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News - 06 Sep. 2006: Directions and Local info pages updated
News - 31 Aug. 2006: Cancellation deadline extended to 6 september 2006
News - 30 Aug. 2006: Public Reviews and Paper Discussion Forum Online
Local Information

SIGCOMM 2006 will be held at the Stazione Leopolda,
piazza Guerrazzi, 56125 Pisa (Italy),
from Monday, 11 September 2006, to Friday, 15 September 2006. The location will be open from 8:00 to the end of the day (21:00 on Monday, 19:00 on other days).
To find your way through the town, you can use one of the various map services available on the Internet, and also you might find useful a Googleearth Bookmark file with markers for various hotels and conference-related locations. You can download GoogleEarth from earth.google.com.

Finally, Google Maps has a nice aerial view of the town.

For a detailed schedule of the events, we point you to the schedule page. We remind you that, in addition to workshops (on Monday and Friday), tutorial (on Monday afternoon) and main conference (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), we will also have a welcome reception on Monday late afternoon, a student dinner on Tuesday night, a welcome banquet on Wednesday night, and some sport events on Thursday evening.

Locations

The Leopolda is a 19th century train station, recently remodeled and used to host meetings, expositions, and music performances. It will host all the sessions of the conference, workshops and tutorials, as well as the welcome reception on Monday night. A suitable Google Maps link zooming on the conference location is here. The Leopolda is near the south bank of the Arno river, in the western part of downtown. Hotels are located in various areas of the town and its surroundings (more references to accommodation is on the hotels page).

The other two conference locations are within walking distance of the Leopolda. The Banquet, on Wednesday night, will be held at the Arsenali Medicei (left), a 16th century warehouse where ships were build. The Arsenali Medicei is on the north bank of the Arno, in the eastern part of the town, close to the Ponte della Cittadella and its tower (this one came up straight). The student dinner, on Tuesday night, will be hosted by the Palazzo della Sapienza (right), the historical seat of the Universita` di Pisa, also close to the north bank of the Arno near the center of the town.

AC Voltage and Plugs

AC power is 220 Volts, 50Hz. Plugs have three round pins in-line (the central is ground and may be missing sometimes). Schuko (German-style) plugs are also used but somewhat less popular. Most of the power sockets at the conference will be able to accommodate Italian and Schuko plugs. Adapters for UK and US power plugs are available in several electrical supply stores including one in piazza Guerrazzi.

Currency, Language, Units

The local currency is the Euro (the symbol is € ; 1 Euro ~= 1.25 US Dollars, but the rate fluctuates between 1.2 and 1.3). It comes in coins (1-2-5-10-20-50 cents, 1-2 Euros) and notes (5-10-20-50 and, less common, 100-200-500). Amounts are generally rounded to the next 5c. The currency is used across several EC countries so especially the coins may carry local symbols. The notes are the same in all countries. More info on the notes at the European Central Bank.

The local language is of course Italian, with no strong dialect spoken (unlike some places in northern and southern Italy). English is mostly understood and (slightly less often) also spoken. It helps to use the customary accessibility strategies - sentences not too convoluted, not cutting the ends off words, and a bit of visual effects (gesturing) in case you see a blank face on your interlocutor.

Our unit system is based on the "SI" system, with distance measured in meters, weight in kilos, volumes in liters, time in seconds, and temperature in Celsius degrees. As a rough conversion, 1 km = 0.62 miles, 1 kg = 2.2 pounds, 1 liter = 0.264 gallons. A pint is roughly 0.47 liters, but the equivalent of a pint of beer ("birra media") is normally just 0.4 liters. We also follow strictly the decimal system, so there is no such a unit as "one third of a meter" or "1/32th of a kilo". We only make an exception for bytes which are 8 bits and not 10.

Tipping and Receipts

Being a major deviation from the custom in the US, we would like to point out that tipping is not required nor expected in Italy: the bill ("conto") always includes service, and the personnel are not expecting to make their living out of tips. So, in particular in bars, restaurants, taxis, etc., it is perfectly fine to pay exactly the amount on the bill, or possibly round it up by say 2-5% depending on the amount to make the numbers round.

Italian law requires businesses to release, spontaneously or at least on demand, a receipt ("scontrino fiscale" see an example; or a "ricevuta fiscale") with date, sequence numbers, and identification of the business. A note scribbled on a piece of paper is not valid, and possibly a hint of the place trying to exploit your lack of knowledge of the rules.

Banks, Credit Cards and ATM

Banks are typically open 8.30-13.00 and 15-16.30. Most of them also have ATM machines ("bancomat"), which are open 24/7 and take most credit cards. The closest ATM is on via Croce corner of piazza Guerrazzi, then there are a few others in the train station area (via Corridoni, viale Bonaini, the train station itself), on the corner of the ponte della Fortezza, and in the shopping areas.

Eating and Drinking

Food is a complex topic that deserves a page of its own. Please follow this link for food and restaurant information. Also remember that on Sunday many restaurants are closed.

Sport

Surely, bring your sport shoes and equipment! There are a lot of opportunities for doing sports in Pisa.

Running is a very popular activity, and at this link we are providing detailed information on training paths and fun races organized during the conference (in particular, on the 9th, 10th, 16th), as well as a couple of jogging sessions (tentatively, starting from the conference site right after the end of the sessions on Thursday and Friday). For more info on all these events, please contact Luigi Rizzo at rizzo@icir.org, or look at the information that will be posted on site.

We are also organizing a soccer match for conference participants (tentatively, Thursday 19.00-21.00 at a field near the train station, 800m from the conference site). More details will be posted at the conference.

For those interested in swimming, the swimming pool ("piscina Comunale", phone +39-050-531448) is near via Andrea Pisano, approximately 2km from piazza dei Miracoli, served by buses 5 and B, and open to the public during the day.

Health

Emergency medical service can be received by calling the number 118 from any phone, or by going to the "Pronto Soccorso", which is located in via Bonanno, next to the Piazza dei Miracoli. You will not be refused treatment for real emergencies, even if you don't have an insurance policy or credit card. Some treatments or tests are of course subject to payment, depending on your citizenship (Italian and EU citizens have public health insurance services) and the type of treatment (Italians have to pay for some things as well).

By law, drugs (both prescription and non-prescriptions) are generally sold in medicine shops ("Farmacie"), and basically never in supermarkets and other stores. Farmacie are normally open during business hours, except for a couple open 24 hours (on the Lungarno Mediceo and via Cammeo).

Telephones
  • Number formats and prefixes

    Italian phone numbers have variable length, both in the "prefisso" (prefix, used to be the area code) and in the local part of the number. The prefix must always be included, even for local calls.

    A leading "0" denotes area codes for wired phones (e.g. 050 is Pisa, 055 is Florence, 06 is Rome, 02 is Milan). The leading "0" is an integral part of the area code and must be dialed also when calling from abroad.
    A leading "1" is normally used for toll services or emergency numbers.
    A leading "3" indicates the prefix for cellular phones (eg 347, 340, 338...). They are not related to a specific area, neither, to some degree, to a specific provider.
    The "702" prefix is for dialup internet access, with a connection fee of 12c and 1-2c per minute (depending on the time).
    Toll free numbers have the "800" prefix (but they are normally free only from landlines), whereas other prefixes starting with "8" are toll services and may be expensive.
    Finally, international calls must be prefixed by "00" and the international prefix for the country you are calling (so it is 001 for the US, 0044 for the UK, and so on). The international phone prefix for Italy is +39.

  • Emergency numbers

    113: Polizia (police, general emergency)
    118: Pronto soccorso (Emergency medical service)
    115: Vigili del fuoco (fire brigade)

  • Calling from cell phones

    Definitely the most convenient and economic way of calling abroad in most cases. Cellular phone coverage (GSM) uses 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies, so if you have a suitable phone you can use your regular subscription to make and receive calls. Roaming charges are very high, 1-2 € per minute are not uncommon.

    You can buy prepaid SIM cards (no subscription necessary) for use in your phones in most telephony stores by just showing a picture ID (which will be photocopied as a law requirement to identify users of SIM cards). Apart from special offers, typical entry fees are around 10 &euro and include 5 € of traffic. Tariffs vary depending on the plan you choose, and they are all exceedingly complex to compare. Incoming calls are always free, outgoing calls normally have a connection fee (up to 20-25c per call) and a per-minute rate which depends on the destination but can easily be in the 25-30c range or more. The most common cell phone operators are Vodafone TIM and Tre, the latter more focused on video calls and slightly more expensive.

  • Calling from hotels

    Same as everywhere, charges for phone calls from hotels vary. Some hotels will just apply the tariffs of the telecom operator (normally up to 10-40c connection fee, 10 to 40c per minute for local/western europe/us calls), other might apply a surcharge. We suggest you to check with your hotel.

  • Calling from public phones

    Public phones are rapidly vanishing these days, except in airports and train stations. They might be coin-operated but more often will take a calling card (on sale in some bars and tobacco shops) or sometimes a credit card (squeezing out a fair bit of money from it, as in most places in the world).

  • Calling centers

    Especially in the station area (via Corridoni), where the foreign population is more numerous, there are several call centers with cheap tariffs for international calls.

  • Calling cards

    Until recently, Italy did not have prepaid calling cards that were competitive with landline costs. The advent of VOIP has slightly improved the situation, but only for calls through a fixed, non public phones. One operator that offers this service is e.g. Skypho. There may be others, but they are not easy to find.

Internet Access
  • Internet points

    There is a number of internet points in the central part of the town (via dei Mille, via Carducci) and in the station area (via Corridoni, just behind the Leopolda). Tariffs are from 2 € per hour and above, and normally, you are not allowed to connect your own equipment, but must rely on the machines supplied there.

  • Public Wireless access

    TIM and Vodafone and a local company called Nettare offer monthly subscriptions for wireless internet access in some areas in town. The coverage is all but widespread, and the fees are generally high and well hidden in the respective websites.

  • Dialup

    Several Italian providers offer "free" dialup internet access, charging only the cost comparable or lower than a local call. The access numbers change with the provider but start with the "702" prefix. In order to get an account you have to register with the provider to supply your identification information (a law requirement) and get your free account. Among the providers offering the service you can choose Tiscali, Wind, and others.

  • Hotel Access

    The situation varies here as well. Most hotels still have only dialup access (but you need to get the information and an account in advance, e.g. with one of the above providers), with some of the newer ones also offering wireless connectivity (for free or for a daily or hourly fee) in the lobby or possibly also (wired) in the rooms.

Weather
The expected climate in mid September is still mild, with highs in the 25'C range (77'F) and lows in the 10-15'C (50-60'F). Occasional showers and thunderstorms are possible.
Transportation
Here we deal mostly with local transportation (layer 1 and layer 2, since we are networking people). For layer 3 and above (i.e. how to get to Pisa and back from your home location) see the travel page.

Once again you might find it useful to look at the GoogleEarth Bookmark we mentioned earlier. While in Pisa, you'll have a choice between walking, local bus service and taxi to move in town, and bus, train and rental cars should you like visiting nearby places.

  • Sigcomm Shuttles

    On Sunday and Monday night, 20:30 to 0:30, we have arranged a Shuttle service from the Airport to the hotels within the city limits (those within the 'comune di Pisa', excluding those in nearby places such as San Giuliano, Marina di Pisa, Tirrenia, etc.). To use this service, look for the people holding Sigcomm2006 signs/shirts, tell them your name and hotel, and if it is one of the supported hotels follow their indications. The service is free for sigcomm participants, and will leave you at (or very close to, depending on traffic and route restrictions) your hotel.
    Please remember that we will try to optimize the routes so service might not be strictly FIFO. If you are in a hurry, nothing prevents you from using a cab.

  • Walking

    Why not ? The conference location is within walking distance from the train station (700m), the airport (1500m gate to door), and the banquet (1600m) and student dinner (1200m) locations. Most of the tourist areas are also within a couple of km from there.

  • Local Bus Service

    Local bus service is run by a company called CPT, and offers transportations to most hotel downtown or in the near proximity (see the bus map). Most buses run between 6.30 (am) and 21.00 with two night lines (B and V) running every 20 minutes till 23.30. One-hour tickets cost €0.85 (or less for blocks of 4-10; see the full tariffs).

  • Taxi

    Local taxi transportation is managed by a company called CoTaPi. The cabs typically stand at the train station, airport and piazza Arcivescovado (near the tower), or you can call by phone +39-050-541600 and follow the instructions in Italian, and hope that a car comes by (most comments i hear say that the service is unreliable to nonexistent outside daytime, and completely inadequate to handle bursts of demand e.g. around 9-10pm when large planes are landing).

  • Hotel Shuttles

    Most hotels (maybe for the above reasons) are equipped with minivan and offer (normally for a fee) transportation from/to places downtown. Please consider that opportunity if you plan to arrive or leave at some inconvenient hour.

  • Shared Cab ("Taxi Collettivo")

    In addition to regular taxis, there is also a shared minivan service between the airport, train station and piazza del duomo. However (long list of however): there is only one car in service, accommodating only 8 people; tariffs depend on the location (from 3 Euros up); it is not a door-to-door service, and not all locations are covered - e.g. if you need to go to a hotel which is not on the normal route, they request at least 3 people for the same destination). In other words: think of it as a bus.

  • Tourist Buses

    city-sighteesing pisa runs an open-top bus going around the central part of the town, which you might find of some interest.

  • Non-Local Buses

    Connection to nearby towns and villages (Tirrenia, Marina di Pisa, Livorno, San Giuliano, Lucca) is supplied by two bus companies (CPT and Lazzi), and by Train. The buses to Tirrenia, Marina and Livorno start the last run around 23.00, while those to Lucca and San Giuliano typically start the last run around 21.00.

  • Train
    Trains are mostly useful if you want to visit nearby cities such as Florence and Viareggio. Details on train schedules can be found on the Trenitalia Web Site.

    Direct trains to/from Florence are very frequent and convenient (once per hour, travel time is 1hr). Going to/from Siena takes at least two hours (often 3) and a connection in Empoli.

  • Car (and Car Rental)

    Most car rental companies are based at the Pisa Airport. Italian cars normally have manual-shift. You can find driving maps with decent Italy coverage at Google, Mapquest, Yahoo (in Italian) and possibly more.

    If you plan to drive through Pisa, keep in mind the following:

    • most of the central part of the town is a pedestrian area ("ZTL"), with camera surveillance equipped with OCR for license plate reading. The system does work well, and if you are not authorized to pass the gate, chances are very high that you'll be caught and fined;
    • street parking is generally permitted, but on the parking places marked by blue stripes (basically everywhere) you have to pay a hourly fee between 8:00 and 20:00. Coin-operated parking meters are available in those areas, and you can buy tickets for the expected duration of your stop. For longer parking, you might find it convenient to buy electronic pre-paid cards. For more info see the operator's (PisaMo) web site;
    • speed limits vary depending on the road. In town it is usually 50 Km/h, outside it is either 70 or 90 depending on the number of lanes in each direction, and 130 on the toll highways. Here again, there is a large number of fixed speed cameras installed on nearby highways (both the non-toll Fi-Pi-Li, and the toll Pisa-Firenze), including some (once again OCR-equipped and networked, the beauty of information technology) that compute your average speed on 5..20km segments, so slowing down in proximity of the camera doesn't help much.

  • Bike Rental

    There are a few companies renting bicycles and similar vehicles in Pisa. Among these, Pisa Scooter & Bike Rental, www.ecovoyager.it and www.toscanaintour.it

Shopping

Shops are generally open monday to saturday, 9.00-13.00 and 16.00-20.00. Some stores (usually clothing) are closed on monday morning. Others (usually electricity, hardware etc.) are closed on saturday afternoon. Supermarkers and department stores usually are open 8.00-20.00 (excluding sunday).

The main shopping streets (clothing, jewelery, pottery) are around Borgo Stretto and corso Italia, cutting the town North to South across ponte di Mezzo, and via San Martino (from piazza Guerrazzi to the ponte di Mezzo). Some more in via Cattaneo (parallel to the river just above the Leopolda), including a pharmacy, hardware store, camping goods, flourist. There is a small supermarket in via da Buti (next to the Leopolda) and a slightly larger one in via Pascoli. A shopping mall with a large electronics store (MediaWorld) is just 1km north-east of the leopolda, in via Matteucci.

Places to see in Pisa

There are several sites listing places to see in Pisa, so we will not try to repeat the full details here, but just provide some names and pointers to some of the web sites with useful information. Among them:

Of course you cannot miss Piazza dei Miracoli with the Leaning Tower. In the summer season, the place is most beautiful around the sunset, when it is much less crowded, the temperature is more pleasant, and the white of the marble stands out in the sky. You can climb the tower for a fee; for more info see here.

Not far from Piazza dei Miracoli you find Piazza dei Cavalieri, with the Scuola Normale Superiore and the Tower of Count Ugolino. On your way towards the river you will find the palazzo della Sapienza, historical site of the University of Pisa.

Then, on the river, on your right you find several monuments including the Chiesa della Spina, the Chiesa di S. Paolo a Ripa d'arno and the Torre Guelfa near the Arsenale Mediceo. On your left, you will encounter the museo di San Matteo and the the Giardino Scotto.

Places to see around Pisa

Here too we will not try to replace the various tourist guides available on the network and in bookstores, but just supply a few pointers on places of interest near Pisa.

Those with a car might want to visit the Basilica di San Piero a Grado, 5-6km from Pisa on the way to the see. September is often still a good season to spend time on the beach e.g. in Marina di Pisa or Tirrenia or, going north, in popular places like Viareggio, Lido di Camaiore and Forte dei Marmi.

If you like the countryside, still with the help of a car you can visit the hills behind Pisa, with many small villages and hiking paths, and monuments such as the Certosa di Calci.

Just across the mountain you can reach Lucca, a beautiful town surrounded by large walls, also well served by train and buses during the day. Definitely worth a visit.

Just one hour by train from Pisa you can reach Florence, with so many monuments and places to see that we cannot possibly list all of them. And slightly farther away, Siena and villages such as San Gimignano and Volterra.



The ACM SIGCOMM 2006 conference would like to thank the following organizations for their support.