Prepare to Live Abroad
Spring semester: Bring warm clothes for January, February, and March — it rains during these months. You need a winter coat, a hat, mittens, a raincoat, comfortable shoes with a good grip (the pavement is uneven and wet cobblestones are slippery), good rainy day shoes, and an umbrella. Bring warm pajamas and sweats to wear around the house as nighttime temperatures might be cooler than you are used to. Think layers! In late March and April, the temperature is a little warmer during the day — you may or may not need a light jacket. In May, it can already be hot. You will need warmer clothing for field trips outside of Rome as well. During many field trips and around Rome, bear in mind that you will not be permitted to enter churches if your shoulders or knees are not covered.
Fall semester: When you arrive in August, it will be very hot and humid (in fact, it will seem like there are not any Romans in the city because they are at the beach!). Plan on clothing for three seasons — summer, fall, and winter. During the warmer months, bear in mind that you will not be permitted to enter churches if your shoulders or knees are not covered, so bring a light shoulder covering for hot days. November and December will be cool and damp. You need a light winter coat, hat, mittens, raincoat, comfortable shoes with a good grip (pavement is uneven and wet cobblestones are slippery), good rainy day shoes, and an umbrella. Bring warm pajamas and sweats to wear around the house as nighttime temperatures might be cooler than you are used to. Note that most apartments have independent heating systems, but by law, heating in Rome can be on only from November 15 to April 15 and only for part of the day.
Expect to walk greater distances and at quicker speeds than on the Cornell campus (especially if you're taking the architecture history courses). You will also often be on your feet for a number of hours during site visits. The cobblestone streets in Rome can be very uneven, so bring sensible and comfortable shoes with a sole firm enough to easily manage the cobblestones, wet or dry. Roman streets are very slippery when wet! Avoid paper-thin soled shoes to avoid sore feet.
Romans will likely look a bit dressed up to you. If you want to blend into the cityscape well and not shout tourist/foreigner, pay attention to how you're dressed. Bring some nice clothes for going out to dinner or for special events and receptions at the palazzo.
Bring your favorite small basic necessities for studio and plan to buy larger supplies, since most items are available in Rome. Buy larger items such as sketchbooks in Italy. Plan to bring X-ACTO blades (do not put them in your carry-on!).
As in Ithaca, you will need a personal laptop in Italy. Follow the hardware recommendations for student laptops. Required software for each class will be added to the Cornell in Rome website before the beginning of the semester.
Required books for each class will be added to the main predeparture page shortly before the beginning of the semester. In general, you can take books with you, buy them from an Italian bookstore, or order them online from amazon.it to be delivered to you at the palazzo. Do not send books from amazon.com to Rome; you will be charged a large import tax!
The Euro is the official currency of Italy and the EU. The easiest way to get cash is to use a debit card at an ATM. Contact your bank before leaving the U.S. to be properly informed on how your debit card will work and what fees you will incur in Italy. The exchange rate is better through ATM transactions than through exchange offices or American Express, but check with your bank about its own additional fees.
Travelers' checks are not advised since they are difficult and expensive to cash.
Notify your bank and credit card provider of the dates of your stay in Italy, so they do not freeze your card due to suspected fraud.
Money Transfer from the U.S. — Emergencies Only!
You can have money sent to you from the U.S. using services such as Western Union or Moneygram in case of emergency. There are several locations in Rome that work with Western Union and Moneygram (the closest to the palazzo is Via Arenula 19); please consult the website or the office to find one near you. To obtain the money, you must know the exact amount, date sent, name of sender, and sending code, and have your passport with you. You can usually pick up the money at the agency the day after it has been sent. Your money transfer will be issued in cash in Euro.
Cornell in Rome apartments have Wi-Fi that may be used to talk internationally through video or voice chat services like Skype or Facetime.
Long distance calls can also be made from Cornell apartments with prepaid Italian calling cards (these are the cheapest way to call home). Purchase prepaid international calling cards in Italy at a Tabaccaio shop, which is marked on the outside with a large T on the sign. Ask for an international calling card for the country that you wish to call (una carta telefonica internazionale per ...).
If you have an unlocked cell phone (check with your carrier!), you can purchase a SIM card in Italy for a small expense, and then either get a monthly or prepaid plan. Having a cell phone with an Italian number will help you stay in touch with other students, may be useful in an emergency, and there is no charge for incoming calls from anywhere in the world (while in Italy!).
Do not purchase a SIM card at the airport! They are sold at a much higher price.
Consult with AAP IT Solutions before your departure if you have questions about your phone's compatibility.
Miscellaneous Packing Tips
- Bring a backpack for one-day field trips. Bring a small piece of luggage (i.e., carry-on size) for longer field trips (five to seven days).
- You will be given a detailed map of the city center when you arrive.
- A travel size Italian-English dictionary will be helpful.