Social life and leisure in Italy


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Associations and clubs

Migrants often establish their own, ethnic or locality-based networks in countries of settlement known as diaspora or migrant associations. Currently, there are around 2.100 registered ( associazioniMigranti/Pagine/mappatura-associazioni.aspx) migrant associations in Italy. Usually, their main activities include cultural and social promotion of the country of origin in Italy and integration activities. These activities include educational activities – language courses (English, Italian or migrant’s mother tongue like Arabic, Wolof or Mandinke), recreation activities, cultural mediation, housing support or job counseling for the newly arrived migrants. Often, these associations collaborate between each other, with associations in the country of origin or with Italian governmental and non-governmental organisations. In this way, they contribute with their knowledge to both societies – country of origin and country of settlement.

The Law on Cooperation (125/2014) (, for the first time recognized a leading role to immigrant associations in the processes of integration in Italian society, for intermediation between individual migrants and institutions about migrant needs and for facilitating intercultural dialogue. The first Diaspora Summit in 2017 was a chance to gather recommendations from diaspora associations about this law.

Asylum seekers and refugees can freely participate in the activities of Italian associations too. There are many religious or non-governmental associations in Italy running social inclusion projects addressed to migrants, asylum seekers, refugees offering opportunities for socialization, orientation in the cities, recreational activities, training courses, volunteering experiences.

For further information, check the websites of non-profit organisations in Italy running social inclusion projects:



Centro per lo sviluppo creativo Danilo Dolci:

HRYO_ Human right organisation:

Porco Rosso_arci:

Laboratorio 53:

Centro Astalli Palermo:



Leisure activities

Leisure activities are activities done in free time, when not in school or at work. These activities can bring benefits to your general wellbeing, networking possibilities and increase your social integration. If you are legally resident foreigner in Italy, you have access to all leisure activities open to the general public such as sports, creative activities (arts, cooking) and volunteering. In the spirit of “active citizenship” Italy is encouraging volunteering activities for all legally resident foreign citizens and participation in National civil service for young refugees that can facilitate socialization between you and local population.


Further information & links


Costituzione, Legge sulla Cooperazione Internazionale:

CeSPI (2017). Le diaspore nella cooperazione Italiana.

Register of migrant associations: associazioniMigranti/Pagine/mappatura-associazioni.aspx

È nata “Piccola Africa”, primo club calcistico formato solo da rifugiati

Milano. Due squadre di migranti in un torneo ufficiale: un calcio al razzismo

Horolets, Anna. (2012) Migrant’s leisure and integration. Institute for Public Affairs, Warsaw.

Servizio Civile Nazionale aperte le porte ai rifugiati:



  1. What type of activities do diaspora and migrant associations do?

It can be anything from educational activities language courses (English, Italian or migrant’s mother tongue like Arabic, Wolof or Mandinke), recreation activities, cultural mediation to housing support or job counseling for the newly arrived migrants.

  1. Can I participate in sports clubs activities?

Yes, you are free to participate in any leisure or sports activity. There are many examples of good practices especially when it comes to refugee football clubs.

  1. What benefits can bring the membership in a diaspora or other association?

Your active membership in an association can foster your socialisation with the local community, improve communication with the institutions and encourage intercultural dialogue.

  1. Can migrants and refugees volunteer in Italy?

Yes, volunteering is highly encouraged. Refugees also have the possibility to participate in National civil service.  


Language courses for refugees and migrants

The Italian school system (CPIAs) and different non-governmental organisations offer different possibilities for attending Italian language courses for foreigners. These courses are free of charge and given by qualified professionals. Language proficiency is very important for feeling comfortable in your host country. You will also have to pass A2 level language exam in order to get your residence permit in Italy.