The trials and triumphs of expat parents in Italy

People of all nationalities have reached Italy in pursuit of better lives. A fair proportion of them are parents. Being a parent is a rewarding experience; however it can be tough, even in one’s native country. Here is a look at various aspects of parenthood on foreign shores.

kids education


Most of a child’s personality is shaped by education. School is compulsory in Italy for all kids between ages 6 and 16. There are many public, private, and international schools to choose from. The options largely depend on your distance from a major city. Public school education is free for all children resident in Italy, irrespective of nationality.

Italian schools make kids multilingual, which can be a significant advantage in later life. The medium of instruction is Italian. English is taught as a second language. After lower secondary school, students take up an additional European language. They also choose an area to specialize in from among the arts, sciences, and humanities. This choice influences the course of their higher studies.

Private schools are managed by religious organizations, mostly Catholic. There are many international schools in Italy. Most major cities have one, while cities like Rome and Milan have several. International schools offer either British, American, or French curricula, or International Baccalaureate programs. Admission procedures vary. The fees range from EUR 12,350 to 25,750 per year. These are expensive even by Italian standards.

Higher education

In most of the world sending children to college is one of life’s bigger financial trials. Annual tuition fees at public colleges in Italy range from EUR 900 to EUR 5,000. This varies with the choice of institution, course, and the applicant’s nationality. Private universities charge EUR 3,000-20,000 for bachelor’s studies and up to EUR 35,000 for master’s, for both EU and non EU students. Sometimes the cost of education can be offset with scholarships. The Italian Government offers scholarships to foreign students for postgraduate studies and research programs. The application submission deadline for these is April 30 each year.

Some Italian universities rank among the world’s best. Scuola Normale Superiore is a public university in Pisa, Florence, which was ranked among the top 200.


Expats with residence permits can register with the Servizio Sanitario National (SSN) translated as National Health Service. They can get SSN cards and use the Italian public healthcare system. Cardholders can choose a general practitioner and a paediatrician from the available list. These doctors give free outpatient consultations during office hours. In addition to health screenings and primary care cardholders can take advantage of home care, maternity care, preventive medicine, and hospice care.

Third culture kids

Growing up in a foreign culture comes with many unique features. Third culture kids (TCKs) are children raised in a foreign country. Children of expats get the opportunity to develop a broader world view. With the enriching experience of multiple cultures they become better equipped to make the most of workplace diversity and cross-cultural cooperation as adults.

The downside is that these children sometimes experience confusion. This can be caused by different languages and differing practices at home and school. TCKs may grow up to be relatively ignorant of their native culture, or face challenges related to their cultural identity. However, with parental support TCKs can become very successful people. Former US President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and an American mother. He spent some of his childhood in Indonesia and eventually moved to the US. Another example of a famous TCK is NBA star Kobe Bryant. His family moved to Italy after he was born. Kobe lived in Italy till age 14 before moving back to US.


Expats are unevenly distributed across Italy. A 2019 survey revealed that the Lombardy region hosts the largest number of expats in the country (1,181,772). Lombardy is followed by Lazio (683,409), Emilia- Romagna (547,537), Veneto (501,085), and Piedmont (427,911). Milan and Rome have significant expat communities. These cities have more international schools, cuisine options, and employment opportunities. Millions of migrant workers live and work in Italy. They send remittances to their families via the Ria Money Transfer App. Many of them aspire to bring their families to Italy so that they may have a better quality of life. Italy has a Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and cool mild winters. Children in Italy grow up enjoying an assortment of outdoor activities. This leads to a more holistic development of personality.