When can you switch on your heating in Italy this winter?

Italy has rules governing when and for how long you can switch on your central heating – as well as how high you can turn it up.

When can you switch on your heating in Italy this winter?
Some parts of Italy have to wait for December before switching on the heat. Photo: Paola Chaaya/Unsplash

Struggling to make your radiator work? Before you call a plumber, check whether you’re in one of the parts of Italy that isn’t allowed to switch its central heating on yet.

What are Italy’s heating rules?

In the interests of saving energy, Italy has national rules in place about when different provinces can use central heating (riscaldamento centralizzato), based on their average seasonal temperature.

As you’d expect, northern and mountainous areas are the first to be allowed to switch on the heat in October, while some parts of the south can’t turn up the dial until December. (Find a full list below.)


The rules are supposed to apply to every property in Italy, including independent houses and apartments with their own separate heating system (riscaldamento autonomo), where it’s up to individual occupants to limit their heating use. 

But the restrictions are more easily enforced in shared buildings with a single, communal boiler, such as apartment blocks, offices, schools and hotels. In that case the amministratore, or building manager, will be responsible for regulating when the heating comes on and off.

Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

How long can you keep the heating on?

Italy’s rules also cover how long you’re allowed to keep the central heating on each day, ranging from six hours in the warmest parts of the country to 14 hours in chillier regions.

Those hours are confined to the daytime: radiators can come on after 5am and must be switched off again after 11pm.

There are additional rules for public buildings, but for private residential buildings the national norms leave it up to each condominio, or homeowner’s association, to decide exactly what time of day the heating comes on or off. It’s usually decided by a vote, but if you’re a renter you won’t necessarily get a say.

You should be able to find the times in your building listed in the regolamento di condominio, or condominium regulations, or by asking your landlord or a well-informed neighbour.

How high can you put the heat on?

Italy also regulates how high you can turn your central heating up. Again, it applies to everyone but is more easily enforced in shared buildings.

Private homes, offices and schools are not supposed to be heated to more than 20 degrees C – though the norms allow a margin of 2 degrees, so the very warmest you can go is 22 degrees C.

Meanwhile factories and workshops should be kept at 18 degrees C (or 20 degrees C if really necessary).

Which parts of Italy can switch their heating on first?

The country is divided into six zones based on climate, starting with the warmest where heating use is most limited and ending with the very coldest where central heating can be kept on round the clock, at any time of year.

The following date and time restrictions apply every year:

Zone A: December 1st to March 15th, 6 hours/day

  • Islands of Lampedusa, Linosa and Lampione 
  • Porto Empedocle

Zone B: December 1st to March 31st, 8 hours/day

  • Agrigento 
  • Catania
  • Messina 
  • Palermo 
  • Siracusa 
  • Trapani 
  • Reggio Calabria 
  • Crotone

Zone C: November 15th to March 31st, 10 hours/day

  • North-west: Imperia.
  • Centre: Latina.
  • South: Bari; Benevento; Brindisi; Cagliari; Caserta; Catanzaro; Cosenza; Lecce; Naples; Oristano; Ragusa; Salerno; Sassari; Taranto.

Zone D: November 1st to April 15th, 12 hours/day

  • North-west: Genoa; La Spezia; Savona.
  • North-east: Forlì.
  • Centre: Ancona; Ascoli Piceno; Florence; Grosseto; Livorno; Lucca; Macerata; Massa Carrara; Pesaro; Pisa; Pistoia; Prato; Rome; Siena; Terni; Viterbo.
  • South: Avellino; Caltanissetta; Chieti; Foggia; Isernia; Matera; Nuoro; Pescara; Teramo; Vibo Valentia.

Zone E: October 15th to April 15th, 14 hours/day

  • North-west: Alessandria; Aosta; Asti; Bergamo; Biella; Brescia; Como; Cremona; Lecco; Lodi; Milan; Novara; Padova; Pavia; Sondrio; Torino; Varese; Verbania; Vercelli.
  • North-east: Bologna; Bolzano; Ferrara; Gorizia; Modena; Parma; Piacenza; Pordenone; Ravenna; Reggio Emilia; Rimini; Rovigo; Treviso; Trieste; Udine; Venice; Verona; Vicenza.
  • Centre: Arezzo; Perugia; Frosinone; Rieti.
  • South: Campobasso; Enna; L’Aquila; Potenza.

Zone F: No restrictions

  • Cuneo 
  • Belluno 
  • Trento

Photo: Beppe Gasparro/AFP

What if it gets cold before then?

The rules are based on average temperatures, so they don’t always reflect the current weather.

If there’s an unusually cold spell local mayors have the power to authorise extra heating use, whether by bringing forward the start date or allowing boilers to stay on for a few more hours a day.

What if I don’t need the heat on?

Don’t worry if you’re a hardy type who doesn’t need as much heat as your neighbours: Italy’s heating rules do not mean that your radiators come on automatically. You should be able to regulate your own radiators by adjusting the valves.

And you shouldn’t be billed for more heat than you use: even if your spese condominiali (shared building charges) include a fee for heating calculated as an average across all residents, the law says that communal central heating systems must be fitted with meters that allow you to track exactly how much you used. If it comes to less than you paid for, you can request a refund.

Useful vocabulary

riscaldamento centralizzato – central heating

riscaldamento autonomo – independent heating (separate from the rest of your building)

caldaia – boiler

termosifone or radiatore – radiator

contatore – meter

accendere – to switch on

spengere – to switch off

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What you need to know about microchipping your pet in Italy

Microchipping is required for all dogs in Italy, as well as for cats and ferrets kept as pets in certain circumstances. Here's what pet owners need to know.

What you need to know about microchipping your pet in Italy

Under Italian law, all dogs in the country must be identified and registered on a national database.

For dogs born before 2004, a clearly legible tattoo (e.g., on the dog’s ear) is accepted in lieu of a microchip. For those born after, microchips are the only accepted form of identification.

The chip should be inserted within two months of the dog’s birth; owners who miss this deadline could incur fines amounting to several hundred euros.

READ ALSO: From barking to cleaning: The culture shocks to expect if you own a dog in Italy

The chip is small – similar in width to a grain of rice and about twice as long – and is inserted just under the skin with a needle slightly thicker than that used for injections. It might cause minor discomfort in the moment, but shouldn’t hurt.

A microchip is not a GPS tracker, so can’t be used to find missing dogs – but it does contain key information about the dog as well as the owner’s contact details, allowing lost dogs to easily be reunited with their families.

The procedure can be performed by a vet from the local health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or Asl) or an authorised independent vet. The cost varies between regions, but you’ll generally be charged around €10-25 at the Asl and €20-50 at a private practice.

Your vet will then enter your dog into the national registry with their microchip number and your tax code (codice fiscale). The registry entry will include mention of the dog’s name, gender, breed, size, age and colour, and the owner’s name, address, and telephone number.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy with pets? Here’s what you need to know

If a dog gets a new owner, the national database should be updated within fifteen days of the transfer. Your vet will provide an ownership transfer form which should be signed by both the old and new owner and filled out with the new owner’s details.

Italy doesn’t have a blanket requirement for any pets other than dogs to be microchipped, but it’s still required in some circumstances.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Do renters in Italy have the right to keep pets?

Cats and ferrets kept as pets (as well as dogs) brought into Italy from outside the country must also be marked with a 15-digit ISO 11784/11785 compliant microchip, or with a clearly legible tattoo if it was applied before July 3rd, 2011.

If you’re resident in Italy and want to take your pet cat or ferret on holiday abroad, they’ll also need to be microchipped in order to receive a ‘pet passport’ to allow them to travel in and out of the country.

While Italy does not have national laws requiring cats to be microchipped, each region has its own rules – so you’ll want to check what the law is in your local area.

Lombardy, for example, made it obligatory on January 1st, 2020 for all cats in its territory born after that date to get chipped.

Regardless of whether it’s a legal requirement, many people opt to have their cat microchipped to make sure they stand the best chance of being reunited in case their pet wanders a little too far from home and loses their way.