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plug adapter for Italy

I noticed that Italy needs a 3-prong adapter but the rest of Europe, sans UK, uses 2-prong. 2-prong is in my and my traveling companion's sets. Do we also need to buy a 3-prong?
Thanks again for tolerating all my questions.

Posted by
3493 posts

For most devices, a 2 prong works fine just like you can use a 2 prong plug in a grounded receptacle in the US with no issues. I had no problem using the 2 prong adapter sold right here in the RS Store every time I have been in Italy with my phone, camera and laptop.

IF you are wanting to use devices that have a ground prong or draw higher amps than say a cell phone or tablet, you will need the 3 prong just to be safe. Several places sell them including Amazon.

Posted by
8889 posts

Italian sockets take both 2-pin (prong?) and 3-pin plugs. The only sockets that need the third pin are the UK ones.
The deciding factor is if your appliance has a 2-pin or a 3-pin plug on it. If it has a third (earth) pin, then you need a 3-pin adapter, otherwise you don't.

Now the complicated bit. All sockets in Europe (apart from the UK), put the 2 pins in the same place, so the same 2-pin plug or adapter works everywhere (so-called Europlug). But, different countries put the third earth pin in different places. Italy puts it between the two other pins (3-pins in a line, photo here: https://www.rei.com/pix/expertAdvice/articles/ea6041_type_l_italy.gif ). So, an Italian 3-pin plug or adapter is not the same as any other country in Europe.

And, of course you have checked that all your appliances say "100-240V 50/60Hz AC"? If they just say "110V 50Hz", then Italian electricity will fry them.

Posted by
18371 posts

The 2 pin plug in the EU is called the Europlug, but it is limited to applications drawing less than 2½ amps (about 575W), so it is not suitable for things like hair dryers.

Also, many "2-prong" plugs from the US are "polarized", that is one prong is wider than the other to ensure it's always on the neutral line. However, most European power sources are not polarized, so devices with polarized plugs will lose the safety provisions provided by the polarized plug and really should not be used in Europe. If you do use a polarized plug device in Europe, do not leave it plugged in, becuuse the most common safety provision provided by the polarized plug is protection from spontaneously turning on.

Many countries use a modified Schuko plug similar the ones used in Germany. It has a 1.43" diam round barrel with grounding clips on the side, but also has a grounding hole to accept the grounded pin of the French version. I should work in most receptacles in Europe, example, the Czech Republic. It is my understanding (no experience) that newer construction in Italy has receptacles that take both the traditional grounding Italian plugs and the modified Schuko plug.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi! Everyone gave you very detailed replies but I'll add my bit. I noticed indeed that in Italy in some places my normal EU 2 prong does not fit, whether due to the 3rd prong or sometimes the 2 prongs are too far apart or one is too wide,.. well, anyway they just dont fit! But other places in Italy they fit fine. What I usually do is buy a local adapter IF and WHEN I need it. Depending on where you stay the plugs might be just fine for an EU 2 prong and if not you can usually find adapters in the local markets or departments stores. I bought mine in Naples at the street market for less than 50 cents and it was definitely a fun adventure to find it. But if you like to be prepared for any eventuality then I'd say pack a 3-prong!

Posted by
18371 posts

Rosa, as you should know, there are two styles of 2-pin plugs in continental Europe.

Northern Europe: the pins that fit into a German Schuko receptacle are 4.8 mm in diameter, about 3/16" diam (compare them to a 3/16 drill).

Southern Europe: the pins that fit into the traditional Italian receptacle that has three inline pin holes, are 4.0 mm diameter. Compare them to a 5/32" diam drill.

The pins on either converge slightly and are 17.5 mm apart at the tips.

The thinner pins of the southern Europe plugs will still fit tightly in the northern Europe receptacles; the pins of the northern Europe plugs will not fit in a southern Europe receptacle. In the US, ACE hardware sells both style of 2-pin adapters labeled Northern Europe and Southern Europe.

The standard "Europlug" adapter has the thinner pins so it will fit into receptacles anywhere in continental Europe. It's rated for 2½ amps, max.

I understand that in Italy, new construction often has both the traditional 3 inline pin hole grounding receptacles and German style Schuko receptacles.

Posted by
11432 posts

Who has had problems with the Rick Steves Continental Europe adapter anywhere in Europe--outside of course the UK and Ireland?

Posted by
257 posts

Replying to Frank II....in Greece in 2015, the RS plug would not work in some outlets. Interestingly, I was able to use it in a different outlet in the same room. If I remember correctly, I was able to unplug a TV and use that outlet. The outlet near the bed would not take the RS adapter. This was in one of the RS tour hotels but I don't recall which one.