When househunting in Florence, you'll note that flats are often described as "termosingolo" or "termocentrale".
The latter means that the block of flats has a centralized heating system rather than individual boilers per flat.
The heating will be included in a separate condominial charge.
We found out that the central.. er.. central heating only runs November to (I think) March, though occasionally the authorities will allow it to be switched on in October if
there's a genuine cold snap.
Today, talking to the agency and the landlady, I found out that this is actually part of Italian law - you're not *allowed* to heat your house until November by law. Of course, they winked, as this flat is "termosingolo", noone will ever know.
Then, just after turning on the heating today (cold and wet outside, not much sleep before flight so feeling need for comfort) I noticed huge gusts of steam blowing
past my window which appears to be coming from the vent at the back of the boiler which gives out onto the street. So perhaps the heating police will get me after all.