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Living in Italy

What You Should Know About Living Costs and More in Italy

Get to know some essential country facts about Italy. We cover some practical aspects of living in the country, such as expenses, where to find embassies and airports, the fascinating Italian culture and their love of food, wine, and good conversation.

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If you want to know what the cost of living in Italy is, the short answer is—it depends. The north of Italy tends to be more expensive than the south, but even between cities, the costs for housing, transportation, or communications can vary greatly.

This section guides you through some of the practicalities of living in the country in this section. Get to know how driving, including if you need to exchange your driver’s license—non-EU citizens do—and public transportation work, so you can decide on your commute and how much that is going to cost you. We also provide some practical information you might want to have under your belt, such as the emergency number, what type of power socket is used, and more.

Practical Information

When you move to another country, there are some practical details you main not remember to look up. Where are the country’s main airports and embassies? What is the emergency number? What are the public holidays in Italy? Here are some facts about the country that will ease your relocation there.

  • Country name: Italian Republic, Repubblica Italiana
  • Government type: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • Capital: Rome, Roma
  • Currency: Euro (EUR, €)
  • Languages: Italian is the official language
  • Religions: Roman Catholicism, which makes up around 70%
  • Time Zones: UTC+1 (CET) and UTC+2 (CEST)
  • Emergency number: 112
  • Calling code: +39
  • Voltage: 230 V, 50 Hz; outlet type F, C, E, or L

Public Holidays in Italy

These are the public holidays in Italy:

  • New Year’s Day, Capodanno: 1 January
  • Epiphany, Epifania: 6 January
  • Easter, Pasqua: On a Sunday in spring
  • Easter Monday, Pasquetta: Monday after Easter
  • Liberation Day, Festa della Liberazione, 25 April
  • International Workers’ Day, Festa del Lavoro: 1 May
  • Republic Day, Festa della Repubblica: 2 June
  • Assumption Day, Ferragosto or Assunzione: 15 August
  • All Saints’ Day, Tutti i santi: 1 November
  • Immaculate Conception, Immacolata Concezione: 8 December
  • Christmas Day, Natale: 25 December
  • Saint Stephen’s Day, Santo Stefano: 26 December

Main Embassies in Italy

In Italy, you can find some of the main embassies in Rome, precisely 139 embassies. Milan is the second city with the most consulates, but you may also find some consulates in other regions of the country, such as Bari, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, etc.

Main Airports in Italy

Italy has close to 40 airports in its territory. Some of the biggest and busiest airports are:

  • Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino, in Rome
  • Milan Malpensa, in Milan
  • Orio al Serio, Bergamo (serves Milan)
  • Venice Marco Polo, Venice
  • Catania
  • Naples
  • Milan Linate
  • Bologna
  • Palermo
  • Rome Ciampino, Rome
  • Pisa
  • Bari
  • Cagliari
  • Turin

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Cost of Living

The average cost of living in Italy is going to look very different depending on which part of the country you move to. So, is it expensive to live in Italy? It doesn’t have to be if you pick the right city. But in general, if you enjoy the fast-paced city life that you will find in Milan or Rome, you should count on slightly higher expenses.

Living Expenses in Italy

Rent takes up a significant part of your budget, no matter where in the world you intend to live. In Italy, you can expect rent prices to be high in the main cities, but these may be very low in the countryside.

Rent Prices by Region and Main City

The average rent price in Italy is 800 EUR (880 USD) a month. However, this is just the average—you will find rental prices to range from 490 to 1,550 EUR (540 to 1,700 USD).

Below is a table with monthly rental prices by region, from most expensive to least expensive.

Region EUR USD
Valle d’Aosta 1,555 1,730
Sardegna 1,480 1,645
Lazio 1,200 1,330
Lombardia 1,195 1,325
Toscana 1,140 1,265
Trentino 1,015 1,125
Emilia Romagna 955 1,060
Veneto 915 1,015
Liguria 850 945
Friuli Venezia Giulia 760 845
Piemonte 755 840
Marche 740 820
Campania 705 785
Puglia 680 755
Basilicata 675 750
Umbria 650 720
Abruzzo 640 710
Sicilia 610 675
Molise 520 575
Calabria

 

490

 

545

 

Utility Costs

As for some utility costs, you would typically pay between 100 to 150 EUR (110 to 165 USD) for electricity, gas, and water for an 85 square meter apartment. Internet would cost around 20 or 30 EUR (22 to 33 USD) monthly.

Travel and Transportation

Daily trips in public transportation usually cost around 1.5 EUR (1.60 USD), while a monthly pass costs 35 EUR (40 USD).

If you plan on driving in the country, you should know gas prices are currently around 1.55 EUR (2 USD) a liter.

Healthcare Costs

When it comes to healthcare costs, you can expect to pay around 80 or 90 EUR (88 or 100 USD) for a visit to a private doctor, and no more than 8 EUR (9 USD) for over the counter medicine or antibiotics.

Costs of Education

Enrolling your kids in private school will cost around 15,000 EUR (16,500 USD) a year, but it could cost anywhere between 7,000 and 19,000 EUR (7,700 and 20,900 USD) yearly depending on the school.

If you are going to have expenses with preschool for your child, this would cost around 400 EUR (440 USD) a month for a full day of daycare.

Groceries and Food Prices in Italy

Below are some common items you would typically buy for groceries.

Item EUR USD
Apples, 1 kg 1.80 2
Banana, 1 kg 1.60 1.80
Chicken Breasts, 1 kg 8.10 9
Eggs, 12 2.60 2.90
Lettuce 1 1.10
White Bread, 500 g 1.50 1.6
Local Cheese, 1 kg 12 13
Milk, 1 l 1.10 1.2
Onions, 1 kg 1.20 1.3
Oranges, 1 kg 1.60 1.80
Potatoes, 1 kg 1.10 1.20
Rice, 1 kg 1.90 2.10
Tomatoes, 1 kg 1.90 2.10
Alcohol Prices
Item EUR USD
Bottle of Wine, Mid-Range 5 5.50
Domestic Beer, 0.5 l 1.20 1.30
Imported Beer, 0.33 l 1.60 1.80
Cigarettes 20 Pack 5.40 6

Eating out at restaurants typically costs around 15 EUR (16.5 USD), in an inexpensive restaurant. A two-person meal at a mid-range restaurant would be around 50 EUR (55 USD). Eating at a fast-food chain is usually no more than 8 EUR (9 USD).

Entertainment and Other Expenses

As for some other expenses, we provide a list of prices for miscellaneous items and activities that should you give you a taste of the cost of living in Italy.

Miscellaneous Expenses EUR USD
Fitness club, monthly fee 48 55
Renting a tennis court, 1 hour 18 20
Cinema ticket 8 9
Pair of good quality jeans 77 85
Summer dress from a chain store 30 33
Pair of mid-range running shoes 80 88

Cost of Living in Italy by Region and City

The cost of living in Italy will vary greatly between the north and the south of the country.

The most expensive cities in Italy are:

  • Milan
  • Florence
  • Genoa
  • Rome
  • Bologna

Some of the cheapest regions in Italy are:

  • Abruzzo
  • Puglia
  • Basilicata
  • Calabria
  • Molise
  • Piedmont
  • Le Marche

Culture and Social Etiquette

You will find Italian culture and social etiquette to be very particular. In this section, we cover some important aspects of Italian culture that are sure to help you assimilate the local culture if you are planning on relocating to Italy.

Italian Values

  • Family is one of the cornerstones of Italian culture, so it makes sense to mention it first. The nuclear family is a big priority among Italians, which is reflected on their healthy work-life balance.
  • It’s often the case that 20 and 30-year-olds still live with their families due to tight family bonds and oppressing economic conditions.
  • In the South of Italy, it is not uncommon for extended family to live together, although this might be a dying trend.
  • Families members are, therefore, known to have tight bonds and to provide emotional and financial support to each other when needed.
  • Italians enjoy their downtime. The feeling of time slowing down and the enjoyment of the present moment is something that appeals to Italians—think sitting on the terrace, sipping an espresso, and watching passersby on a sunny afternoon.

Greetings

  • Italians are generally effusive and extroverted, even in public. They use various facial expressions and hand gestures while speaking—just look up the famous Italian hands.
  • Italians may greet others with an embrace or with kisses on the cheek if they know each other well. When meeting for the first time, however, it is more common and recommended to shake hands. When going for the two kisses, start with the left cheek to avoid bumping noses.
  • Ciao is typically not used amongst strangers. If you don’t know the person and wish to greet them, it is safer to use buongiorno or buonasera.

Socialization

  • Making conversation in Italy is something that is usually appreciated. Strangers may strike up a conversation with you to comment on a queue, the weather, even on your children, etc. Going straight to the point is usually not how you would find Italians to converse. Even when you have a purpose when speaking to someone, it is appreciated that you make small talk by asking how they are doing, for example.
  • Fashion is important in Italian culture. Many Italians want to be perceived as elegant and put-together, and compliments on their style are generally well-received.
  • Going out to dinner will generally not happen before 20:00, but it may be later than that.

Etiquette in Public

  • Pay special attention to the road in Italy when crossing. Drivers may not stop at crosswalks unless they absolutely must.
  • Smoking has been increasingly forbidden in public establishments.
  • When invited to a social gathering at someone’s house, it is acceptable and sometimes expected for you to bring a symbolic gift, such as wine, flowers, or chocolate.

Language

  • You will typically be able to find locals who speak English in major cities. If you are moving to or visiting the countryside, you can’t take English for granted, but in general, you are sure to find a local with a basic understanding of English. Older generations may not speak other than Italian.
  • You are not expected to know Italian. That said, learning a few Italian words is always appreciated, such as per favore (please), grazie (thank you), and prego (you are welcome).

Italian Cuisine and Dining Etiquette

  • Italian cuisine is famous worldwide, and it is one of the most important cultural and social aspects of Italian culture.
  • You are sure to find wine, cheese, pasta, and bread in most Italian meals.
  • Many social gatherings are centered around meals, be it family, friends, or coworkers and business partners.
  • Italians follow the continental table manners: hold your fork with your left hand and your knife with your right hand.
  • Hosts will typically sit at the center instead of the head of the table, and these are often the ones to make the first toast.
  • It is wise to follow for others’ lead at a dining situation: don’t sit before you are assigned a seat, or before you see others pick a seat.
  • Don’t place your elbows on the table, nor your hand in your lap.
  • Pick up cheese with your knife—don’t use your fingers.
  • It is acceptable to leave a small amount of food on your plate.
  • You are often offered a second serving. It is ok to either accept or decline as you wish.

Religion

  • The majority of the population (around 70%) are Roman Catholics, although only one third are practicing Catholics.
  • That being said, the rest of the population may have other religions or be irreligious.
  • To be safe, avoid arguments about religion, which may be a sensitive topic.
  • You may not be allowed inside a church if your clothes are too revealing. When in doubt, cover knees and shoulders to make sure you are not barred.

If you are worried about culture shock or a challenging integration in the local culture, be sure to request InterNations GO! cultural and language training services.

Driving in Italy

Driving in Italy shouldn’t be too complicated, but this will mainly depend on where you will be driving. Several highways, or Autostrade, can be found throughout the country, which are comfortable to navigate. However, you will find streets in historic centers to be narrow and winding. These are easily congested, which is why motorcycles are such a popular means of transport.

If you are used to relying on GPS, keep special attention to the road and your route. This is because you run the risk of finding two or more towns with the same name, or one-way streets wrongly signaled on GPS.

If you plan on driving in Italy, keep reading to know all about driving licenses in the country.

How to Get an Italian Driver’s License

The legal age for driving in Italy is 18, regardless if you have been granted a license in another country before that.

Whenever driving, you are required to have on you:

  • your original driver’s license;
  • international driver’s permit (in some cases);
  • liability insurance;
  • your ID or passport.

If You Have an EU License

If you have a European driving license, you can use your license to drive in Italy. Keep in mind that your license is only valid for ten years, and the validity may shorten as you age.

If You Have a Non-EU License

If you have a non-EU driving license, including a US driving license, you will need to exchange it for an Italian driving license within one year. Keep an eye out for updates on Brexit, as you may need one too if you have a UK driving license. An International Driving Permit (IDP) accompanying your original driving license may also be recognized.

To exchange your driving license, you must go to an office of the Ministry of Transport in your province or Ufficio della Motorizzazione Civile. You will need to bring the following documents:

  • Your original driving license and a copy;
  • Application form Model TT2112, duly completed;
  • Two passport-size photos;
  • Medical certificate with a picture, plus a copy;
  • Payment of the applicable fee—9 EUR (10 USD) for a cc 9001, or 32 EUR (35 USD) for cc 4028.

Driving Rules in Italy

Here are some basic rules about driving in Italy:

  • You drive on the right side;
  • Dipped highlights must be used on two-way motorways;
  • The use of seatbelts is compulsory, and car seats are mandatory for small children;
  • The alcohol limit for driving is 0.5 grams per liter;
  • You cannot drive in a Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) without a special permit.

To rent a car, most companies in Italy require you to have a driver’s license for at least one year. However, requirements may differ from company to company, and some may ask you to pay a young driver fee up until the age of 24.

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Public Transportation in Italy

If you want to make use of public transportation in Italy, this section should cover all of your options.

How is Public Transportation in Italy?

Italy has a good network of trains, buses, ferries, and, in some cities, metros. The country even has an extensive network of airports, so it’s possible to take flights between major cities and regions.

Trains

Local trains connect several towns in Italy. These railways can be found throughout the country and are usually quite affordable. Be sure to validate your ticket before getting onto the carriage, or you risk being fined.

You also have the option to travel by high-speed train. There are two railway lines that connect Turin-Salerno and Venice-Salerno. These lines stop by some of the major cities such as Milan, Bologna, Rome, and Naples.

Buses

Italy’s network of buses is growing, with long-distance buses becoming more and more popular. You can get assistance from your local tourism office to know all of the bus lines in your city of residence.

Metros

You can find metros in Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin. Genoa, Catania, and Perugia also have a small metro network.

What are the Costs of Public Transportation in Italy?

Transportation costs vary by region and, of course, by mode of transportation. However, in most cities, a single trip on a city transport would cost around 1.50 EUR (1.60 USD). A ticket to travel the whole day can range from 4.50 EUR (4.90 USD) to 12 EUR (13 USD). The most expensive transportation you would find is in Venice, with single trips by water bus costing 6.50 EUR (7 USD).

As for taxis, a normal tariff would start at around 5 EUR, and then 1.50 EUR for each kilometer. This means a one-hour taxi drive can range from 12 EUR to 40 EUR.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: May 06, 2020
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