The Euro : Understanding Italy's Currency.

The Euro - Italy's currency.

If you're worried about getting to grips with Italian currency while you're staying in Italy, you've come to the right place.

On this page you'll find a full explanation of the Euro - what the coins and notes look like, when to use them and an instant calculator which allows you to convert to and from your own currency without leaving our site.

What happened to the Lira?

Much to the irritation of some Italian people the beloved Lira (plural : Lire) ceased to be the official currency of Italy on January 1st, 1999 although it was still legal tender until February 2002 and banks would still honour notes until as late as December 2011.

If you come across any Lire now, you won't be able either to use them or change them.  The Lira was replaced by the Euro which is the official currency of both Rome and the Vatican City.

What's the symbol for the Euro?

You'll see the Euro represented by both the symbol - € - and the initials : EUR.

What do Italian Euro coins look like?

Italian Euro coins.

One Euro is made up of one hundred cents.  Coins go from 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents to 1 and 2 Euros.  Each one depicts an Italian icon - either a piece of architecture, a sculpture or a piece of art.

The Vatican City, although not a member of the European Union, also uses the Euro as its legal tender.

On the reverse side its coins all have either images of a Pope or, if they were minted during a period when there was no Pope, they will bear the Coat of Arms of the interim Head of State and the words "Sede Vacante" - 'The Holy See is Vacant'. 

If you're not careful you will end up with a pocketful of these coins when you're leaving the country.  They're fiddly and in terms of the smaller denominations in particular it can be hard to tell the difference.

Our advice : Try not to rely on using notes; find the right money when paying for goods.  Take your time in shops.  If you don't use them, you'll be left carrying a heavy load home - and you won't be able to change them at banks.

Euro notes.

Italian Euro notes.

Euro bank notes were designed to aid people who are visually impaired and are therefore much easier to distinguish than the smaller denomination coins.

Each note is a slightly different size, starting with the smallest €5 and going up through 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500.  They are also strikingly different colours which helps differentiate them.

You'll find the lower denominations in use every day; the higher €100 and €200 notes are less common and the €500 is rarely seen.

Our advice : You'll often find that smaller shops don't have change for the very large denominations, so it's easier when you're taking money out of the bank to ask for the smaller notes.

Take the usual precautions when carrying notes around with you.  Pickpockets in Rome aren't that interested in coins but a €500 note carried in your back pocket won't remain there for long.

Free for you to use - our Euro Currency Calculator.

This complimentary currency converter will calculate from any currency worldwide to Euros.  The exchange rates are accurate as at today's date.  Keeping this page bookmarked and coming back to it regularly will help you know when's a good time to buy your currency - watch for small exchange rate changes, either up or down.

Also use it to practice being able to convert quickly from Euros to your own currency so that you have an idea when buying items in Italy of how much they're costing.  Knowing the value of 10 Euros in your own currency will be particularly helpful since you can calculate goods or services to the nearest multiple.



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