Area: 301,230 km ²
Climate: predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in the far North, hot and dry in the South
Population: 58,126,212 (est. July 2009)
Government Type: Republic
National Holiday: June 2
GDP: $1.821 trillion (est. 2008)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $ 31,000 (est. 2008)
Information for Foreign Students in Italy
Obtaining a Visa
As a citizen of the European Union, you must apply for a residence permit at the Central Questura. You should arrive at the opening with all copies in order (including the copy of your European health assurance card).
Traveling to Italy is simple, relatively quick and inexpensive. There are indeed lowcost airline companies (like Ryanair or Easy Jet) which will enable you to reach Italy for about 25 eurosm depending on where you are coming from in Europe (you should book a ticket about a month in advance). You can also travel by train and it is possible to get tickets for 25 euros. The other advantage of the train is that you can take more baggage with you than if you were traveling by plane.
For accommodation, you have two choices: the first is to live in a student residence; the second is to live in an apartment in collocation. First, it is possible to apply at the university for a student residence where the monthly price can range from 350 to 850 euros. The residences should be booked as soon as possible after your admission at the university. The alternative is the apartment. Even if the ads are numerous, you should often visit several apartments before finding the right one but generally, you will find a suitable apartment after 5 weeks of search. For apartments, it will take about 400-450 euros for a double room and 500 euros for a single room (excluding charges in both cases). You can use other means to find a home as well: your acquaintances and personal network, as well as religious dormitories.
Cost of Living
In large cities, prices are in general relatively close to the prices in other European countries. For accommodation, the prices are very volatile depending on the season and the filling ratio. With food, prices range from 15 to 30 euros in expensive restaurants. To taste a full meal of regional specialties, you should pay 30 euros.
There is no need to open a bank account in Italy. Check before you leave your country with your bank to know the amount of commission charged for each withdrawal. The majority of hotels, and in a lesser extent, a large number of service stations will accept them. However, many shopkeepers do not. Cash distributors such as "bancomat" which accept MasterCard and Visa are scattered everywhere. This is changing but in Italy, when paying with a credit card, you only have to sign. Thus, a lost or stolen card can cost you a lot of money. You will notice that in major Italian cities, the "bancomats" are very seriously monitored, as fraud is frequent.
To get an Italian phone, you should go to Tim or Vodafone. The two are roughly equivalent. You can buy a new phone or keep yours if your SIM card is not blocked. To get a phone number or activate a line, it will cost you around 15 euros. Then as the months pass, you can reload your credit by buying prepaid cards which are very useful. You insert it in your cell phone and 2 minutes later, you have a phone line in Italy. There is no package for small and medium-sized budgets in Italy and the calls per-minute and texts are quite expensive. Telephone booths have disappeared over the years but there are still some of them in some downtown areas. If you do not have the Internet at home and if you want to install it, the prices are very high compared to other countries. You have the choice between Alice and Fastweb (70 euros per month). If you do not want to install Internet at home, you can go to the info centre at the university.
Go to your local insurance center to request a European health card, which is essential in case of a health issue and to apply for a residence permit. A temporary card will be given to you first and then you will then receive the official card.
Public transport is cheap. The price of a subway ticket is 1 euro. The railway network offers interesting discounts. You can get discounts with the InterRail Pass. Information and reservations can be obtained at 0-825-800-329 and on the following website: www.ferroviedellostato.it. Buses are generally on time, more comfortable than the train but often more expensive. Bus tickets are on sale at newsstands, tobacco shops and in some cash distributors.