Now I am working in a real job at least for a while, I am becoming immersed into the Italian bureacracy that surrounds a work contract. Goods news is that although pay is laughably low, they do at least pay you 14 times a year instead of 12. Making almost enough of a difference to at least pay for an extra cup of coffee and cornetto every year (croissant in case you imagine that Italians eat ice cream for breakfast). They also quote your salary in net per month, so you always know exactly how poor you are.
In terms of sickness, if you are off work sick you have to get a doctors note. Unlike the UK where you are trusted to stay in bed and be ill for at least four days before visiting the doctor, here you need to go the same day. So imagine that you wake up full of flu, or some vomiting illness, you have to try and get an appointment with a doctor, go to the waiting room which is as efficient as the post office (see earlier post) and spend two to three hours waiting to see a doctor to get a certificate which you then need to fax to the office, so you also need to find a fax shop that has not closed for the afternoon.
This assumes you have a doctor of course which many expats do not. For this you need a residency certificate which requires a private healthcare insurance certificate (around £600 per year at the moment and it has to be Italian so you have no idea what you are buying), a european nationality (or a permanent contract for work if not european) and the time to visit the government office at least three times, fill out twenty seven forms, let them visit your house, and then wait four years for it to go through the system. You can visit a private doctors (I have done this once which cost me 80 euros which went into the back pocket of the doctor who write the prescription I needed in my boyfriend's name), costing more than the day's pay you will lose. You can instead opt to take it from the rather small allocation of holidays.
Speaking of holidays, Italy has more than its fair share of national and regional holidays where offices close as there is a saint for almost every occassion. Sadly they are on fixed dates, and if they fall on a weekend, then you miss out like the August 15th country shutdown this year, which was on a Saturday.
So next time you complain about a British bank holiday think about the wonderful Monday system so that even if it is raining, at least you are guarenteed to have a day off work!