Italy at a Glance
Education and Transportation in Italy
If you are going to be living in Italy with your children, you may consider sending them to an international school. In this way, they will have the opportunity to receive an International Baccalaureate and be able to study abroad. Moreover, they won’t have to cope with the language barrier in Italian schools. Below, you can find more information on various education options in Italy.
The School System
In Italy, school is compulsory from the age of six to the age of sixteen. As in most other countries, education is a very important part of kids’ daily life.
The national education system is divided into three “cycles”. These cycles are then divided into types of schooling: kindergarten (scuola dell’infanzia), first cycle (scuola primaria and scuola secundario di primo grado), and second cycle (liceo, istituto tecnico/professionale, or istruzione e formazione professionale).
The first cycle is composed of primary school and middle school, which children attend until the age of fifteen. A foreign language, usually English, is introduced in the first grade (around age seven), and a second one in the fifth grade (age eleven).
After completing the first cycle of school, students take an exam to qualify either for the liceo (the Italian equivalent to high school) or for an institute that offers vocational training. The licei cater to different academic interests, such as the classics, fine arts, natural sciences, etc. Upon successful completion of the liceo, the students receive a university entrance diploma.
A number of international schools in large cities, especially Rome and Milan, cater to foreign students. However, it is not only expat kids who attend them. Many Italians find it important for their children to excel at a second language as well.
You should look out for the following things when searching for an international school that will best suit your children:
- What kind of degree(s) does the school offer?
- Which languages and other disciplines will your child study there?
- What is the ration of foreign students to Italians?
- Where is the school located?
- How much does it cost in annual tuition fees?
A general stereotype of Italian drivers is that they are sometimes rude, a bit chaotic and do not necessarily follow traffic rules. To some extent, this is unfortunately true. However, the road network in Italy is highly developed. There are 6,000 kilometers of motorways across Italy, most of which are toll roads.
Gas prices are relatively high, compared to other European countries, and obviously vary from region to region. It may be useful to check the current local gas prices when you are planning on taking a long trip within Italy. Thus you can figure out if it would be more cost-effective to drive or take the train.
Trains and Buses
The national Italian railroad, the Ferrovie dello Stato, can conveniently take you from one city to the other. It offers an efficient alternative to driving and gives you good value for your money.
Another alternative to driving is using the bus, and there are many private bus companies in Italy. One bus company coming highly recommended (and comparatively cheap) is the iBus. Unfortunately, this kind of long-distance coaches and most trains usually do not stop at small towns across Italy.
In order to reach a less popular destination, it is useful to check the local bus listings. There are many regional bus lines within Italy that connect smaller cities, towns and villages, catering mainly to the working population. This results in hours of high traffic in the early morning and in the evening, so plan your trip accordingly.
If you prefer to get around by car, but do not have a car or were unable to bring your own vehicle, you should know that renting a car in most Italian cities is not that expensive. It costs anywhere from circa €60 to €80 a day, depending on make and model. Gas is paid for by the customer.
All short-term visitors in Italy can use a valid European driver’s license or an International Driving Permit. Nationals of EU countries can indeed keep using their license until it expires, even if they are staying in Italy for more than three months. However, drivers with an international permit then need to acquire an Italian one within one year after arrival.
You can find more information on licenses and traffic regulations in our guide to driving in Italy.