How to become an au pair in Italy?

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How are Italians, and how are they compared to the rest of Europe? Here you can find a short, self-ironic take on the Italian "national character" by one of Italy's most famous animation artists.

Jokes aside (but always keeping a pinch of self-irony, as a charm against chauvinism), it couldn't be obviously possible to condensate in a definition the distinguishing traits of an entire country, rather it may be easier trying to find these traits through what possibly has contributed mainly to originating and shaping them over time. So if we were then to search for the potential origins of the most intriguing traits of Italian national character (assuming that one exists, what we actually try to do here is give you a hint on what, in principle, might expect you in Italy) we could perhaps find them in the overexposure to art, culture (and in case you were wondering, yes, for many Italian also food is culture), landmarks (Italy is the country with the highest number of Unesco World Heritage sites) and the extraordinarily diverse natural environment which the inhabitants of the Bel paese were offered throughout their history. Nowadays, Italy is a modern country, more and more open to the world and its culture, usually curious towards the foreigners and moved by an inclusive spirit towards who is new in town, but eventually ready to fascinate them into the unmistakable Italian lifestyle.

typical day in a family

Generally speaking, families in Italy wake up early in order to get their younger members ready to attend school (normally lessons start at 8:30 in the morning but some institutes can accept their pupils as early as 7:30 in order to allow parents to proceed to their workplaces).

What happens then depends on whether the school offers boarding or not, if yes the children can have their meal there and stay also in the early afternoon (doposcuola) in order to attend to recreational activities or do their homework, parents can then have a quick lunch break at work.

When schools do not have a canteen then either one of the parents or family relatives (usually grandparents) get them home for lunch (in past times, mid-day lunch, served usually around 13:30/14:00 was not just a short break but its modern version is getting slightly lighter, though not as light as, let's say, northern parts of Europe).

The children can then do their homework and later take part in their preferred sports/cultural activities, usually accompanied there by an adult (sometimes a parent that has free time can take care of more children of the same sport team/course), parents may return to work in the afternoon (for example, shops often reopen after their lunch break at 17:00 and close around 20:30) or just take care of the family needs (e.g. preparing a quick snack for children, cleaning, buying groceries, accompanying/picking up children from extracurricular activities).

Eventually, usually around 20:00/21:00 (generally speaking earlier in northern parts of Italy, later in south), family reunites for dinner, again, this is usually an important meal and not just a quick snack, eating in Italy is mostly about coming together, talk, exchange experiences and celebrate the culture of good food, not just plain eating; basically, this is a good moment for family to relax and stronger emotional bonds.

After dinner, it is time for a good book, a movie, perhaps a short video games session, and more in general for unwinding; bedtime obviously depends on the age of children but normally does not ever come too late, after all, tomorrow another intense day expects all members of the family.

cost of living

Public transport:

  • bus/metro single fare ticket about 1.50 €
  • bus/metro monthly travelcard about 35 €
  • train ticket for 100 km about 12 €


  • in a pub from 4/5.5 €
  • in a supermarket from 0.66 € (0.33 can/bottle)

Bottle of wine 

  • 0.75 , in a supermarket from 2.5 € 
  • 0.75 , in a restaurant from 7 € 

Dinner in a pizzeria

from 10 € onwards (basic pizza/beer/dessert), normally prices are cheaper in the southern part of Italy and higher in the north

Dinner in a restaurant

from 15 € for a basic meal, same as for pizza regarding the distribution of prices


As a country with a Catholic Christian cultural heritage, generally speaking, public holidays are connected to religious dates, but, of course, there are also bank holidays that celebrate important recurrences for the Italian Republic. Here can be found a comprehensive list, including historical notes that will guide you through the cultural background of the celebrations.

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Hi, my name is Davide Contu

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