, buses, or trains. pickpocketNever put anything valuable in a back pocket or a backpack. On buses and on the subway, it is safer to stand well away from the door if you can’t find a seat; thieves may try to grab something near the door as the train or bus is approaching a stop, and then jump off. The person bumping you may be distracting you so an accomplice can reach into your purse or pocket and remove your wallet, jewelry and other items without you noticing. Someone may block the door on the Metro, so that someone else can snatch something as you’re trying to push past. They are very good at what they do, and you may not realize you’ve been the victim of a crime until you reach for your money hours later. It’s better to miss your stop than to lose your wallet, but usually you will still have time to get off even if you back up first and  then exit when the way has been cleared.
Reduce the chances of such petty theft by wearing a money belt under your clothing. Otherwise, carry your wallet in your front (not back) pocket or use bags that zipper and have multiple zipped compartments inside. Wear bags or cameras slung across your body to make it harder to snatch them. If possible, carry a security purse with slash-proof straps and wear thief-foiling clothing. When sitting at a café or restaurant, especially outside, don’t simply leave your bag on the ground next to you.
Carry only one credit card and just enough cash for the day. Leave your passport, money, and other important documents in your room, possibly hidden or in a safe. However, you should always carry at least a photocopy of the main page of your passport, because in Italy, as in most of Europe, people are required to show ID on request.

Traffic dangers
Probably the biggest safety risk in Italy is traffic. Be careful crossing streets in the congested city centers: it is safer to cross with other people. Keep your eyes peeled for reckless scooters and to the common practices of shooting through gaps and of lane-splitting (riding between lanes of traffic). Even if you cross at zebra crossings, you will find that some Italians will not slow down, although they will try to veer around you. If there is a pedestrian traffic light, you still need to look both ways to be sure it is safe to cross. Watch your step when walking out as street maintenance can leave a little to be desired; pot holes, broken slabs, and uneven paving are reasonably common.

Catcalling and harassment
While eye contact and striking up a conversation among strangers is an accepted practice in Italy, this should not be confused with catcalling and street harassment, which are sadly more common in some parts of the country. If you are being catcalled, ignore them and walk away; it is not your duty to confront them, your responsibility is towards yourself and your own safety. If you are being followed or harassed (this includes inappropriate and unwanted touching of a sexual nature—which is illegal in Italy, and can be reported to the police) seek help by going into the nearest shop or bar, calling out to people around you, or calling the emergency services. Assess the level of risk, do only what feels safe, and do not be afraid to ask for help.
Remember that Harvard University’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy still applies to Harvard staff, students, and faculty abroad as it would at Harvard. Therefore, it applies to sexual and gender-based harassment, which includes harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Feel free to review your Title IX resources, and remember that the Office for Gender Equity has a 24-hour confidential hotline that can be reached at (+1) 617-495-9100.

In Italy, simple medicines like aspirin and cold remedies are sold only in pharmacies—and even in pharmacies, they are usually kept behind a counter: you’ll have to ask the pharmacist if you want something. It helps if you write down the generic name of the medicine, as the brand name may vary from one country to another. If you have an empty container containing the name of the active ingredient, show that to the pharmacist. Antibiotics need a doctor’s prescription. The price of medications like aspirin is not higher in Italy than in the United States—however, a little first aid kit, with band-aids, aspirin, and an antiseptic cleanser is always good to have on hand.

Tap water in Italy is safe. If sometimes it tastes funny, it is because chlorine was added to improve safety. Public fountains run fresh drinking water throughout most cities. Do not drink water if there is the sign “NON POTABILE” (non-drinkable).

Global Support Services
Harvard Global Support Services (GSS) offers an array of useful information to guide you both as you prepare for your trip and throughout the summer.

How to get to Gioia station and to IULM

mappa da residence zara a gioia

Gioia is a subway station of the green line (M2). Take a train directed to COLOGNO-ASSAGO or GESSATE-ABBIATEGRASSO. Get out at the station Romolo (it is the 8th stop). In the station follow the signs to IULM exit.










Local transportation

Milan has an extensive internal transport network which includes the subway (metropolitana), the tram and bus network, and the suburban railway.
For information on routes, schedules, and fares, go to the ATM website or use their online journey planner.
At your arrival in Milan we will help you obtain an ATM student pass (“abbonamento urbano”) and we will pay for it. A passport is required.
Please remember that if you don’t have with you your pass you must purchase a ticket. A single urban ticket costs €2.20 and it is valid for 90 minutes. You must validate your unused ticket by stamping it in a machine, either when you enter the metro through the gates or when you board the bus (you will find a machine with a slot for the ticket upon entry). Always travel with a validated ticket. There is also a one-day ticket (€7, valid for 24 hours after stamping). If you carry a large piece of luggage you have to purchase an extra ticket. If you travel outside of the center of Milan the fare could be higher: click here for more information.

Siena is a small city and you can reach everything by foot. If you have to take a bus (for example from the train station to the Refugio) purchase the ticket before boarding and stamp it in the machine when you board the bus. A single urban ticket costs €1.50 (€2.50 if you purchase it on the bus). For more information visit Autolinee Toscane.


If you want to take a cab in Milan or other Italian cities, make sure to only use official taxis. These taxis are often white, but they can sometimes be yellow or other colors. They can also be recognized by the “TAXI” sign on their roof and the license number that is clearly displayed on the sides of the taxi, at the back and on the inside. Official taxis will also have a meter to measure and display the fare rate. You will have a better chance of being charged a reasonable fare by using official taxis.
Passengers arriving at airports and train stations are often the ideal targets for unlicensed taxi drivers trying to find business. It is not recommended to accept offers from these drivers. Their taxis may not be metered, and you may be overcharged. Official taxi drivers remain by their cars at the taxi stand and do not seek business in the arrival halls.
Taxi fares vary depending on the final destination, the amount of luggage loaded, the time of travel, and the number of passengers using the taxi. There is usually an extra charge for each suitcase loaded into the boot, and an extra charge after the third or fourth passenger. Taxi fares are more expensive at night, and on Sundays and public holidays.
Keep in mind that if you call a taxi, the meter starts running from where the taxi leaves to come and fetch you, and not from your collection point. You may decide to take advantage of fixed taxi rates based on departure point and destination (usually to or from the airport), which can be found on a table in the back of the taxi. If you do decide to do this, make sure you tell the taxi driver at the beginning of your ride and not at the end that you’d like to pay the fixed rate.
In Italy you can tip your cab driver, but it isn’t expected. Feel free to tip if they are helpful, they will appreciate it.

To call a taxi you can use the itTaxi, or the InTaxi apps, available on Google Play and the App Store.
Taxis in Milan: Taxiblu +39 02 4040; RadioTaxi +39 02 6969; Autoradio taxi +39 02 8585.
Taxis in Siena: TaxiSiena +39 0577 49222

Please note that Uber and other ridesharing companies are not nearly as popular in Italy as it is in countries like the US and the UK and they are more expensive. Uber is available only in Rome and Milan.


1 chilometro (kilometer) = approximately two thirds of a mile
1 metro (meter) = almost 40 inches or a little more than three feet (or a little more than one yard)
1 centimetro (centimeter) = less then half an inch

1 litro (liter) = approximately one quart

1 chilo (kilo) = a little more than 2 pounds
1 etto (hectogram) = 3.5 ounces


To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit:

  1. multiply by 2
  2. subtract 10%
  3. add 32

For example: 30°C x 2 = 60 – 6 = 54 + 32 = 86°F

To convert Fahrenheit to Celsius:

  1. subtract 32
  2. divide by 2
  3. add 10%

For example: 74°F – 32 = 42 ÷ 2 = 21 + 2.1 = 23°C

0°C = 32°F
10°C = 50°F
15°C = 59°F
20°C = 68°F
25°C = 77°F
30°C = 86°F
35°C = 95°F
37°C = 98.6°F
40°C = 104°F
100°C = 212°F


1 € = approximately $1.1 (the exchange rate has been unstable in recent times).
[For updated exchange rates, check out].
The coins are issued in €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c denominations. Banknotes are issued in €100, €50, €20, €10, €5 (there are also €500 and €200 banknotes but they are seldom used).
The euro is the currency of other 18 European countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.


Note that in Italy commas and periods when writing numbers are used differently than in the United States. For instance, an item that cost two euro and 50 cents is written € 2,50 (with the comma) while an item that cost one thousand euro is written € 1.000 (with the period).

Date and time

The all-numeric form for dates is in the order day/month/year, using a slash as the separator. So 10/7/2020 means July 10, 2020.
Official time is always given in 24-hour format. The 24-hour notation is used in writing with a colon as a separator. Example: 14:05. The minutes are written with two digits; the hour numbers can be written with or without leading zero. In oral communication 12-hours are prominently used.

Useful tips

The traditional Italian meal consists of antipasto (appetizer), primo (generally a pasta or rice dish), secondo (usually some kind of meat or fish dish) with contorno (side dish), followed by a dessert, fruit, or cheese plate. Even when eating in a pizzaaltagliorestaurant, however, don’t feel obliged to order every course. it is totally acceptable to choose two items or, increasingly, just one.
Other alternatives include pizzerie (pizza places), paninoteche (sandwich shops), or self-service (cafeteria-style service). For a quick and cheap lunch you can also buy focaccia or pizza al taglio, a very popular type of pizza generally sold in rectangular slices by weight.
Another convenient place for eating is the rosticceria or tavola calda: they are basically “slow food” takeaway services where the food on sale is restaurant quality, though the price is much lower. You can find a variety of dishes, both cold and hot, ranging from roasted meats and pasta to vegetables and salads. Click here for more information.
Supermarkets often have a special section selling a range of freshly cooked food, which can include pastas, meat, vegetables and local specialties. (For more information about buying groceries in an Italian supermarkets check out this article).
Many Italians still do their daily (or near-daily) shopping at smaller shops – the butcher, the produce shop, or the “alimentari” (all-purpose grocery store).
In addition, small cafés usually have sandwiches for sale. When eating or drinking in a café, it is customary to order at the cash register and then take the receipt to a clerk behind the counter. If you wish to eat at a table, take a seat and then order, as the price for sitting at a table and standing at the bar or counter is different.
Restaurants near tourist locations and in city centers tend to be more expensive. Don’t eat in a restaurant with a tourist menu or with someone outside encouraging you to come in.
Traveling off the beaten path can save money. Look for restaurants that are full of locals; it usually means the food is good and the price is right.
You don’t have to speak Italian to eat well in Italy, you just have to be curious. Do a little research before you leave to find out what dishes a city or region is famous for, and you’ll eat your way to understanding the culture. And always go into a restaurant with a sense of adventure–waiters love telling customers what’s good.
Please understand that Olive Garden is not Italian food. If you like Olive Garden, that’s fine; just don’t compare it to the food you’ll get in Italy.

A few more tips related to Italian food and habits:

  • Eat gelato every day; it’s that good. Look for the signs produzione propria and artigianale; they mean that the gelato is made on-site, and with natural ingredients. Note that when pistacchio or mint are bright green, the ingredients are not natural.
  • Order “un caffè” (or “un espresso”) with your breakfast but only after your lunch or dinner. Don’t order a cappuccino after 11 AM!
  • Drink coffee at the bar (al banco) or pay extra to sit down.
  • Try regional specialities. Do some research or ask a local.
  • Tap water is safe to drink but not common in restaurants. Choose between a bottle of naturale (still water) or frizzante (sparkling water).
  • Do not ask for oil to go with your bread. That’s not a real Italian thing. It’s not served with butter either.
  • Do not expect much for breakfast; a coffee and a brioche or cornetto (croissant) at a bar is the norm.

When dining out, an additional fee (coperto) will be added onto the bill. This is a cover charge generally listed on the menu, and it replaces a tip. A small tip would be a nice gesture but is not required. In bars, Italians often leave change as a tip, maybe only 10 cents.
While tipping is not expected, neither is attentive service. If you have special requests for your waiter (water with ice, free water from the tap refilled throughout the meal, lots of extra free bread, or special food requests), you may consider leaving a few euros tip.
As with dining out, other services such as taxis and hairdressers build tips into the price.

The legal drinking age in Italy is 16, but it is illegal for anyone to be in a state of intoxication. Moreover, drunkenness is viewed poorly. While wine is enjoyed with meals, especially in the evening, it is meant to accent the taste of the food, and people mostly limit themselves to one or two glasses.

shoppingMilanStore hours and shopping customs
Outside of big cities centers like Milan or tourist cities like Florence, many stores are only open from approximately 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Some stores may be closed on Monday morning or sometimes for the entire day, while grocery stores generally close on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Restaurants often close on either Monday or Tuesday. Except in tourist areas, stores are generally closed on Sunday. Store hours usually are posted.
It is inappropriate in some stores to touch or handle merchandise as people do in the U.S. Watch other Italians, and be sure to ask a salesperson before handling or trying on an item.

The euro is Italy’s currency. The notes come in denominations of €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, and €5. The coins are in denominations of €2 and €1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cents.
For the latest rates, check out
Credit cards are now almost as widely accepted as in the U.S.; however, do not count on eurobanknotescoinsusing them for some grocery shopping and paying for small day-to-day expenses in general. MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted, followed by American Express. Credit card companies may charge a transaction fee for purchases made abroad. They may also deny transactions done overseas and sometimes block the card; to prevent this inconvenience, inform your credit card that you will spend two months in Italy.
Google Pay and Apple Pay are also widely accepted.
Banks in Italy are open Monday through Friday, usually from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., although opening and closing hours vary slightly from bank to bank. There are automatic teller machines in many convenient locations that are accessible 24 hours a day. Cirrus and Plus are widely recognized in Europe.
Ask your American bank if they have a partner institution in Italy (many of them have one), so that you can withdraw cash from a teller machine without paying a fee.

Taxes and refunds
A value-added tax of around 20%, known as IVA (Imposta di Valore Aggiunto), is slapped onto just about everything in Italy. However the price that is posted already includes IVA. If you are not an EU resident and spend more than €155 on a single purchase, you can claim a refund when you leave. The refund only applies to purchases from retail outlets that display a “tax free for tourists” sign, or something to that effect. You have to complete a form at the point of sale, and then have it stamped by Italian customs as you leave. At major airports, you can then receive an immediate cash refund; otherwise, the amount will be refunded to your credit card. For information, pick up a pamphlet from participating stores.

Be aware that electricity in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at a 50 cycles per second. In the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only the voltages and frequencies, but the sockets themselves are different. Most laptops, tablets, smartphones, and battery plug-adapterchargers are able to use any voltage between 100 and 240, as long as it’s AC voltage alternating at 50 or 60 hertz. In such cases the only thing that you will need is a cheap plug adapter, that is, an interface between the American flat-pronged plug and Italy’s two (or three) round-prong socket. One like the one on the right.
Please understand that an adapter allows you to plug your electrical device into the Italian wall socket, but it does not convert the electricity to the American 110 volts. If your appliance is designed to run only on 110-120 volts, do not to bring it to Italy. If by mistake you plug a 110 volt device into a 220 volt circuit it will most likely burn out or its fuse will blow.

There are two official Italian sales periods (saldi in Italian) each year—winter and summer—when every shop has what can amount to clearance sales for 6-8 weeks. Summer sales traditionally begin in Milan on the first Saturday of July

If you need a visa


As soon as you join the program, make sure that you have a current and valid passport (valid for at least three months after the last day of the program and your departure from Italy).
Students with a U.S. or E.U. passport will not need to obtain a visa for their stay in Italy. However, some international students (depending on nationality) may need to obtain a visa.

To find out if you need a visa to enter Italy, you can consult the visa page of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Complete the fields for nationality, residence, duration of stay (“up to 90 days”) and reason for visit (“Tourism”). This will take you to a page with information on whether you need a visa to enter Italy and information on the application requirements. Please note, this information is not exhaustive and is intended as guidance only.

If you need to apply for a visa please do not delay: although it usually takes less than a month to get a visa, sometimes it can be a lengthy process and you could have to wait weeks before getting an appointment.
You are responsible for gathering all documentation and going to your regional Italian Consulate to obtain the visa. As you are not going to enroll in an Italian institution and trips and visits represent a significant part of the program, you should apply for a tourist visa (“short stay Schengen visa”) (not for a student visa or for a “long stay” visa). Click this link for more information about the documents that you need to bring to the Consulate.

The Consulate General of Italy in Boston provides visas to permanent residents of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, including Harvard students and students enrolled in colleges and universities in those states, provided that their American F1 student visas expire at least three months after the last day of the program and their departure from Italy.  If your American visa expires less than three months after the last day of the program, you should renew your American visa or go to the Italian Consulate in your home country in order to obtain an Italian visa there.
The Italian Consulate in Boston is located on the 17th floor of the Federal Reserve Bank Building, 600 Atlantic Avenue, tel. 617-722-9201/02/03. The closest T stop is South Station.
Visa applications are accepted only by appointment: click here to register and book an appointment. Please book an appointment as soon as possible as in certain periods you could have to wait for several weeks before getting one,

Please note:
1) You are required to download, print, and fill out a Schengen Visa application (Short Stay). Bring it to the Consulate but sign it only when asked by the consular officer. Click here to fill out and download the form. See below for a few information on how to fill out the form.
2) You must pay a visa fee. The visa fee is payable by money order only. Make the money order or cashier check payable to: Consulate General of Italy. Click here for the exact amount of the fee. Be sure to pay the exact amount; the Consulate will not accept money orders or checks for larger or smaller amounts.
3) Bring to the Consulate your passport, American visa, and form I-20. Bring also a photocopy of the three documents.
4) Bring also your round-trip ticket or proof of your reservation (point 4 in the Consulate’s list). Please understand that you cannot change the departure date after applying for the visa.
5) As you will be required to show “proof of lodging” (point 5) and proof of enrollment in the program, contact both the Harvard Summer School at <> for proof of enrollment and Prof. Erspamer for his personal letter in Italian. You will need to specify the names and addresses of your residences in Milan, Trento, and Siena (find them here).
6) As “proof of economic means of support” (point 6) you must submit your three most recent bank statements from a US banking institution or an official letter from your American bank. If you are fully funded by OCS or from another institution, I would submit also their award letter.
7) As “documentation of socio-professional standing” (point 7) you must provide an enrollment certificate to Harvard University or to your college.
8) You must also submit proof of health insurance (point 8) with a minimum coverage of $50,000 (€ 30,000) for emergency hospital expenses. Your policy must include coverage for “medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.” Contact your health insurance provider to request that document.
9) You need also to provide proof of residence in the U.S., for example your green card or an F1 Visa. Either of them must be valid for at least three months after the last day of the program and your departure from Italy.
10) You must bring with you a recent passport-size photo (1″3/8×1″3/4 or 3.5×4.5 cm) on white background, full face and front view.
11) Citizens of Pakistan and Afghanistan need to provide full names of mother and father and it must result from a birth certificate or Consular declaration.

A few suggestions on how to fill out the Schengen visa application form. Please note that if you are not a Harvard student and your are not a resident of Massachusetts, some answers should be different.

  • In the page Home address:
    Residence permit or equivalent: it’s your American F1 student visa.
    Applicant’s home address: your address at Harvard or in the Boston area.
  • Page Travel information:
    Main purpose of the journey: Study.
    Other purpose(s): leave it blank.
    Number of entries required: any answer. However, if you plan to go on a trip to the UK or to another country that is not part of the EU or the Schengen area, you must ask for multiple entries; please understand that you might need a visa also to enter that country.
  • Page Sponsor:
    Inviting type: leave it blank.
    The applicant’s travel and subsistence expenses are charged: Other.
    Means of support: Means autonomous.
  • Page References EU, EEA or CH citizens: leave it blank.

You should have no difficulty in getting a visa directly from the Italian Consulate. If you need assistance, Harvard Global Support Services is able to provide advice on outbound visa requirements and has a number of resources on its website.


Anywhere in Italy, you can dial 113 for the police (also ambulance and fire).

In case of a medical emergency, dial 118. Ask a passerby to call for you if you don’t have a phone; in Italian, 118 is “centodiciotto” (pronounced CHEN-toh dee-CHOH-toh). This is not a generalized emergency number like 911 in the United States so don’t call it unless someone is injured.

If at all possible, call Prof. Erspamer, Amelia, Katie, or Peter for help or advise.

Here is a list of who to call and what to say (in Italian and English) if there is an emergency. Again, the most important numbers to memorize and call in a real emergency are 113 and 118. Before traveling outside of Italy, review the U.S. State Department’s global “911” list.

International SOS provides 24/7 medical, mental health, and security support and evacuation services to enrolled Harvard Summer School students. During a medical or InternationalSOSsecurity incident abroad, you can contact International SOS by phone at +1-617-998-0000 or by starting a chat from within the Assistance App. International SOS provides several country-specific online resources that may be helpful before you leave and while you’re away.
To expedite International SOS assistance during your program, it’s crucial that your itinerary and contact information are updated in the International SOS MyTrips travel registration system. Harvard Summer School has entered your basic program information into the International SOS MyTrips system and requires that you access International SOS MyTrips prior to the start of your program to create your user profile and enter additional details to your record/itinerary. During the program, you HSS ISOS cardare required to update your profile with any additional travel details.
Besides emergencies, International SOS provides several country-specific online resources—including country guides and email alerts—that may be helpful before you leave and while you’re away.

In Milan the best hospital is Ospedale Niguarda, tel. 02-6444-1 (two miles from Residence Zara). The closest hospital to IULM (only half a mile) is the Ospedale San Paolo, tel. 02-81-841.
If you need a doctor, a dentist, a psychologist, or a chiropractor, the following medical centers will be able to assist you in English (please check their sites for office hours and locations):
American International Medical Center, tel. 02-5831-9808
Milan Medical Center, tel. 02-4399-0401.
International Health Center (dentist), tel. 02-7634-0720

In Trento: TBA

For emergencies or specialized needs, the general hospital in Siena is the Ospedale Santa Maria alle Scotte, tel. 0577-585-111. It’s just outside the city center, behind the railway station.
If you need a doctor in Siena, the Studio Medico Siena Centro in via di Pantaneto 105 is conveniently located, just a four-minute walk from your residence. It is open Monday to Friday, 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

For information on medical emergencies while in Italy and for a list of doctors and hospitals, you can also check this page of the U.S. Embassy.

Always carry with you your smartphone and the International SOS card.

Trains and buses

From Milan, high-speed trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, Italo) allow for day trips to many cities in Northern Italy. You can get to Venice in two and a half hours, to Padua and Vicenza in two hours, to Genoa and Verona in an hour frecciarossaand a half, and to Turin, Parma, or Bologna in one hour. And if you purchase your ticket well in advance you may take advantage of economy and super economy fares.
If booking online, be sure to choose as your point of departure and destination two stations where the Freccia makes a stop: if you have to change trains and take a local or regional train as well, the online system may not offer the economy and super-economy fares. Just purchase the tickets for the local and regional trains separately, either online or at a train station.
Local and regional trains are slower and cheap, and they can take you to beautiful places like Bergamo, Cremona, Lake Como, Mantova, Stresa (Lake Maggiore). Regional and local train tickets must be validated immediately before you board your train, by putting them into the small green or yellow machines at the entrance to every platform. There’s a heavy fine if you don’t—up to €200. You do not need to validate tickets that you purchased online as they indicate the train you will have to board (within the next four hours you may also board any other regional train to the same destination). Do not validate Frecce tickets (and some InterCity tickets) as these are only valid on a specific date and train. In case the stamping machine does not work, go to the ticket office or inform the ticket collector while boarding the train. Please note that tickets must be validated shortly before your departure as from the moment of validation they have a validity of a few hours.
Please do not board a train without a ticket. Purchasing the ticket on the train would require a surcharge of €50 or more.

To plan a trip and to purchase tickets online, go the Trenitalia website. [Please note that the official and legitimate site of Trenitalia is, NOT]. There is no need for reservations to board local and regional trains and no discounted fares are available.
You can also find high speed trains on the Italo website. Most Italo trains leaving Milan depart from the Milano Porta Garibaldi station and not Milano Centrale.

From Siena, it is possible to take a regional train to Florence or to several small towns in the area, but the bus lines are much more extensive and cheaper. Some buses leave from the train station, which is a bit of a walk from the city center, but many buses, including the ones that run to Florence or San Gimignano, depart from Piazza Gramsci, which is a short walk from Piazza del Campo, right in the center of town. See the Tiemme website for schedules. Buses to Florence are faster than trains, provided you take the “rapida” instead of “ordinario.” Click here for the schedule of buses from Siena to Florence and return. [< This link will become active as soon as the summer 2023 bus schedule is published]

Another cheap way to travel in Italy (and Europe) is by bus, with low cost companies like FlixBus.


All recent and popular smartphones work internationally and every major US carrier has international plans. That means that your smartphone should automatically work once you arrive in Italy. However, some of these international plans are expensive and data roaming may be costly and slow.
duomocellAn economical option is to get an Italian SIM card. Please check with your company to see if your phone brand and model will accept an Italian SIM. Most American phones are electronically locked so that one cannot switch SIM cards. But it is possible to get your phone unlocked (call your company), allowing you to replace the original SIM card with a local Italian SIM. Please note that in most cases the unlocking must be done while in the United States.
The most reliable Italian mobile-phone companies are TIM, Vodafone, and Wind. They have stores in Milan Stazione Centrale. As a foreigner you may find prepaid plans that offer 50GB data and unlimited calls and text (only to Italian numbers) for as low as €20 per month. However, when purchasing one of them you must consider that:
1) You must buy your Italian SIM in person and you must show your passport.
2) Besides the charge for the first month, when you open your account you must pay a fee for the SIM card and add a few euros to keep your account in the black. If at any moment you have zero or negative credit, your account will be blocked and you will not be able to make calls or use your data even if you still have many unused local minutes or data.
3) Some plans may include a certain number of minutes worldwide; otherwise international calls are charged per minute and paid with your credit. Incoming international calls are not charged to you. WhatsApp is an excellent way to make international calls at no cost (you need an internet connection).
4) Before the end of the first month, you must remember to top up your credit to cover the automatic renewal of your plan.
6) Credit is sold by most companies online and usually can be paid with PayPal but not necessarily with foreign credit cards. You can also go to stores and ask for a ricarica (particularly tabaccherie, newsstands, or a store of your cell phone company).
6) IMPORTANT: Unfortunately, by just viewing certain web pages you might be automatically redirected to a different site or find a background tab opened to a link that you didn’t request, and the simple access to that page could start an unsolicited weekly subscription to mobile services of games, music, or adult content, immediately paid with the credit available on your phone account. When you become aware of this charge you can call the customer service of your carrier to deactivate the subscriptions but all charges that already occurred will not be reimbursed. In order to prevent these charges to occur, call your carrier immediately after the opening of the account and activate the “barring SMS” (blocking of all premium rate services). The numbers of the major carriers are: TIM: 119;  Vodafone: 190;  Wind: 155. Note that in this way you will block also services that you activated intentionally.

Please be aware that calls from Italy to US toll-free numbers may not route, depending on the originating carrier. If they do route, then the caller would need to pay international dialing charges, just like for any other call to a US local phone number. If you expect to be calling your bank or another company or institution, ask them to provide an alternate US local number for international calls.

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