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Getting around Italy

No matter whether you prefer the train or a car, navigating your new home in Italy doesn’t need to be stressful.

Italians have an enduring love affair with motor vehicles. It’s not surprising given that some of the world’s most beautiful cars have been built and designed in the country. From stunningly beautiful, and fast, Ferraris and Lamborghinis to the humble Fiat Uno, you’ll be able to spot all models, shapes and sizes in Italy. An imported Volkswagen Golf will cost around €20,000 and the price of a litre of petrol to put in your car is €1.49. If you’ve been living in Italy for a while, go down to a local dealership and invest in a small-engine, environmentally friendly car—- a 2015 Nissan LEAF might only cost you €16,500 — your insurance and car tax bills will be reduced, and the process is easy. All you’ll have to take with you as an expat are your:

  • Tax code
  • Proof of insurance
  • Identification documents
  • Residency certificate

Register your new acquisition with the Office of Motor Vehicles, Pubblico Registro Automobilistico and pay your car tax — your local tobacconist will supply you with the relevant tax receipt, which should be displayed in your car windscreen. Finally, ensure that you invest in a high visibility jacket. You’ll have to carry this in your boot — it’s against the law not to have one of these.

Italian driving can be chaotic, involve a lot of horn blowing and insults, and many Italians tend to drive as if they are the only people on the road. You are taking your life into your hands.

Taking a train is easy

The Italian train service is fantastically easy to navigate. And, yes, the trains do run on time. Tickets are cheap, and there’s no better way to explore the country than to take a train. You can start your journey in Milan, stay on the same train and go to Rome and then change for a train to Florence. The journey from Rome to Florence will take one hour and 30 minutes and will only cost €19.00 (As of March 2018). Most of the main stations will have names of destinations, but just in case they don’t carry out some research in advance of your trip. Florence is Firenze in Italian, Venice is Venezia. If you’re taking a long-distance journey look out for the new Frecciarossa 1000 trains, they’re comfortable, and very fast. Seats on this service have to be reserved in advance, though you can see if there are any seats available on the day of your planned trip by simply going to the station.

Online or self service

It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Italian if you want to buy your ticket online as the screen will display a multitude of other languages. Tourism is big business in Italy and the government wants to make your life as easy as possible. The self-service ticket machines in the stations are also very easy to use. If you’re using a local station for a regional service that doesn’t have a ticket collector, you’ll need to validate your journey. Click your ticket into the yellow machine that’s placed by the entrance of the station — you’ll be fined if you take your seat on the train without carrying out this process.

Of course, once you’re living in Italy, it’s easy to travel to other countries in Europe. You could start your journey in Milan, travel through the alps to Zurich and then travel on to Paris on the same train. Alternatively, you can change at Zurich and travel on to Moscow. You’ll find that there’s something rather romantic about viewing Europe through the windows of a train.