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Expats living in Italy – what to expect.

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Expats living in Italy – what to expect.

On January 17, 2016, Posted by , In Living in Italy, By , With 15 Comments

I guess if the truth be told I really don’t look at myself as an expat living in Italy. Often times when I look out of the window (on a really grey day) I feel like I’m still back in the UK or South Africa where I spent my formative years. Life carries on…! Clearly I’m a ‘straniero’ (a stranger or foreigner) and will always be viewed as such particularly if I get into an argument or make a mistake on the road; but I have felt Italian at heart from as long as I can remember and  given my mentality of wanting to integrate and having friends and neighbours who are very accepting I often feel more comfortable here and less of a stranger than, let’s say, I did in the UK. Coming back to the UK in 2000 I found it quite difficult to make friends and to ‘break in’ and that wasn’t because I was Scottish living in England!   Once you make an effort here Italians a very accommodating and inquisitive; they do want to know about you and where you are from and might head off tutting or shaking their heads but there is no malice intended.


Types of expat


Acceptance and how quickly you integrate is going to be down to you.  I’ve often heard stories where families have been adopted by the locals, this isn’t Brits Abroad - watching from afaruncommon. There are basically 2 types of expat – those that want to integrate and those that don’t. Those that seek out and hold onto their ‘Englishness’ and those that don’t. (The former being those that walk about with a Manchester United or Tottenham football top that are basically advertising the fact ‘can’t you see by my top that I’m British so please don’t for one minute expect to talk to me in anything other than English!’ ). There is no right or wrong way, the same exists in any other foreign country. You do what you feel comfortable with but for us we wanted to learn a new culture , experience new foods, new language, meet ‘foreigners’ (the Italian ones). We deliberate chose not to find ‘pub night, fish and chip or burger night’ in some far off Italian city with fellow Brits and Americans. Doing this would not have allowed us to achieve our goals; otherwise we might as well have stayed in the UK!


The finer things in life


Brits Abroad - socks&sandalsI feel that the expat here is in a very fortunate position. They have experienced another life or culture to ‘back home’, a possibly more open outlook on life (Italians are not known for their open-mindedness). They have lived in an English-speaking world (which many Italians envy a little especially when it comes to getting the full experience of an American movie or an English song) and now get to experience some of the finer things in life, all that the Dolce Vita has to offer….fine Italian wine, wonderful food, good weather in beautiful settings (both picturesque and ancient) while surrounded by art and history and very attractive looking Italians!


The Italian viewpoint


For many of us expats we equally want to hear and understand first hand what Italy has to offer and to understand their viewpoints in their mother tongue, expats abroadbut equally we have friends who speak very little Italian and live life as well as we do (if not better). They may have a tendency to make more English-speaking friends than we do but regardless who you friends are and what language you speak daily I can guarantee that if you have an open-mind while here  you will experience a more enriched life, an adventure and live the dream here in Italy.


Article Name
Expats living in Italy - what type will you be?
Acceptance and how quickly you integrate is going to be down to you. Many expat families have been adopted by the locals. What type are you?

15 Comments so far:

  1. Holly says:

    I have always wanted to go to Italy – there are so many beautiful places to see and for this reason I have decided when my husband and I do go we will go for at least one month and make a road trip of it. It would be a great opportunity to immerse with some expats and thereby experience more of a local tour rather than a typical touristy one. However, like you said it is important to get involved with the local culture and therefore I would obviously want to mix with expats who had achieved this and could give me a real taste of what Italian living is all about… otherwise what’s the point?

    • Brendan says:

      Hi Holly, a month seems like a great idea. I envy you. We’ve been here for 2 and a half years and have seen very little of Italy. You know what its like. Life goes on! When you do decide to go let us know. We have many friends around the country with holiday homes so I’m sure we could hook you up and advise you on some special places to go. We hope to hear from you soon. Live the dream!

  2. J-Money says:

    I really like this article and I enjoy reading about beautiful places around the world like Italy. I hope to visit Italy soon and see places like Florence and Venice, I also want to see Rome.

    I have a question to ask I have heard that in the next 20 years or so Italy is supposed to sink, I was hoping you could clear up my doubts.

    • Brendan says:

      Those 3 places alone are phenomenal and worth a visit but I’d happily point you in the direction of some other great places. I haven’t heard the stories of Italy sinking, Venice yes but I think that’s newspapers trying to sell newspapers. I lived in London for years and the South East of England should be underwater by now according to the newspapers just because of the over population. Anyway, if it is true you better plan that trip soon, unless it’s a diving trip!

  3. Ashley says:

    Hey, I really loved reading your article, I’m a huge fan of Italian culture and I’m actually thinking about moving there one day. Your post is a great stuff, it really made me feel a bit better because I thought that Italians wouldn’t really treat foreigners like one of their ones. But according to your post, they do actually and that’s very good for me. I want to ask you, how come you chose to move to Italy?

    • Brendan says:

      Hi Ashley,

      If you plan to move then I hope you can make use of the resources on our website and learn from our experiences. Italians are very accommodating and pretty inquisitive; they love to know your story. I find that they are particularly fascinated by English-speakers and the English-speaking world.

      i chose Italy because in my heart i felt Italian from early on. After holidaying here I was smitten. I think living in Europe particularly makes you realise that apart from the language most of the countries are similar. So if you can master the language then ‘job done’!

  4. Tempest says:

    To be an expat sounds incredible actually. Especially in Italy. To be surrounded by so many cultures and to be able to appreciate all these different places just sounds like a a dream. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge upon this subject and opening my mind to the vast world and how different and beautiful it could be. I’ll definitely make sure to see about visiting there sometime. I just want to go all around the world, and Italy sounds like a great place to visit. Thank you again.

    • Brendan says:

      We are very lucky and we don’t take this for granted. To experience another culture and learn another language is a definite bonus. If you are going to start anywhere I would definitely put Italy at the top of the list. You won’t be disappointed.

  5. Heather Grace says:

    I loved this article. I can’t say what I would do if it were me since I have only ever live in one country my entire life but I always had dreams to travel and maybe live abroad. I really admire and in some way envy those who have taken that opportunity to do so. What wonderful life lessons and experiences they will have for a lifetime. I love learning about different cultures and how life is for people who live in other countries. It fasinates me. I hope one day I could venture out and maybe live somewhere new… Thank you for the great read!

    • Brendan says:

      ‘There is no time like the present’. When can we expect you? 🙂

      Moving countries only occurred to us later in life, so the idea hits people at different stages in their life and to some it never comes at all. I would suggest having a holiday first to see what you think but I can guarantee once you see Italy you will fall in love….

  6. Torrey says:

    Hi Brendan.
    I can totally identify with you as an expat. Just last tuesday marks 14 months that i’ve lived in nicaragua. I like how you pointed out that there’s two types of expats. I personally have gone the immersion route. I have started to walk, talk, and live like the rest of the people in this country. I’ve also become quite good at rattling in their language. Is it very easy to get residence there?
    Here in Nicaragua it can be a bit challenging, especially for a guy that is just learning spanish.

    • Brendan says:

      I’m delighted you have gone the immersion route, I think it makes for a better experience and opens you up to a whole new world. We didn’t need to get residence as we are European but those applying outside would go through the same process as in most other countries, how dfficult it is depends on what you bring to the table in terms of education, experience and money!

  7. Hey Brendan, I enjoyed reading your website and that because more or less I am in the same situation as you. I am a Romanian but I live in Germany for more than 3 years now. I had the same idea, writing about Germany though, but it didn’t come alive, at least not yet. I love your website , your theme is great , even if it is at times a bit to slow and the articles are on point.

    Good job!

  8. Jorge says:

    Nice post i always like to read people’s experience living in a foreign country but nothing can beat your personal experience. I agree the more you seek to indulge in the culture the more you will get back. Italy is one of the many country i would like to experience life in i would absolutely love to visit Sicily.

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