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Electricity in Italy – Basics for Travelers (including which adapter to bring)

Good To Know:  This guide focuses on travelers visiting from the United States and Canada.  If you’re traveling from another country, your recommendations may differ. 

If you’re packing up for your trip to Italy, you’re probably packing plenty of electronics – your smartphone, noise-canceling headphones, maybe a fitness tracker, or a laptop.  If you’re traveling to Italy with kids, you may bring additional devices – like iPads for kids and teens or a bottle warmer for your baby.

Whichever electronics you decide to bring, you’ll need to make sure you’ll be able to use and charge them while you’re here in Italy (in your hotel room, on trains, at cafés). 

No matter what electronics you decide to bring, you’ll definitely need Italian plug adapters.  Below I’ll also address:

  1. If you need to bring a power converter in addition to an adapter.
  2. The type of adapter(s) you need to bring.

MY QUICK ADVICE:  Leave anything that requires a power converter at home.  Purchase and bring 2-3 of these 2-prong Type C plug adapters for your trip to Italy.

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Electricity in Italy vs. the US

Italy runs on 220V – 230V and 50mHz, while the US and Canada standard is 120V and 60mHz.

Why does this matter?  You need to check the voltage for any electronics you’re planning on bringing to Italy – the input range must include 220V or 230V.  You can find the range on your electronic device’s power brick or on the device itself. 

For example, here are labels for a few electronics from the United States (clockwise from top left):  a Sonicare electric toothbrush base, a BOSE travel speaker, a Canon camera charger, and a GHD hair straightener:

As you can see from the photo, the Sonicare electric toothbrush base doesn’t accept 220V or 230V.  Its range is 110-120V.  So, you’ll need a power converter if you want to use it in Italy (more on that in a minute).

You can use the other three electronic devices in Italy – you’ll just need to use a plug adapter because the outlet pins on these US devices won’t fit in the outlets in Italy.

Good To Know:  If you can’t find the voltage range on your device or charger, look it up in the device’s online user manual (be sure to enter your specific model).

Electric Outlets in Italy

Not only do electric outlets in Italy have a different voltage than the US and Canada, but the actual sockets (outlets) are also different.  And to complicate things, we have multiple sockets (and there are usually multiple types in each household or hotel room).

Italy has 3 main socket types:  Type C, Type L, and Type F (aka Schuko plug). 

  • Type C – two small pins
  • Type F – two larger pins
  • Type L – three small pins

Plug Adapters for Italy – Types & Which Ones to Buy

For almost all electric devices, the Type C (2-pin) adapter will work!  This is the adapter I travel with in Italy, and I use it for my iPad, laptop, phone, etc. 

You can find it on Amazon:

If you’re traveling with an electronic device that has 3 pins, use a Type L (3-pin) Italian adapter.  It looks exactly like the Type C adapter above, but it has a 3rd (grounder) pin in the middle. You can also get one of these that has USB inputs.

You can find these on Amazon:

I recommend buying a few of these adapters and bringing them with you.  Yes, you can find them here in Italy, but why spend your vacation time tracking down plug adapters?

You can find them on Amazon or purchase them online or in person at:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Electronics Stores
  • Hardware Stores
  • Travel kiosks in malls or airports

Helpful Tip:  Before you click purchase, double-check that the adapter you’re buying is US->Italy and not Italy->US!

Power Converters for Italy

If your electronic device doesn’t work with 220V or 230V, you’ll need to purchase a power converter (aka voltage converter) if you want to use it in Italy.  The power converter does what it says it does – converts the power from the higher Italian voltage to the lower US voltage so that your device doesn’t melt or burst into flames. 

Here’s an example of a power converter that I use for a US electric toothbrush base:

Warning: These devices are heavy, bulky, and can be expensive.  If your electronic device is something you could probably do without (like the electric toothbrush), think about leaving it at home and doing without it for your Italy trip. 

Electronics that Need Adapters or Converters for Italy

Here’s a list of some electronics you may want to bring to Italy.  Be sure to check the device or user’s manual to find out if you can use it with just a plug adapter (it needs to be able to accept 220V or 230V input). 

  • iPhone or smartphone
  • laptop
  • iPad or tablet
  • Kindle or e-reader
  • Apple watch
  • fitness tracker
  • camera battery charger
  • video camera battery charger
  • Nintendo Switch or gaming device
  • headphones
  • hairdryer
  • hair straightener
  • curling iron
  • breast pump
  • bottle warmer
  • white noise machine
  • electric toothbrush
  • diabetic pump or meter
  • c-pap machine
  • hearing aids

Tips for Using Electronics from Home in Italy

  • Check to see if your electronics can be used with 220V or 230V.  If not, leave them at home, or buy a converter.
  • Sometimes there are few electrical outlets in a hotel room.  If you’re charging overnight or when you leave the room, check to make sure the device charges if the lights are off (sometimes the light switch is attached to the socket), or if you leave the room (some hotels that use key cards shut the power off in the room if the key isn’t inserted).
  • Bring at least one 2-prong adapter (Type C).  This is the one that fits most Italian electrical outlets.
  • Bring a power bank for your smartphone.  You’ll probably use your phone often while you’re out exploring (photos, maps, etc) and may find that the battery doesn’t last all day.
  • Avoid big and bulky universal plug adapters unless you’re on a multi-country trip.  They often won’t fit into the electrical outlet (like if it’s recessed, or if it’s in a small space like on a train), or they’re too heavy and fall out.
  • If you’re renting a car in Italy, you can bring a charger for the car (like this one).

Buying a Plug Adapter in Italy

If you lost your plug adapter or forgot to bring one, you can buy one here in Italy. 

You can find them in major tourist cities in neighborhood shops (often by the cash register), or at electronics stores like Unieuro, Euronics or Mediaworld.  You can sometimes find them in larger grocery stores and they’re often in shops at travel hubs like train stations or airports. 

If you have Apple products, you can buy (pricey) European adapters at any Apple store.

In a pinch, ask your hotel or accommodation – they often have loaner adapters or even some that other guests have left behind.

If you need to, you can ask in Italian:

Dov’è posso comprare un adattore da spina americana a presa di corrente italiana?
Where can I buy a plug adapter for an American plug to an Italian electrical socket?

Electricity in Italy – Vocabulary

  • La spina – plug
  • La presa (di corrente) – electrical socket / outlet
  • Il corrente – current / electricity
  • Attaccare la corrente – to turn on the electricity
  • Staccare la corrente – to switch off the electricity
  • Dov’è…? – Where is…?

FAQ

Should I bring my hairdryer to Italy?
Many hotels and apartments will provide hairdryers.  Call or email before your trip and confirm if they do.  If you’re particular about your hairdryer (I get it – not all hairdryers are created equally), you can bring your own.  The easiest thing to do is bring a travel hairdryer that has dual voltage (usually you flip a switch to 240V).  I would avoid bringing your hairdryer if it needs a power converter – they’re heavy and bulky. 

What’s the difference between a plug adapter and a power adapter?
A plug adapter is a small device that allows you to plug your device into a wall in a country that has different electric plugs.  For example, the two flat prongs on a US plug won’t fit into the electrical sockets in Italy.  So, you need a plug adapter – insert your US plug into one end and plug the adapter into the Italian socket.  A power adapter is a power supply for your electronic devices.  It also goes by ‘charger’ or ‘AC adapter.’

Should I purchase a general travel adapter?
Travel adapters usually adapt for multiple countries (input plugs and output prongs).  Unless you’re traveling in multiple countries on your trip, I’d avoid them.  They often are too large to fit into small areas or recessed sockets, and sometimes they fall out of Italian sockets.