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Living in Italy: Book Reviews

Planning on moving to Italy and don't know where to start? Emma Bird gives her opinion on the books that promise to tell you everything you need to know. 

Head for the moving abroad section of any major bookstore these days and you'lll come across dozens of guides all claiming to make you more Italian than the average Italian. I wish these books had been around eight years ago when I was preparing to move to Bologna. Had they been, I probably wouldn't have been the nervous wreck I was. I've no doubt at all that even the most complicated of tasks such as getting my Permesso di Soggiorno and enrolling at university would have been a damn sight easier with one of these informative guides in my bag.  

But with all those glossy covers hoodwinking you into a glamorous life in the Eternal City of Rome or the metropolitan jungle of Milan, just how easy is it to choose the right book for your needs? Make sure you know exactly what advice you are after and whether the book is written with a specific nationality in mind. 

Living, Studying, and Working in Italy: Everything You Need to Know to Live La Dolce Vita
Travis Neighbor Ward & Monica Larner
Owl Books 

Living, Working and Studying in Italy

If you can only afford one book on living and working in Italy then make it this one. Although written by Americans for Americans, it is a goldmine of information for other nationalities, too, ensuring it will become a well-thumbed addition on any bookshelf. How to start your own business, survive culture shock and master the language are just some of the topics dealt with by the authors who have spent more than 16 years living in the Bel Paese. Whether you are a student planning a semester in Venice, or a professional fed up of life in America, this "bible" won't disappoint. 

Going to Live in Italy: Your Practical Guide to Life and Work in Italy
Amanda Hinton

Going to Live in Italy

This book is as reassuring as your mom holding your hand when you are a child. Author Amanda Hinton succeeds where others fail because she tells it as it is rather than merely stating the official Italian procedures. What really makes the book a must-have are the facsimiles of Italian documents, ranging from the Telecom Italia bill through to the codice fiscale (tax code) that you will need on arrival in Italy. Each part of the document is numbered and then explained in English thus saving you the headache of translating on the spot in front of a stressed Italian civil servant. Hinton has reduced the information to the bare essentials and so you won't find information on hiring a car here as she assumes you either don't need a car or you will be buying/importing your own. This guide is aimed at UK readers and promises to make you more Italian than the average Italian and to take away the headaches that being ~stranieri" can present. And while it won't turn you into a sophisticated Italian, reading this book will certainly help. 

Living Abroad in Italy
John Moretti
Avalon Travel

Living Abroad in Italy

In 1999, author John Moretti, then 26, left his job as a small-town reporter in Vermont in search of fame and fortune in Italy. Four years and several jobs later and Living Abroad in Italy is in print. The result is a comprehensive look at life in Italy although you get the sense that Moretti never had any problems finding work as the Employment section makes no mention of the obstacles facing Americans. And if you are thinking of moving to Sardinia, forget it: despite being the second largest island in the Mediterranean, it gets a nominal mention on pages 7, 9, and 10 of the guide, but is completely missed out of the section on Prime Living Locations. Moretti's guide seems to be written for the freelancer who is not planning to stay long-term in Italy. If this is the case, this book is as comprehensive as you need it to be. 

Live & Work in Italy
Victoria Pybus & Huw Francis
Vacation Work Publications 

Live and Work in Italy

Victoria Pybus and Huw Francis have tried to pull-off a comprehensive guide to Italy. Cutting out the waffle, they present a nuts and bolts guide to daily life in the country where bureaucracy reigns. They take into account British, American and Canadian readers and where procedures vary according to nationality, these are explained in full. Each chapter has a first-page summary allowing readers in rush to take in the main points. Another "one-off" are the case study interviews giving readers a chance to gain an "insider's" approach to Italy although frustratingly for non-EU citizens these are mainly aimed at the UK market. However, the book falls down in several areas and some chapters are patchier than they should be. For most expats keeping in touch with friends and family back home is high on the list of priorities, yet the authors make no mention of how to go about buying a cell phone. They also sketch over internet connections and ignore the high speed internet providers and how to access this. Fewer pages about the history and the culture and more practical guidelines would make Live and Work in Italy a clear winner. 

Working and Living Italy
Kate Carlisle
Cadogan Guides 

Working and Living in Italy

Texan native Kate Carlisle has been in and out of Italy for 12 years and based in Rome for eight of those. And it shows. She writes for both British and American readers and somehow manages to cram in everything you need to know about Italy along with what you want to know. She also assumes the reader is ignorant, explaining processes and documents in step-by-step detail. Unlike most other guides, the employment section also includes a section (albeit brief) on traineeships and suggests further sources for more information. Carlisle also handily includes a reference section where you'll find a glossary of useful terms, together with random bits of information on public holidays, imperial to metric conversions and internet vocabulary useful for when you're trying to dictate your email address to someone.  

Living and Working in Italy
Edited by Graeme Chesters
Survival Books 

Living and Working in Italy

I bought the guide before moving to Milan and found nothing as it was supposed to be. Thankfully, the second edition is an improvement but it still provides sketchy and disordered information. The Finding a Job and Employment Conditions chapters are a perfect illustration of this. Temporary, casual and part-time work is followed by a few paragraphs on teaching English (but with no mention of CELTA certification, pay or general teaching conditions). This is then followed by Voluntary Work, Job Hunting, Salaries, Self-Employment, Starting a Business and Au pairs, although why au pairing comes after starting a business is anyone's guess. But a major plus that sets it apart from its competition, is the paragraph on the codice fiscale. This is the only book I know of that actually explains how to work out your own codice fiscale -- brilliant if you need to buy a cell phone but haven't yet got round to officially getting your tax code. As for the rest of the information, well, it's in here somewhere. You just have to find it.  

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