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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

What changes about life in Italy in September 2022

As the summer holidays wind down and schools start back up in September, Italy is also preparing for an unprecedented autumn general election.

What changes about life in Italy in September 2022
Summer holidays are coming to an end and Italy's residents are returning to work and school this month. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

September is usually a relatively low-key month in Italy, as residents return from the beach and ease back into their usual routine.

But this year, as well as preparing for the rientro in September the country is gearing up to elect a new government before the end of the month.

The general election will be the main event on everyone’s horizon, but it’s far from the only thing happening. Here’s what to look out for in September.

General election

Italians will head to the polls on September 25th to vote for their next government in autumn general election.

The vote wasn’t due to take place until early 2023, but snap elections were called after Mario Draghi’s ‘unity’ coalition government collapsed in July.

READ ALSO: What election promises have Italy’s political parties made?

Campaigning is in full swing and all the main parties have released their election manifestos, which feature promises to lower taxes and axe VAT on basic goods.

A hard-right coalition led by the post-fascist Brothers of Italy is currently on track to win by a landslide.

Follow all the election news this month here.

Is Italy ready for election season, and a new government? – A campaign poster shows hard-right Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni, who is likely to become the next prime minister. Photo: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Energy-saving bill and fuel price cut

As September begins, the outgoing Italian government is working on an extended emergency aid package designed to further offset soaring energy costs.

With Russia’s war on Ukraine continuing to cause fuel prices to skyrocket, the government will reportedly announce further measures in the coming days aimed at offsetting some of these costs for the average consumer.

READ ALSO: Soaring energy prices push Italy’s inflation to 37-year high

The measures are expected to include further help for low-income households and an extension to an existing discount on fuel duties, which is currently in place until September 20th, though the value of the discount will drop from 30 to 25 cents.

The government is also preparing last-minute changes to a bill containing energy-saving measures, now being introduced months earlier than scheduled amid growing concerns about energy costs and security.

Back to school

Italy’s schoolchildren will be filing back into the classroom in September, with back-to-school dates ranging from September 5th to September 19th.

Italy’s schools are managed by regional authorities, so the return dates vary according to region. This year, these are:

September 5th: Bolzano, Trentino Alto Adige infants schools/kindergartens

September 12th: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige

September 14th: Calabria, Campania, Liguria, Le Marche, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia, Umbria

September 15th: Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio

September 19th: Sicily, Valle D’Aosta

New school Covid rules

Covid restrictions have been mostly phased out in Italy, but they will remain in place (on a very limited basis) in schools for the new academic year.

These include requirements for students with a positive Covid status or a fever to stay at home; for pupils or staff at “at risk of developing severe forms of Covid” to wear FFP2 masks; and vague stipulations that everyone should follow correct hand hygiene and “respiratory etiquette” and that schools should ensure “frequent air changes”.

Explained: What are Italy’s Covid rules for schools in September?

Most of the rules have been significantly relaxed: unvaccinated teachers will be allowed to return to the classroom to teach for the first time since December 2021, and a universal masking requirement that had been in place until the end of the 2022 academic year will be scrapped.

Masking requirements and vaccination rules will no longer be in place as Italy begins the new school year.
File photo: Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Cut to Covid isolation period

As of September 1st, the mandatory isolation period for those who test positive for coronavirus and are symptomatic has been cut to five days from the previous seven.

Patients must test negative – via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test – at the end of that period, as well as being asymptomatic for two days.

READ ALSO: Italy cuts Covid isolation period as infection rate falls further

Should the patient continue to test positive, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result. The maximum length of the isolation period was however cut to 14 days, down from 21.

Public transport discount

A fuel discount isn’t the only cost-saving provision Italy’s government is implementing: from September, a ‘transport bonus’ (bonus trasporti) will be available to all pensioners, students, and employees with an Isee of up to €35,000.

The bonus takes the form of a one-time €60 discount to be used on the purchase of monthly or yearly tickets for local transport services.

The government will allocate a total of 101 million euros to funding the bonus; 22 million more than had originally been allocated to the scheme.

Autumn equinox

The autumn equinox – the moment when the sun is directly above the earth’s equator and day and night are of equal length – will fall on September 23rd this year.

It’s the date that’s considered to mark the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere, which in Italy means you can start to look forward to sagre harvest festivals and fairs all over the country.

Food festivals

September is famously an excellent time to be in Italy if you enjoy visiting the sagre, or local food festivals – and who doesn’t?

A month-long truffle sagra in Girone, Tuscany, a grape sagra in Giovo, Trentino, a porcini mushroom sagra in Rocca Priora, Lazio, and Made in Malga, a mountain cheeses sagra in Asiago, Veneto are just a few of the events you can enjoy this month.

See more of the food and drink festivals planned in Italy this September here.

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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

New traffic restrictions in Milan, railway strikes and protests over soaring bills: here are the key events in Italy that you should know about.

On the agenda: What’s happening in Italy this week

Monday

New traffic restrictions in Milan – New traffic laws will come into effect in Milan starting from Monday, October 3rd, with several classes of vehicles being banned from entering the city’s traffic-restricted area (zona traffico limitato or ZTL) from 7.30am to 7.30pm on all weekdays.

The new ban, which Milan’s authorities have introduced in an effort to reduce emissions in the city centre, will apply to non-eco-friendly vehicles.

READ ALSO: ‘It takes time’: Foreign residents on what it’s really like to live in Milan

To find out whether your car will be able to enter Milan’s ZTL from Monday, please consult the Comune di Milano website.

Modena Cento Ore – The first leg of the Modena Cento Ore (Modena 100 hours), one of Italy’s most anticipated vintage car meets, will start on Monday, October 3rd, in Milano Marittima, Emilia-Romagna. 

As usual, the five-day festival, which is currently in its 22nd edition, will offer classic car enthusiasts a rich events programme, including city parades, road trips across some of Italy’s most fascinating countryside landscapes and races on legendary circuits such as Misano and Mugello. 

The Modena Cento Ore’s full programme is available here, whereas the application form to take part in the event can be downloaded here

Tuesday

Fourth-dose bookings in Tuscany – On Tuesday, October 4th bookings to receive the second booster shot (also known as ‘fourth dose’) against Covid will be extended to all Tuscany residents above the age of 12.

A patient being administered a Covid jab.

After a recent uptick in infections, Tuscany will now offer the second booster shot (or fourth dose) to all residents over the age of 12. Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP

So far, the second booster shot has only been offered to healthcare workers, at-risk individuals and over-60s. 

READ ALSO: Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government

But, given the recent uptick in infections across the region, Tuscany’s president, Eugenio Giano, has chosen to extend the vaccination campaign to the rest of the resident population except for children under 12.

Thursday

PD’s board meets after election defeat – The Italian Democratic Party’s board will convene on Thursday, October 6th to officially start discussions over the new party leadership.

The PD suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Italy’s right-wing coalition in the September 25th elections, where they received only 19 percent of votes.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Meloni begins tricky government talks after election win

Following the vote, PD leader Enrico Letta – who’s since been identified by many as the main responsible for his party’s election debacle – announced that he would not stand for leadership at the party’s next congress in March and would step down once a new capogruppo was found.

Weekend

Railway strike in Lombardy – Staff from railway company Trenord will hold a 24-hour strike between 9pm on Saturday, October 8th and 9pm on Sunday, October 9th, with delays and/or cancellations expected to affect railway travel across the northern region of Lombardy. 

Empty railway station in Lombardy.

Staff from railway company Trenord will strike from 9pm on Saturday to 9pm on Sunday. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

According to the Italian Transport Ministry (MIT), the strike should only affect train services in Lombardy, though disruption to travel in surrounding regions cannot be ruled out at this time. 

On the day of strike, Trenord will not guarantee any minimum services except for trains headed for Milan’s Malpensa Airport, which, Trenord said, “in the event of cancellations, might be replaced by coaches”. 

New demonstration against energy bills surge – Members of Emilia-Romagna’s grassroots organisation Noi Non Paghiamo (‘we are not paying’) will take to the streets of Bologna on Saturday, October 8th to protest against the increase in gas and electricity bills of the past few months.

READ ALSO: Electricity bills in Italy to rise by 59 percent, says energy regulator

The group, which was born in early September after the Don’t Pay campaign gained momentum in the UK, has already engaged in a number of public demonstrations. 

Last Saturday, members of Noi Non Paghiamo gathered in front of the headquarters of national energy company ENI in Bologna and burned dozens of energy bills in a waste bin.

“It’ll be a long winter […] and it’s past time we all joined together,” the group wrote on their Telegram account after the demonstration.

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