Passport and Visa Requirments
Visas are generally not required for a stay to up to 90 days for tourist reasons. However, to be sure refer to the instructions on the Italian Embassy website of your own country and check that your passport has at least 6 months of validity from your return date. For travellers from within the Schengen Area any valid ID is sufficient for travelling, and EU member nationals do not require a Visa to travel to Italy.
Changing or amending your travel plans
Check the time, date and number of your flight closer to departure: if flights have been booked months in advance they might have changed the time, so make sure you have up-to-date information and check the airline website in case of disruption to your flight. If you are prolonging your stay in Italy either before or after the conference, this is at your own cost and you will have to organise accordingly.
Inform your bank in your country that you will be travelling overseas, as to prevent your card(s) from being blocked for security reasons once in Italy.
What to pack to be prepared
Please pack clothes and accessories accordingly to your trip. Although you should check the weather before departing, the climate in summer in the northern mountains of Italy is usually pleasantly hot during the day, but a cool breeze can come about in the evening and at night. If you want to explore the ground beyond Esino, normal trainer shoes should suffice, however for tougher hikes or more adventurous people a good pair of hiking boots is recommended. Do not forget to pack adaptors for your electric devices (see electricity section). In case you forget something, it can most likely be purchased in Lecco or eventually in Milan.
Entering the country
For travellers from the EU there is free import/export of goods. For people travelling from outside the EU, European limitations are in place. Of interest, prescription medication are allowed for personal use in quantities necessary for up to 30 days, after which a medical prescription might be required. Please note that for bringing pets into the country there are limitations and you are advised to ask your nearest Italian Embassy for details.
For any doubts please visit the Italian Customs website: http://agenziadoganemonopoli.gov.it
Health & other requirements
There are no health risks in Italy, except for those associated with an individual, its age or its chosen activities. There are also no vaccination requirements for entering Italy; the WHO advises to be immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mups, rubella, polio and hepatits B. You should also ensure that you have in place comprehensive travel insurance for the length of your travels (please see #Medical services and travel insurance below).
Getting into Esino Lario
There are 3 international airports in the Milan area: Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate and Milan Bergamo/Orio al Serio. Arriving during the day time will facilitate onwards travel, both if you decide to use public transport or our organised transport. Volunteers in the airport arrival halls will help you organise the journey or with any other query.
Arranged transportation from the airport
If you are availing yourself of the shuttle service provided by Wikimania, buses will be leaving the various airports throughout the day. The cost of the service is stated on the registration webpage and the duration of the transit is of around 2hr, but may increase with traffic. There is no luggage restriction on the shuttle.
Getting to Esino by yourself with public transport
If you reach Esino via public transport, please note that this might be quite lengthily, but not particularly costly, as public transport is very affordable in Italy. Instructions below and links to prices and times are for the public transport available from each airport to Esino Lario and from Milan Central train station.
- Milan Malpensa: from the arrival hall you can either decide to take a shuttle bus or the train into Milano Central train station; follow the signs towards the bus stops for Malpensa Shuttle coaches (see malpensashuttle.it) or for the train Malpensa Express (http://www.malpensaexpress.it).
- Milan Linate: from the arrival hall follow the sign towards Bus. Various bus companies make the 10km journey by coach from Linate to central Milan (see Air Bus Linate or http://www.malpensashuttle.it).
- Milan Bergamo/Orio al Serio: from outside the arrival halls, follow the signs for Bus or Navetta. Outside in the parking lot there will be the OrioShuttle (http://www.orioshuttle.com) that will take you to Milan Central station.
From Milano Centrale there are direct trains to Varenna-Esino (take the train in the direction of SONDRIO or TIRANO). There are trains from Milan to Varenna-Esino around every hour until 9pm. Please note that the train station is VARENNA-ESINO. From here there will be a shuttle bus that will take you to Esino town, up the mountain.
If your journey is fully by train, the two main stations for international travel in Milan are Milano Centrale and Porta Garibaldi. From Milano Centrale there are direct trains to Varenna-Esino, while from Porta Garibladi you might have to change in Lecco. For all train timetables and prices please see: http://www.trenitalia.com and please have a look to the following hints:
- Before getting on the train, you need to stamp your ticket in one of these yellow machines you find at the beginning or on the platforms (= obliterare). If you forget or you can not do it and you are on the train, look for the train controller as soon as possible.
- If you do not see your train on the monitor or board, check if you are looking for departures (= partenze) and not arrivals (= arrivi).
- Check the number of your train. Every train has a name-number (i.e. Regionale 2566): use it to make sure your are at the right platform (= binario) on the right train (= treno).
- Your direction is Tirano (or Morbegno). Don't go to Torino! (It is impressive how many people go to Torino instead of Tirano.)
- Your stop is Varenna-Esino. Set an alarm or keep the time! If you are in Bellano Tartavalle Terme it means that you have missed your stop!
Hiring a car or taking a taxi
Taking a taxi from any Milan airport to Esino and surroundings however will be expensive (approximately €180,00). Hiring a car might be a good idea for a group of attendees. In the arrival halls of each airport you will find car rental services (Hertz, Europcar, Budget, etc.), and these can also be found in the Milan Central train station. Please note that in Italy, the stirring wheel is on the left and that driving is on the right hand side of the road. It is of note also that the road leading up to Esino is NOT an easy drive: roads are windy, narrow and run along the edge of a mountain. Finally, be aware that parking space in the village will be sparse during the conference. For accident and emergency, the number of the Italian Car service (ACI) is +39.800.116.800.
There are different accommodation locations and types depending on your preferences, needs or availability.
Staying in Esino: Hotel, Guesthouse, speciality lodging and camping
If you opt for staying in Esino, accommodation is managed directly by the organising team and has been selected according to the information you provided through the registration process. Accommodation in Esino is either in a hotel, a speciality lodging (dormitory) or in guesthouses/private flats. Once you arrive in Esino from your port of entry, volunteers will accompany you to your assigned accommodation. You will be accommodated in a double room with a partner you have already selected or with another conference attendee of the same sex. If you require your own room, you will have to consider accommodation outside of Esino. Guesthouses or flats will provide bedding and towels and are usually equipped with a kitchen and TV.
Esino is a very small village and all places within can be reached on foot in a small time. If you require special equipment or special access, please state as much in the registration form or contact a member of the organisation team.
Staying in Lecco, Varenna or other villages
If you decide not to stay in Esino or want to choose you own accommodation, there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in nearby villages, in Varenna and Lecco; there is also the possibility of camping in the Dervio camping site. Please consider that the further you stay from Esino the longer it will take you to make it in time for the early starts, as public transportation is roughly on an hourly basis.
For pets, please refer to your hotel and B&B policy or ask the owner of the guesthouse if they are allowed.
Wikimania conference useful information
The three-day main conference will take place from 24th to 26th June. A two-day pre-conference Hackatron will take place on 22nd and 23rd June. A detailed schedule of the conference is online. According to your registration, you will partake in some or the whole of the conference: included in the price are the conference, a welcome bag, a badge, meals, evening activities and local transport; the price may also include accommodation depending on your registration. All meals also cater for vegetarians and vegans; special diet requirements should have been stated in the registration form, so please get in touch if you have not provided such information, but also remember that Italian food can accommodate easily most diets. Not included in the price at registration are excursions, drinks and personal purchases.
The venue is the entire village of Esino Lario. A theatre hall and various lecture halls have been equipped for the conference with video/audio systems: the largest hall can accommodate up to 500 guests and smaller halls are located throughout the village. Please note that the submissions for sessions and topic discussions are now closed, but there will be ample time for organising informal meetings or impromptu seminars.
Partners of attendees and children are welcome: special activities have been organised for children during the day. Conference attendees and their partners are encouraged to take excursions on their free time: there is plenty to visit around Esino and nearby towns, and you can find a list of tourist attractions on the Wikimania website.
Photos and videos
If you do not want your picture to be taken, please report to the Reception area and ask for a green lanyard. If you see a person with a green lanyard please do not take photos or videos of her/him. Please remember that pictures of individuals are prohibited without their consent and pictures of minors need special authorisation.
Internet access, telephone and mobile phone information
Internet will be provided around Esino by EOLO: there will be fast Internet in the conference halls and in some hotspots around the village. You might have Internet if you are staying in a Hotel or B&B, but some guesthouses in Esino might not have Internet access.
The international country code for Italy is +39; the code for the Lecco area is 0341. To call from abroad to a phone in Esino it is necessary to dial +39.0341-followed by the specific phone number.
Mobile phone SIM cards are quite easy to purchase from mobile phone shops in Lecco (Vodaphone and TIM work fine in Esino Lario but we can not recommend Wind and 3). You can find some good deals if you are ready to shop around. It might be worth considering an international package deal with you own provider in your country.
Money: currency, banks and ATMS
The currency in Italy is the Euro (€). American dollars or any other foreign currency is NOT accepted anywhere in Italy. The exchange rate varies daily and can be checked online.
There are TWO banks in Esino Lario and they are open from 8.30am to 1pm approximately; there are also TWO ATMs that can be used for cash withdraws. More banks and ATMs can be found in Varenna and Lecco. Credit and debit cards can be used to pay in supermarkets and some restaurants, but are otherwise NOT widely accepted in Esino.
The official language in Italy is Italian. English is very commonly spoken especially within touristic circuits.
Electricity conforms to European standards of 220V, with a frequency of 50Hz and the power sockets are types F or L. Wall outlets accommodate two to three round pins, from the types of plugs C and E. If you come from North or Central America, UK and most parts of Asia you will need an adaptor. If the voltage standard in your country is between 100-130V, as for appliances from the US/Canada and South America, then a voltage converter is also necessary; before acquiring one make sure that you read the label on the specific appliance, if it states “INPUT: 100-240V, 50-60Hz” then the device can be charged in Italy too.
Medical services and travel insurance
There is a Medical Guard service in Esino and there will be health services on site during the conference.
If hospitalisation is needed, the nearest small hospital is 16Km away in Bellano (via C. Alberto 25, phone: +39.0341.829.111), and a larger hospital is 45Km away in Lecco (Via E Morelli 1, phone: +39.0341.607.111). There is also a pharmacy in Esino, and several more in Varenna and Lecco, where you can buy over-the-counter medicines and ask for the pharmacist’s advice. The pharmacies are open during the day and will be open at night on rotation during the conference.
It is strongly advised that you take out travel insurance for your travels. Italy has a public health system that, by law, will provide you with care in case of emergency, but you will bury the costs of it. If you are a EU national you can get free or cost-reduced medical care by obtaining a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For non-EU national we strongly suggest you get an insurance policy that covers for the worst possible scenario. It is also worth checking the reciprocal agreement between your country and Italy over essential medical treatment as some services might be subsidised.
Emergency and embassies numbers
Just dial the unique emergency number on any phone for help in case of an emergency
- 112 European Unique Emergency Number
Embassies are located mostly in the Italian capital Rome; however most countries have a Consulate in Milan. A comprehensive list of all consulates based in Milan can be accessed at http://www.embassypages.com/city/milan (an unofficial but useful page). It might be useful to take note of the address of the nearest Consulate of your country before leaving.
If you have an emergency after contacting 112 please call also our Wikimania emergency number +393663221493 which will be active from 18 June until 27 June 2016.
Esino Lario and Italy: General information, policies and culture
Esino Lario is a small mountain community: everyone knows each other, it is peaceful and quiet, and immersed in nature; it is the opposite of most metropolises where Wikimania has taken place in passed years. Taking this into account, it does not have features typical of the big city life: do not expect shopping malls, food or coffee chains, high-speed transport. On the upside, there is no crime and it is very safe. Cloth shops, a newsagent, a supermarket and a post office are all close by and conveniently located. The real pleasures will be others: the food you will find is absolutely gorgeous, handmade and mostly locally sourced, the wine is plentiful and delicious, there are countless walk trails and panoramas are inspiring. Italian culture is all about slow, so embrace it.
There are a few policies that stand for the whole of Italy, and will be enforced in Esino, so please remember them to avoid unpleasant outcomes. Drugs are illegal, every form, type and quantity; if you get caught with drugs you will incur fines and jail time. Alcohol can be bought only by over-18s, but can be consumed by over-16s. If you drink and then want to drive, your alcohol blood level cannot surpass 0.05g/l. Police do randomly test drivers and if found over the limit you will be fined and possibly jailed. Tobacco is widely available and can be purchased by over-18s only. Italian law has categorically banished all indoor smoking, but smoking outdoors and in smoking areas is permitted. Alas, E-sigarettes or their refills will be hard to find in Esino.
Finally, Italian culture is old, facetted and will take a lifetime to learn or understand. On religion, Catholicism is the most prevalent religion in Italy, by a landslide, despite it being a constitutionally secular country; and even in Esino, a town of 700 people, there are 3 churches. No other places of worship can be found in Esino, but Lecco does have a Mosque. Small things will take you very far as a tourist; do say “Buongiorno” in the morning, do refer to new aquaitance with “Signore” for the men and “Signora” for the ladies followed by their surname, and do try and dress properly and respectfully, fashion in Italy is a big thing. As a final tip, do not order a cappuccino (or cappuccio) after 11am, and do not order a Latte – it does not exist in Italy.