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WHAT CHANGES IN ITALY

What changes about life in Italy in October 2022

From energy bill changes to the start of ski season and a (possible) new government, here's what changes in Italy in October.

People enjoy an early autumn aperitivo next to Milan's duomo.
People enjoy an early autumn aperitivo next to Milan's duomo. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

End of face mask rules – As of Friday, September 30th, face masks will no longer be required on Italian public transport (buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc.). 

The mask mandate was originally meant to lapse on June 15th but it had been extended by outgoing health minister Roberto Speranza after an uptick in infections at the beginning of the summer.

Friday will also mark the end of mask-wearing requirements for those accessing healthcare facilities or care homes, whether they be visitors, patients or staff. 

Although mask requirements have been lifted, staff and visitors will still have to produce a valid ‘super green pass’ – i.e. a health pass certifying that the holder has been fully vaccinated against or has recovered from Covid-19 – to access the above-mentioned facilities.

Barring any extension, the ‘green pass’ mandate will expire on December 31st. 

National airline staff strike – Pilots and cabin crew from Ryanair and Vueling will take part in a national strike action on Saturday, October 1st.

In particular, Ryanair staff will hold a 24-hour walkout, whereas Vueling staff will strike for a total of four hours, from 1pm to 5pm.

READ ALSO: Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

It’s still unclear the extent to which the strike will affect passengers, though significant delays or cancellations can not be ruled out. 

Energy bill changes – for some

Those on old Maggior Tutela ‘protected’ contracts governed by Italy’s energy regulator Arera – that’s around one third of Italian households – could find their energy bills spiking from October 1st.

Arera sets electricity and gas tariffs based on market rates, and usually updates them quarterly. From October, however, prices will be updated monthly, and instead of being indexed to the Amsterdam energy exchange, rates will be tied to the Italian virtual exchange point (PSV).

It’s unclear at this stage exactly what effect this will have, but the research institute IRCAF has warned that it could result in bills doubling. For its part, Arera has said the move will protect consumers and guarantee the continuity of supplies.

The majority of Italian households have transitioned away from the Maggior Tutela system – which is due to come to an end completely from January 2023 – and on to free market contracts with private companies since Italy’s energy market opened up to competition.

Those on fixed rate contracts with private companies should be protected from further price hikes until May 2023, under the terms of the decreto bis aid decree.

Start of ski season – Aosta Valley’s ski season will officially start on Saturday, October 1st, when the popular Cervinia ski resort will open its doors to winter sports enthusiasts. 

This year, a daily ski pass in Cervinia will cost between €51 and €57 – it was between €47 and €53 last year. 

Aside from Cervinia’s early start, all the other ski resorts in the Aosta Valley region will open their doors to the public on November 26th provided that there is enough snow on their slopes.

(Some) households allowed to switch on heating

Italy has restrictions on when (and how much) you’re allowed to heat your home, and the first places to be allowed to crank up the thermostat are northern and mountainous parts of the country, usually starting from-mid-October.

Italy is divided into several categories depending on when authorities think it’s appropriate to turn the heating on in each area.

Those in the warmer coastal areas in places like Sicily and Calabria are last to be permitted to flick the switch on at the start of December. Here’s when you can turn your heating on in a typical year in Italy.

This year, because of the ongoing energy crisis caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine, the date on which the first households can turn on their heating has been pushed back one week to October 22nd (with concessions for areas where particularly bad weather is forecast).

The maximum number of hours the heating can be switched on over the course of the day has been reduced from 14 to 13 hours.

Pensions increase

Pensions under a certain threshold are set to rise by two percent from October 1st thanks to measures contained in the aiuto bis aid decree.

A reevaluation of pensions usually takes place in Italy at the start of each calendar year, but the process has been brought forward by three months to combat the cost of living crisis.

The increase affects those on pensions of up to €35,000 per year; pensioners on higher incomes will receive a 0.2 percent rise from November.

New government (?)

After the hard-right centrodestra coalition emerged as the victors in Italy’s September general elections, negotiations are now underway to form a new government.

The process has in the past taken anywhere from four to twelve weeks, which means the country could see a new government sworn in by the end of the month – but it’s not a given.

Clocks go back

At 3am on Sunday, October 30th, the clocks will go back by one hour, marking the end of summer time.

Member comments

  1. despite visiting italy several times a year over the last 20 years I have never heard of restrictions to when central heating can be used. Our house and all the homes we visit are heated by wooden pellets or our trees we have felled , apart from one whose central heating works off tonnes of hazelnut shells! Are these forms of heating exempt, even if the wood fire has a back boiler that heats the radiators, or are we all criminals ?

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LIVING IN ITALY

How to adopt a pet from an Italian animal shelter

There are a great number of cats and dogs in Italian shelters, and an urgent need for more people willing to adopt. Here's how people in Italy can give them a home.

How to adopt a pet from an Italian animal shelter

Many people are open to the idea of adopting a rescue dog or cat, but find the idea of doing so in a foreign country overwhelming.

While adopting a rescue animal in Italy involves some time and paperwork, in all it’s a fairly straightforward process.

Corinna Epifania has worked in animal rescue organisations in Italy for 35 years, founding the adoption charity Salva la Zampa (‘Save the Paw’) in Gaggiano near Milan in 2012.

Chiara Collatina volunteers at the Ponte Marconi public kennel in Rome, which is run and financed by city authorities. Last year she adopted her dog, Teo, from the shelter.

The Local spoke with Epifania and Collatina about how people in Italy can look into adopting a rescue pet, what the process involves, and how those who aren’t able to adopt can help in other ways.

Yuri the dog with Salva la Zampa president and founder Corinna Epifania.
Freddy the dog with volunteer Helen Wilson. Photo: Corinna Epifania.

The need for rescue pet adoption in Italy

The Italian animal rights group Lav estimates that around 80,000 dogs and 50,000 cats are abandoned each year in Italy, despite the act being a crime punishable by or up to one year in prison or fines of €1,000-10,000.

The peak period for pet desertion is over the summer holidays, when around 25 to 30 percent of abandonments occur.

A significant number of dogs are also abandoned in Italy during hunting season (around September-February), when hunters get rid of hounds and gundogs that are too old to work.

Epifania says that Salva la Zampa has become known as a place that will take in ageing hunting dogs. Demand is particularly high towards end of the season, as hunters don’t want to invest resources in a dog they think will no longer be useful by the following season.

“With hunters we cannot have put them on a waiting list and say okay, now we don’t have the money to help you,” says Corinna, explaining the organisation fears that the dogs risk being shot in the meantime.

“We can’t say no, we are obliged to take them.”

The organisation says that with the cost of living crisis adoptions are down this year, as people who might have considered taking in a rescue animal have to prioritise basic necessities.

This means that while their ideal maximum capacity is 15 dogs, Salva la Zampa is currently caring for 25, pushing the organisation to its limits.

In the larger Ponte Marconi shelter, there are usually around 150 animals at any one time; as soon as one dog is adopted, a new rescue takes its place.

Unlike those at Salva la Zampa, most of the rescue animals in the public shelter are abandoned dogs found wandering the streets without collars or microchips.

Collatina says that she spent a year preparing to adopt Teo, then six years old, after he “stole my heart.”

Chiara with her rescue dog Teo.
Chiara with her rescue dog Teo. Photo: Chiara Collatina.

“He is an exceptional dog; respectful, has never soiled the house or been naughty, is affectionate and adores children and elderly people,” she says.

“I don’t know his past, I only know that in his cage he was in pain and was very thin. Today he is a different dog: calm and very, very grateful.”

How to adopt

Wherever you live in Italy, you’re probably not far from an animal shelter; a simple search for a canile or rifugio per animali in your town or city should bring up multiple results. 

You can browse profiles of the organisation’s animals first to see whether any of them seem like a good match, or just visit the shelter and meet the animals there (in most cases you’ll need to make an appointment).

When signing up to adopt, most reputable shelters will ask you to fill out questionnaire asking for details about your living situation, household size and lifestyle, so they can identify the right dog or cat for you.

Epifania recommends always going through an organisation, as they will have built up a picture of the animal’s personality and history and can make sure the adoption stands the best chance of success.

In the past, for example, she says there have been cases of adoptions falling through when someone in, e.g., Milan takes in a stray dog from the south without considering whether a city apartment is the right place for them.

“I cannot give a very active dog to a couch potato, because the dog will get nervous and maybe destroy their house because he wants to do things,” says Epifania.

Similarly, “if I have an old person, I must give him a dog which he can take on the leash and walk without falling on the ground because the dog is pulling him down.”

Freddy the dog with volunteer Helen Wilson.
Liquirizia the dog with Emanuela Bianchi, vice president of Salva la Zampa. Photo: Corinna Epifania.

Salva la Zampa is unusual in that a high proportion – around 80 percent – of its animals are adopted internationally by families in Germany, as well as Belgium, Holland, Austria, and Switzerland.

Epifania says she decided to branch into overseas adoptions due to the high number of pets needing a home in Italy and the shortfall in the number of people looking to adopt.

For these cross-border adoptions, the prospective owner is not required to visit the Gaggiano kennel in person, but one of the organisation’s partners on the ground will inspect their home to make sure it’s suitable.

It’s common for rescue organisations within Italy, too, to conduct checks on the home of the person taking in one of their animals, both in the weeks leading up to and following the adoption.

For in-country adoptions, Salva la Zampa requires candidates to come to the shelter in person at least once – sometimes multiple times – to build a rapport with their new pet. If the people adopting already have a dog, they’ll ask them to bring it to the shelter to see how the two animals get along.

Paperwork

All dogs in Italy must be microchipped and placed on the national canine registry as a legal requirement (for cats this is required only in certain regions); failure to do so could result in fines of up to several hundred euros.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about microchipping your pet in Italy

Dogs in shelters will have already been microchipped by a previous owner or the rescue organisation, but you’ll still need to submit a ‘passaggio di proprieta’ to register yourself as the new owner.

This requires both you and the shelter to sign a document that is then filed with the local public health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or Asl) confirming that both parties agree to the transfer of ownership.

Many shelters also require the new owner to sign a certificate of commitment promising to take good care of their pet for the rest of its life.

In some public shelters like Ponte Marconi, the official completion of the transfer is put on hold for 60 days in case the adoption breaks down and the animal is returned to the shelter. This is a last resort, and not a standard occurrence.

Chiara with one of the dogs at Ponte Marconi.
Chiara with one of the dogs at Ponte Marconi. Photo: Chiara Collatina.

While the shelter will have given the animal a full health check, new owners will need to register their pet with a local vet and make sure they remain up to date with vaccines, passing on any medical information provided by the shelter.

International adoptions like those handled by Salva la Zampa require the preparation of an EU ‘pet passport’ that allows the animal to travel within the bloc.

The organisation then registers the transfer with the EU’s TRACES system, submitting the animal’s passport number and details, the name of the sending organisation, the address where it will be dropped off, the dates of travel and the estimated duration of the trip.

Adoption fees

Animal shelters in many European countries impose adoption fees, and the practice is now standard in Italy for those adopting from private shelters.

Salva la Zampa asks for an adoption free of no less than €200 from new owners in order to support the work of the organisation.

Publicly-run shelters, by contrast, won’t tend to request an adoption payment. Ponte Marconi does not ask for any fees, says Collatina.

How to help without adopting

If you’re not in a position to adopt, you can still be of great value to an organisation.

Volunteers are always in high demand in both public and private shelters.

“Obviously, the more volunteers there are, the more often the dogs have a chance to get out of their cages,” says Collatina.

Epifania says that Salva la Zampa is particularly keen to recruit young and/or tech savvy volunteers who can help with its social media accounts and raise awareness of the organisation’s work.

In terms of financial help, donors can assist private shelters like Salva la Zampa by donating through platforms like Wishraiser or Teaming, links to which can be found on its website.

Donors can also remotely ‘adopt’ a pet by paying a monthly sum for its food, shelter, and veterinary expenses. Sponsors who do this can visit ‘their’ dog in the shelter and take it for walks when they want.

Finally, taxpayers in Italy can donate money to an animal rescue charity by naming it as their ‘5 per mille’ (Italy’s Gift Aid equivalent) choice on their tax forms, meaning a small amount proportion of your tax money will go to them.

As a public shelter, Ponte Marconi doesn’t accept financial donations, but can receive blankets for the dogs.

Collatina says one of the main ways people can help is by both raising awareness of the need for adoption and dispelling myths about the types of dogs that are best to adopt.

“Often requests are made for puppies because people think it’s easier to train them or get them attached, but this isn’t true,” she says.

“You shouldn’t underestimate the power of adopting an adult or elderly dog; dogs that were raised in kennels and have never had a family, dogs that lived for years with the family they loved so much that then abandoned them, or dogs that grew up with violence and have never known love.”

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