Living in Italy: solving your “noise issue"

In Italy numerous people are subjected to continuous disturbance caused by noisy neighbors or public places (bars, restaurants, pubs…) that do not respect the legal limits. Italians are world famous to be noisy but, as usual, this is based on old prejudice because the Italian legal system actually provides several laws on the quantification of noise pollution, which are restrictive and protect privacy and sleep.

We can distinguish two different legal sets: the first is the Administrative Regulation (Legge Quadro 447 of October 26 1995), which establishes the legal framework addressing noise pollution, setting out the basic principles of its prevention and distributes competence among the central government, the regions, the provinces and the municipalities; the second parallel regulation is the Civil Code one based on the criterion of ‘normal tolerability’ described inside art.844 of Civil Code.

The administrative code is the main reference if the noise source is related to business activities: if you annoyed by restaurants, pubs, industrial plants, you can make a formal complaint to the municipality you live in. The municipality will ask to the territorial ARPA office (Regional Agency for Environmental Protection) to verify if the noise is beyond law limits with sound pressure level measurements.
The disturbing activity has to observe both absolute and differential acoustic limits. The absolute limits refer to “Acoustic Zoning Plan” of each municipality. For the entire municipality are established up to 6 different acoustic classes: each one is characterized by certain levels of noise, starting for the quieter “Class I” (Protected Areas) up to the noisier “Class VI” (Exclusively Industrial Areas). Each business activity is required to comply with the absolute limits provided for its acoustic class.
The administrative limits are also based on the concept of differential thresholds: if the noise produced by the business activity is 5 dB higher than daytime residual noise (3 dB higher for night time), the noise law limits are not complied. The residual noise level is the noise level at a given location and time, measured in the absence of the disturbing sound source you are controlling. If the differential threshold is exceeded, the municipality imposes to the business activity administrative sanctions such as fines, obligation to turn off the music after a certain time, obligation to stop the activity until the realization of soundproofing.

Unfortunately, in many regions in Italy, the public administration is characterized by slowness and long waiting times: but if you cannot sleep and rest because of noise, do not bother with bureaucracy! You can rely on specialized technicians as our staff!
When the municipality is too slow or ineffective or if the noise source is not related to a business activity (neighborhood noise, music practice, private HVAC machine) you can still defend your right to silence and tranquility. In this case disputes are judged through the civil court. In order to demonstrate that the Civil Code has been breached, it is necessary to show that the noise level is beyond ‘normal tolerability’: it is usually referred to the overcoming of 3 dB over the background noise (both in daytime as during the night). It is common practice to measure the background noise considering the L95 (i.e. the level exceeded for 95% of the measured time) which is a much stricter system than the required administrative technique.

In order to do this, you can contact an acoustic expert (in Italy TCAA: technical expert in environmental acoustics), such as our staff, to obtain an acoustic survey carried out with acoustic measurements done with a Class A Sound Level Meter. Then you can contact a lawyer in order to make civil lawsuit.
Together with a lawyer, we can assist you in solving the problem, both acting against the business, and proposing technical solutions for reducing the disturbing noise.

We can design a noise control project to protect your property or to silence the disturbing sound sources, sometimes the fastes way is to work on your house or flat, other times it is better to conciliate with the disturbing activity or neighbour and we can help you.
We have a network of specialized companies that can carry out all the necessary works in short time and with high quality.
SuonoeVita Acoustic Engineering Studio can help you in every kind of situation. Contact us at info@suonoevita.it. We are active throughout the whole country and we speak English, Spanish and French.

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