The Ultimate Family Guide: Moving to Italy
Why move to Italy?
The attraction of Italy can be summed up in just three words: la dolce vita. The Italian phrase literally translates as ‘the sweet life’. Aside from being the title of the oscar-winning 1960 film about a gossip journalist seeking love and happiness in Rome, la dolce vita is a way of living life full of indulgence, pleasure and the finer things in life. The phrase tastes of Italian food – the world’s most popular cuisine. The phrase lives among ancient monuments and the world’s finest works of art – Italy is home to most UNESCO World Heritage locations in the world. Italian brands are also at the cutting edge of untouchable style, sparking aspirations of la dolce vita in cultures across the world: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Prada, Gucci, Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. But la dolce vita could not be about pleasure and indulgence if it wasn’t also about good health and wellbeing – the WHO has rated the Italian healthcare system as the 2nd-best in the world. As if that all wasn’t enough already, the Italian government has also made a series of tax incentives to attract high-net worth individuals, while rural towns will pay young nomads to move in, set up a business and have a baby. Some towns will even sell you a house for just €1.
Where do expats live in Italy?
Tourism is a massive draw in Italy that contributes to over 60% of the nation’s income. Tourists flock to Venice in the northeast, as well as the Tuscan capital of Florence in the centre of the country where the Renaissance age was born. The Roman ruins of Rome a little further south in the region of Lazio also attracts a large part of Italy’s over 50 million annual visitors. But expats moving to Italy for a year or even permanently do not strictly follow the tourist trail. Italy’s financial, sartorial and manufacturing capital of Milan in the north consistently attracts the biggest numbers of expats and immigrants. The Italian region of Lazio in the central western part of the iconic ‘boot’ is the second-most popular place for expats as its home to Rome, which also attracts many foreign skilled workers or researchers. Away from these regions, however, the real expat homelands come to the front. Tuscany has long been famous for attracting British expats, so much so the region of Chianti popular with Sting and former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been dubbed ‘Chiantishire’. Expat populations can also be found in northern Emilia-Romagna, central Umbria and southern regions of Puglia, Campania and Sicily.
Moving to Italy: The Ultimate Family Guide & Checklist
Do you crave a taste of la dolce vita? Are you looking retire with a stunning views, in an old Italian farmhouse, sipping fine Italian wine? Are you a nomad moving to Italy for a year, or moving to Italy with your young family to give your kids an unforgettable childhood? In this MumAbroad Ultimate Family Guide we’ll cover 9 hurdles when moving to Italy, so you make the best decision for you and your loved ones. For a rapid overview, view the Moving to Italy checklist at the end:
Relocation services in Italy
Visas and residence permits
Opening a bank account
Finding a house in Italy
Healthcare in Italy
Cost of living in Italy
Driving in Italy
Italian school system
Moving to Italy with a dog or cat
Italian language and culture
Moving to Italy – CHECKLIST
Attention anyone considering a move to Italy!
This blog will help you understand all the steps you need to take to move to Italy.
But we often hear that expat families hit a roadblock with the actual move, or finding a house, getting a visa, choosing a school, and much more.
That’s why MumAbroad has partnered with leading specialists who speak your language and can save you time and stress.
In case you get stuck, don’t hesitate to contact one of the specialists below!
Relocation Services Italy
Before you can start to dream about moving to Italy, you need a handle on visas and residence permits. A visa can let you visit Italy for 3 months, 6 months or up to a year. But if you’re planning to stay any longer – or even move to Italy permanently – you’ll need a residence permit. Trouble is you can’t get a residence permit without first getting a visa. So let’s get started.
Can I visit Italy without a visa?
Italy is one of 26 countries in the Schengen Area of the European Union, meaning the same visa rules apply as other Schengen countries like Spain, France and Germany. Short-stay Schengen visas will let you visit or stay in Italy for 90 days within a 180-day period. They don’t let you study, work or retire in Italy and you can’t renew a short/stay Schengen visa for longer visas. But if you’re planning to go house-hunting or get a feel for the country, you don’t want to start by an interrogation at the airport. Here’s an overview of the visas you need to visit Italy as a tourist. (Note: The Vatican City and San Marino are independent states within Italy and not signed up to the Schengen Area agreement. No border control is enforced, though, so you can visit without extra paperwork.)
UK citizen (including after Brexit)
You do not need a visa to visit Italy, and may stay up to 90 days with a 180-day period. Note: counting begins as soon as you enter any of the 26 Schengen countries, including neighbouring France, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland (Switzerland is not an EU country but joined the Schengen Area in 2008).
You do not need a visa to visit Italy, and may stay up to 90 days with a 180-day period. Note: counting begins as soon as you enter any of the 26 Schengen countries (see above).
You do not need a Schengen visa to visit Italy, and may stay up to 90 days with a 180-day period.
Citizen of other non-EEA nation
You may need to apply for a Schengen visa in your home country before entering Italy (notable exceptions include Australia and New Zealand). Consult a list of which citizens need a Schengen visa here. Some countries need an airport transit visa just to pass through an Italian airport.
Can I live in Italy for just 6 months or a year?
Non-EU citizens staying in Italy beyond 90 days for whatever reason – including from the UK after Brexit – must be in possession of a Long Stay Entry Visa. They’re valid for either 3 months, 6 months, a year or even two years depending on the type of visa. The long-stay visa can be renewed, letting you live permanently in Italy if you meet requirements. If you’re planning to move to Italy for a year or shorter you’ll still need to register with regional Italian authorities and get a residence permit (Permesso di Soggiorno) even if you don’t renew it. The permit is a plastic card with an electronic chip. To get a Permesso di Soggiorno you’ll turn up at one of 5,700 Italian post offices that also offer public administration services – Sportello Amico – and pick up a residence permit application kit. You’ll out relevant forms and submit them at the same post office then wait 1-2 months for an appointment at your local Italian Questura office to get your residence permit. Get a receipt from the post office to prove you’re waiting for an appointment.
Apply for a long-stay visa within your country of residence before travelling to Italy. Depending on the type of visa, expect to fill out forms (in Italian), pay up to €116, prepare relevant documents, and apply at the nearest Italian consulate or embassy or official third-party provider. The most important visas for expats moving to Italy are:
- A salaried employment visa lets you work as an employee in Italy. You may need letters from your employer during the application process.
- A self-employment visa lets you work freelance in Italy, providing you can prove an income above €8,500 in the previous financial year and may need a certificate from a regional Italian Chamber of Commerce recognising resources necessary for your business, trade or craft.
- An elective residence visa lets you live in Italy without a job, and is also known as a retirement visa. You must show proof of financial resources to support yourself without working, such as a pension, annuities, property income, or income from investments, stocks or shares, etc. You must prove a minimum income of €31,000 per year if applying alone, or €38,000 as a married couple. This amount increases by 20% for every dependent moving to Italy along with you. Note: this visa doesn’t allow you to work in Italy later on. You’ll also need to purchase international health insurance, with €30,000 coverage a year for all medical expenses in any EU member state.
If the above situations do not apply to you, and you’re not moving for study, research, religious reasons or for marriage or family reunification, it will be hard to move to Italy without a job or without any money.
You can find an easy-to-use guide on the website of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation that informs you of visa requirements depending on your citizenship, current place of residence and purpose of stay in Italy. The guide also lets you download all relevant visa application forms and tells you how to contact your nearest Italian consulate, embassy or third-party service provider.
Adequate medical insurance is often a major visa application hurdle, with most long term visa types requiring coverage comparable to the local national healthcare system. Official websites mention this requirement, but policy details are vague, leading many applicants to discover during the interview that their policies are non-compliant. Rejected policies include travel insurance, Schengen insurance, repatriation plans, those with any excess, and emergency-only plans. You can obtain expert advise and assistance on health cover to make sure your visa application in Italy goes smoothly with Fab Insurance.
How can I move to Italy permanently?
If you want to move to Italy permanently, you’ll need to follow the steps above to gain a long-stay visa and a Permesso di Soggiorno and then renew you residence permit. The valid period of your long-stay visa depends on the visa type, for example the elective residence visa grants you a year in Italy, whereas family reunification and employment visas are valid for two years. You can continue renewing your residence permit for five years, by which time you can apply for a permanent residence permit. The permanent residence permit grants you extra rights, like being able to live and work in other EU countries without a work permit. You can also receive Italian state benefits, like maternity or disability pay. After living in Italy for 10 years, you can apply for citizenship, providing you have a B1 level language certificate in Italian.
It may be a surprise you don’t need an Italian bank account to purchase a house in Italy. Similarly, you don’t have to possess a unique Italian IBAN number to pay for home utilities. Italian banks are notorious for charging high maintenance fees – often around €300 to €500 – but they can make life easier for expats moving to Italy. For example, to buy a house or pay rent or utilities without an Italian account, you’ll need to pay an Italian law firm or property management services to do it on your behalf. If you want more control of your finances in Italy, avoid money exchange commissions or avoid fees at the ATM (Bancomat) then get an Italian bank account.
What Italian bank account should I open?
Expats moving to Italy have three options when opening a bank account:
- Open a non-resident account. You can open this kind of account without being resident or even physically in Italy, but banks might be unwilling to help unless you’re taking out an additional service like a mortgage.
- Open a resident account. You can open a regular resident account by walking into any high-street bank in Italy, and sometimes you can do so online. You’ll need a passport or valid ID, an Italian tax code (codice fiscale) and go through a money laundering check. Some banks might ask for proof of residence. Look out for high maintenance fees and account closure fees. Also check if your bank assists expats. The most popular banks among expats in Italy are: BNP Paribas Italy; ING; Intesa Sanpaolo; Poste Italiane; Unicredit; Fineco Bank.
- Open an online account. You can open an online account with an Italian IBAN without leaving your home, through popular online banks like N26. These banks are often commission-free, but do not allow for cash deposits and may limit Bancomat cash withdrawals.
How do I get a codice fiscale (tax code)?
The Italian codice fiscale is a unique tax number created from your surname (three letters), first name (three letters), date of birth and sex (five characters) and a checksum letter. Here’s an example of how it looks: MLNYSE17A41F205U. To open an Italian bank you’ll need an Italian tax code, regardless of which bank you choose. But you don’t need to be a resident in Italy or even physically in Italy to get one – you can apply at your nearest consulate or embassy after downloading the forms on this webpage. If you’re already in Italy, go to your nearest Italian Revenue Agency office (Agenzia Entrate). You’ll also need this tax code for seeking employment or freelance work.
Sending foreign currency to an Italian bank account
Whether you need to make a large one-off transfer for a property purchase, pay school fees or need to buy everyday items and utilities, exchanging money from a foreign bank is an expensive, inefficient method to do so.
MumAbroad has partnered with Clear Currency, the money transfer people, to provide a more efficient and far cheaper way to exchange currencies. Free to join, and FCA regulated, they offer competitive rates, a dedicated currency exchange platform, phone support and same-day transfers across more than 35 currencies.
Italy has rocketed up the rankings becoming the top destination for UK and American expats buying a second home in 2021, according to Bloomberg. The country has introduced significant incentives that caps income tax at €100,000, reduces capital gains tax after five years and slashes inheritance tax. These measures have attracted nearly 700 Britons and Americans of over €30 million net worth in the last few years, according to UK-based real estate consultancy Knight Frank. House prices in Italy are on average cheaper house than in France and Spain, and many smaller towns and villages have made headlines for selling off abandoned rural homes for just €1 a pop. Some towns will even pay you to move there, pay you to have a baby, and pay you to set up a business – according to Forbes.
Where do expats live in Italy?
There are more than 5 million foreign nationals living in Italy, about 8% of the population. The majority are from eastern Europe, Morocco, China and southern Asia and seek work in Italy’s northern powerhouse region of Lombardy, home to Italy’s financial and industrial capital of Milan. Many of these groups seek permanent citizenship in Italy and pursue different goals to the 36,000 Germans, 31,000 French, 30,000 UK citizens and 15,000 Americans with residency in Italy, typically known as expats. The majority of expats do live in Milan – some 5,000 British citizens, for example – mostly for work but also to live near the stunning Lake Como and Lake Garda. There are significant populations in the regions of Tuscany (Florence and Pisa), Piemonte, Veneto (Venice), Emilia-Romagna, Lazio (Rome) and Umbria. The region of Chianti in Tuscany has become particularly famous among wealthy UK expats – notably Tony Blair and Sting – and enough British have flocked to the area it’s been dubbed Chiantishire. According to a UK government survey, while 34% of British citizens moved to Italy’s cities to work, a sizeable 29% moved to Italy to reunite families and 27% to retire.
You can also find a map from leading Italian property portal Idealista that displays a flag for each town along Italy’s 7,500km coastline according to popularity with expat homeowners.
What are the houses like in Italy?
When moving to Italy, knowing what type of home you could be living in is all part of the attraction. Depending on the city or the region you are moving to, your home may look a little bit different. Below you can see the kinds of property for sale in Italy:
A villa is a type of home you’ll find in the Italian countryside. These homes were once built for wealthy and upper-class people, and are influenced by Spanish architecture, with flat roofs, tall and arched windows, and surrounded by a garden. Prices for well-maintained villas in popular regions can begin at around €180,000.
This type of housing style in Italy is most popular in mountainous regions of Italy. These homes tend to be made of wood with many exposed beams. The interior of the home will usually have high ceilings and an open-space concept. Chalets are built to withstand the cold weather and trap heat. Chalets in the rural north can begin at €70,000,.
Tuscan style homes in Italy are made of plaster and typically have a courtyard. Many Tuscan homes have frescos, murals, and ceramic features. Roofs tend to be low and made from clay tiles of earthy tones like brown, yellow and green. Prices of Tuscan-style homes can begin at around €100,000.
Mediterranean style homes are the ones most expats may be familiar with. Roofs are made of red clay tiles with stucco walls, arches and enclosed patios. This style of home is popular in warmer environments since they are built to keep the interior cool. They are typically the most expensive, since many are built near the sea. Prices can rise to well over €1,000,000.
Is Italy still selling homes for €1?
More than 60 towns and villages across Italy have joined a nationwide movement to reverse rural depopulation by selling homes for a token €1 each. The houses are typically in rural regions like Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria in the south, but there are villages dotted around Lazio and Umbria too. Many of the homes are abandoned farm houses and in a state of disrepair and attract expats dreaming of doing up an old Italian stone house in style. You can find out more at www.1eurohouses.com.
Healthcare in Italy is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world. The country won 2nd place in the World Health Organisation‘s first-ever global ratings in 2000, based on fairness of financing, quality, distribution and efficiency. Italy also has the 8th-highest life expectancy in the world, at 82.8 years, and has some of the world’s lowest fatality rates from coronary heart disease and stokes. Italy’s national health service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN) is free of charge at point-of-service and defended by statutes that make free healthcare a right for the poor as well as undocumented migrants since 1998. Surgeries and emergency hospitalisation provided by public hospitals or by conventioned private hospitals are completely free of charge for everyone, regardless of income. Family doctors are also entirely paid for by the SSN and must offer visits 5 days a week to no more than 1,500 patients per family doctor – much lower than the UK‘s average 2,038 patients per GP. Healthcare is split among Italy’s 19 regions with a degree of autonomy, meaning quality can differ depending on which region in Italy you’re moving to.
Services covered by the universal healthcare system include:
- inpatient care
- preventive medicine
- outpatient specialist care
- maternity care
- home care
- primary care
- hospice care
Services such as psychology or dentistry are not covered by Italy’s national health service.
Do Italians pay for private health insurance?
Private health insurance has a very limited role in the Italian healthcare system – accounting for less than 1% of all money spent on health in Italy. Since opting out of the national health insurance is not an option, a substitutive insurance does not exist. There are complementary insurances that are available. There are two types of private heath insurances: corporate and non-corporate. Corporate insurance is mainly bought by companies to cover their employees and their families. Non-corporate insurance is bought by individuals for their own families. About 10% of Italians have some some form of private healthcare, usually paid for through their employers.
How can expats access the Italian healthcare system?
Expats will need to obtain their residence permit before accessing Italy’s state healthcare, and may be asked to take our private healthcare during the application process. Here’s an overview for accessing the Italian healthcare system:
EU citizens can access Italy’s national health service for free using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
UK Citizens (after Brexit)
UK citizens can still access Italy’s healthcare system after Brexit, but it’s trickier. If you are employed or self-employed in Italy, you can sign yourself and your family up for free as you’re already paying income tax. This is called iscrizione obbligatoria or ‘registration by right’. British pensioners with an S1 form are entitled to register for free Italian healthcare. If you’re not in either category (and not an immediate family member of an Italian citizen or collecting unemployment) you can gain access by paying an annual fee, known as iscrizione volontaria. The minimum fee is €387.34 per year and the maximum is €2,788.86, depending on where you live and your financial circumstances. The one-time annual fee also covers your family and dependents. You can register at your local health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, ASL).
US citizens and other non-EEA citizens
American expats in Italy can access Italy’s healthcare system if employed via the iscrizione obbligatoria (see above) or by paying an annual iscrizione volontaria (see above). Otherwise you’ll need to take out comprehensive private healthcare.
If you’re thinking of moving to Italy and need maternal care, MumAbroad has a network of specialists to help you.
If you’re thinking of moving to Italy and need emotional support, MumAbroad has a network of therapists to help you.
If you’re dreaming of moving to Italy, no doubt food plays a major role in your daydreams. A YouGov poll found that Italian food is the world’s most popular cuisine, with pasta and pizza claiming 1st and 2nd place. The best part of living in Italy? You can dine on fresh pasta and pizza for as low at €9 on average in Italy’s rural areas, and an average of €15 across the country. According to comparison site Numbeo, the cost of living in Italy is lower than in the UK, France, the United States of America, Australia and Germany. Despite being the world’s 8th largest economy, however, when GDP is adjusted with purchasing power per inhabitant Italy falls to 29th place in the list of the world’s richest countries. Italy’s average household disposable income per capita is €23,550, lower than the OECD average of €29,800. The top 20% Italy’s population also earns six times more than the lowest 20% income bracket. Italy also has the third-highest unemployment rates in the EU, at 9.3% of the working population, behind Spain and Greece at around 14%.
Italy ditched its traditional Lira currency for the Euro in 2002. One euro is divided into 100 cents – or centesimi in Italian. Exchange rates as of December 2021 are as follows:
- £1 = €1.17
- USD$1 = €0.89
- AUD$ = €0.63
- AUD$ €0.69
How much are groceries, gas/petrol and utilities in Italy?
The cost of living depends heavily on where you live: the north, especially Milan, is far more expensive than the south, especially Sicily. A supermarket haul of milk, bread, eggs, cheese, basic fruits & vegetables and wine will cost you roughly €27.50 in Catania, Sicily, and €40.30 in Milan. As of December 2021 a litre of petrol costs €1.78 per litre and is the third-highest in Europe. A litre of diesel costs €1.64. Typical monthly utility bills for heating, electricity, water, garbage and cooling will cost between €100-€300 monthly for a 85m2 apartment depending on where you live.
How much is taxation in Italy?
You are considered a tax resident in Italy if you live there for more than 183 days in a calendar year, and will need to declare property holdings and investments outside of Italy. In Italy you can be subjected to three different taxes:
- National income tax, imposta sul reddito delle persone fisiche (IRPEF)
- Regional income tax
- Municipal income tax
Income tax in Italy
Income tax in Italy is known as IRPEF and applies to salaries, pensions, interests and dividends. If you are employed in Italy, this tax will be withheld by your employer monthly. If you are self-employed, you will need to pay progressive tax on your income. These are current income tax brackets in Italy:
Regional income tax
Regional income taxes depend on your region of residence, and can range from 1.23% to 3.33%.
Municipal income tax
Municipal income tax depends on your place of residence, and range from 0% to 0.8%.
Social Security contributions
The Italian social security system and national health service (SSN) is funded by contributions paid by employed workers, employers and self-employed workers. Social security is currently as high as 40% in Italy, though employers typically pay 30% and employees 10%. Self-employed workers can expect to pay 25% of their income in social security contributions.
Tax, Law & Insurance Specialists
If you’re thinking of moving to Italy and need tax, law or insurance services, MumAbroad has a network of specialists to help you:
Non-EU citizens can drive using a foreign driving licence or International Driving Permit (IDP) in Italy for up to one year after obtaining a residence permit. EU citizens can drive for the duration of their current driving licence in Italy without needing to change, so long as they of the new credit-card style licence. Failure to carry a valid driving licence can see an on-the-spot fine of 75.
UK citizens taking up residency in Italy after Brexit will need to sit theory and practical tests (in Italian) to obtain an Italian driving licence.
Americans will need to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) alongside their US-issued driving licence from their first day in Italy. You can buy an IDP here for ¢20. There is no special agreement between Italy and the USA, so Americans will need to take a driving theory and practical test in Italian to get an Italian driving licence after a year of obtaining their residence permit.
Can I drive my foreign car in Italy?
It is illegal for expats with more than 60 days as a resident to drive a foreign-plated car in Italy. The government passed stricter rules in 2018 after many expats and foreign residents tried to avoid paying Italian road tax and insurance, which can easily cost in the hundreds and even thousands per year. Penalties for ignoring this law will see a fine starting at €712.
To import your foreign car into Italy, you’ll need to have a residence permit and register your car with your local Motorizzazione Civile office within 6 months of arriving.
Schooling is free and mandatory for children aged six to sixteen in Italy. There are public schools, private schools, international schools, and Catholic schools available to enrol your children. All public, and most Catholic schools, teach their courses in Italian. If you would like you child to have course work in English, sending them to an international
school or bilingual school would be the best option. The quality of public schools in Italy are equivalent and sometimes even higher than that of private schools.
Italian education system
In Italy, the education system is divided into four main levels:
- Nursery/kindergarten school
- Primary school (6-11)
- Lower secondary school (11-14)
- Upper secondary school (14-19)
To enrol you child in a nursery, you must go to a nursery directly and fill out an application. You are not
guaranteed as space in a nursery. The fee for public nurseries depends on your family income, with
priority given to families with lower income. The overall cost for municipal nurseries can cost between
190 and 485 USD. Private nurseries can be as expensive as 660 or 770 USD.
Preschool/Kindergarten in Italy
Since nursery or kindergarten is not compulsory, your child is not guaranteed a space at your local preschool. You can apply for a local public nursery, or send your child to a private or international preschool. See our MumAbroad list of top-rated international schools and bilingual schools in Italy here.
International schools offer education levels from preschool to upper secondary schools. With that being said, international schools do have high tuition rates and fees, and can be as high as €15,000 annually depending on your child’s age, the school’s location and whether your employer pays for schooling.
You can find a more complete overview of the Italian education system here.
Italy is a fantastic place for taking dog on long walks in the woods, mountains or beaches. Dogs are a common site out and about in Italy, including in restaurants and cafes. If your dog doesn’t meet Italian legal requirements, however, it will put into quarantine. Italy used to have an extensive list of 92 different banned breeds – including collies and corgies – but changed legislation in 2007 to put responsibility for a dangerous dog on the owner. There are now no banned dog breeds in Italy (except in Venice where Rottweilers and Dobermans are prohibited) but if your dog is considered dangerous you’ll need to take responsibility with proper training, using a lead no more than 1.5m long at all times, and wearing a muzzle whenever out in public.
What vaccines do I need to bring my pet to Italy?
If you’re thinking of moving to Italy with your dog or cat, your pet must have an ISO pet microchip inserted, and have a rabies vaccine at least 21 days prior to arrival and no more than a year prior to arrival. If your pet received vaccines before fitting a microchip, you’ll need to vaccinate again. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO 11784/ 11785 compliant, you may have to bring your own microchip scanner. If you’re bringing your dog from the United States or Canada, yo’ll need a USDA accredited veterinarian to complete official health certificates. If you bring your dog to Italy from a country with a prevalence of rabies, dogs must have a Blood Titer Test one month after vaccination and three months prior to departure. Uk citizens moving to Italy after Brexit do not to take a titer test.
The official language of Italy is Italian, with a few minority languages spread throughout the country. One minority language that can be found in Southern Italy is Griko. This language is spoken by the Griko people who are believed to be decedents of the ancient Greek communities in Southern Italy. Other minority languages you might encounter are: Gardiol, Sardinian, Vastese, Toitschu, and Molise Croatian.
Here are some basic phrases you will need once you arrive in Italy and settle into your new life abroad:
- Buongiorno! (bwohn-johr-noh) (Hello! and Good morning!)
- Arrivederci! (ahr-ree-veh-dehr-chee) (Goodbye!) (Formal)
- Ciao! (chou) (Hello! and Good-bye!) (Informal)
- Buonasera! (bwoh-nah-seh-rah) (Good afternoon! Good evening!) (Formal)
- Buonanotte! (bwoh-nah-noht-teh) (Good night!) (Informal)
- Come si chiama? (koh-meh see kyah-mah) (What is your name?) (Formal)
Italians like to let their hands do the talking and, according to one study, there are around 250 gestures used in everyday conversation. Swipe the fingers outwards from under the chin to say ‘I couldn’t care less’ or pinch the fingers together and move the hand up and down to say ‘what are you talking about?’
Here’s a list of key aspects of Italian culture you’ll need to know before moving to Italy:
- Spaghetti and Meatballs does NOT exist. In Italy, pasta and meats are served separately, with pasta usually eaten first before you order you preferred protein.
- When walking down the street you may think people are fighting but speaking at loud volumes is just the way Italians speak.
- The time concept in Italy is more relaxed. People don’t tend to be super punctual, except for the public transportation, so do be late to catch your bus!
- Shopping hours in Italy are also very different than in America. Most stores tend to close at mid-day and don’t open until the early evening.
- When ordering at a restaurant, depending on what you order, your meal will come out at different times. As mentioned previously, Pasta is usually served first with meat afterwards. Therefore, if you order pasta, and your friend orders meat, then you can expect for your food to come out at different times.
- Italian people are very friendly. If you happen to already know Italina, you will be welcomed even more and treated like family. Creating new friends in Italy hopefully will be not that much of an obstacle.
- The north and south of Italy are vastly different. The south has less museums and major cities and is overall made up of poorer regions. The north has some of the major cities, with more historical attractions and museums, and much more expensive.
- Soccer/football in Italy is such a huge part of the culture, so don’t forget to go to a game.
- When crossing the street in Italy you must be very careful. If you cross and are not one cross walk, you must pay the damages to the car. If you try to hail a cab, do so in the specified cab areas. It is illegal for cabs to stop and pick you up on the side of the street.
If you’re thinking of moving to Italy and need cultural services, MumAbroad has a network of server providers to help you:
For a quick moving to Italy checklist, these are the 9 hurdles when moving to Italy in brief:
- If you’re not from the EU. you’re going to need a visa. To get a visa, you’ll need a job offer, university place, pension, self-employed business, relative in Italy or sufficient funds to support your costs. You’ll find it very difficult to move to Italy without a job and no money.
- Italian banks can charge outrageous commissions up to €600 annually – research accounts and make a wise choice for your finances.
- Finding a house in Italy will depend on your purpose: workers go to the north and retirees or second home-owners tend to go for central Italy and the south.
- Italy’s healthcare system is world-class, so if you’re not working think about paying a voluntary contribution to get access for you and your whole family.
- Taxation is high in Italy but there are tax incentives – like flat tax regimes to attract high net worth individuals.
- If you’re not from the EU, you’ll need an international driving permit (IDP), and then an Italian licence after 12 months in Italy. You’ll have to sit exams in Italian.
- Find a private school that teaches in English or another foreign language, or prepare for private English lessons, or your child will struggle in their English language development at Italian schools.
- Make sure your dog or cat is microchipped and your dog has had a rabies jab.
- Relax! In Italy time moves slow and punctuality is not a priority, so take it easy and enjoy la dolce vita.
We hope you enjoyed the MumAbroad Ultimate Family Guide to moving to Italy. Ciao!