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Most EU citizens can legally work in Italy with nothing more than a tax number (codice fiscale ). However, citizens of the new EU states and non-EU nationals need a work permit (permesso di lavoro).

If you’re going to work for an Italian firm, the company will organise a permit and forward it to the Italian consulate in your country, enabling you to apply for the relevant work visa. If, however, you intend to work for a non-Italian company or plan to go freelance, you must organise the permit in your country of residence through an Italian consulate. This process is extremely complicated and can take many months.

In practice many foreigners don’t bother with such formalities, preferring to work undeclared. Casual work is not always easy to find but you might strike it lucky in bars, in hostels, au pairing or tour-guiding. Teaching English is another option, although to secure a place at a reputable school you’ll need a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. It’s best to apply for teaching work in September, in time for the beginning of courses in October.

Teaching and other jobs are advertised in Porta Portese (weekly) and Wanted in Rome (fortnightly). You could also look in Il Messaggero and the Herald Tribune for job ads, and on the bulletin boards of English-language bookshops. A useful guide is Living, Studying and Working in Italy by Travis Neighbour Ward and Monica Larner (2003).

Online, you could try the following:

British School (www.britishschool.it) A private English-language organisation with various schools across Rome.

International House (www.ihromamz.it) One of Rome’s best-known English language schools.

Recruit Italy (www.recruitaly.it) Provides links for graduates looking for longer-term employment.

Roma Au Pair (www.romaaupair.it) An organisation that arranges short-term positions for au pairs with Italian families.

Volunteer Abroad (www.volunteerabroad.com) Lists volunteer opportunities in Rome and Italy.

Business hours

Most shops in central Rome open between 9am and 7.30pm (or 9.30am and 8pm) Monday to Saturday. Some larger stores and supermarkets also open on Sundays, typically from 11am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm. Many smaller, family-run shops stick to the traditional opening hours of 9am to 1pm and 3.30pm to 7.30pm (or 4pm to 8pm) Monday to Friday. Many food shops close on Thursday afternoons (winter) and Saturday afternoons (summer), while other shops tend to remain closed on Monday mornings. Many shops also close for two weeks in August.

Banks generally open from 8.30am to 1.30pm and from 2.45pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. In the centre some also open from 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturday mornings. However, it’s always possible to find an exchange office open.

Bars and cafés usually open from about 7.30am to 8pm. Some then stay open until 1am or 2am, catering to a nocturnal crowd. Many pubs open around noon for lunch and close at about 2am. Clubs (known as discoteche in Italian) open at about 10pm but the action rarely starts before midnight. Restaurants open noon to 3pm and 7.30pm to 11pm (later in summer). By law, restaurants are required to close for one day each week, although not all do.

Opening hours of the major sites vary enormously. Many of the big archaeological sites open from 9am until an hour before sunset. The big museums tend to open from around 9.30am to 7pm, although some might stay open later in summer or close earlier in winter (generally October to March). Note also that last admission to museums is generally an hour before the stated closing time and that many museums are closed on Mondays.

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Doing business

There are no special issues in doing business in Rome. However, an awareness of Italian business etiquette always helps. Some basic tips:

Contacts If you know someone who can help you, have no qualms about using them.

Formalities Courtesy counts and formalities are observed. Italian speakers should use the formal third person lei rather than the informal tu.

Punctuality It might not always be reciprocated, but punctuality is noticed and it is appreciated.

Socialising Expect to be invited to lunch or dinner; the host pays.

Many of the smarter hotels have business centres or secretarial assistance for guests. Otherwise try the following:

Executive Services Business Centres (06 852 37 250; www.executivenetwork.it ; Via Savoia 78) Secretarial services, video conferencing facilities, interpreters and other services.

World Translation Centre (06 488 10 39; www.wtcsrl.com ; Via Merulana 259) Can provide sworn translations for legal and corporate needs.

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