Italian currency: everything you need to know about it

Learn more about Italian currency: what it is, how it looks like, and how you can get it for your next trip to Italy.
italian currency
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What is the currency in Italy?

The present currency in Italy is Euro. You can see it represented with the initials EUR and its symbol .

La moneta italiana è l’Euro.

The Italian currency is Euro.

The Euro is the official money of 19 states members of the European Union, including Spain, France, and Germany.

This means that if you are moving through European countries that use Euro as their currency, you won’t need to exchange money when going from one country to the other.

What was the Italian currency before Euro?

Before Euro, Italians used Lira (plural: Lire). It became the official Italian currency in 1861, after the country’s unification.

The Italian Lira was the official currency in the country until January 1st, 1999. It was used until February 2002, when it ceased to be legal and was replaced by the Euro.

What does the Euro look like?

Italian Euro is divided into notes and coins. The base unit is the Euro: one Euro is made up of 100 cents.

italian currency notes

Euro notes vary in size and color. There are seven different types: they start from €5 (the smallest one) and then go up: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500.

The notes with the highest values (€100 and €200) are less common, while the €500 is pretty rare.

Smaller shops may not change the biggest notes (€50 and above), so be sure to carry Euro coins or smallest denominations, like €5 or €10.

italian currency coins

Euro coins have different sizes; they’re divided into 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, €1, and €2.

Each coin has a different image on its back – an Italian icon representing a sculpture, a monument, or a piece of art.

A few years ago, a regulation suspended the coinage of the smallest coins (1 and 2 Euro cents), so they have become less common, and most of the shops do not accept them.

Be sure to spend most of your coins before leaving Italy. Otherwise, banks won’t be able to change them into your local currency.

How can you get the Italian currency?

You can get Italian Euro in different ways.

The best option is to get Euro before traveling to Italy.

If you come from the United Kingdom, you can withdraw Euro also from a Post Office.

You can exchange your local currency for Euro at a bank in the United States and anywhere else.

Otherwise, if you come to Italy without Euro, don’t worry. You can always withdraw money once you’re in the country.

How to get Euro when you are in Italy?

You can easily withdraw money at any ATM.

It is better to avoid ATMs and currency exchange desks in airports and hotels, as they have a higher exchange rate and may charge you some extra fees.

The safest way to withdraw Euro while you’re in Italy is to go to a bank: the process is a bit longer than directly getting money from an ATM, but it doesn’t charge you extra fees.

In Italy, banks work from Monday to Friday. They work mainly in the morning, from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.

In the afternoon, they open for a couple of hours.  In general, most of them close before 5 pm.

Banks in Italy are closed on the weekend and National Holidays.

However, you can use ATMs from a bank even when they are closed. All the banks have a cash machine outside: look for cash machines with the “Bancomat” sign (or banco, banca).

Mi scusi, dove posso trovare un bancomat?

Excuse me, where can I find an ATM?

withdraw italian currency

It is pretty easy to withdraw money from a Bancomat: first of all, you need to select a language. Then, you need to enter your card’s pin; when it’s verified, you can choose the amount you want to withdraw.

Remember that your bank may charge you a commission fee when you withdraw money. If you withdraw more cash at once, the commission will be lower than withdrawing the same amount at different times.

However, Italian banks have set the cash you can get to a maximum daily limit.

Most Italian Bancomats allow you to withdraw a limited amount of Euro. In general, it is €250 per day.

How much currency do you need when you travel to Italy?

It depends on how long you are staying and the services you plan to use.

It is always a good idea to have some cash before arriving in Italy, so you will be able to pay for the transportation from the airport to your accommodation.

In general, bigger cities are more expensive than smaller ones (except small historical places, which can be pretty expensive because of their touristic value).

If you plan to stay in a city, you can either pay by credit/ debit card to access ATMs and get Euro.

Otherwise, if you want to get to smaller towns or plan an excursion, you should get Euro before your trip: some places do not accept card payments, and you may not be able to find an ATM.

Do you need cash or a card to pay in Italy?

In general, a good rule of thumb is to pay by card in hotels, restaurants, shops and use cash for local transportation.

Before entering a shop, look for the credit card logos on the establishment’s window to be sure you can use your card.

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If you don’t see the logo, you can always ask if the shop accepts card payments.

Posso pagare con la carta?

Can I pay by credit/debit card?

Use your credit or debit card for:

  • Train tickets (both online and at a cash machine)
  • Bus tickets for longer destinations
  • Metro tickets
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Supermarkets and bigger shops

Use cash payments for:

  • Local transportation
  • Taxis
  • Small shops
  • Open-air markets (fruit, food, or handcrafts)

italian currency card payment

Can you use the Euro in Vatican City?

Despite not being part of Italy, Vatican City uses Euro as its currency.

So you can easily use Euro if you go to Vatican City to visit St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) or the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani).

Can you use the Euro in San Marino?

As above, San Marino isn’t part of Italy, but it uses Euro as its national currency.

If you already have Euro with you, you won’t need to exchange money if you plan to visit San Marino.

Currency exchange rate: how much Euro will you get?

Currency exchange rates aren’t fixed and depend on many factors. So it is impossible to predict how many Euros you will get exactly.

It would be good to have an idea about the average exchange rate with your local currency; in this way, you’ll have an estimate of how much Euro you will get with a defined amount of your currency.

Before traveling to Italy, it is good to check the exchange rate on that day to determine the amount of Euro you can buy with your local money.

Italian currency: a wrap-up

Before traveling or moving to Italy, it is advised to get a certain amount of Euro from a local bank.

In any case, it is always good to know the exchange rate with your local currency.

Once in the country, you can choose to pay by cash or card withdraw money from any bank’s ATM.

Remember to always carry some Euro with you – 20 or 50 Euro is enough, but be sure not to bring too many coins because you won’t be able to exchange them when you come back to your country.

Do you need to speak Italian if you want to visit Italy? Learn more.

Do you need to speak Italian to move to Italy? Read more in this post.

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

FAQs on Italian currency: everything you need to know about it

What is the currency of Italy?

The present Italian currency is Euro (EUR).

Do Italians use Lira or Euro?

The Italian Lira was the official Italian currency until January 1st, 1999. It ceased to be legal in 2002 and was replaced by Euro.

Claudia

100% Italian. Passionate about traveling and languages.

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