What to know about off-base Aviano
Congratulations on your assignment to Aviano Air Base, Italy. While visiting Italy is a dream that many Americans strive to accomplish, moving and living here can be a completely different challenge. This article will help make your transition smoother and answer many of your questions and concerns about life off-base.
While off base, it’s important to remember that U.S. military members and civilians are guests in Italy and represent the DOD, the U.S. military and the U.S. population as a whole. As of November 2014, USEUCOM policy prohibits uniformed servicemembers from wearing their uniforms (including PT gear), with the exception of driving to and from work or at previously sanctioned functions off base. All military and civilians are required to adhere to customs, rules and regulations set by the host nation as well as all U.S. regulations, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the U.S.-Republic of Italy Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Also review the Aviano Air Base Community Standards, Aviano Air Base Instruction 90-502, published in 2009 for additional command policies. An online version is available at www.e-publishing.af.mil unless updated or superseded by a new version.
At all times you should avoid wearing or displaying anything profane or offensive, which can include displayed images, languages or designs. Remember that though you might not consider something offensive, it could be interpreted as offensive to local nationals or fellow Americans. Your appearance and actions may be first impressions the local community gathers of Americans, and you should strive to ensure that these impressions are positive. Personnel dressed in civilian attire off base are prohibited “from attaching, affixing or displaying objects, articles, jewelry or ornamentation to or through the nose, tongue, eye brows, lips or any exposed body part (includes visible through clothing),” according to the Aviano Air Base Community Standard published in 2009.
It is in your best interest to avoid traveling alone because you are less likely to be the victim of criminal activity. Traveling with others also allows you to look out for one another and monitor be¬havior to avoid creating disturbances or causing conflict with local nationals and U.S. personnel. Use your passport and U.S. driver’s license as your primary and secondary forms of identification. Keep your U.S. government ID card with you at all times, but never allow anyone on or off base to make a photo copy.
Driving in Italy
Drivers Licensing Office
DSN: 314-632-4436; Commercial: 0434-30-4436
To receive an AFI driver’s license you are required to be 18 years of age and have a valid stateside license, so renew your U.S. driver’s license before heading to Italy. Contact your drivers licensing office for additional requirements necessary to operate a motorcycle. Jump Start and Quick Start will assist you with attaining your Allied Forces Italy (AFI) driver’s license within the first week of your arrival, but there are a few requirements that need to be completed to get the ball rolling. First you’ll need to take an Italian road signs test and a multiple-choice test concerning the rules of the road in Italy. Review the study guides because perfect scores are required on both exams. When you successfully complete each exam, print the certificate or save and email the document as proof that you have passed. If you PCS from another European location and have a license allowing you to operate a motor vehicle in your previous host nation, you might be exempt from taking the tests. Study materials and exams for the AFI signs test and AFI multiple-choice test can be obtained at www.31fss.com/afitesting.html.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is required when operating a vehicle while outside of Italy, in place of your AFI driver’s license. You can apply online through AAA.
While most Italians maintain a slower-paced life, they tend to drive quite differently. You’ll be passed on a regular basis, whether in a crowded town or on an open stretch of road. Tailgating is also a frequent occurrence, and most vehicles seem to have dents and scratches. When driving, remain calm, drive defensively and obey the speed limits. For more details about driving in Italy, visit www.31fss.com/afrc/web/inbound-driving.html.
Vehicle insurance is very limited in Italy and can be expensive. Two companies from the U.S. currently provide insurance, USAA and Geico. Speak to a unit representative or your sponsor for more information on insurance.
Cellphone service and internet
Your move to Italy might prove to be easier if you choose an Italian cellphone provider. The two major companies in Italy are TIM and Vodaphone. You can buy a pre-pay plan or a flat monthly rate plan from either company. Both companies sell cellphones and subscriber information module (SIM) cards. SIM cards are set to regional networks and contain the cellphones number, which can be transferred to a different phone.
If you plan on using a cellphone you used with a stateside company, be sure to inquire about un¬locking the phone prior to ending your agreement with the company. You can purchase a SIM card at the Exchange for use in your Italian-purchased cellphone or previous stateside phone.
Liberties and curfews are subject to change and are posted in several areas, such as the post office, squadron bulletin boards or at the Exchange services. Ask your unit supervisor about current liberties, curfews and off-limit locations to ensure compliance.
Walking, jogging and riding a bike
Most roadways in Italy have sidewalks built for use by runners, bikers or pedestrians. If you’re riding a bike in an area without sidewalks, travel in the direction of traffic flow. Also ensure that your bike meets all safety requirements when riding after dark or in low-light conditions. Whether walking, running or biking on roads, wear clothing and accessories that are easily visible to traffic and avoid using your cellphone or headphones. Also note that Italian law prohibits the use of scooters, skateboards, roller skates or roller blades on public roads.