While the Italian employment situation is not ideal, there are still opportunities, particularly if you speak English.
Here are a list of some common jobs expats do. Of course, you can always get creative!
This is what I do. I make about 1100 euros a month and work about 20-25 hours a week. My lifestyle is not like my lifestyle in the US, where I made much more money, but it is comfortable. I live in the center. I have a nice, big room and live with 2 roommates. I can pay my rent, buy groceries, do fun things on the weekend, go shopping here and there, travel some, and even save a bit. Now, I don’t travel or go shopping every weekend, but I do travel a few times throughout the year with a big trip in the summer. I’m not saving enough to buy a car or a house mind you, but enough to have a cushion in case of emergencies.
Is it a job I want for the rest of my life? No. Not because I don’t enjoy teaching, because I do, but because it isn’t profitable enough to support a family, car, house, etc. For living and traveling, however, it is just fine.
Please read my page about the TEFL situation.
This is a vast industry for all of Italy. While I do not have any direct experience, I do have a friend who works with a tour company (SmartTrips). Essentially the way her jobs functions is they pay for her housing and she lives with several of her colleagues in an apartment together. The rest of her money is commissioned based. You could look into giving private tours as well, but keep in mind that legally it requires a license. Another big tour company is EU Tours.
I looked into being an Au Pair. This is basically a live-in nanny. As security, it is a good job to have. You usually live with the family and they give you an allowance each week. I had a friend do this for a year in Switzerland and another friend who did it for 6 months in Florence. Again, not a bad way to live in another country. Just be prepared to live with the family and not make money to save. You can check it out at websites like www.aupair.com or www.greataupair.com.
While I was looking for a permanent teaching job, I worked remotely for my US company. I was fortunate enough to do this, but not all jobs allow it. Check with yours, or find one that does. I made good money, but I switched to teaching simply because I enjoyed it more.
Once you know the language you can work in these positions. I’m not sure you will make as much money as teaching English, but it isn’t a bad job to have.
Once you know the language and have a visa, you are free to look for any other job, just like you would in your home country. Even without knowing the language, there are tons of other jobs like Student Coordinator for Study Abroad programs, or magazines, or I’m not sure what. Some search sites: www.subito.it, www.bakeca.it, www.indeed.it, www.craigslist.it. Best get to searchin!
Extra: The Florentine is the local english newspaper and also lists an assortment of jobs (along with a lot of other information about Florence). Check it out: The Florentine