Information on the essential services in Italy and how to get them connected to your home…
Before applying for any utility, whether in a rented or owned property, a foreigner in Italy will need a valid tax number, (Codice Fiscale) obtained from the provincial tax office (Ufficio delle Entrate).
When moving into newly built accommodation it will be necessary to set up connections to all utilities.
If the property is being rented and the utilities are included in the rental contract, then the landlord or letting agent will itemise the amounts at the end of the year.
If taking over the utilities from a previous tenant, find out whether the person has cancelled their contract. If not, it will be necessary to transfer (una voltura) the accounts. This is generally easier than setting up new accounts.
The previous owner or tenant should provide a copy of their most recent bill. It is advisable to go through the meter together to verify that there are no extra charges incurred from the latest bills.
Most utility companies do not read the meters regularly; instead, an invoice based on an estimate (stimata) of previous consumption is sent. A meter might be checked once or twice a year, and an invoice is then issued with the adjusted amount due (conguaglio) according to the actual consumption. Bills are usually sent bi-monthly and can generally be paid at the post office or through a direct debit payment from a bank account.
Find out how to get connected to a gas supply in Italy…
The gas market in Italy was deregulated in January 2003 and consumers are now entitled to choose their provider. The rental agency or real estate agent will be able to provide contacts for the area. Gas is widely used for heating, water heating and cooking appliances throughout Italy.
Gas is available in three forms:
- Mains gas (gas di città or mettano)
- Bottled gas (bombole)
- Outdoors gas tank (bombolone)
Mains gas (gas di città or metano) is generally available in large towns and cities in the north of the country.
Mains gas is used for appliances and heating and all installations have to be approved by the supplier. Gas water heaters need to be serviced and descaled annually.
On moving in, a new tenant or property owner should contact Italgas/SIG to have the meter read and the gas turned on.
The supplier will need the:
- Registration number of the meter
- Name of previous tenant/owner (if possible)
- Name and account details of new tenant/owner
Mains gas is charged by the megacalorie (MCAL) and invoiced bi-monthly. Payments can be made by direct debit or at the post office.
Bottled gas (bomboli) is most commonly butane gas (although propane is available). It can be bought in small quantities (usually 10, 15 or 20 kilograms) in bottles and is usually kept in the kitchen under the sink. Bottled gas is most commonly used to fuel cookers but may also be used for “fire” heaters and to heat water.
Typically a €10 deposit, in addition to the price of gas, should be paid to the supplier (local supermarket, petrol station) for the first bombole purchased. Thereafter, the empty bottle can simply be exchanged when paying for a full one. Some gas suppliers deliver.
Tank gas (bombolone) is more common in rural areas. Gas is stored in a large tank outside the house (usually 1,000 litres of liquid gas) and is used for hot water and heating.
Generally, the tank is installed by the gas company and remains their property. They charge for supplying the gas. A tenant/owner will need to sign a supply contract with the gas company and will be charged for a fixed minimum usage per year.
The property insurer must be informed if the property is using a gas tank (insurance premiums may be slightly higher).
- ENEL GAS Tel: 800 900 860
- VIVIGAS Tel: 800 151 313 (client service number)
- ITALGAS Tel: 800 900 999 / 800 900 700 / 800 987 898
- EDISON ENERGIA Tel: 800 031 141
- A2A ENERGIA Visit the a2a Energia website for a list of regional customer service numbers
- ACEA ENERGIA Tel: 800 130 333
- ENI Tel: 800 900 700
- EON ENERGIA Tel: 800 999 777
- GDF SUEZ Tel: 800 422 422 (09:00-18:00 Monday-Friday for an English speaking consultant)
- HERA COMM Tel: 800 999 500
Understanding the Italian water supply system…
Every comune has its own water company. The water supply is controlled by the comune and pricing can depend on the size of reserves and rainfall received in the region. Contact the Ufficio Acquedotto at the comune offices to initiate service.
Mains water supply is limited to a fixed, metered amount per household and an annual consumption which exceeds the limit must be paid for.
“Outdoors” water (for outdoor watering or to fill a swimming pool) requires a specific contract (uso vario) and is metered separately.
Water is usually billed twice a year with an “estimate”. When the meter is read, an adjusted bill is sent. At this point it is recommended to confirm the reading to make sure the figures are correct.
To arrange to receive water, provide the local water company with the following:
- Tax code (Codice Fiscale)
- Identification document (Documento Identità)
Note: Generally, residents of apartments and condominiums will pay the water bill as part of the fees, no special arrangements are needed.
The Political Resources website has a list of Italian Municipalities and contact details
Find out how to get your new home connected to the landline telephone service in Italy…
Handy Tips and Numbers
|To call internationally from Italy: dial the exit code followed by country code and number||exit: 00 +|
|To call an Italian landline from outside Italy: dial the entry code followed by Italian number including the “0”||39 + 0 number|
|To call an Italian mobile cellular telephone from outside Italy: dial the entry code followed by Italian number excluding “0”||39 + number|
|Operator for collect calls||170|
|International directory enquiries (English-speaking)||176|
|Telecom Italia’s customer service||187|
- When calling within Italy, always include the full area code (starts with “0” and may be two or three digits: eg: Rome “06”)
- When calling Italy from outside Italy dial the country code (39) and full area code including the “0” (0 plus two or three digits: eg: Rome “06”)
Online telephone directories:
- Yellow pages (Pagine Gialle) For business and company numbers
- White pages (Pagine Bianche) For private phone numbers and addresses
Coloured telephone numbers
Some public-service telephone numbers are referred to by colour; the colour corresponds to the type of service provider to which they connect the caller.
- Green numbers (numeri verdi): freephone/toll-free numbers start with 800 or 147 (from inside Italy only; may not be available from mobile phones)
- Blue numbers (numeri azzurri): to report child abuse
- Pink numbers (numeri rosa): to report abuse of women
- Violet numbers (numeri viola): to report any sort of abuse
- Red numbers (numeri rossi): pregnancy/prenatal advice
- Orange numbers (numeri arancioni): psychiatric help
Land Line Telephones
Land line telephone numbers in Italy are between eight and eleven numbers long and begin with a “0”. The “0” must be dialed when calling the number both from within Italy and from abroad.
The national Italian telephone company, Telecom Italia is responsible for providing the land line telephone service in Italy. Telecom Italia offers telephone and Internet services for private individuals and small companies as well as medium and large entities.
The law assigns to Telecom Italia the responsibility to guarantee to users, nationwide, the supply of telephone services (local, national and international calls, transmission of data via fax as well as connection to the Internet) at a reasonable price and at non-discriminatory rates. However, with a deregulated telecommunications market, users are entitled to choose another provider, either as a substitute for Telecom Italia, or in addition to the services offered by Telecom Italia. All telephone companies offer a choice in tariff and combination package options.
To get a land line telephone service with Telecom Italia
- Contact their service centre on 187
- Apply via the Telecom Italia website (in Italian)
The following information is required to initiate telephone service:
- Tax number (codice fiscale)
- Address where the line needs to be installed
- Phone number at which the applicant may be contacted
- Type of service required (basic analogue, ISDN or ADSL)
- Number of extensions required
- Additional telephone service required, such as a special tariff package
- Model (name, colour) of telephone, if applicable
- Whether the applicant would like their number to be included in the local phone book
Telecom Italia will then assign a new telephone number, and an appointment will be set up with a technician to come and connect the telephone (this may take from a couple of days to a couple of weeks).
Telecom Italia have details on the options available to pay a telephone bill.
Other land line telephone service providers
Besides Telecom Italia, some other service providers in Italy are:
Refer to the provider websites for details on how to request service. All providers will require the same information as Telecom Italia to initiate service.
It is usually possible to keep the current telephone number when transferring to another provider.
Find out how to get connected to mobile telephone services in Italy…
Italian mobile phone numbers are ten numbers long and begin with “3”.
Phone models available are much the same as in any other country, as are the brands: Samsung, Nokia, iPhone, etc. Phones purchased in another European country can be used in Italy, though roaming charges may be payable.
GSM cellular phones from North America must be tri-band in order to work in Italy; they must be able to function on the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies.
There are six major service providers for cell phones in Italy:
- TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile)
- Omnitel Vodafone (comprehensive site in English)
- Poste Mobile
Each company offers a broad range of voice and data services and packages, and it is always recommended to compare prices and conditions carefully before entering into a contract.
The following information is required to initiate mobile telephone service:
- A document indicating the applicant’s address
- Tax number (codice fiscale)
International roaming (which allows a phone on an Italian contract to work outside the country) is available but must be requested and may cost extra.
Choose from either a permanent contract at a fixed monthly rate, or a rechargeable/pay as you go one where the phone card must be regularly recharged with additional credit. Additional credit vouchers (richariche) can be purchased from grocery stores, tobacconists and magazine shops; sometimes they are in the form of scratch-off cards. Credit can also be purchased through ATMs, the service provider’s website, customer service phone line or in their phone shops.
Lost or stolen mobile phones
All mobile phones have a unique identification code, the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code. This belongs to the handset and is associated with a card, the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card, which holds the telephone number assigned to a customer. Access to the SIM card can be protected by personalising the card with a 4 digit PIN number
The IMEI number provides protection if a phone is lost or stolen. The IMEI code is clearly shown on the paperwork at time of purchase. Make a note of it and keep it separate from the mobile in case the phone is lost or stolen. If the purchase paperwork is not available, it is possible to find the IMEI number by entering: *#06# on the keypad.
The loss (smarrimento) or theft (furto) of a mobile cell phone should be reported to the service provider immediately. They will need the IMEI number or details of the SIM card. The service will be suspended and the telephone blocked making it impossible for anyone else to use it, and the phone may be traced. The owner is responsible for payment of any calls made until the SIM is blocked unless they have taken out insurance with the supplier.
If the phone is stolen, a declaration can also be made at the nearest police station; the police must be supplied with the IMEI number.
The Internet options available to you in your home in Italy…
Widespread and reliable internet access is slowly developing in Italy and access very much depends on location. Broadband is available mainly in urban areas and big cities. Smaller villages may only have dial-up or ISDN access available. Satellite Internet is available in rural areas but this is a more expensive option.
The Internet service market in Italy remains dominated by the operator Telecom Italia (Alice), however the providers are numerous. Some of the most popular providers are listed below. Note: all websites are in Italian.
(This list is not exhaustive)
In areas that do not have access to broadband ADSL Alice provide a flat rate connection fee called Teleconomy Internet, which offers connection via dial-up or ISDN (faster than dial-up, but still fairly slow). All other providers also offer a dial-up service.
Some companies, such as TIM and Vodafone, also offer connection via a mobile phone (which means connection can only be made if a signal can be obtained). A dedicated mobile phone is suggested for users who plan to use the internet heavily.
It is also possible to connect to the Internet at cafés and Internet bars.
Internet in Tuscany
In Tuscany, Eutelia offers wide area wireless broadband service.
- Eurobuzz: Cell phone services for those travelling to Italy and Europe
Getting to grips with TV standards, understanding where and how to pay the radio and TV licence fees, and what’s available to the TV viewer in Italy…
There are three main television/video standards in use throughout the world.
- The system used in the US, Canada, Japan and some other countries is called NTSC
- Most of Western Europe, Australasia and Southern Africa use a system called PAL
- Eastern Europe (and France) uses SECAM
The three standards are not compatible with each other. This means that a TV signal (or video) produced for one system will not work on machinery that’s been designed for another.
The Italian system is PAL, therefore a non-PAL compatible television in Italy will not receive a signal or be able to broadcast sound and picture. Multi-standard European TVs and VCRs with automatic switching circuitry are available from electronics suppliers.
Note: there are very few English-language broadcasts in Italy.
Italy finished broadcasting in analogue in July 2012. Digital terrestrial television has led to the increase in free-to-air national channels from 10 to 75.
DTT decoders or set top boxes can be connected to non digital television sets and are widely available on the Italian market. In order to improve picture quality it may be necessary to replace the current aerial with a ‘high gain’ type or to change its position to point directly towards a transmitter.
The Ministro dello Sviluppo Economico has published a practical guide to digital TV in Italy. (PDF in Italian).
The TV Tax
In Italy every house, office or car using a radio or television has to pay a TV tax, (Canone Rai). This is used to subsidise the public television stations (Rai 1, Rai 2, Rai 3).
The tax must be paid regardless of whether these channels are used by a household. However, there is only one payment per household, covering all television sets that the subscribers have for their own private use in the main house as well as in any second home, and for all the members of the family.
People living in furnished flats who do not own the television set they use are also required to pay the TV tax.
People residing abroad with a home in Italy equipped with a television set are also required to pay subscription fees.
Fee payment is also due by holders of a satellite or ground digital television set subscription, even if such equipment is used only for receiving cable or foreign origin broadcasts.
Getting registered and the first payment
The first payment is made in the following way:
- With a 9100 current account form, available at any Italian Post Office
- With a credit card, by phoning the toll-free number 800 191 191 (Credit cards issued in Italy only)
A tax identification number (Codice Fiscale) will need to be provided.
New subscriptions can be started at any time of the year by paying an amount covering the period between the month of subscription and the six-monthly or yearly subscription fee expiry date.
After the first payment, the Television Subscription Office (S.A.T.) will send the subscriber a registration booklet complete with their subscription number and relevant forms for subscription renewals.
The payment can then be made:
- At any Post Office
- Through the bank
- With a credit card using the TAXTEL service.
Tel: 800 191 191
- From abroad, Tel: +39 06 8740 8197
- At an RAI regional office
- Through the Internet via the following websites:
– Paschi Riscossione
Note: Payments by foreign issued credit cards are not accepted by telephone. Contact the RAI for bank details.
The tax may be paid once a year on 31 January, twice a year on 31 January and 31 July, or broken down in to four instalments (31 January, 30 April, 31 July, 31 October).
Note: the Control Authority can detect non-payment of subscription fees, which can incur extra charges of as much as €619 in addition to subscription fees due.
- RAI has more information in English on how to get an Italian TV tax subscription
Radio in Italy
The radio sector has a structure similar to television. RAI, the public broadcasting company, runs three FM/AM nationwide channels (Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3) representing altogether more than 50 percent of the national audience.
The 14 commercial radio networks share the rest of the audience. These commercial networks, as well as around 1,300 local stations, are exclusively financed by advertising.
Television Channel Packages
It is necessary to buy a decoder as well as pay the subscription to the relevant satellite provider.
Note: The three RAI TV channels and the three Mediaset private channels (Canale 5, Italia 1, Rete 4), Sky TG24 (News), RAI TG24 (News) plus many other channels are available Free To Air via satellite without having to subscribe to any package.
Operators of digital terrestrial television
There are two types of decoder: interactive decoders and non-interactive decoders, also called “zappers” allowing reception of the TV programs only.
Providers of TV services through IPTC
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is a system where television services are delivered via an internet connection. Many Internet or mobile providers will also offer television services and combination package offers.
Some providers include:
- Alice Home TV: offers Internet, telephone and TV
- Fastweb: bundled TV, Internet and telephone service; not available everywhere as it requires fibre optic cabling (mostly in large cities and key areas in Italy). With Fastweb some interactive features and some of the Sky programming are available
Channels made available by public companies
Television Channels with wide coverage through Cable, Satellite or Digital Terrestrial Distribution
- Camera dei Deputati
- Rai Uno
- Rai Due
- Rai Tre
- Rai Doc
- Rai Edu 1
- Rai Futura
- Rai Gulp
- Rai Med
- Rai Movie
- Rai Nettuno Uno
- Rai Nettuno Due
- Rai News 24
- Rai Sport 1
- Rai Sport 2
- Rai Storia
- Rai Utile
- Raisat Cinema World
- Raisat Extra
- Raisat Gambero Rosso
- Raisat Premium
- Raisat Ragazzi
- Senato della Republica
Channels made available by private companies
There are more than one hundred channels available from private companies; these include specialized channels such as: sport, fashion, business, history, music, cartoons, etc.
Pay per view services:
Regional and local channels
There are quite a few regional and local channels in Italy, among them are:
- RAS, a public regional channel
- Public regional windows in national channels (in the Lazio area: RaiTreLazio)
- Private regional windows in national channels (stations affiliated to Odeon TV)
- Private regional or local stations with satellite distribution (in the Lazio area: Roma Channel, Roma Uno, RomaSat).
Television Programme Guides
Online directories of local and regional television stations
Directories of live TV services on the web
Information on the domestic power available, wall socket plugs and voltage of kitchen and living room (fridges, TVs) appliances in Italy…
Ente Nazionale per l’Energia Elettrica (ENEL) supplies most of the electricity in Italy. The company had a monopoly on providing electricity before being privatised in 1988, although there is still little competition. As of 2006 31.1 percent of the company is state owned.
Italy’s standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC with a frequency of 50 hertz. However, in some buildings in remote places it may run at 125 volts.
Note: A country’s available voltage is printed on the glass of a light bulb, or the light bulb packet.
Italy uses a two or three-pin plug (spine). There can be a combination of socket types within the same room or property. Generally low voltage appliances use two pin plugs with higher voltage appliances (televisions, washing machines, kettles) using the three pin plug which has an earthed (or grounding) third pin.
Appliances from the United States
It is not recommended to bring electrical appliances with a motor from the USA (appliances such as refrigerators, electric can openers, stereos). The voltage in the US is 110 and 60 hertz, while in Italy it is 220 volts and 50 hertz. The appliances would need a transformer.
The standard light bulb fitting in Italy is a screw or Edison fitting.
The transmission standard in Italy is PAL.
There are three main television/video standards in use throughout the world.
- The system used in the US, Canada, Japan and some other countries is called NTSC
- Most of Western Europe, Australasia and Southern Africa use a system called PAL
- Eastern Europe and France uses SECAM
The three standards are not compatible with each other. This means that you can’t watch a TV signal (or play a DVD or video) produced for one system on machinery that’s been designed for another. Multi-standard TV, DVD and video equipment will be able to play a PAL (or NTSC) camcorder, DVD player or games console.
Where to buy furniture, soft furnishings, white goods and electrical appliances for your Italian home…
Below is a small selection of basic self-service furniture, appliance and DIY hardware chain stores generally found throughout Italy. There is no guarantee that anyone will speak English, but once you have found what you need, little more than basic Italian should be necessary for the transaction.
- Look in the Yellow Pages or on the stores’ own websites for the branch closest to you.
Hypermarkets, Supermarkets and Superstores
- Auchan: French owned hypermarket with branches throughout Italy. Nectar card holders can earn points with purchases.
- Bennet: Supermarket chain based in northern Italy
- Billa: 67 stores in Italy with a wide selection of products including its own bakery section.
- Carrefour: Supermarket chain with prepared foods, fresh meat and cheese produce.
- Conad: Large supermarket chain which offers its own range of organic items: pasta, jams, oil, honey, rice, coffee, etc., as well as non-organic food stuffs.
- Coop: A consumer’s cooperative and the largest supermarket chain in Italy. Coop also operates Ipercoops which are large Coops that are also department stores.
- Esselunga: Supermarket chain with self-produced organic products and online-shopping.
- Famila: Superstores around Italy
- IN’s Mercato: Supermarket with its own brands
- LD Market: Market with food and home wares.
- Lidl: Discount supermarket chain for household goods and foodstuffs including frozen foods, alcohol, bread and a limited range of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many economy brands in stock.
- MD Discount: Discount stores with branches throughout Italy
- Metro: Cash and carry for cardholders, food products and supplies for restaurateurs, hoteliers, retailers, food retailers and other large consumers.
- Pam: Superstores with a wide variety of fresh products
- Penny Market: Supermarket with its own brands and regional products
- SMA: A division of Auchan supermarkets, this nation-wide chain offers own-branded items Sma Auchan as well as fruit and vegetables, meat, bread and confectionery. The Carta Club card allows holders to earn points that can be used in store.
- Eurospin: The largest discount supermarket chain in Italy. Products sold include textiles, frozen goods, fruit and vegetables, alcohol, bread and ready meals.
- Crai: Large chain of Italian supermarkets offering own-brand items as well as more well-known brand names, organic goods and food items for coeliacs. The Carta Piu card allows customers to earn points towards prizes
- Sisa: Chain of supermarkets including Ipersissa, Sisasuperstore, Sisa, Issimo and Negozio Italia. Offers the Sisa fidelity card which entitles clients to in-store discounts.
Furniture and Appliance Shops
- IKEA: The largest chain of furniture shops in the world. For indoor and outdoor furniture, sofas, dining tables and chairs, bookshelves, futons, kitchens and storage containers
- TRONY: White goods and home appliances including televisions, DVD players, PCs, fridges, washing machines, dishwashers and accessories for cars and motorbikes
- Euronics: Electrical equipment specialists. For televisions, DVD players, PCs, air conditioning units, cameras and mobile phones
- COBRA: Large chain selling consumer electronic goods including audio and video accessories, Mp3 players, CD players, amplified loudspeakers, home theatre systems and clock radios
- UNIEURO: For digital cameras, games and entertainment systems, domestic appliances and HI-FIs
Building Material, Hardware and DIY
- Brico Center: home improvement specialists for marquees, awnings, lighting, wallpaper, home and garden accessories, bathroom equipment, mechanical and plumbing instruments
- Brico IO: Italian home improvement chain for hobby equipment, wood, household and garden tools, paints and varnishes and lighting. Branches nationwide
- Leroy Merlin: Large hardware superstore chain with branches all over Italy. For tools, electrical equipment, paint, wood, plumbing supplies, bathrooms, kitchens, building equipment and lighting.
Office Supplies and Stationery
- Metro Italia: For discount office supplies including office furniture, stationary, box-files, desk-top and lap-top computers, paper shredders and printers
- Avery Italia: Printing specialists with an online order service. Products include labels, CDs, software, printers and printer paper
- Buffetti: Office equipment specialists with many franchises all over Italy. For office furniture, stationery, computer accessories and meeting equipment
Garbage, rubbish, waste and trash: find out about waste collection and recycling in Italy…
Waste management in Italy is managed at a municipal level in accordance with national legislation, and differs widely from area to area.
Typically, rubbish is collected by a waste disposal company contracted to the comune (municipal authority). Following garbage crises in the south of the country municipalities are increasing access to recycling services and domestic collection. While kerbside collection schemes with mandatory separation are more established in the North, much of Southern Italy continues to rely on bottle banks and communal landfill containers.
Funding for the system comes from a refuse disposal/garbage tax. The TARSU tax is due to be been replaced by the TARES system, but implementation is not yet universal. The TARES bill is issue annually by the Comune under the title ‘Avviso di pagamento tribute sui refiuti e sui servize – tares anno 20XX – rate unica a Conguaglio.’
Most Comune’s have their own websites with notices to residents regarding local rates, the TARES system and how to pay the tax.
TARSU/TARES is paid by the occupants or owners of a property. In rental properties, the tenant is responsible unless the contract specifically states otherwise. In larger properties, the garbage tax may be collected by the building administrator as part of the spese condominiali (monthly maintenance fees).
In municipalities that do not offer kerbside collection, household rubbish is placed in large black roadside bins that can be found on residential streets. The times at which these can be used is usually restricted to late evenings and early mornings, particularly in the summer months. These bins are emptied by the municipality’s garbage contractors on a weekly basis.
For disposal purposes, the most common categories of rubbish are:
- Rifiuti indifferenziati – non-recyclable waste, landfill
- Raccolta differenziati – recylable waste
- Rifiuti organici – organic waste
Guidelines for recycling can be found on the website of the municipality’s garbage contractor. Organic waste is only treated as a separate category in municipalities that offer kerbside collection. In other municipalities, recycling bins can be found either next to roadside landfill containers or in larger recycling banks.
Bulky waste items can be collected by the local garbage contractor upon arrangement with the municipality. This may be provided free of charge.
- anci.it provides a list of Italian municipal authorities (in Italian)
- In Florence, the Comune maintains a waste and recycling page in English
- In Rome, amaroma.it has an English-language guide to street recycling banks (PDF)
- The Comune of Perugia’s environment pages (in Italian) contain links to Perugia’s garbage contractors
- In Milan, information on waste disposal and recycling can be found on the AMSA website