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Education and Transportation in Italy

Looking to settle in the sun, enjoy a slower pace of life and mingle with the friendly locals? A move to Italy means you will likely experience the so-called dolce vita. Our InterNations guide has just the information you need on housing, healthcare, and education in Italy.
Although Italy has a very modern transportation system, Venetian gondolas are still a very special experience!

If you are going to be living in Italy with your children, you may be considering sending them to an international school. In this way, they will have the opportunity to receive an International Baccalaureate and be able to study abroad. Moreover, they won’t have to cope with the language barrier in Italian schools. Below, you can find more information on various education options in Italy.

Educational Options for Every Need

In Italy, school is compulsory from the age of six to the age of sixteen.

The national education system is divided into three “cycles”. These cycles are then divided into types of schooling: kindergarten (scuola dell’infanzia), first cycle (scuola primaria and scuola secundario di primo grado), and second cycle (liceo, istituto tecnico/professionale, or istruzione e formazione professionale).

The first cycle is composed of primary school and middle school, which children attend until the age of fifteen. A foreign language, usually English, is introduced in the first grade (around age seven), and a second one in the fifth grade (age eleven).

After completing the first cycle of school, students take an exam to qualify either for the liceo (the Italian equivalent to high school) or for an institute that offers vocational training. The licei cater to different academic interests, such as the classics, fine arts, natural sciences, etc. Upon successful completion of the liceo, the students receive a university entrance diploma.

International Schools

A number of international schools in large cities, especially Rome and Milan, cater to foreign students. However, it is not only expat kids who attend them. Many Italians find it important for their children to excel at a second language as well.

You should consider the following things when searching for an international school that will best suit your children:

  • What kind of qualifications does the school offer?
  • Which languages and other subjects will your child study there?
  • What is the ratio of foreign students to Italians?
  • Where is the school located?
  • How much are the annual tuition fees?

You can find lists of selected international schools in Italy in our articles about education in Rome and education in Milan.

Getting Around

A general stereotype of Italian drivers is that they are sometimes rude, a bit chaotic and do not tend to follow traffic rules. To some extent, this is true. However, the road network in Italy is highly developed. There are almost 7,000 kilometers of motorways (autostrada) across Italy, most of which are toll roads.

Gas prices are relatively high compared to other European countries, and vary from region to region. It may be useful to check the current local gas prices when you are planning on taking a long trip within Italy, to help you figure out if it would be more cost-effective to drive or take the train.

Affordability in Public Transportation

The national Italian railway, the Ferrovie dello Stato, can conveniently take you from one city to the other. It offers an efficient alternative to driving and gives you good value for your money.

Another alternative to driving is taking the bus, and there are many private bus companies in Italy. One bus company that is highly recommended (and comparatively cheap) is the iBus. Unfortunately, long-distance coaches and most trains usually do not stop at small towns across Italy.

In order to reach a less popular destination, it is useful to check the local bus listings. There are many regional bus lines within Italy that connect smaller cities, towns and villages, catering mainly to the working population. This results in hours of high traffic in the early morning and in the evening, so plan your trip accordingly and allow plenty of time.

Renting Your Own Ride

If you prefer to get around by car, but do not have one already or were unable to bring your own vehicle from home, you should be pleasantly surprised to hear that renting a car in most Italian cities is not that expensive. All short-term visitors in Italy can use a valid European driver’s license or an International Driving Permit. Nationals of EU countries can keep using their license until it expires, even if they are staying in Italy for more than three months. However, drivers with an international permit then need to acquire an Italian one within one year after arrival.

You can find more information on licenses and traffic regulations in our guide to driving in Italy.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.  

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