Do the Italian electrical outlets have 2 or 3 round prongs? I've been looking at adapters on amazon and it seems like there are ones that look specific to Italy with the 3 prongs.
I think the middle prong is the grounding prong, much like 3-prong plugs in the U.S. If what you're plugging in only has two prongs, you should be able to use the 2-prong Italian adapter.
Every country I've been to have some 3-prong outlets ('grounded' might be stretching it...), but if you only need 2-prongs then just get that; they'll fit in the 3-prong outlets. Been there, done that many a time... All you need is what is sold on this website called 'Continental' adaptor, if 2-prong is what you have.
Eric, we have always just used the two prong Italian adaptors. There are two of these: one has small pins; the other has large pins. Bring both! We have seen places where one room has the small pins, and the other has large pins.
Yes, the short answer is that 2 prong plugs on the continent are the same, while 3 prong plugs vary from country to country. Of course, it's more complex than that, as some plugs and some outlets can work with more than one type. Have a look at this website for more about plugs and outlets than you ever knew existed, with pictures and descriptions (sorry, I couldn't get it to make a hotlink): http://users.telenet.be/worldstandards/electricity.htm#plugs_c As you can see, the type C (two round prongs) fits in Italian outlets, as well as other countries in continental Europe. Now, scroll down to type L. As described, this is Italy's special 3 prong outlet, needed only for 3 prong appliances. So, if your appliance has 2 prongs, use the Type C adapter (sold on Rick's website cheaply). If you have a 3 prong appliance, you would need the special 3 prong adapter for Italy.
Eric, As the others have mentioned, the Plug Adapters for Italy (and most of the other countries in Europe) have two round pins, as shown on This Website. The model shown is for use with ungrounded appliances, preferably those with a "double insulated" design. While it is possible to attach a grounded North American plug to non-grounding Euro Plug Adapter (the ground pin would of course not be connected), I always prefer to use a grounded Plug Adapter if the product is designed for that. For use in Italy, This is the correct model for grounded appliances. I usually pack a couple of each type, as it's always prudent to have a "backup".
After leaving the European electrical plug adaptors behind in the wall when disconnecting something, I now run a piece of tape over the wire-adaptor connection so I do not leave it behind. We also carry a couple of the necessary adaptors as they are cheap and in case one malfunctions. I see RS is now having a sale on European adaptors for $1.00/each (see "Travel Store > Accessories > Handy Extras > Electrical Adaptors".
When I went to Italy, I mistakenly thought that the electrical gadgets I used in France (and bought in France) would just plug in to Italian outlets. Italian outlets (and Swiss) are different sized. They accept a 4.0mm round plug, whereas France, Germany and most other northern European countries use a larger, 4.8mm round plug. However, most hotels, B&Bs and even rental apartments in Italy are aware that people like me assume they're the same, and you'll find adaptors that will allow you to use the more common sized European plug. At least that's what I've found. Or, you can try using a Europlug adaptor that in theory will work in all countries (because you can stick a smaller prong in a larger hole, but not vice versa) Grounded outlets must be country-sized-specific, though.