Italy has long held an appeal for travelers with all interests and from all walks of life. Whether it’s exploring the foothills of the snow covered Alps, eating your way through Italy’s world-renowned cuisine (and all of its regional variations and specialities), or indulging in a slower paced life in the south, Italy is sure to appeal to everyone in its own way.
However, to truly understand Italy, you have to understand the Italian family. And what better way to immerse yourself in Italian culture and family life than becoming an au pair in Italy? Not only will you get to understand some of the most fundamental points of Italian culture on an intimate level, but you’ll likely hone up on your Italian skills and get great experience in childcare at the same time. Interested? Then read on.
When and Where to Start Looking
Where you end up working as an au pair within Italy depends largely on the type of Italian lifestyle you want to experience and cost of living. For example, cost of living in Milan and Venice is quite high, whereas less iconic cities like Capri, Rimini, and Taormina are much more affordable. Generally, expect cold weather and a high value on business and efficiency in the north, but a warmer, slower pace of life in the South. The center of Italy is a nice equilibrium of the two.
You can apply to be an au pair at any time of the year. However, if you are also planning on studying during your time as an au pair, you should take this into consideration when deciding when to start your search.
Either through word of mouth or with the help of an agency, you will first choose a host family to work with, interview with them, and confirm that you’re a good fit. After that, you’ll either apply for a visa (if you need one) and begin a background check. Finally, work out an agreement and you’re on your way to becoming a superstar au pair in Italy!
EU/EFTA nationals do not need a visa to au pair in Italy. Citizens of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand can apply for a working holiday visa in Italy. All others can apply for a short stay visa for stays less than 90 days, and a national visa for stays between 3 - 12 months.
If you are also studying Italian or other courses while working as an au pair, you may qualify for a student visa.
Your host family will have to apply for your work permit.
When interviewing with your host family, it’s important to make a good first impression. At the same time, you should not just be selling yourself as a great au pair, but asking them questions to make sure they will be a good fit for you to live with and work for. Being an au pair is a job where you get to know your employers on an unusually intimate level, so take this into consideration when preparing for your interview.
Another important question to ask, especially if you are still a beginner in Italian, is whether or not they are interested in having an au pair because they want to expose their children to a second language. Being able to communicate with the children is important, so make sure you are both on the same page about potential language barriers and how you will approach this. Conversely, if you are there to learn Italian, you may want a family that allows you to speak Italian to the children, since some primarily hire an au pair to give their kids full time immersion in a foreign language.
- Appearances matter in Italy. Reserve your PJs for bedtime.
- The idea of ‘bella figura’ -- or good image -- extends to more than just style and physical attractiveness. It applies to confidence and demeanor as well.
- Wait until invited to move into a first name business (except with children)
Choosing a Host Family
Length of Program
Au pair programs in Italy are generally less than 1 year.
The primary responsibility of au pairs is childcare, although they may be asked to do some light chores around the house (such as washing dishes).
For a country of its size, Italy is fairly diverse, extending from the foothills of the Alps to the sunny Mediterranean. It’s diverse not only in geography but culture, cost of living, and cuisine as well. Take this into consideration when choosing where to go in Italy (not every city in Italy is known for its spectacular pizza or warm weather!). Cost of living should be another factor. Even though you will be provided with room and board, you’ll want to make sure you can make the most of your weekly stipend!
Au pairs will be given pocket money in addition to room and board. For a demi au pair, expect a minimum of 120 euros per week for 15 hours of work. For 20 hours of work, 160 euros a week. For a full au pair, expect 240 euros per week for 30 hours, and 300 euros for 40 hours.
To truly immerse yourself in and experience one of the core values of Italian life, the family, consider becoming an au pair. Not only will you get to live and work in one of the world’s most beautiful and romanticized countries, but you will come away from it with unforgettable experiences and an insiders view on what Italian culture is all about.