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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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MOVING TO ITALY

Is Italy’s cheap homes frenzy coming to an end?

Italy's one euro homes captivated international audiences - but as renovation costs soar, would-be buyers are increasingly turning to other options, reports Silvia Marchetti.

Is Italy's cheap homes frenzy coming to an end?

In the past few years, dozens of depopulated towns across Italy have sold cheap and one euro homes for a song, triggering a property frenzy.

But with soaring inflation and sky-high building costs, the bonanza might be nearing its end, as people longing to live in a picturesque rural spot are starting to look at alternative options. 

One of the first towns to sell one euro homes in Sicily was Gangi, where over 500 crumbling buildings have been offloaded for the cost of an espresso since 2015, while more than 1,000 fixer-uppers have been sold.

READ ALSO: How to avoid hidden traps when buying an old property in Italy

“The best ones, particularly those in need of minimal fixes within our beautiful historical center, have all been snapped up”, says former deputy mayor Giuseppe Ferrarello.

“There are still some good deals regarding cheap homes, but prices have risen due to the high demand,” he says.

In Gangi, as in other Sicilian towns such as Sambuca and Mussomeli that have run similar schemes, what you could previously have bought for $15,000 – like a nice 50 square meter dwelling with a panoramic balcony in need of minimal renovation – now costs at least $20,000.

Soaring inflation, plus a lack of builders due to Italy’s superbonus tax breaks aimed at upgrading homes and making them ‘green’, has made it hard, and more expensive, to find construction teams available for a swift restyle. 

READ ALSO: PROPERTY: How Italy’s building bonuses are delaying the restyle of one-euro homes

In the Tuscan town of Vergemoli where abandoned stone cottages scattered across five districts have been bought up predominantly by South American families for a symbolic one euro, mayor Michele Giannini is now mapping more areas of the municipality to identify old houses long abandoned by locals which could be placed on the market.

“We’ve run out of one euro homes at the moment, which is actually a very good thing because it means our scheme was successful, but there are still so many dilapidated properties which could be given a new life and we still need new folk to revitalize the place,” he says.

As the rising cost of living may soon spell the end of Italy’s cheap homes frenzy, people are opting for other solutions; mainly rentals of furbished, turnkey properties and country homes which are cheaper than those in the old town and even come with a patch of land, including olive groves and plots. 

The popularity of one euro home schemes may be on the decline.

The popularity of Italy’s one euro home schemes may be on the decline. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

In Troina, a Sicilian town which two years ago placed one euro and cheap homes on the market, renting a cozy three-floor apartment on the outskirts of the old district where all the main shops and grocery stores are located starts at €400 per month.

In the Piedmontese mountain village of Carrega Ligure, meanwhile, a cozy farmer’s house can be rented for €250 per month. 

Jacques Noire, a French retiree from the countryside around Nimes, says that not having found an available cheap home in Troina (as they all sold out last year) ended up being a godsend.

“I came with the idea of snatching a house for some €10,000, but I found none, then I bumped into a local at the bar, we started chatting, somehow I understood his cousin was renting her entire ancient palazzo, far from the old neighbourhood near the fields, for like €600 euros per month,” he says.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Italians aren’t snatching up their country’s one-euro homes

“By 8pm, I signed a lease contract for six months and now I come and go, spending three months in Sicily and half in France”.

Noire says the plus points of a rental are not having to deal with head-splitting bureaucracy, a tedious renovation, hidden costs and the hassle of liaising with construction teams. 

Word of mouth is helpful, but convenient rentals can be also be found online.

In Latronico, set in deep Basilicata, Biccari in rural Puglia, and Carrega Ligure in Piedmont, the rising popularity of rentals has pushed local authorities to advertise on their websites not only old dwellings for sale, but also those available for lease.

“I think it’s extremely helpful giving people interested in moving here or spending their holidays the chance to have several options at hand, both for sale and for rent, and a direct contact with the owners.

“When deals are signed it’s nice to see them together at the bar celebrating, or having dinner in the middle of an alley”, says Latronico’s deputy mayor Vincenzo Castellano.

The municipal platforms that advertise the properties serve as ‘virtual meeting places’ where original owners and interested tenants can get in touch. 

In other towns that have run out of one euro and cheap fixer-uppers, people have gone on a hunt for the ‘ideal’ rural home surrounded by pristine sheep-grazing fields and orchards.

Located a few kilometers from the ancient districts, these ‘bucolic’ farmer’s dwellings are up to 40 percent cheaper than those located in the historic center, and come with patches of land.

In the countryside close to Maenza, a village mid-way between Rome and Naples, a few 120 square meter villas with patio, barbecue, lemon orchards and olive groves, in no need of restyle, have been snapped up for as little as €40,000.

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