Citizens of the U.S. and Canada do not need a visa to enter Italy for up to 90 days if the purpose of their trip is tourism – or business-related. Italy has a multitude of visas–the most common ones are for business, family reunion, independent work, religious reasons, study, tourism, and transit. If you’re planning on staying longer than 90 days, but aren’t yet sure about permanent residence, you’ll need a Schengen Treaty/Tourist Visa.
This is valid for most countries in the EU–Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden included. At the time of writing, a fee of $40 must be paid in exact cash. The exchange rate is adjusted every three months, so be sure to check the exact amount before you visit the embassy.
Elective Residency Visa for Italy
If you are visiting Italy for a longer period, and can afford to live there without working, you may want to apply for a Visto per Residenza Selettiva o Dimora, or Elective Residence Visa. This type of visa is generally used by foreigners who are retired and can collect income from a retirement or pension plan. At the time of writing, a fee of $62.50 must be paid in cash. (This may change, as the exchange rate gets adjusted every three months.)
A Residence Visa is issued solely to those who are planning to move to Italy. It does not allow the applicant to work. Although U.S. citizens are unlikely to experience problems, having a Residence Visa does not automatically guarantee you entry to the country. The Consulate advises that travelers carry with them copies of the documentation they submitted when applying for the Visa, particularly those showing financial means.