Noise, regulations and rights

We moved to a city centre flat in Italy 3 years ago. I love Italy and would like to remain, but the biggest problem we've had has been noise - in this building and in neighbouring ones.

This includes in the neighbouring flat which had work which started with two days' notice (stuck up on front door) and went on for 7 months. Life was intolerable. I work from home, and I can't work while the neighbours are tearing up the floors and smashing down walls.

There are no detached houses in this city and so a move to one would involve a move to the countryside and a very different way of life. City life is great and I would miss it, but then we'd get a terrace and space.

But, from what I read, this is the only way to be sure of having a home I can live in and work from. It seems odd that in a country where so many live in flats, the noise laws are non-existent. I shouldn't play music very loud, obviously, as it would disturb others and I have no wish to do that, but I could use a pneumatic drill for days or weeks on end ruining life for everyone else if I wanted to.

Our friends think it a drastic step in search of peace and they actually think it a little strange that I have an issue with this. I'm not looking for silence, I don't mind when a neighbour drills into a wall to put up a shelf, scrapes a chair across a floor, or has a party now and again. You get that in flats. But I am looking for somewhere where I can be guaranteed that nobody else can ruin our quality of life for half a year if they feel like it.

Is a detached house the only possible option to ensure that?

Most places have noise restrictions, but as long as they are not doing it at night, there is not much you can do about it. It sounds like they are renovating the apartment and that comes with noise.

Yes, you could move to the countryside and live close enough to a city that you can travel to it when you need to. 

Where I live in Austria the countryside is excellent, the nearest large town is 10 mins on the train or an hour to the capital. I get the best of both worlds.

There are noise laws - your neighbours can start work at 7 (loud machinery at 8).  They must stop for 2 hours at lunchtime - usually between 1 and 3 and must stop at 7 in the evening.   There is a maximum of decibels permitted.    Noise is one the big bug bears in Italy - and the only way to not have to deal with it is to live somewhere with no close neighbours.   

Thanks for your replies. It's what I had thought - an apartment isn't going to be an option for us because the noise laws and regulations are so weak.

I've remembered that the woman who lives below us came to complain about the volume of our TV, which we had at near-maximum just to be able to (almost) hear it over the drilling and crashing noises coming from the next apartment. I couldn't hear her at the front door. We had to walk down one floor away from the noise of the works so she could complain about the noise of our TV. Che cosa posso fare io? Utterly surreal.

I reported the noise to The Comune and they did send someone who stopped it for several days, resulting in some very evil looks from the workmen when they were ejected. Er, we live here. You can't make that noise. But it restarted and so it seems, they can, or at least nobody desires to stop them. Countryside it is then :)

This really sucks! I could'nt relate more with you. At the moment and for the last 7 months I have been dealing with a rude and unconsidered 28 year old woman, living in the flat above. Going back and forth walking bare feet, stomping her life away on my roof, literally RUNNING and walking around in heels right above me at all times of the day, at 5 am and also past midnight. She has even dump her trash in my balcony in 3 different occasions, one of those being candle wax splashed on my balcony for which no one took accountability, despite making them aware of this. Building administrators in Italy is the easiest way to get money and for not doing your job, or doing nothing at all. Noise laws people do not care for that they have 0 empaty and consideration for others, but living on a building is all you have. Free standing houses or ”villas” like they call them are ridiculously overpriced and the amount of space is absurd, they are meant for like 3 families in one home, there is nothing in between like a small house. I also like Italy the country is beautiful, but having to live in an apartment with noisy people really has made me question sometimes wether I took the right decision to move here in November last year. I do hope you have managed to solve this problem and already found your place of peace already 🙂


I just read your issue in your flat. unfortunately

this can happen anywhere in the world and if you

are renting in Italy,  you need to know your rights

orif you have purchased theproperty you also need what steps you need to take, so I am not an expert but have moved many times when renting an apartment in the US. you may have to contact a Real estate Lawyer in Italy if you cannot get satisfaction from the landlord or if you cannot get out of your lease. I am planning to move to Italy next year, but I want a house, not apartment do to not having the same privacy or sense of peace.

I truly understand your dilemma and would try a lawyer consult first and then see what they tell you. All my best and Good luck!


I don't think seven months of horrific building site noise would be allowed in a residential apartment building in Britain. Someone, no, in fact, everyone would call Environmental Health and a Cease and Desist notice would be issued. Keep making the noise and you'd be prosecuted. But then in Britain we don't 'take up the floor', we put carpet down; we don't remove all the plaster and put it back on again, and so on.

There are many reasons British people won't live in flats (14% versus Italy 52%), I think we just said "these will never really work well, so we just won't bother building them in the first place". Even in London only 15% of people live in flats. In this northern Italian city almost everyone lives in a flat. It's normal for them but it's something I'm never going to get along with in Italy, the noise laws just don't exist. The search for a small detached house continues.

I am renting a holiday apartment in Salerno for 2 months on an ancient piazza. 4 to 5 nights a week the noise is unbearable, singing, shouting, screaming,  hollering mostly fueled by alcohol. It goes on until 2-3 a.m. then the cleaning crews come with big vacuums, glass recycling & more hollering back & forth across  the piazza so we're now at 4:00 a.m. The piazza starts coming to daily life @ 6:00 a.m. so you do the arithmetic for possible hours of sleep. The piazza is two thirds residential, expensive  historic  apartments at that. And yet they all treat it as normal. Just astounding!  This is a huge flaw in the Italian character. My last trip to this country for sure.