All EU citizens are eligible to work and study in Italy. Work permits are pretty impossible for non-EU citizens to obtain: you must have the firm promise of a job that no Italian could do before you can even apply to the Italian embassy in your home country.
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The main bureaucratic requirements to stay legally in Italy are a Permesso di Soggiorno and a codice fiscale, respectively a piece of paper proving your right to be in the country and a tax number. Available from the questura (police station), a Permesso di Soggiorno requires you to produce a letter from your employer or place of study, or prove you have funds to maintain yourself. In reality, EU citizens can simply apply on the grounds of looking for work (attesa di lavoro), for which you’ll need a passport and a photocopy, four passport photos, and a lot of patience. A codice fiscale is essential for most things in Italy including buying a transport season-pass, a SIM card, opening a bank account or renting a flat. It can be obtained from the local Ufficio delle Entrate although you can start the process online at w agenziaentrate.gov.it.
One obvious work option is to teach English, for which the demand has expanded enormously in recent years. You can do this in two ways: freelance private lessons, or through a language school. For the less reputable places, you can get away without any qualifications, but you’ll need to show a TEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) certificate for the more professional – and better-paid – establishments. For the main language schools, it’s best to apply in writing before you leave (look for the ads in British newspapers The Guardian and The Times Education Supplement), preferably before the summer. If you’re looking on the spot, sift through the local English-language press and phone books and do the rounds on foot, but don’t bother to try in August when everything is closed. The best teaching jobs of all are with a university as a lettore, a job requiring fewer hours than the language schools and generally providing a fuller pay-packet. Universities require English-language teachers in most faculties, and you can write to the individual faculties. Strictly speaking you could get by without any knowledge of Italian while teaching, though it obviously helps, especially when setting up private classes.
If teaching’s not up your street, there’s the possibility of holiday rep work in the summer, especially around the seaside resorts. These are good places for finding bar or restaurant work, too. You’ll have to ask around for both types of work, and some knowledge of Italian is essential. Au pairing is another option: again sift through the ads in locally produced English-language publications in the big cities or The Lady magazine to find openings.
One way of spending time in Italy is to combine a visit with learning the language, either as part of an overseas study scheme or by applying directly to a language school when you arrive.
AFS Intercultural Programs US t 1 800 AFS INFO or t 212 299 9000, w afs.org. Runs two-semester student exchange programmes.
American Institute for Foreign Study US t 1 800 727 2437, w aifs.com. Language study and cultural immersion for the summer or school year.
Australians Studying Abroad Australia t 1800 645 755 or t 03 9822 6899, w asatours.com.au. Study tours focusing on art and culture.
British Council UK t 0161 957 7755, w britishcouncil.org. Produces a free leaflet detailing study opportunities abroad. The Council’s Central Management Direct Teaching (t 020 7389 4931) recruits TEFL teachers for posts worldwide.
Erasmus w ec.europa.eu/education. Europe-wide university-level initiative enabling students to study abroad for one year.
International House UK t 020 7611 2400, w ihlondon.com. Head office for reputable English-teaching organization which offers TEFL training and recruits for teaching positions in Italy.
Italian Cultural Institute UK t 020 7235 1461, w italcultur.org.uk. The official Italian government agency for the promotion of cultural exchanges between Britain and Italy. A number of scholarships are available to British students wishing to study at Italian universities.
Road Scholar US t 1 800 454 5768, w roadscholar.org. Runs activity programmes in Italy for over-60s.