How the Italian Budget Crisis May Impact American Military Personnel

Photo by NicholeW

The news is everywhere. There are many countries in the Euro Zone that are in financial trouble. Italy is one of the countries in financial trouble. The country is in debt and it is struggling to meet obligations. The former prime minister was forced out and a new prime minister is now in control. The country has a lot of work to do to improve its financial situation.

Yes, you say. That is a horrible thing. So, what does this have to do with me?

I am an American. I don’t pay taxes in Italy. I am just a guest. Military personnel living in Italy exist in kind of “friends with benefits” kind of arrangement. We get a lot of amazing experiences by living in Italy, but we don’t give much back directly to the government tax wise. (Yes, I am ignoring the fact that we contribute to the economic well-being of the area.)

This puts strain on the Italian government to find a way for the American community to contribute more financially. How can the thousands of Americans stationed here in Vicenza help to improve the Italian budget?

The answer is simple really.

Enforcement.

Things can be pretty laid back in Italy. A number of the laws and regulations in place are often ignored. This practice is now changing to help the government out of its money woes.

I know someone who ended up paying major fines and going for weeks without a vehicle, because they drove around with a tag they  to fit a smaller license plate frame. Parking tickets are being issued much more often, especially in downtown Vicenza. Police are enforcing speed limits and issuing tickets. Driving under the influence can not just get you in legal trouble, you can actually lose your vehicle. A 16,000 Euro fine MAY get your car returned to you. That is almost $22,000. Costly errors on all counts.

So….What is my point?

I just want to remind everyone that we are guests in Italy. It is our responsibility to learn the laws of the country. Even though we may think some of the regulations make no sense, we need to follow them. If you don’t know what the rule is on something, make sure you ask. In this case, what you don’t know can really hurt you.

Pay attention to the traffic regulations when you get your SETAF license. Park legally. Don’t speed, if you are not able to pay the ticket. Don’t drive under the influence. (If you have had your license less than 3 years, the blood alcohol limit in Italy is ZERO! That means nothing, not even a glass of wine with dinner!)

It sounds pretty simple just to follow the rules. It is a bit hard to do when we know some of our Italian neighbors regularly disregard some of those rules. Just do the right thing because you should, even if it is not easy!

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4 Comments on “How the Italian Budget Crisis May Impact American Military Personnel”

  1. Good advice. Even if the euro zone were not in financial trouble it’s a good idea to know and follow the rules if you live in another country. One should have at least 40-60 euro on your person or in your car if you are in a country that can give you an on the spot fine. Here, if you forget to validate your bus ticket and a controller comes by, it’s a 40 euro fine even if you’re holding the ticket. If you can’t pay the on the spot fine some of them are higher when they send you a ticket. Also, if you use the VAT form to go tax free on a purchase, make sure you ask ahead of time if they accept it. Some places around here don’t, or if they do they expect you to have enough euro on hand to make the purchase and then get reimbursed at their service desk.

    • Peg Crippen says:

      Amanda, I definitely advocate following the local rules. It is just so easy to speed and park illegally here, because it feels like everyone is doing it. Italian driving is just plain nuts!!! Some of the rules are easy to forget, because they don’t seem right to Americans. For instance in Italy, you can be stopped and asked for your receipt if you come out of a store with a purchase. Then, if you don’t have one, you have to pay a fine and the business has to pay a much larger fine. It is not generally enforced, but can be if law enforcement chooses to. Living in Europe is worth the rules and things that differ from the U.S. are a minor inconvenience for the experience!

      • I imagine. It seems like people do it here too, but of course it would be my luck I’d be the one who got caught so I’ll try not to lol. Wow. I wonder if needing the receipt is here also. I haven’t encountered it. I do always keep my receipt though because we usually bring a book bag instead of carrying bags. It is kind of nice that you can do that here because in the States places tend to frown on large bags being carried in a store. The lady who taught our culture class said she takes a large purse in (empty) and puts everything in there instead of a cart and then goes to pay and no one thinks anything of it but she wouldn’t do that in the States. The bus here is similar in that it is rarely enforced. In fact there are girls who told a guy in our class which buses don’t have controllers. But I would rather not take the chance especially when a one way ticket inside the city is only a couple euro. Definitely. The little things that are different in an inconvenient way are definitely minor to the things that are awesome.


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