10 Reasons Why I Love Amazon Italy!

One of my favorite discoveries after moving overseas is that Amazon operates in other countries besides the U.S. There is Amazon: Italy, Germany, UK,  Spain, France, Japan… and more! Each participating country has their own corresponding website and their own unique inventory. They are completely legitimate Amazon websites and you can even use the same Amazon.com account from the states. All you need is a local mailing address and you are all set!

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10 Things I Love About Amazon Italy

  1. Reviews: By nature I am an intense researcher of all things (hence the existence of this blog).  Whenever I intend to spend money on anything whether it be hotel stays, restaurant dining, or online shopping I always try to read the reviews. Why buy low quality if I can buy high quality at the same affordable price? With a little help from Google translate I can read reviews in English and compare items just like I did on Amazon.com in the states.
  2. Research & Comparison: Being able to research and compare items on Amazon can save you money. Choosing appliances that have multiple functions or added features can also save you money. For example, my food processor can be used as a drink blender and a vegetable slicer. My microwave has a grill function for reheating pizza and a steam function for vegetables. My hand blender comes with a bowl and stand, so that it can be used be used as a stand mixer. My vacuum cleaner can clean carpet, tile, high ceilings, and upholstery. Right there I save by not having to purchase a blender, mandolin slicer, toaster oven, vegetable steamer, stand mixer, hard floor vacuum. carpet vacuum, and hand vacuum.
  3. Fast Shipping: Each Amazon website ships  directly from their own country. Everything I order from Amazon Italy is delivered to my doorstep in 2-3 days. I don’t have to wait 10 or more days for my package to ship from the states to my APO address, then wait in the never ending line at the post office to pick up my package. Plus, I don’t have to waste time arguing with the post office that my package arrived two weeks ago when their outdated computer system never printed out a notification for my mail box. With Amazon Italy you can even upgrade to Prime for  only 10 euros  a year, although a bit unnecessary with the already fast shipping. As soon as we moved out of the hotel and into our new home I hit the “order” button on Amazon and voila!
  4. 220 Volt Appliances: Buying 220 volt appliances to replace your American 120 volt appliances can present a real challenge when you first arrive. Besides not having a vehicle and being unfamiliar  with the area, you also don’t understand the Italian language or recognize any of the brands. The PX on base has a very small selection of 220 volt appliances and you are usually limited to one type of coffee, vacuum, or blow dryer (if they have it in stock). Even appliances found within the Italian economy tend to be either overpriced or poorly rated. With Amazon Italy you have a vast selection of 220 volt appliances to choose from and you don’t have to go through the hassle of figuring out everything in Italian.
  5. Low Prices: As I mentioned before, appliances on the Italian economy tend to be overpriced when comparing the same exact item on Amazon Italy. When we first arrived I even scouted out items at the local BestBuy/Wal-Mart-like stores (Emisfero/MediaWorld), the discount kitchen store at the Palladio mall, and the PX. I took pictures of 220 volt appliances and their prices, then went back to the hotel to look them up online. The majority of the time, Amazon was the clear winner in terms of price. We even had the Italian version of BestBuy (MediaWorld) create an estimate for a VAT (value added tax) refund on all of the items we wanted to buy. Even with the VAT refund at MediaWorld, Amazon Italy with VAT included still costed less! Our microwave alone was 60 euros less on Amazon Italy! The few items that were cheaper only amounted to a few euros difference. Although the discount appliance store at the mall selling cheap, off brand appliances may have been cheaper, I questioned  the quality and lifespan of the appliance in the long run.
  6. Selection: Finding things on the Italian economy can be quite a task. You won’t find a Hobby Lobby store with a giant selection of scrapbook paper, sewing fabric, and paints all under one roof. You will have to buy scrapbook paper at a stationary store, fabric at a sewing shop, and paints at the local hardware store. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The small, often family-owned shops are what makes Italy beautiful and I love the adventure of discovering those little places! That being said, sometimes the American in me wants all these random things at once and I want it now! With Amazon Italy I can find a great selection of everything from craft supplies to car parts all in one place. So if you are in search of something difficult to find, take a look on Amazon first.
  7. Convenience: Being able to shop from your computer is very convenient, especially since you won’t find a “one-stop” stop shopping mecca of everything you need here. It also means you won’t be driving around from store to store to pick up or compare items. I didn’t have to watch the yard sale pages like a hawk or meet up with people multiple times on the yard sale pages. It was so simple to have everything in my shopping cart and click the order button as soon as we moved into our house. I just had to make sure I was home to receive the package and sign for it.
  8. Few Restrictions: Ordering things from the states can be problematic due to restrictions on what can be sent through the mail. They won’t send heavy or large items (i.e. furniture, rugs, sport/gym equipment) and they won’t send some hazardous materials (i.e. baby items, electronics with built in batteries, flammable liquids like paint markers). Some sellers just simply refuse to send anything to an APO address. On Amazon Italy I can order furniture, bicycles, tablets, and craft paints. I can have anything on Amazon Italy delivered to my Italian address and shipping is usually FREE, even on furniture!
  9. International Shipping: If you can’t find what you are looking for on Amazon Italy, you can also look at the Amazon websites for other countries. There will be a lot of overlap, but there will be some more unique items as well. Amazon Germany for example, had a much better selection of furniture than Amazon Italy. Amazon UK had a bigger selection of colors when it came to choosing our new travel luggage. The options are endless! Keep in mind some countries do have restrictions just like regular Amazon and they usually charge for shipping.
  10. New vs. Used: I am all about bargain shopping and saving money when I can. I love yard sale pages and thrifts stores just as much as the next person, but the competition is rough! Everyone is looking for the same items and doesn’t want to spend top dollar on something they will only use for a few years, which I completely agree with. Sometimes (not always) it is just more simple, safe, and cost effective to buy it new rather than fight for a used item on the yard sale page. Plus, you can always find someone willing to buy it from you on the yard sale pages when you move.

The Cons of Using Amazon Italy

With the good comes the bad, so I will be honest!

The negative side of using Amazon Italy is that: A) You need to have a local Italian address, which can be problematic for those living in government owned (aka Villagio) unless you use a friend’s address on the economy and B) most delivery companies require a signature meaning you need to be home or else they will not drop off the package at your doorstep like in the states.

If they attempt to deliver the package and you are not home, they will put a notice of attempted delivery in your mail box and it usually states that they will try to deliver again the next business day or the note may require you to log in online and choose a day to have it delivered. If you still are not home the next day, they will most likely leave a note telling you to pick it up at the postal center and you can pick it up at your convenience.

Now that I’ve introduced and hopefully demystified this fantastic resource you can use while living overseas, this concludes my rant about Amazon Italy. Happy shopping!

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Vet Clinic, Pet Passports, Boarding, Travel

Helpful Pages

Register Pets at the Army Vet Clinic

  • Pet registrations takes place at the Vicenza Veterinary Treatment Facility
  • In order to receive care at the military vet, your pet must be registered.
  • Registration can be done as a walk in, so no appointment is necessary.
  • Pets do not have to be present unless they require treatment treatment (vaccinations), in which case you would need to make an appointment.
  • Bring your veterinary health records.
  • At this time you can also start the pet passport process.

Find a Local Italian Veterinarian

  • The military clinic is primarily focused on military working dogs
  • Private owned animals are only seen on a space available basis.
  • Care is limited to wellness visits, vaccinations, minor illness/injuries, and a limited number of spays/neuters each month.
  • There is no emergency care for pets on post.
  • A list of local and emergency veterinary clinics is available at the Longare Vet Clinic
  • The most popular vet clinic for procedures and 24 hour emergency care is Sirio Veterinary Clinic

Pet Passport

  • Once in Italy, an Italian vet can issue an EU Pet Passport allowing travel within Europe and travel back to the United States.
  • The pet passport will be needed for flights (except your initial flight from the U.S.), hotel stays, boarding kennels, and border crossings within the EU. Note: Each county has its own requirements. Always check each country’s requirements before traveling with your pet.
  • The Pet Passport is valid for the duration of the pet’s life
  • Each passport is numbered for identification purposes and includes identifying information about the pet. This also helps in case your pet is ever lost in Europe.
  • The pet passport process does NOT need to be completed in 1 day. You can complete each step at your own pace. Hint: In order to get the pet passport done all in one day, the best day to go is on a Monday when the ULSS office has afternoon hours (in addition to their standard morning hours).

1. Register pet at the Longare Vet Clinic

  • Appointments are not necessary and pets do not need to be present unless vaccinations are needed.
  • Ensure all vaccines are up-to-date (if not, schedule an appointment). Bring in your pet’s medical record.
  • You will be given a form (bill for payment) for the post office, a copy of your rabies vaccination certificate, and the export document for ULSS.
    • If your pet is a mixed breed, note when filling out the export document at the veterinary clinic that the the ULSS office can only put one breed name or call it a “mix” on the passport. Ex. They can’t input “Labrador mix” or “Labrador Poodle”. It has to be labeled as either a Labrador, Poodle, or a mix. For identification purposes, choose whichever one seems best suited. Don’t worry if you write it wrong on the export document, just be prepared to pick one breed descriptor when creating the pet passport at ULSS.
  • The veterinary clinic will give you a map to the Italian post office near base (although you can use any Italian post office) and to the ULSS office.

2. Go to the Italian post office and pay the fee

  • You can go to ANY Italian post office to pay for the pet passport
    • I’d suggest going to your local post office (rather than downtown Vicenza, it is very busy!) or better yet the one in Longare on your way out of the vet clinic
  • At the post office you may need to take a number from an automated machine. Choose the one that resembles “financial services” (Servizio Financiale) since you will be paying a bill.
  • When you get the counter you will give them the payment form and they will run it through a scanner. Bring several forms of payment (cash, debit, credit) just to be on the safe side.
    • Cost: 12.50 euro per pet, plus service fee 1 or 2 euro
  • Once you have paid, make sure that you receive and hold onto the receipt. You are going to need it for the next step at ULSS.

3. Go to the ULSS office to receive the pet passport

  • You will most likely need to press the buzzer for ULSS to be let into the building
  • Bring the receipt from post office and all documents (rabies certificate/export doc) from the vet clinic.
  • They will input information from the export document into the pet passport, print it off and then have you look it over for accuracy.
  • Note: If your dog is a mixed breed, they can only put ONE breed or call it a “mix” on the passport.
  • You will receive the pet passport right then and there, but WAIT! There is one more important step!

4. Return the passport to the Longare Vet Clinic for signatures from the Veterinarian

  • This can be done as a walk in (no appointment necessary)
  • The vet will look over the passport and your pets medical chart, then sign the pet passport to validate it.
  • All done! Remember to bring in your pet’s passport each time you visit the veterinary clinic so that vaccinations and updates can be documented.

Travel

  • Muzzles: When your pet is out in public, you must have a muzzle on hand (attached to leash) at all times. If you are in a crowded area such as public transportation or a festival with close proximity to people your dog must wear a muzzle.
  • Leads/Leashes: Pets are required to be on a leash at all times in public. Although locals often do not follow this rule and get away with it, do not expect to be treated the same.
  • Vicenza public buses Allow small dogs (up to 10kg) to be held in your arms with a muzzle or carried inside of a carrier and dogs to guide the blind to ride for FREE. There is conflicting information as to whether larger dogs are allowed to ride the bus (the AIM bus website FAQ section says no, but  new Italian laws say otherwise). It may be up to the bus driver as to whether or not a larger dogs can ride the bus and may require paying an extra ticket. Please be courteous to people riding the bus by placing a muzzle on your dog even if they are harmless.
  • TrenItalia train system allows pets
    • Small dogs, cats, and other small pets (kept in an appropriate container no larger than 70x30x50 cm) are admitted free of charge in the first and second class of all categories of trains and service levels (Executive, Business, Premium and Standard). Only one container for each traveler. For dogs, you must be able to show the pet passport on board during the trip.
    • For a fee and with appropriate documentation, dogs of any size can be transported on certain trains and in certain areas of the train while kept on a leash and with a muzzle on. Only one dog per traveler. For the transportation of dogs you must show the pet passport at the time of ticket purchase for the animal and be able to show it on board during the trip.
      • Train inclusions and exclusions:
        • Expressed on trains, IC and ICN in both first and second class
        • On trains Frecciabianca, Frecciarossa and Frecciargento, in first and second class and levels of service and Business Standard.
        • Excludes service level Executive, Premium, the area of silence and sitting areas
        • On regional trains in the vestibule or platform of the last car, excluding time from 7 to 9 am on weekdays from Monday to Friday
        • In sleeping carriages, couchette cars and cars in Excelsior, compartments for purchased in full.
      • You must purchase, at the same time of the companion ticket (of any type), a second-class ticket at the price of the train you expect to use reduced by 50% at any ticket office or authorized travel agency (excluding web agencies), even for travel in first class and in the level of service business.
      • No animals allowed in the coaches can occupy passenger seats (must remain on the floor) and if they disturb other travelers the companion and animal may be required to occupy another place, or get off the train.
      • No animals allowed in the dining car/bar (except only for guide dogs for the blind)
    • Guide dogs for the blind can travel on all trains for free with no obligation.

Boarding Facilities

Dog Parks

  • Villagio Dog Park: located behind the grade school, walk past the soccer field and turn right. The park is off in the right hand corner. One fenced in area, two benches and a trash can. No pick up bags available or water fountains.
  • Parco di via Giuriato (Via Adolfo Giuriato 36100 Vicenza)

Crime and Safety in Italy

Helpful Pages


Crime in Italy

  • Most crime in Italy involves home break-ins, vehicle break-ins, and pick-pocketing.
    • Homes: Most home break-ins occur when no one is home, but they have been known to occur while someone is still in the home (day or night). They occur more often during summer months and in neighborhoods closer to downtown. Most houses are equipped with metal blinds that can cover and bolt the windows shut while you are away or sleeping at night. Most home break-ins are 100% preventable by locking doors and covering windows. Home security can conduct a risk assessment of your home to discover any missing safety features that should be added. It is also advantageous to try to blend in with your neighbors… don’t hang US sports teams flags, don’t have lawn decorations with English wording like “Welcome”, and don’t hang laundry outside containing military uniforms or similar items.
    • Vehicles: Vehicle break-ins are more common in neighborhoods closer to downtown. Usually they are searching for gas coupons, which can be valued at well over 200 euro. Gas coupons should never be left inside of the vehicle, especially within plain view. Since replacing a busted widow can be costly and time consuming, some advise leaving the car unlocked (valuables removed) when parking in an unsecured area.
    • Pick Pockets: Pick-pocketing is common in cities all across Europe, especially tourist cities like Rome. Pick pocketing can occur anywhere, but usually occurs while using public transportation. When traveling, wallets should NOT be kept in your back pocket; keep it in your front pocket or a secured cargo pocket. In major cities, you may want to wear a money belt under clothing containing a secondary stash of money and credit cards. Cross-body purses are ideal for traveling and deterring theft. When dining at restaurants or using public transportation, your purse should be kept on your lap or wedged between your feet… never at your side, next to your feet, or hanging behind a chair.

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Banking in Italy: Credit Cards, ATMs, Fees, Exchange Rates

Helpful Pages


Banking Overseas

  • Contact the customer service department of any and all U.S. credit cards you may use while living in Italy. Inform them you will be living in Italy. You will also need to contact them when you plan to take trips outside of Italy.
  • Find out their policies and fees regarding foreign transactions.
  • Ask if smart chip and PIN cards are available, since they are widely used in Europe.
  • Once you get to Italy, it is a good idea to set up an account with a local Italian bank to pay for utilities (if you live on the economy) and auto passes for the toll roads in Europe. The exchange rate is a lot better than working with an American bank.

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PCS Adventures Overseas: Italy

PCS Adventures Overseas has been created to help other service members and their families PCS overseas, more specifically Italy. Note: this is an unofficial, non-profit blog and information is subject to change. **Please feel free to leave a comment with any corrections or new updates you would like to share!

Paperwork

Moving/Packing

Getting There

Housing

Transportation

 Resources

Finding a Job in Italy

Helpful Pages


  • Finding a job in Italy can be especially difficult. Because of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Italy and the U.S. government, military dependents can only work for the U.S. government aka “on post”.  Continue reading

Useful Resources: PCS Italy

Websites – USAG Italy

Websites – Military

Websites – Local


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