Five Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy

In my previous posts, I talked about moving to Spain. But maybe you’ve chosen the land of well dressed and attractive men as your next destination. Since you’ve chosen Italy as your next nesting place, you should be aware of the following before you make your big move! (Don’t worry I’ll talk about pizza too).

1. Visas/permits
Once again, if you want to overstay the three month time limit and you do not belong to a Schengen country, particularly if you are Canadian or American – you must apply for a visa or permit in your country of origin. If you are studying abroad, you should probably be accepted within 4-8 weeks if the paperwork is done correctly. However, there’s a huge work crisis in Italy, so if you’re not going over to teach English, or transferring from a multinational, stay away (unless you’re aiming for a waitressing job).

When you arrive, you must go to the police station and show them your visa, and they will give you a little card called permesso di soggiorno, which you should keep on you, especially when travelling.

2) Avoid big cities
The rent in Milan or Rome will be twice as high as a smaller city, and you’ll probably be earning the same amount – give or take a hundred euros. Before opting for the overpriced obvious choices, why not try smaller, but beautiful cities like Bologna, Verona, or Lecce. The south of Italy operates like a third world country in terms of organization, but the towns are smaller, the food and weather are better, and the people are nicer.


3) Lots of things are done illegally
Make sure that your boss and your company are offering you a real position with guaranteed pay. Many places offer work in cash without a contract, and I don’t think I need to specify why this is a bad idea. Also, ask for your contract in English, so you can take a better look at what you’re getting yourself into. Research the place beforehand to see if anyone has anything negative to say on the internet. If you’re teaching, look for big name franchises, not small, private schools.

4) Beauty, and damn good food
I don’t have to tell you that Italy is a beautiful country, because that’s what it’s famous for. If you have the opportunity to travel around Italy for an extensive period of time, or you’ve decided to move here, there are a ton of beautiful and unique towns to check out, and they may not be the obvious big city gems. My personal favourites are Porto Venere (picture above) Sirmione – Lago di Garda, Lecce, and Otranto (see below)

imageSpeaking about the food would be redundant because it’s food you’ve already dreamt about. Fun fact: fettuccine Alfredo doesn’t exist. It’s an American invention. If you mention Alfredo, people will think you are referring to their uncle/brother/friend with the same name.

5. Level of patience required = Buddhism
You will have to accept things that would be considered unacceptable in North America or other parts of the world. Yes, your train was scheduled for 5pm, and no, it won’t arrive before 5:45, or later. TrenItalia is the real mafia of Italy (yes, sue me). They offer horrible customer service (see my post: Is This Train on Fire?!). Moreover, if they are over 50min late, sometimes they just cancel the train so they won’t have to exercise their refund policy.

If you need paperwork done for any reason, make room for a 6 hour block in your day, as you will be greeted with long lines, and unhappy people waiting to serve you. Better yet, take two days off – just in case.

Honestly I would suggest getting into some type of hypnotic meditation when you arrive in order to avoid pulling out your own hair. Or you could drown your frustrations with some great wine and pizza. Fun fact: pepperoni means pepper. If you ask for a pepperoni pizza, you will get a pizza with peppers on it. Another American invention. Our version of pepperoni is simply called salami.

One thought on “Five Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy

  1. And… We Italian do not eat spaghetti with meat balls ( another American invention) but spaghetti al ragù. We have sort of 30 entrees and yes, due to the crisis it’s not eat not only to find a job, but to be allowed to get a working VISA. We host aupairs, the cultural exchange, and since the job is super light, we add a job too ( just For People trained to become teachers, TEFL or still studing at the University for few years). but being European, Canadians, New Zealander or Australian makes things more’s short term ( both be an aupair and the parallel opportunity offer ed to the person stays with us). When you arrive in Italy, you need to register to the police station within 48 hours, not if you are staying in an hotel ( they do it). If you need a VISA, questura or Poste Italiane ( you can get the papers and then go to questura). The request for the VISA MUST be done prior to the arrival in your own country, in the Italian Embassy ( also the working Holiday VISA, again not for Americans ). Italy is Made of rules and exceptions! Mary


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