Nurseries and Schooling

Understand the choices available to parents of pre-school children in Italy...

Nursery schooling

Children may attend day nurseries (asilo nido) fairly soon after birth, or pre-school (scuola maternal/scuola dell'infanzia) from the age of three.

Day nurseries accept children as young as three months of age and are generally used by working parents. Costs are based on the nursery and number of hours children attend, but generally state-run nurseries are less expensive than private ones. Places in these nurseries are therefore more in demand and often have waiting lists. Priority is usually given to working mothers, low-income parents and parents of handicapped children.

Nursery schools generally operate from 08:30 to 12:30, though parents may leave their children for extended hours.


After turning three years old, all children may attend a pre-school which, though not required, is the first stage of their schooling. Though it's not mandatory, nearly all children in Italy attend pre-school, though there are lower attendance rates in the South of Italy. Pre-schools are either state-run, state-subsidised or private. State pre-schools are free of charge and offer a full-time education until a child begins primary school. Most state schools expect families to make financial contributions toward the cost of meals and transportation.

Pre-schools are generally open from around 08:00 to 17:00, though after-school programs are usually available for children with parents who work later.

The government may subsidise pre-schools if there are not enough state-run facilities to accommodate children in a locality. Pre-schools in Italy accept all children between the ages of three and six, including those with learning disabilities and behavioural difficulties.

In order to be eligible to begin pre-school, a child must have had their third birthday by the beginning of the school year (generally the beginning of September). Occasionally schools will accept a child who turns three before 31 December of that year.

The Ministry of Public Education (Ministero dell'Istruzione / Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca) manages the pre-school system, while the administration of most pre-schools lies with local education authorities. There is no mandated curriculum for pre-schools.

Which pre-school to attend

Children are automatically sent to a school in their locality unless there are no vacancies. It is possible to attend a school outside of a student's local area if the preferred school has space available.

Primary school

Contact the local town hall for information regarding when and where to enroll in primary school. Generally, the documents required for enrolment are:

  • The child's birth certificate (certificato di nascita)
  • The child's vaccination records (libretto individuale)
  • Certificate of Family Status (Certificato di Stato di Famiglia)
  • A photograph of the child and the parent's residence permit (Permesso di Soggiorno) or residence certificate (Certificato di Residenza)

If residency has not yet been attained, an attestation of intention to move permanently to Italy may be acceptable.

The Ministry of Education has more on school enrollment (in Italian)