State education is free until the end of primary school, after which an enrolment tax (tasse d’iscrizione) of around €17 is payable at the beginning of each school year. However, pens, stationery and sports clothing must be provided by parents. Textbooks are free only until the end of primary school. Parents can expect to pay an average of around €160 per year for books for a child at lower secondary school and up to €320 for a child at upper secondary school, depending on the subjects studied. Up to the end of compulsory schooling, families on low incomes receive a contribution from regional authorities to buy textbooks, and books can be purchased secondhand (but you must make sure that they’re still current). Italian schoolchildren usually carry their schoolbooks to and from school in a small rucksack (zaino).
Nursery and primary schools usually require children to wear school aprons (grembiule), which have a distinguishing pattern of little squares at nursery school and a plain colour (usually blue) at primary school. These can be purchased from most clothing stores and supermarkets.
State schools don’t generally provide meals during the day. Where there are canteen facilities (mensa), a small contribution is generally required. Otherwise, children with afternoon lessons who don’t have time to go home for lunch must make their own arrangements by either bringing a packed lunch or going to a local pizzeria or snack bar near the school. There may be somewhere for children to buy snacks to eat during the mid-morning break.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.