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HEALTH

Italy’s spa bonus: How you can claim €200 towards a relaxing break

From November 8th, everyone living in Italy can apply for a spa bonus, with €200 available per resident. Here's how the scheme works.

A woman swims in a spa pool.
The government is offering funds for a spa day. Really. Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

In a move to support the spa sector, which was among the first to close and last to reopen amid Covid restrictions, the Italian government is now offering funds for people living in the country to go and relax at Italy’s accredited spas.

The government has confirmed it will launch the so-called ‘bonus terme‘ from November 8th, allocating up to €200 per person for 100% of the spa services purchased.

In order to be eligible for the benefit, you must be over 18 and legally resident in Italy, while the spa you choose to visit must not already be paid for by the National Health Service or other public bodies.

READ ALSO: From renovating property to buying a new car: 28 tax ‘bonuses’ you can claim from the Italian government

The government stated that “spa services” include wellness and beauty services.

Anyone interested in taking advantage of the scheme will need to book directly at an accredited spa of their choice, who will issue a reservation certificate. Reservations are valid for 60 days and any services booked must be used within that period.

 
Towels in a spa.
Take a spa break on the government and support Italy’s ‘terme‘. Photo: Denny Müller on Unsplash

“The bonus will consist of a 100% discount on the purchase price of the selected spa services, up to a maximum amount of 200 euros,” the Ministry for Economic Development stated.

The spa, rather than the customer, will need to apply for the funding from the government, meaning you do not need to claim a tax rebate.

However as the scheme doesn’t officially launch until November 8th, some spas may put customers on a waiting list if they apply now, but no vouchers can be issued until that date,

A list of participating spas will be listed on both the Economic Development Ministry’s website and the Ministry’s agency site Invitalia.

The bonus is not linked to a household’s ISEE and so everyone is able to claim the full amount of the bonus.

The Italian ISEE number is the measure used to indicate how relatively well off your household is, taking into account income, assets, debts, and other factors. It’s quite complex to calculate but you can ask your commercialista (accountant) to do this for you.

To access this bonus therefore, you don’t need to work out your household ISEE and everyone in the same family can claim the full amount.

A family of five adults, for example, can apply for one bonus per member, meaning one household could claim five bonuses worth a maximum of €1,000.

A total of €53 million has been allocated to this scheme and the bonus will run until the funds have been exhausted.

This incentive is the latest among dozens of tax ‘bonuses’ and rebates made available by the government for purchasing anything from an electric car to a first home in Italy.

For more information, see the Italian Economic Development Ministry’s website.

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For members

HEALTH

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

From ear piercings to flu jabs, Italian ‘farmacie’ are among the most useful stores in the country, but they’re also very odd places. Here are our tips on getting through the pharmacy experience.

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

Italian pharmacies aren’t just stores selling prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

As a customer, you’ll find all sorts of natural remedies, basic health supplies and personal care items on their shelves. 

You’ll also be able to receive basic medical services (for instance, blood pressure checks, Covid tests and flu jabs) and some non-health-related ones (like getting your ears pierced!) in most branches. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I still get the flu vaccine in Italy? 

But, while being extremely useful stores, Italian farmacie (pronunciation available here) are also peculiar places and their set of unwritten rules and solidified traditions may well throw off newcomers.. 

So here are five tips that might help you complete your first expeditions to your local pharmacy without making a fool of yourself.

1 – Decipher your doctor’s scribbles before your trip

Much like some of their foreign colleagues, Italian GPs have a penchant for writing prescriptions that no one else is actually able to read. 

We might never find out why doctors seem so intent on making ancient hieroglyphs fashionable again, but their calligraphic efforts will surely get in the way of you trying to buy whatever medicine you need to survive. 

To avoid hiccups, make sure you know exactly what you need to get. If in doubt, reach out to your GP to confirm.

Don’t rely on pharmacists being able to figure out your doctor’s handwriting because they often have no clue either.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

Pharmacy in Codogno, near Milan

In most small towns and rural areas local pharmacies have very ‘thin’ opening hours. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

2 – Double-check the pharmacy’s opening times

If you’re from the UK or the US, you might be used to pharmacies being open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and having slightly reduced opening times over the weekend. 

You can forget about that in Italy. In big cities, most pharmacies will shut no later than 8pm on weekdays and will be closed on either Saturdays or Sundays.

READ ALSO: Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Italy 

As for small towns or villages, opening times will have a nice Middle Ages vibe to them, with local stores remaining shut on weekends and keeping their doors open from 9am to 12.30pm and then from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays. 

So always check your local pharmacy’s hours before leaving home and, should their times not be available online, call them up. An awkward phone conversation with the pharmacist is still preferable to a wasted trip.

3 – Get the ‘numerino

Some Italian pharmacies have a ticket-dispensing machine with the aim of regulating the queue – a concept which is still foreign to many across the country.

All customers are expected to get a numbered paper ticket (the famed ‘numerino’) from the above machine and wait for their number to be called to walk up to the pharmacist’s desk. 

Now, the law of the land categorically prohibits customers from getting within a five-metre radius of the desk without a numerino

Also, trying to break that rule may result in a number of disdainful sideways glances from local customers.

4 – You cannot escape the in-store conversations, so embrace them 

Pharmacies aren’t just stores. They’re a cornerstone of Italian life and locals do a good deal of socialising on the premises. 

After all, the waiting times are often a bit dispiriting, so how can you blame them for killing the time?

Small pharmacy in Italy

Pharmacies are an essential part of Italian life and culture. Photo by Marco SABADIN / AFP

You might think that locals won’t want to talk to you because you’re a foreigner or don’t know the language too well, but you’ll marvel at how chatty some are.

While chit-chat might not be your cup of tea, talking with locals might help you improve your Italian, so it’s worth a shot.

5 – “Vuoi scaricarlo?”

The pharmacist finally gets you what you need and you’re now thinking that your mission is over. Well, not yet.

Before charging you for the items in question, the pharmacist will ask you whether you’d like to ‘scaricarli’ (literally, ‘offload them’) or not, which, no matter how good your Italian is, will not make any sense to you.

What the pharmacist is actually asking you is whether you want to link the purchase to your codice fiscale (tax code). 

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code (and why you need one)   

That’s because Italy offers residents a 19-percent discount on some health-related expenses, which can be claimed through one’s annual income declaration (dichiarazione dei redditi) by attaching the receipts of all the eligible payments.

Whether you want to scaricare or not, this is the last obstacle before you can make your way back home.

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