Living in Italy?

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Living in Italy, from South Africa

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Italy at a Glance

Healthcare and Leisure in Italy

When staying in Italy, you may indeed experience la dolce vita. Do you also want to settle under the Tuscan sun and mingle with the locals? Our InterNations article on life in Italy has just the information you need on housing, healthcare, and education for expats and their families.

Healthcare System

Italy has a very well-established public healthcare system. It covers the treatment and prevention of illnesses and diseases, therapy and rehab measures, psychiatric care, and health and safety at the workplace.

Employees automatically receive healthcare coverage from their employers, who pay up to 2.68% of the employee’s paycheck to the respective public health authorities. If you are working in Italy and have brought your family along, they are automatically eligible for public healthcare once you are officially registered.

The SSN, Servicio Sanitario Nazionale, covers between 200,000 and 300,000 people, depending on each region. The regions are managed locally by the ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale) and/or USL (Unità Sanitaria Locali). A list of all ASL addresses can be found via the Ministry of Health website.

In order to obtain your health insurance card (tessera sanitaria), visit the nearest local health insurance office. You can find the address via your regional ASL website. If you live in a major city, like Milan or Florence, just Google “ASL” + “city”, and the regional healthcare homepage will show up. They will be able to tell you where to get your insurance card.

Medical Care and Private Insurance

Medical care in Italy is up to date, and doctors take pride in their job. Some expats prefer to get a private health insurance policy for themselves and their families, as treatment may be faster than with regular state aid. The quality of the treatment does not differ, but the waiting periods in hospitals or for an appointment do, since the state system is sometimes overburdened. Moreover, foreign-language doctors who cater specifically to the expat community mostly have private clinics.

The largest private health insurance provider in Italy, formerly state-owned, is Assistalia, which also covers pension plans and car insurance. There are also a number of foreign health insurance companies with agencies in Italy. They provide special health coverage for expatriates, including options for international health insurance and repatriation.

There are no dangerous contagious diseases or particular health risks within Italy. People moving there are not required to have any specific vaccinations, either. Just get the full array of normal booster shots and maybe additional immunizations for hepatitis A/B. As always, when moving with children, contact the school district for any necessary immunizations your child may need to attend school.

Leisure

An important detail to keep in mind when choosing a new place to live is the types of leisure activities a country has to offer and whether or not these fit your expectations. Italy is known for its fast cars, striking and expensive fashion, fine wines, and diverse landscapes. But what does it really have to offer to its inhabitants?

Stemming from Ancient Roman times, there are many thermal baths and spas spread out across Italy, which provide a variety of health benefits. Due to its various territories, Italy also has a lot of athletic options for active foreign nationals, such as swimming, playing golf, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, and sailing.

Cycling has also become a popular national pastime in recent years, and Italy offers many different terrains for doing so, from flat valleys, over gentle hills, to steep inclines. Depending on the city you choose to be your new home, Italy’s museums offer a number of fascinating exhibitions and collections by renowned artists.

The Official Tourism Website for Italy, although designed more specifically for visitors rather than expats, gives a great overview of Italy's various regions. This may prove helpful when planning trips to other parts of Italy once you have settled in.

InterNations Expat Magazine