Adapting to Rome’s Electricity

Do I need to bring a power adapter?  I’m asked this question, or a variation of it, a lot.

Adapters vs. Converters

Adapters are the things that you attach to your device’s power plug. Their function is solely to adapt your original metal prongs to the physical configuration of the receptacle you will be plugging into. They usually come in the form of a small and light plastic thing with holes on one side and metal prongs on the other side. They do not alter the electric current.

A collection of random power plug adapters. The ones with round prongs work in Italy.

Converters, on the other hand, convert the electricity — the voltage.

So what’s a travel adapter, then? Often, these are a combination of adapter and converter. But this isn’t always the case. So read such packaging carefully: whether it adapts the plug and converts the power.

Why would I need anything?

Electrical outlets in Italy have two round holes — three if grounded. If the plugs you use at home don’t look like this, you will need an adapter. In the picture immediately above, the adapter on the bottom and the one on the right are what you’d use in Italy. You can tell because their pins / prongs are round.

Also, Italy’s power grid runs between 220 and 240 volts. If your home country runs with 110-120 volts, you would need a converter.

So, what do I need?

Almost all modern electronic devices — smart phones, cameras, computers, etc. — convert electricity on their own. For these, you will only need an adapter.

I bring my U.S. laptop, smart phone, and camera every time we come to Rome. I only need an adapter.

We have a hair dryer at the apartment, so you don’t need to bother lugging one of your own. There’s also a laptop if you just need to check emails or get your boarding passes; there is also a printer.

If you want to bring your important or favorite electrical device, take a look at it (with a magnifying glass probably) or its power brick (if it has one) for its electrical requirements. It may indicate multiple values (e.g., 110/120 V or 230/240 V).

If it indicates voltage in the 100s and the 200s, or it shows a range of 100-240 V, this means it converts electricity by itself — you only need an adapter. If you see “input” and “output,” you’re interested in the input (since that means the power flowing to the device). Here are a few sample close-ups.

An electronic device that does not need a converter.


A close-up of an iPhone power plug shows it does not need a converter.

If your device only lists voltage in the 100s, you will need a converter.

An electronic device that needs a converter.

Still not sure? This website very clearly describes the power plugs and systems used in most parts of the world.