Living, Studying, and Working in Italy: Everything You Need to Know to Live La Dolce Vita

Living, Studying, and Working in Italy: Everything You Need to Know to Live La Dolce Vita

by Travis Neighbor Ward, Monica Larner

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Overview

All the information you could possibly need for your time in Italy, whether a week or a decade, in a completely updated and revised edition
So, you want to move to Italy for six months but you don't speak the language well. How do you look for a job? Your heart is set on buying a farmhouse in Tuscany. What are the legal pitfalls to avoid? You'd like to study in Rome, but your college doesn't have a program. Which schools should you apply to?
With all-new information on the Internet and on the effect of the conversion to the euro, this essential companion guide to Italy features
- hundreds of addresses and Internet sites, from real estate agencies to job banks
- details on visas, banking, taxes, and residency permits
- freelance, seasonal, part-time, and full-time employment options
- more than two hundred language schools, American colleges, and Italian universities
Written by Travis Neighbor Ward and Monica Larner, two seasoned expatriates, Living, Studying, and Working in Italy is packed with candid insider's tips and practical, up-to-date information for travelers of any age.

Editorial Reviews

EBOOK COMMENTARY


"Armed with this thorough and informative guide, Americans can negotiate the challenges of settling in Italy without sacrificing their delight in its surprises and eccentricity."--Nancy Novogrod, Editor in Chief, Travel & Leisure

From the Publisher

"Armed with this thorough and informative guide, Americans can negotiate the challenges of settling in Italy without sacrificing their delight in its surprises and eccentricity."--Nancy Novogrod, Editor in Chief, Travel & Leisure

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466867598
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/08/2014
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 6 MB

Read an Excerpt

Living, Studying, and Working in Italy

Everything You Need to Know to Live La Dolce Vita, Second Edition


By Travis Neighbor Ward, Monica Larner

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2003 Travis Neighbor Ward and Monica Larner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6759-8



CHAPTER 1

A Place to Call Home


"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change," wrote Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in his 1958 novel, The Leopard. Although Tomasi di Lampedusa, the son of a nineteenth-century Sicilian landowner, was referring to the sweeping changes that were ushered in with the Risorgimento, which led to the birth of a unified Italy, his timeless remark characterizes a country that awkwardly straddles old and new, tradition and modernization. If one were to pinpoint the "magic" of Italy, it is precisely that: while its citizens co-habit with centuries of past history, Italy enthusiastically embraces the new forces that characterize this millennium. This is evident not only in the ancient ruins that rise beside modern apartment complexes but in rich cultural traditions like the tightly knit family unit and the small-town feel of major metropolises like Rome and Milan. The Italians are a people of enormous fantasy and creativity who have successfully carried these traditions forward in a country that now stands among the world's richest and most powerful.

This comfortable space in which Italy exists between tradition and transition is what has attracted foreign visitors en masse for centuries. It is what made Americans in the past spend weeks traveling across the Atlantic Ocean in small trading ships to reach Italian shores, and dismantle entire carriages at the Mount Cenis Pass to carry them across rocky Alpine peaks. They went from Florence to Rome on foot, passing the bodies of executed highwaymen hanging from poles, and braved the Pontine Marshes, infamous for malaria-infested air and violent bandits. When they got to Sicily, they rode across the arid island territory on mules. They did whatever it took to go to Italy, and once they got there they inevitably fell in love with what they saw and wanted to stay for longer than planned.

Today, without those physical challenges of traveling, the number of Americans visiting Italy each year has risen to more than 2.5 million, and the number of other foreigners is about 60 million. Most go for a modern version of the "Grand Tour," whisking about from town to town for a night and a day just to see the Roman Forum, the Uffizi Gallery, the canals of Venice, the ancient city of Pompeii. But for some modern adventurers, this brief encounter is not enough. They want to dig deeper, not just to see the country but to live it. They come for a month, a summer, a year, sometimes a lifetime.


A Young Country

Despite a history rooted in antiquity, the Republic of Italy is really just over one century old. Before 1861, Italy was a collection of regional principalities with independent governments, varied dialects and currencies, and even different standards for weights and measures. These small states despised their neighbors and spent a good amount of time clobbering each other. Despite this infighting, Italy was proclaimed a united nation following the Risorgimento, when Giuseppe Garibaldi and his army of "Redshirts" marched up and down the peninsula and joined the territories in the name of King Vittorio Emanuele II and the Italian monarchy. In 1870, Rome was conquered and "Italy" as we know it was born.

Yet, even once "united," Italy remained a loosely assembled group of separate regions. Benito Mussolini, who led the nation into the Second World War by ruling with the iron grip of fascism, had visions of glorious conquests of an Italian empire complete with colonies in Africa. An empire was never created, but today many of the problems of old, such as distinct regionalism, persist. Much of the nation is still permeated by a profound sense of belonging known as campanilismo — or a visceral attachment to one's city, village, or whatever cluster of homes exists around the inevitably oversized church steeple nearest them. A citizen of Siena, for instance, is first a contradaiolo, or member of his or her neighborhood, and then a Sienese. Being Italian or European is a lesser concern. It has long been said that Italy is really only unified during World Cup soccer matches, when Italians from everywhere wave the tricolore, or red, white, and green flag, in support of the national team. Otherwise, some historians wonder if Italy is no more than a "geographic expression" — a land bounded by mountains and sea but not by a sense of national identity.


The First Republic

Italy emerged from the darkness of fascism with a strengthened desire to rebuild a unified nation. In 1946, the Italian Republic was formed following a popular referendum in which voters ousted the monarchy that had ruled them for seventy years. A year later, the Italian Constitution was approved and Italy became a democratic republic divided into twenty regions made up of province (provinces) and comuni (municipalities). A political structure was designed with the intention of never letting any one party or individual gain too much power the way Mussolini had.

Ultimately that structure has been the leading cause of Italy's lack of political stability. The government consists of two houses of Parliament (a Chambers of Deputies and a Senate), the president (presidente della Repubblica), and the prime minister (presidente del Consiglio). The president is elected by the Parliament and functions as the official head of state, though he or she does not set the political agenda. Instead, the prime minister, chosen by the president based on election results, runs the nation. The prime minister is also responsible for forming the actual government by choosing from members of his or her coalition and appointing heads of the various ministries. Overlooking all of this is the Constitutional Court, consisting of fifteen appointed judges who define the power of the state and its regions and make sure new laws conform to the Constitution.

While this system has numerous built-in safety measures to make it theoretically stronger, in reality it amounts to a structure so weak that the Italian government falls on average every nine months. (Some sixty governments have existed there since the end of the Second World War.) With as many as thirty or forty competing political parties operating at one time, few can ever gain a significant enough percentage of votes to make a difference. As a result, the only way a government can stay in power is by coupling various parties together in broad, poorly defined political alliances. In 1993, the electoral process was reformed by popular referendum to give more direct voting power to the people, but the resulting "mixed system" based on two electoral principles (proportional and majority representation) is so confusing lawmakers have repeatedly gone back to their drawing boards but have still failed to come up with a better solution.

Despite weak governments, the postwar period of industrialization brought enormous wealth to Italy. The decades of the 1950s and 1960s are known as the period of the "Italian Miracle" because companies in the north flourished and successful small businesses all over the country catapulted Italy into the same economic bracket as its prosperous northern European neighbors. Turin, the leading industrial hub, saw the rise of Fiat, Italy's number-one carmaker and its single most important company. Olivetti, a former typewriter maker turned telecom giant, and Pirelli, a former tire maker that now makes fiber-optic cables, also helped spur growth. Changing fashions took much of the spotlight from France and let it shine on Milan and Florence, and former leather and textile artisans like Prada and Gucci soon became luxury icons.

The postwar period was also the era of the Cold War, with Italy serving as a crucial axis between East and West, and home itself to the largest Communist party in the Western world. On the other side of the political spectrum, extreme right-wing groups with roots in fascism began to emerge. To keep the extreme right and left at bay, centrist political alliances held a virtual monopoly on power. The common denominator was the Christian Democratic Party, which had strong ties to the Catholic Church and the United States — both interested in limiting the Communists' power. Tensions culminated with the 1978 kidnapping and execution of former prime minister Aldo Moro by the extreme left-wing Red Brigades, comprised largely of intellectuals and university students. The so-called Years of Lead that include the 1981 kidnapping of U.S. Army general James Dozier by the same terrorist group mark a turning point in Italian history. The naïve enthusiasm connected to newfound prosperity came to an end. Italian governments continued to operate on the "revolving-door" principle: the same group of people moved in and out of power with such frequency that no outsider could find a way to slip in. Like anything that stays in one place for too long, the revolving-door governments resulted in stagnation, a lack of political renewal, and ultimately a climate ripe for corruption.


The "Second" Republic

Corruption is exactly what Italy got. With the destruction of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the division between East and West became blurred and Italy began a process of self-evaluation so dramatic it has been dubbed the "Second Italian Republic." A group of dissident judges led by Antonio Di Pietro exposed the corruption that had tarnished almost all political parties during the revolving-door frenzy, especially the Christian Democrats and the Socialists. The judges, viewed as modern-day Robin Hoods, forced Italians to acknowledge that Italy was rotten at its very core. Judge Di Pietro created computerized files on politicians and businesspeople, logging their incomes, bank balances, and tax declarations and then cross-referencing the information to uncover massive discrepancies that could only be explained by illegal activity. The evidence became the basis of the anticorruption probe "Mani Pulite," or "Clean Hands," that started in 1992. Within three years more than five thousand businessmen and politicians, as well as three former prime ministers, had been implicated — including the late Bettino Craxi and seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti, once nicknamed "Eternal Giulio" because he always lurked in government corridors. Many of the bribes consisted of kickbacks paid in exchange for public works contracts. At one point, Clean Hands had one-third of the entire active Senate under criminal investigation. Italy's financial capital, Milan, became known as "Tangentopoli," or "Bribesville," because so many of its citizens were found to have paid or received bribes. An era of austerity soon followed: one of Milan's most storied cocktail bars, Caffè Vittoria, crossed imported champagne off its menu and went back to serving Campari.

One outcome was polarized politics, or a more defined left and right wing that cut many of the useless in-between parties out of the picture. A former cruise-boat crooner turned media mogul named Silvio Berlusconi campaigned for the prime minister's seat in 1994 and won. As Italy's richest individual, he convinced voters he was a political "outsider" and could apply his successful business model to good government. His first mandate lasted a mere eight months and failed partly because of the motley coalition partners he engaged. These included Umberto Bossi, a former separatist who dedicated himself to a secessionist movement to sever the north from the rest of the nation, and Gianfranco Fini, formerly the leader of the Movimento Sociale Italiano founded by the Fascists. Bossi generally provoked laughter — and Fini provoked fear — but nonetheless Berlusconi aligned himself with the same cast of characters when he became prime minister again in May 2001. In between his governments, the center-left ruled, led by Romano Prodi who claimed the victory for getting Italy ready for the European Monetary Union. Later, and without a popular mandate, the center-left headed by Massimo D'Alema (further to the left, with ties to the old Communists) grabbed power. His government faced the tricky task of joining NATO forces in the Kosovo strikes. In 2001, Berlusconi and his center-right coalition went back into power following a landslide election win. During all of this, some skeptics wondered how exactly Berlusconi made his fortune, but many more Italians seemed to care less. The pendulum, or, as it were, the revolving door, continues to swing.


Italy and Europe

The sobering effects of the post-Tangentopoli era did force Italians to scrutinize their role as one of the founding members of the European Union (EU), as well as their participation in the European Monetary Union (EMU). Italy knew it would have a hard time meeting stringent EMU requirements. Belts were tightened, public enterprises auctioned off, and budgets slashed as the nation underwent a makeover of sorts, to look pretty for Brussels. It worked.

Today, a series of treaties and legislation has harmonized Europe and thrown many benefits Italy's way. Thanks to the Schengen Treaty, Italy's European borders are open, permitting free passage for EU citizens (they were temporarily closed, though, in a controversial move to stop violent protesters from entering as Genoa hosted the Group of Eight summit in July 2001). But the most significant benefit was the January 1, 2002, currency switch from the lira to the euro. On the stroke of midnight, bank machines stopped issuing the beloved bills once adorned with the familiar faces of Montessori, Bellini, Bernini, and Caravaggio, and replaced them with euro banknotes with generic "European" monuments that do not exist in real life. Italian national identity thrives only on the backsides of euro coins: Dante Alighieri (2 euros), Leonardo da Vinci's drawing (1 euro), the Campidoglio's Marcus Aurelius statue (50 cents), Umberto Boccioni's futurist statue (20 cents), Sandro Botticelli's Venus (10 cents), the Colosseum (5 cents), Turin's Mole Antonelliana (2 cents), and Puglia's mysterious Castel del Monte (1 cent). Within a few months of life with the euro, 90 percent of Italians admitted they would go back to the lira if they could. The euro, they argued, was too difficult to calculate (one euro is 1,936.26 lire according to the fixed exchange rate. For Americans it couldn't be better, because one euro is approximately one dollar). Many Italians also said the new money had pushed up prices, especially at small shops and grocery stores, by as much as 20 percent because shopkeepers rounded up to the nearest euro coin. But laments such as "l'euro è una fregatura" ("the euro is a rip-off") were soon brushed off as growing pains.


North and South

Former separatist Umberto Bossi had his fifteen minutes of fame when he argued that the prosperous north, including Lombardy, Piedmont, and the Veneto, become its own nation named "Padania." In 1996, he went as far as declaring Padania's "independence" from Italy and pledging that it would have its own Parliament and police force. Although Bossi was considered farcical, it became clear that he had exposed a nerve in Italian society and pinched it hard, bringing the problem of Italy's regional differences to attention.

The north is eight times richer than the south, which suffers from isolation and poor infrastructure, and is therefore taxed more. Yet much of the revenue goes to funding reconstruction and development programs in the impoverished Mezzogiorno, or "Midday," as the bottom third of Italy is collectively known. Many Italians live with an enormous feeling of injustice as a result, the northerners because their wealth is not recycled within their own regions, and the southerners because they have been forced to rely on government handouts. The tension often amounts to overt racism, the southerners nicknaming northerners "polentoni" after the quantities of cornmeal (polenta) they consume, and the northerners branding them "terroni," a nasty pejorative meaning "earth people." Steps have been taken to decentralize government and award more autonomy to regions, but reforms are slow in coming.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Living, Studying, and Working in Italy by Travis Neighbor Ward, Monica Larner. Copyright © 2003 Travis Neighbor Ward and Monica Larner. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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