A Year in Italy
December 6, 2004 12:46 PM   Subscribe

So I want to take a year off after college and ideally go to Italy. Are there any programs where I could do some sort of work (anything) and make enough money to feed myself?

Everything I'm finding is study-abroad, which doesn't help since I'll be out of school by then. As far as I can tell, I can't teach English without going through a certificate program (which costs money). Are there any other options?
posted by stopgap to Travel & Transportation around Italy (12 answers total)
Where are you from? (I presume you're from the States, by the way you write?) If you are from Australia, for example, you can get a working holiday visa, but Americans aren't eligible.

Plenty of people do teach English without the proper permits, but yes, you do need certification to get a decent job. And I'd say to do a decent job as well.

Lots of people get by doing odd jobs, but it depends how keen you are. How's your Italian?
posted by different at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2004

Actually what I should have said, rather than asking where you were from, was, "What passport do you have?"

Do you have/are you eligible for any EU country's passport? It's not absolutely essential, but it would make life a hell of a lot easier.
posted by different at 12:57 PM on December 6, 2004

Response by poster: Right. I'm a US citizen, and my family (that I can trace) has been here since about 1630, so I'm probably screwed on the EU passport front.

I mentioned teaching English because someone I knew, who I no longer have contact info for, said that he did a program where they gave training and he taught English for a year in Italy. That sort of program would be ideal because I'm not looking to relocate permanently.

My Italian is not really fluent. I was in Italy in January and I was able to have some conversations, but I'd have a pretty tough time trying to secure a job that relied on knowledge of Italian. One of my goals for going would be to become fluent.

I should probably also mention that I'm a classics major and I've done plenty of Latin. I've looked for archaeology opportunities, but so far I've run into the same problem that they're looking for students (undergrad or graduate) and not just offering low-paying jobs.
posted by stopgap at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2004

Perhaps you'd be interested in WWOOF, where you offer to volunteer on an organic farm, in exchange for board. A cursory glace at their website, reveals that there is a program in Italy.

(note: this is not something I've done myself, but have considered)
posted by atlatl at 1:51 PM on December 6, 2004

atlatl's suggestion is good, but beware. I've had a bunch of friends try WWOOF'ing and I've heard wonderful accounts, and some not-so-wonderful accounts.

Read through their forums and past-WWOOF'ers tend to rate their experiences. It might make choosing a location a lot easier.
posted by purephase at 4:00 PM on December 6, 2004

I don't know how much I can help you with Italy, but if you're not dead-set on your destination there's a couple of things you might want to take a look at.

Yes, it costs money, but you might want to look into getting a TEFL certificate for teaching English. I think that in more developed countries (Western Europe and Japan) you're pretty much out of luck without a four-year degree anyway, but you might want to give it a shot. It's a good thing to have if you're into the travel-dance.

This isn't very useful for Italy, but another thing you may want to check out is the Boren Scholarship. Basically, they pay for you to go to some far-off destination (they don't offer money for places like Europe, Australia or New Zealand, though), then you work for the CIA, NSA or some other government organization for an amount of time roughly equal to how long you were away.

This is completely unfounded hearsay, but when I backpacking in Europe I heard that it's very easy in the wine-producing regions of Italy and Southern France to get a job picking grapes for a while. You're supposedly paid by the day and they don't give a crap about work visas, so you make a few Euros and move on. I don't really know anything about it, and you'd have to be willing to live like a hobo, but it sounds interesting. It'd also support you only for a month or two, so that's not really suitable for a year.

I'm not sure how plausible it is to find real work in Italy as a US citizen anyway. EU work visas are quite a bitch from what I hear, especially for a year.

Good luck!
posted by borkingchikapa at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2004

If you're in something vaguely technical, you might be interested in IAESTE. IAESTE is a non-profit which sets up technical internships (that includes science, engineering, ecnomics, even some business/management) for 6 weeks to a year. They have two chapters in Italy, and lots more around the EU and rest of the world. They're running applications until the end of the year for internships starting in the summer. If you're in the US, you apply through the US group here.
posted by whatzit at 6:28 PM on December 6, 2004

Stopgap, I can't say anything for sure about your chances of getting an official internship in your field, but as far as getting a work permit, your chances are slim to none. You generally need several years of experience in your field, and the Italian bureaucracy is not known for its efficiency.

Having said that, there are plenty of people who work in the black and do quite well. You have to make sure that you leave the country every three months to keep your visa current (a day trip over the border should do it), but you would be able to get by and enjoy yourself, though you won't make your forture there.

I'm not condoning working in the black mind you, just saying that it's very common and easy to do in Italy from what I've heard. A friend taught English for a year in Milan without papers and had no dramas.

I would do some Google searches for first-hand experiences and take it from there. Also - just do it. Make sure that you have a little cash behind you, TRAVEL INSURANCE in case you break your leg or something, and a return ticket, so that you can go home if things get really rough, but I'm sure you'll have a ball. You can't beat new experiences, really.
posted by different at 3:28 AM on December 7, 2004

You have to make sure that you leave the country every three months to keep your visa current...

*bzzzt!* Italy is part of the Schengen zone
The general rule stipulates a maximum 90-day stay within a 180-day period beginning from the first day of entry. One may leave and return a number of times within the 180-day period but the combined stay within the region must total no more than 90 days.
Before You Go:
Knowing the paperwork hassles involved, I would say your best bet if you're only looking to stay a year is to sign up for the longest running Italian language course you can find and apply for a student visa. Not only will the course help your fluency but, IIRC, you should be eligible for part time work. I believe you'll have to pay a certain amount to be covered health insurance wise, but I can't remember the sum off the top of my head.

Once There:
If you get the visa, once you arrive in Italy hie thyself to the nearest questura and apply for your permesso di sogiorno(permit of stay) within 7 days of your arrival. Once you have this important document, you can get your codice fiscale (tax number). If you want to open a bank account while there or buy a motorino/insurance, you'll need residency. This entails paying the netezza urbana (trash tax) for the flat/house where you are living.

That's a pretty simple summary of the varous piece of paper. This site is pretty helpful, but is only in Italian unfortunately. Check the website of the Italian embassy nearest you for more info in English.
posted by romakimmy at 5:49 AM on December 7, 2004

*bzzzt!* Italy is part of the Schengen zone

You could have put that slightly more politely, romakimmy. Actually I know that, as I also live in one of the Schengen countries, but what I wrote is all that stopgap needs to know if s/he is in fact planning on staying in Italy, um, extralegally.

I'll leave you to be a smartarse on your own now.
posted by different at 8:59 AM on December 7, 2004

Apologies if the attempt at lighthearted came off as smartarsedness, different, but misleading information is misleading information.

You have to make sure that you leave the country every three months to keep your visa current (a day trip over the border should do it)...

will not keep someone's visa 'current'. Though Italy is not known for its stringent passport checks, all it takes is one anal-retentive borderguard (in any of the Schengegn zone) for deportation if you have overstayed your visa, which IIRC in this case means not only that you will be unable to travel to Italy for an extended time but the rest of the Schengen area as well.
posted by romakimmy at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2004

bugger, thought I hit preview in this browser tab

€.02 Addendum: Also keep in mind that A) passport checks *have* gotten more stringent since 9/11 and b) if you have just gotten your passport it will be a machine readable one which is rather handy for keeping track of your information.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have jumped through the hoops to have my paperwork in order beforehand. 'Extralegal' is possible but extraordinarily limiting, not only in terms of job finding but also in terms of finding housing. Also should one find themselves for any reason wanting to change 'Extralegal' status to 'Legal' status, it's going to be damn near impossible.
posted by romakimmy at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2004

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