Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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If you are stopped by the police for any reason, you will be asked for your identification. If you are not an Italian citizen, you may also be fingerprinted. Do your best to be cooperative with the officers as they do have the right to send you to jail for up to 48 hours while awaiting due process if you committed a flagrant offense. You have the right to an attorney and at the end of the identification process, you will be asked to name your avvocato di fiducia (trusted lawyer). If you do not have legal counsel, a public defender will be assigned to you by the court and you will be responsible for the associated legal fees. If your income is determined to be insufficient to pay for legal defense, fees are paid by the court.


If you run into legal trouble, remember that the regulations of the Italian Bar Association do not permit lawyers to accept cases on a contingency or percentage basis. Therefore, you should agree on fees in advance before retaining an attorney. Many of the functions handled by lawyers elsewhere can be handled by an Italian notaio (notary), who is a public official. Notaries are required to have a law degree and usually handle matters such as estates and property transactions.

The following English-speaking civil law firm has been recommended by members of the IWF:

Pezzi, Lugaresi & Associati

Via Rubbiani, 2
Tel. 051.580382 or 051.581338
Corporate and insurance law, family, public health and environmental law, internet, privacy, data protection and contracts. The firm specializes in legal aid for Italians operating in the US and Americans with business interests in Italy. Below is a list of English-speaking lawyers in Bologna compiled in alphabetical order by the US Consulate General in Florence:

Alessandro Albicini

Via Marconi, 3
Tel. 051.228222
Commercial law, mergers and acquisitions.

Once we determined what type of house we wanted, it was a matter of seeing as many as possible. A house in San Lazzaro had no windows. One on Via Mazzini had scooters leaned against the windows. One was underground and another in an industrial zone. A lot needed gutting out and refurbishing. Through the Tribunale, I even bid on a foreclosed house in Budrio just like an auction at Christie’s, but ended up the second-highest bidder. When we finally found our current house, I called the realtor immediately. The seller was unsure and I was told they wouldn’t show the house for at least a month. I kept calling. Eventually, we bought it. I never shook so much in my life as the day I signed the contract.

Julie Angelos

Belvederi Attorneys at Law

Via degli Agresti, 2
Tel. 051.272600
International commercial trade, agreements and litigation, trademark, fraud and anticounterfeiting, asset recovery, bankruptcy, mergers and acquisitions, property and taxation.

Antonio Cappuccio

Piazza Tribunali, 6
Tel. 051.584309
Criminal and family law.

Andrea Milani

Viale Carlo Pepoli, 72/2
Tel. 051.6449090
International contracts, comparative law and disputes.


If a foreign citizen dies in Italy, the national law of the individual is applied, according to the Italian Private International Law (Article 46 of Law n. 218/95). However, a foreigner in Italy may indicate, by means of a legal will, if he or she would rather apply Italian law to hereditary succession. If residency is subsequently changed to any country outside of Italy, the Italian will is no longer valid. In order to create a will, you must go to a public notary. Otherwise you can write it down in Italian by hand observing a few basic formalities, called a holographic will.

In the abscence of a specific will, Italian inheritance law provides that assets be passed to immediate family members. This is sometimes referred to as forced inheritance, since relatives are entitled to a fixed proportion of the estate. For a very clear flow chart describing Italian inheritance law, see:

Note that a written will in Italy that names only one family member as heir will likely be contested because it is expected that all biological and legally adopted children be mentioned in the estate. Immediate family members are rarely left out. A declaration of succession must be filed within one year of the date of death in order for the assets to transfer to the heirs. Italy has witnessed periods of heavy inheritance taxing, known as tasse di successione, depending on the government in power. It should be noted that there is no such thing as a common-law partnership in Italy, meaning that couples who are not legally married are not entitled to any inheritence benefits in the event of a partner’s death.


Confronting death in a foreign culture can be very difficult, particularly if one is far from friends and family. Foreigners in Italy should know that many of the rites associated with the process of dying, from the hospital bed to funeral services, are inextricably linked to Catholic tradition. In the hospital for example, medical personnel may make references that one may expect to come from a religious officiant in other cultures. When there is a death in a Catholic family, a mass or benediction is usually organized within three days. This is due to the Catholic tradition of embalming and viewing of the deceased prior to the funeral. Following the wake, usually held in the camera mortuaria (mortuary chamber) of the hospital or funeral home, guests then follow the family in a slow caravan to the church and/or cemetery. It is very usual for Italians to make the sign of the cross whenever they see a funeral procession.

Funerals and associated rituals differ greatly depending on the region. In Bologna, families may hold a mass or place an announcement in the local newspaper to remember their loved one on the anniversary of his or her death. Many Italians take great care to visit the cemetery regularly and keep the family gravesite in good condition. November 2 is the Giorno dei Morti (Day of the Dead) when Italians remember their loved ones and ancestors.