Five things to know about travel in...

Tip #2 - Travel in Italy by car

1. The first thing may seem obvious but is often...

The first thing may seem obvious but is often overlooked: make sure your driving license is valid for our country (if you are from non E.U. countries an International Driving License is required) and check that your car is equipped with all devices required by Italian Law (i.e. snow chains are required on board if you want to travel on most Italian roads from 1st November to 30th April, but terms can vary according to local regulations.) For more details please contact your embassy or click on www.stradeanas.it website (up till now in Italian), were you will find the information you need.

2. If you come from the UK or South Africa, or where driving is on the left, remember that in Italy driving is on the right!

If you come from the UK or South Africa, or where driving is on the left, remember that in Italy driving is on the right! It’s better for you to know in advance in which lane to turn when you reach a crossing, how to navigate a roundabout, or how to overtake. When I drove in South Africa I had consulted some sites in advance, so I strongly suggest that you do the same thing! If you rent a left hand drive car (don’t worry, even though the gearshift is on the right, the pedals are always in the same position) keep an eye on the right side when you’re going to park or if you need to turn right.

3. Traffic in Italy is very chaotic, especially in and near big cities.

Traffic in Italy is very chaotic, especially in and near big cities. Fortunately Tuscany offers you the possibility of a relaxed drive in a lot of well known places (Chianti, Maremma), but be extracareful when approaching main cities (Florence in particular, but also Pisa or Lucca).
Some radio stations which broadcast throughout the country (i.e. frequency 103.3 FM) offer traffic news in English about every hour. The Italian motorway website (www.autostrade.it) is currently working on the English version of the site.

4. Should you be involved in a car accident remember this free phone...

Should you be involved in a car accident remember this free phone numbers: 118 (Medical Assistance), 112 (Carabinieri), 113 (Polizia - Police), 115 (Vigili del Fuoco – Firemen). If there should be a dispute with the other drivers, (i.e. you disagree about how the accident happened), I strongly suggest that you call the Police so that they can carry out a survey of the accident. Please don’t sign anything before the Police arrive unless you have carefully read and perfectly understood the document you’re asked to sign. If there are any witnesses ask them to write for you their personal details and phone number, or invite them to explain to the Police how the accident occurred, so that their statements can be included in the Police report. In all cases, even when the Police are not required, It would be a good idea to deal with the situation in the presence of someone who speaks both Italian and English.

5. The Italian compensation procedure in these cases is very complex and if you’re not an expert you’ll probably be offered a small...

The Italian compensation procedure in these cases is very complex and if you’re not an expert you’ll probably be offered a small or even ridiculous amount of money by the Insurance Companies. For this reason, It is important that you find someone who will safeguard your interests, both the in case of material damages and in the case of injuries. Do not hesitate to contact this law firm if such a need arises.

Useful phone numbers:

118 Medical Assistance
112 Carabinieri
113 Police
115 Firemen

Five things to know about renovation...

Tip #1 - Renovation of your house

1. Start out on the right foot. Choose a trust worthy team of experts.

When starting renovation work on your house please bear in mind an obvious but very important aspect. Your day to day life must not be unduly interrupted. What I’m saying is that you need to entrust the work to professionals who will proceed on your behalf in the best way so that you are relieved from any unnecessary worry. The more professional your team , the better the results will be, and you’ll probably also be able to save money (see n. 4).

2. The importance of an itemized estimate of building costs. The choice of a reliable building company and a signed contracting agreement (appalto).

To this purpose you’ll first need to consult a good surveyor who will first set out a precise list of the foreseeable costs both for the paperwork and the renovation itself. The surveyor can also check the building works at each stage (direttore dei lavori.) The choice of a reliable company is also fundamental. Normally the surveyor’s estimate is given to two or three firms (not more), and your choice will depend on different aspects: obviously the estimate (but a very low price should warn you), and last but not least, the company must be qualified and authorized in accordance with Italian Law. Your surveyor will be able to advise you.
After choosing the company, it’s advisable to sign a detailed contract agreement (prepared by a lawyer), in which some clauses (payment methods, penalties in case of delay etc.) can properly safeguard your rights. Everything must be agreed in writing and signed before starting the job, a handshake is not recommended nowadays!

3. Stage by stage payments. Regular controls by a surveyor.

During the course of work the firm is normally paid in installments at each stage ( in Italian “pagamenti per stato di avanzamento” ). It means that you’ll be requested to pay the amount due to the firm only after a careful examination of the work made by the “direttore dei lavori”. His role is extremely important, as he will safeguard your interests, by checking that all the building work is carried out properly, and that all the payments demanded by the firm correspond to the prices indicated in the initial estimate. Only in this way can you be sure that you will be paying the right amount.

4. Extras.

The so called Extras can blow up costs tremendously (even as much as 50%). Even though it’s true that nobody is a magician who can foresee the exact final cost of the whole renovation, it’s also true that a very well prepared itemized estimate will reduce risks of too many unforeseen costs enormously. The inclusion in the contract of a precise clause stating that all extras have to be previously authorized by the client will further decrease this risk.

5. Final control by the building company and surveyor (collaudo) and payment of the balance.

A well formulated contract normally gives the client the right to pay the balance only after a final control (called collaudo). This means that 10% of the whole agreed amount is normally only disbursed after both the surveyor and the builder have declared that all the work is finished and above all, done in accordance with the signed contract and in compliance with the Law. This final control will put your mind at rest and after paying the balance it only remains for you to enjoy your renovated property.

Documents:

Capitolato
Computo metrico
Contratto di appalto