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For Program Costs, please visit your program’s information page.

“How Much Spending Money Will I Need in Italy?”

Individual expenses vary greatly from student to student, depending on personal habits, needs, and tastes, the number of “extra” items acquired like clothing, luxury goods, and souvenirs, and the extent of independent travel the student does at the beginning and/or end of the program. Following is a list of estimated expenses that are not covered by the program fee, which students should be prepared to pay for out-of-pocket:

  • Airfare — approx. $800 - $1700 for round-trip between Rome and major US cities
  • Lunches (7 days a week, groceries or dining out) — approx. $6 - $20 each meal
  • Dinners (3 days a week, groceries or dining out) — approx. $10 - $45 each meal
  • Other dining (coffee, pastry, gelato, etc.) — approx. $3 each
  • Toiletries and other non-food items — approx. $100 - $250
  • Museum entry fees for optional activities on excursion days — approx. $5 - $15 per Saturday excursion
  • Public transportation (trains, buses, subways, taxis, etc.) — approx. $25 - $150 
  • Art supplies and materials to be used in your studio classes — approx. $50 - $100.  In addition, Jewelry and Sculpture students should expect to pay by weight for the metal and stone they use. 
  • Shipping a box or suitcase of personal belongings and artwork back to the U.S. at the end of the program — approx. $80 - $150
  • Tips for kitchen/wait staff and housekeepers during travel and at end of semester — approx. $85 - $100
  • Any independent travel a student chooses to do on their own  ​​​​​​

Currency & Banking

Italy’s day-to-day commerce is still very cash-based; most transactions under €50 are paid with cash, except in large cities where tourists are common and businesses are therefore more accepting of credit cards.  The easiest and most economical way to acquire cash Euro is to use your bank card at an ATM (known as a “Bancomat” in Italy). 

  • Make sure to notify your bank prior to your departure that you will be traveling and using your bank card(s) abroad, otherwise your card may be confiscated by the Bancomat machine the first time you try to use it, or your account may be frozen by your bank.  
  • Bancomats will dispense €250 per international transaction; if you request more than that amount, your card could be denied and possibly retained by the machine. 
  • Be aware of your own bank’s daily withdrawal limit and do not exceed it.  
  • Most bank cards in Europe are the “chip” kind; a magnetic-stripe card will work at Bancomats and in shops, but there are a few situations, such as the automatic Trenitalia ticket kiosks in the train stations, when a magnetic-stripe card will not be accepted.  
  • Italian Bancomat machines will not accept a PIN number over five digits; if the PIN on your bank card is longer than five digits, you should have it changed before you leave the US. 
  • To protect yourself in case your bank card or bank card credentials are stolen, you may wish to keep a limited amount of money in the bank account linked to your card, and have a family member make occasional deposits into the account as needed during the semester. 

When you first arrive in Italy, there are Bancomat machines and currency change booths immediately outside of the Arrivals area in the Rome airport.  You can therefore easily obtain cash Euro as soon as you arrive in the country. 

It is inadvisable to carry large amounts of cash with you, and we definitely do not recommend that you bring your entire semester’s worth of spending money with you in cash, either USD or Euro.  If you do bring American cash, it can be exchanged for Euro at currency change booths (“cambio”), but these are generally only found in airports, train stations, and large touristic areas, and charge high fees and commissions to convert your currency to Euro.  Note that there is no “cambio” in Cortona.  Foreign currency can sometimes be exchanged for Euro at a bank, where exchange rates are generally better than at a cambio; take your passport and expect a long wait in line. Some hotels may also be able to exchange currency, but the rate will be much less favorable than at a bank.

It is not possible to cash an American check in Italy, and American Express Traveler’s Checks are no longer convenient, as only a few places in large cities will still cash them.  

Major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express) are accepted throughout Europe. As stated above, merchants may have a minimum amount for credit card purchases, so they are best reserved for use in restaurants, hotels, or when purchasing travel, clothing, or luxury goods.  It is recommended that you bring a credit card in your name, as a back-up to your cash card, and to use for large purchases.  Magnetic-stripe credit cards can be used in shops but may not work in automated kiosks such as those for purchasing tickets at the train station.  Credit cards with security chips and a PIN number are the standard in Europe. 

Money Transfers

Several of the tobacco shops in town can receive money through Western Union and other such wire-transfer services.  Check the websites of the money transfer companies to find out if they have representatives in Cortona, and what their policies and terms are.

There are two banks in Cortona that have handled money transfers for UGA students. It is necessary to identify a bank in the US that is "corresponding" with the Cortona bank of your choice.

The Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze has an agency in Cortona on the Piazza Signorelli. This bank, whose main office is in Florence, is a corresponding bank with the following US banks:

Bank of America 
99 Annex, 35 Broad Street 
Atlanta, GA 30399

Southeast Bank 
One Southeast Financial Center 
International Corporate Banking 
20th Floor 
Miami, FL 33131

North Carolina: 
Wachovia Bank & Trust Co. 
Third and Main Streets 
P.O. Box 3099 
Winston-Salem, NC 27102

North Carolina National Bank: 
1 NCNB Plaza 
P.O. Box 120 
Charlotte, NC 28255

The Banca Popolare di Cortona is the other bank we encourage UGA students to utilize. To have money sent to you through this bank have it addressed as follows:

Your name 
Banca Popolare di Cortona, Cortona Branch 
CAB 5496/25400 
Banca Commerciale Italiana, Arezzo Branch 
Swift Address: BCIT IT MM 158 
Telex: BCI I 572612

Allow 2 to 4 weeks for possible delays or mistakes in delivery. If your parents need to send you money by mail, have them send a money order (not a personal check or cash) by Registered mail, through a private express international courier company such as FedEx or DHL.