If you are one of the fortunato, Italy may be the ideal place for your work-life balance. Not to mention it's global-centric geographic location as perfect launching pad to other parts of Europe.
To obtain work authorization in Italy, it is necessary to have a permit to stay (i.e., permesso di soggiorno). Possible Italian visas include categories for elective residency and self-employment visas in the following four categories: (1) Officers and administrators of Italian companies (restrictions apply); (2) entrepreneurs; (3) freelance professionals; and (4) founders of startup companies
The Italian constitution guarantees work for every citizen; as a result, Italians tend to view work as work, taking fewer risks than one might in other countries. Strong protections for employees stemming from the constitutionally enshrined right to work create costly and binding rules regarding hiring and firing. In general, you’ll often find Italians are reluctant to change professional positions, since the prize of an ironclad job is not an asset to be relinquished lightly, if ever. The present-day Italian economy lacks mid-range companies; instead, being led by larger, name-brand players in automotive, food and beverage and fashion industries - on the flip side are small family-owned companies who have safeguarded secrets of their trade for generations.
This being said, there is a robust economic sector populated by artists, artisans, and liberi professionisti - freelancers. Vanguard cities such as Bologna and Torino are home to co-working spaces and startup incubators which have sprouted up in the past decade. Such spaces host web and fashion designers, coders and programmers, marketers, copywriters, editors and translators, and more.
Italians love a good side hustle and have enormous respect for freelancers and small business owners. They admire a creative problem solver and embrace ingenuity. Although, bureaucratic frustrations do become apparent to those seeking to grow a business in Italy. You will be able to eventually complete tasks – perhaps on their adjusted timeline rather than yours.
Freelancers who plan to stay in Italy to deploy their professional trade will want to connect with a local commercialista for guidance on opening a Partita IVA, a designation required for all lawful freelance work. Italy restricts freelance work to a specified declared category which must be acknowledged by both worker and contractor on official fatture, or invoices. The tax regime for freelancers was recently reformed to the benefit of professionals; gross income up to a generous figure (€65,000) is subject to a simple tax, while income over that amount is taxed more heavily.
No matter what your employment situation in Italy is, you’ll want to connect with a local commercialista (accountant) for tax guidance. Even if you are earning all your income from non-Italian sources, you are still required to file Italian tax returns.