Raising kids in Italy

Quick Links for Raising Kids in Italy

Raising a family in any country other than your own brings added challenges and surprises. The idea of taking a step that can be life-changing to your kids may seem overwhelming. But what if this step would actually bring a lifestyle full of benefits to them?

Italy is a hugely family-friendly place to raise children. Living in Italy with kids is a unique opportunity for them to grow up bilingual while having access to so much culture and beauty.

They will grow in one of the safest countries in Europe, which has an effortlessly chic and relaxed lifestyle, endless activities for kids to enjoy, and excellent English or Italian schooling.

Nurseries, or asilo nido, are for children as young as three months, and up to three years of age. These are run by local councils. To enroll in one of these, you should go to the nursery directly, and fill out the form they hand you. You are not guaranteed a place in these institutions. The fee you pay for public nurseries will depend on the institution, and also on your family’s income, since priority is given to families with lower income. Overall, municipal nurseries can cost between 170 and 440 EUR a month depending on the region. Private nurseries can cost up to 600 or 700 EUR monthly.

Kindergarten is not compulsory in Italy. However, these schools are run on a state level, and you have a guaranteed place for your child in one for free. Alternatively, you can opt for private preschools.

Preschool in Italy is generally considered of very good quality. The educational approach consists of a variety of activities to develop children’s affective, psychomotor, cognitive, moral, and social skills.

Preschools usually operate for 40 hours a week for non EU citizens but you can have your child attend only mornings if you wish.

Education in Italy is compulsory from the ages of 6 to 16. The Italian system of education is split into three compulsory levels, with an optional stage for younger children. 

From the age of 3, parents can choose to send their children to scuola dell’infanzia. At the age of 6, children begin their formal education at scuola primaria (elementari). Secondary education, known as scuola secondaria, is divided into two sub-levels. From the ages of 11 to 14, children attend scuola secondaria di primo grado (scuole medie), and proceed to scuola secondaria di secondo grado (scuole superiori) until they are 19.

Expats moving to Italy will have a number of public and private options available in terms of schooling. They should invest considerable time weighing up the pros and cons of the different schooling models before making a final decision. 

School hours may vary from school to school. For most primary and lower secondary schools, classes tend to be from 8:00 and 13:00, Monday through Saturday. Other schools may only run from Monday to Friday, in which case, students would have a one-hour lunch break and classes until around 16:00.


State schools in Italy are free, even for foreigners living in Italy who aren’t formal residents. This applies to primary schools, secondary schools and even universities; although enrollment taxes do become applicable after students reach the age of 16.

Most Italians send their children to public schools, and those who opt for an alternative usually do so because they want their child’s education to be rooted either in a particular religion (most commonly Catholicism) or an alternative teaching method. 

Italian is the primary language of instruction at public schools. However, English is offered as a second language in many cases. 

Despite the language barrier, expats moving to Italy for the long term should not overlook state schools. Many of these institutions make a concerted effort to integrate expat students through the use of intensive Italian language classes, cultural activities, and remedial lessons.


Private schools in Italy are generally either run by religious organizations, or they offer alternative teaching methods, such as Montessori education.

For the most part, the standard of education does not vary greatly between public and private schools in Italy as both have to adhere to the same national curriculum.

The benefits of paying to attend a private school in Italy include smaller class sizes, arguably better facilities and a broader range of extracurricular activities.

Private school fees vary according to the kind of school and the variety of services that are offered. Most require parents to pay an enrollment fee (e.g. between €300 and €550) followed by either annual or monthly fees ( between €175 and €350 per month).