Autopromotec is just around the corner and show organizers in Italy report that more than 1,700 exhibitors and more than 100,000 visitors will be in attendance for the 27th edition of the show. The biennial event is held at the sprawling Bologna Fiere grounds, which is divided into more than a dozen indoor and outdoor exhibition halls, including tires and equipment, parts and components, diagnostics and tools.
If you’re planning to go, here are some of my own quick Italy show travel tips:
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
Get some Euros before you leave for the show. Once you’re on the ground, it’s much easier than waiting in line to exchange money someplace. You’ll be too busy trying to get your bearings anyway and will likely want to hit the bed at the hotel sooner rather than later.
Get a SIM card at a cell phone store. I’ve used Vodafone stores to buy a SIM for my iPhone. Or use an add-on plan on your cell phone. Verizon, my carrier, has a daily add-on plan that costs between $2 and $10 a day, depending on where you travel. It uses your home area data, text and phone allotment. WARNING: If you don’t have a plan for your data before you arrive, you will likely get socked with outrageous data charges when you return home. How outrageous? Maybe $1,500 for your trip duration… just for checking email? Not good.
AT THE AIRPORT
There’s no shortcuts in line for a taxi at the Bologna airport. Everything is extremely (mostly) orderly. Italians frown very heavily on cheating in line at the airport. I’ve watched people attempt this. It’s not a free-for-all.
If you’re staying at a hotel, prepare to collect tons of tiny little slips of paper. Despite how we get a taxi in the United States, at many hotels in Italy, they use a little computer to order you a cab and they give you a slip of paper with your taxi information on it. It’s all very orderly and it ensures you get wherever you’re going. Buses: Try one. They’re a good way to get around and so what if you get off at the wrong stop?
ITALIAN. TRY SOME.
By “try,” I mean the language. Any experience I’ve ever had in another country was enhanced by trying to use the language. Any little bit you can muster. They don’t care how much. Just try. They’ll like it and you’ll get a better response from people. If you’re worried you’ll use a little Italian and they’ll come back at you with a barrage of more Italian that intimidates you, fear not. They know you’re not from there. They’re going to take it easy on you. If you don’t have much time to learn, stick to these few simple phrases are immensely helpful:
Mi scusi (mee skuuzee) – “Excuse me”
Grazie (grah-zee) – “Thank you”
Prego (pray-go) – “You’re welcome”
These phrases constitute about 95 percent of what you’ll need to know as a first-time visitor.
It’s Italy. If you think you know Italian food, you don’t. Italians make the best Italian food. They came up with it, after all. Frozen or dried pasta is a sacrilege to them, so trust me when I say you can’t imagine how good Italian food can taste. And water. Let’s talk about it. My rule is, nothing passes the lips unless it’s bottled. Please don’t experiment with local water. I always tell people, it’s not that another country’s water is bad, it’s just that it’s not my water. If you’re staying a year, by all means, christen your system by chugging local water at will. If you’re only staying a week, buy a recognizable bottled water and use it to drink, boil water for tea or coffee and brush your teeth with. And no ice. Ever. That goes for any country.
You’ve probably seen all kinds of electrical converters in airports. What you likely need is not a converter, but an adapter for your gadgets. WARNING: I take no responsibility for you blowing up your hairdryer or computer. But most electrical and electronic devices (emphasize, most) have a step-down and step-up converter inside the plug. It will say right on it, albeit it in very tiny little letters. For example, my Macbook and iPhone plugs will work on America’s 110-volt outlets and can be used in Italy’s 220- to 240-volt outlets. If your plug’s adapter or power supply says it works on 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz, you are in luck. You just need a little adapter for Italy’s outlets. If it does not say up to 240 volts, you must use a converter as well as an adapter.