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Sunshinesue May 22nd, 2008 01:06 PM

Advise for 19 yo going to Italy to nanny
My daughter's roommate has accepted a position as a nanny for an Italian couple begining in Sept. ending in June. I cannot recall the name of the city she will be in but it is about 1 1/2 hours from Florence. She has never traveled overseas before and would like any advice seasoned Italy travelers would care to give.

One thing she specifically mentioned was the best way to get her clothes, etc. there. Pay for extra luggage? Send them ahead?

Sorry to make this so open-ended but anything you care to contribute would be most appreciated!

adrienne May 22nd, 2008 04:34 PM

Taking extra luggage with her depends on how she is getting to her destination. Public transport or is the family picking her up at the airport. Either way she will be restricted to what she can manage on public transport or the size of the car if they are picking her up. I wouldn't take too much in the beginning.

Extra clothes can be mailed to her. If she's in the US then check with the post office. I believe the best price for a package is 20 lbs or less. I was looking at mailing a few months ago and it was cheaper to mail 2-20 lbs packages rather than a 40 lb package.

Is she coming home for the Christmas/New Year holidays? If so she can pick up warm winter clothes then.

She can also check into luggage courier service and compare prices with mailing.

If she sends things ahead she needs to check with the people she will be living with to get the specific mailing address. She won't want to pay for a package that gets returned as undeliverable (this happened to my niece).

Keep in mind that whatever she takes with her or gets mailed to her she has to deal with next June. How will she get the stuff home.

Sunshinesue May 29th, 2008 10:09 AM

Thank-you very much for your advice. I will pass this on to her. Any other advice?

adrienne May 29th, 2008 11:31 AM

She should read about Italian culture before she goes to Italy to understand the Italian way of life. Sorry but I can't think of any books to recommend but her library should be able to help with this.

If she is in a small town then she should not go out in public wearing shorts or skimpy tops. She should watch what the children's mother wears into town and do the same.

She should be open to new experiences and not expect the same type of food as at home. The house may not be air conditioned, there may be no dish washer, and the amount of electricity may be less than she is used to (i.e., 2 hour wash cycles). She'll need to go along with things that are different than at home.

The experience of living with a family will be different than being a tourist so it's hard to say what advice to give her.

Will she be taking a laptop? Does the house have WIFI? If no WIFI then I believe dial up internet charges are per minute so access may be limited. If she is taking a laptop and the house has WIFI she should install SKYPE so she can call home to talk to family. Her family needs to install SKYPE as well. If her laptop doesn't have a microphone then she'll need a USB headset too (this works better than the other plug in type). Buy the headset here as they are expensive in Europe.

Does she know any other young people getting nanny jobs or going to her area of Italy this year? I'd think the isolation of being 1-1/2 hours from a city and living with people you don't know could be daunting. She should think about what to do if she feels homesick.

Definitely keep a journal about this experience.

Question - why did she choose to be a nanny rather than do a study abroad program. I'm assuming she is a student.

Cowboy1968 May 29th, 2008 11:50 AM

She should get an International Driving Permit - unless she is an EU citizen.

And she should check her contract whether it complies with Italian and EU law especially with respect to her rights as an au pair.

adrienne May 29th, 2008 11:59 AM

If she'll be driving the family car she should ask if she's insured.

LJ May 29th, 2008 12:27 PM

She might want to try posting this sort of query on a more youthful website (no offense to fellow Fodorites, but I suspect the average age here is well above 19!). I think her biggest challenge will be homesickness so knowing someone in a similar situation (another nanny/student) within a bus distance from her town will be crucial.

LoveItaly May 29th, 2008 01:39 PM

And not to post a negative post but if this young lady is going to be in a small town and working as a nanny she will probably not be included as "one of the family" Sunshinesue especially if the family she is working for is Italian. She will be considered a domestic and consequently could be quite lonely so to speak. Again not to be negative but the "class system" is still alive and doing quite well in Italy especially in smaller cities/towns.

W9London May 29th, 2008 04:05 PM

As for extra clothing, I would recommend waiting to see how much space she would have in her room.

This is more of a general thing (esp since we have hired a live-in nanny previously), but she should agree with the family the basic arrangements and house rules. Would she be expected to look after the child(ren) in the evenings/on weekends? How much housework (cooking, washing/ironing children's clothing, tidying up the room) is she expected to do? How often does she have time-off? Can she use a family car? Can she have a TV/internet connection/phone in her room?

A good point about getting an international drivers license and having her included on the car insurance if she needs to drive. Also I'm not sure how the medical insurance work--considering she is not an EU citizen. Would there be a doctor who speaks English? Depending on how long she intends to stay, she would need to register with the local US consulate.

LJ May 30th, 2008 04:58 AM

I am assuming that her 'family'/booking agency would guide her to see the Italian Consulate before she leaves the US. She may need a 'permesso' ( a sort of municipal licence for the community in which she will be living) but, for sure, for a stay of that length, she will require proof of medical insurance coverage.

MissPrism May 30th, 2008 06:16 AM

If she is only 19, I very much doubt that she will be going as a nanny.
The training takes at least three years.
I suspect that she is going as an au pair.
If she is going through a proper au pair agency, they should let her know how many hours she is supposed to work etc.
There is a bit about being an au pair in Italy at

Christina May 30th, 2008 06:31 AM

Exactly, she isn't a nanny at age 19. There are a lot of foreigners who come to my city to work as au pairs (Wash DC), and they just develop their own community, more or less--socializing, going out to clubs, etc., in the free time they have. They don't have much money, of course, so can't spend much. Their main goal is really just to get to the US for a bit for the experience. If they are going through a proper agency, the hours, etc., are set up, but if she has already accepted the position and is going, she is not going to be in much position to get there and then start bargaining or haggling over the conditions. She should have done that before accepting it.

scdreamer May 30th, 2008 06:41 AM

Three years ago, when our daughter was 19, she went to Italy to work as an au pair for a prominent family in Rome. They had three young boys, ages 2, 4 and 6.

The experience was wonderful for our daughter, who was in between high school and college - not ready to commit to four more years of education immediately.

There are a few caveats, of course. It's a good idea to make sure the duties, pay, and hours are spelled out in advance.

Also, as one other poster has mentioned, being in a small town could pose problems with isolation. Our daughter chose to be in Rome, over a few other possibilities in smaller outlying areas, and I think she feels it was a good decision. She was very lonely at first, but after a few weeks she met other young women who were also working as au pairs ... many from Germany and Austria ... and she spent most of her free time seeing the sights with them. They traveled together on weekends to Naples, Bologna, Florence, and a few other coastal towns. I doubt she would have been able to get around as comfortable and safely on her own.

One thing she did say is that (at least in her experience) young boys in upper class families are very much catered to - the discipline was not what we might be more used to in the United States. She loved the little boys, but she said they were quite a handful, as were many of the boys in her au pair friends' families.

The family she worked for was very kind to her, including her in meals and other plans. They spent some holiday times at their ski chalet in the north ... she had been very excited to be in the snow, but said she was assigned to stay indoors with the two-year-old the entire time, so that wasn't so much fun.

She worked from January 1 to June 30 - packed winter clothing when she first flew over, and then her dad and I visited in April and brought some summer things and took back her heavier coats, etc.

After her contract was completed, she traveled to Turkey and then on to Germany --- she left her stuff in Rome and then picked it up on the way to Germany - it was a challenge bringing her things on Ryan Air with the strict weight limits. As I recall, her adventure in checking in involved wearing about seven layers of clothing and then tearfully begging them to allow her to check an overweight bag without extra charge ... which apparently they did. Don't know how well that would work if you're not 19 years old and pretty ...

One other thing - you didn't mention if your daughter's roommate is an American citizen. If she is, it is against the Italian law for her to be in Italy and working for the time period you have described. Is she somehow getting a work permit?

Sunshinesue May 30th, 2008 12:45 PM

Thank-you so much! You have been a great help! Here are some more details. There is no booking agency. Daughter's roommate knows two girls, here, who have worked for this family so she has a very good idea about what to expect as far as the family is concerned. However, the family has moved from Torino to where they are now near Florence. The children are in school so I assume her work will be evenings and weekends. She probably has working hours nailed down. I just haven't asked her about it.

scdreamer, it is against Italian law for her to work for 10 months? Can you elaborate?

Thank-you for all of your helpful advice. I will forward this thread to her.

lilygirl May 30th, 2008 01:01 PM

From the US State Department web site:

A visa is not required for tourist stays up to three months.

However, for all other purposes, such as work, study, etc., a visa is required and must be obtained from the Italian Embassy or Consulates before entering Italy.

For further information concerning visas and entry requirements for Italy, travelers may contact the Embassy of Italy at 3000 Whitehaven St NW, Washington, DC 20008, via telephone at (202) 612-4400 or via the Internet:, or Italian Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, or San Francisco, accessible through the above Internet site.

PeaceOut May 30th, 2008 01:03 PM

She will probably need a Schengen visa to stay that long in Italy, and maybe something else to achieve a work permit.

My daughter studied in Florence, and was told not to mail things because the Italian postal service is notoriously slow. Use a carrier service, instead, we were told, like DHL or UPS. But check with the family, and they can tell you.

scdreamer May 31st, 2008 06:30 AM

Our daughter did not get the visa or work permit. She was never asked for any of it, but was aware that she could have been. According to the family for whom she worked (a very prominent politician and lawyer), the work permit and visa for an American without a formal education or qualifications that other EU citizens could not provide would have a difficult time getting the necessary papers ... so they just skipped it.

At one point it was possible to just leave the country for a short time and return in order to circumvent the three-month period, but that has changed, so that one must leave for an extended period of time in order to "start over" with the time in country.

I doubt if it is very uncommon for many American au pairs to not have the legally required paperwork. It is not likely they will be stopped and asked to produce the papers ... at least apparently not in larger urban areas.

PeaceOut May 31st, 2008 07:06 AM

For a Schengen visa, you have to go in person to an Italian consulate to present your papers. She has until September, and I would strongly advise she get one.

Why take the risk that she will have a big problem? Rules on passports and visas are tightening up everyday. I wouldn't advise my daughter to ignore them.

kybourbon May 31st, 2008 07:11 AM

Jus because others have done it and not been caught doesn't mean anything. You need some type of visa to stay longer than 90 days and you can't just leave the country for a day or two and come back.

adrienne May 31st, 2008 07:52 AM

Definitely get the visa! What happens if Italian immigration notices that her return ticket is for 9 months later and no visa?

Will she be coming home Christmas time to be with her family? If so, how will she get back to Italy.

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