The pros and cons of moving to Italy
When I first thought about writing about the pros and cons of moving to Italy I thought “Really? Isn’t it pretty obvious?” but the more I thought about it I thought ‘Let’s dig a little deeper’. We all have our own ideas don’t we? But here are mine. If you have any more then leave a comment below.
So let’s go though the obvious pros…
Ok, I think we all agree, the Italian’s have a pretty good reputation in this area…but where do we start? I’ve always enjoyed food and before moving here I prided myself on being a bit of a foodie and loved dinner parties but these guys LOVE their food. They can talk for hours about their Mamma’s food, the food of their region, other regions, etc. My brother tells a good story. During their most recent visit here he decided to take the dog for a walk. He worked in an Italian restaurant for a number of years so he has a fairly decent understanding of the language. He tells the story that left the village there we 3 elderly nonni (grandads) and an 18 year old talking about melenzane (egg plant/aubergine/brinjal depending where you are from) and when he returned an hour later they were still talking about it! He found this incredible but that is the way they are. I do find that most conversations here turn to food. It’s quite incredible that a discussion that starts out on some sort of ailment or the conflict in Syria gets you talking about cantuccini biscotti (biscuits). I’ve no idea!
So if you are planning to learn Italian before coming here for a short visit, start with the food groups, you can’t go wrong. One other thing I learnt about the food, apart from the fact that one dish is better then the next, is that I’ve learnt to eat a lot slower and savour each bite, as Italians do. Try it.
Ok, I think we all agree again! Well, what have I got to compare it to – I’m Scottish for goodness sake! The Italians love my story that the definition of a good day in Scotland is when the rain falls vertically rather than horizontally. “Really?” they ask, “Is it really like that? Tell me more…”. We are blessed here with long, hot summers and mildish winters by European standards.
I had to change the heading for obvious reasons, as my lovely wife often plays editor for me, so there is a good chance she may spot this. Ok, I’m biased, I’m very attracted to brunettes with big brown eyes and olive skin (thankfully my South African wife fits this profile). They are for most part well-manicured and love to dress up, and what about the men?…us British men don’t stand a chance so just as well I married before I got here!
I know we touched on this briefly above by making reference to the weather but this deserves a paragraph on its own. Summer is special, the nights are long, everybody is out and there is much conversation to be had. Kids are out till late so there is more time spent together as a family, this leads me to the ….
Passagiata (the stroll)
This is a wonderful Italian custom where the Italian plays two roles – the observer and the observee (or protagonist). Generally the show starts at the piazza and ends at the piazza. The passagiata gives Italians the opportunity to dress up and show off while eating a gelato (ice-cream) if the fancy takes them. Once they get back to the piazza they have the opportunity to buy a coffee or a drink and to talk about the other actors (passers by) who are taking part in their own show or drama.
Back to food again I hear you say. But this isn’t just about the food, this also incorporates travel as one moves from village to village to taste the food that they are famous for. Generally speaking this takes place every weekend during summer. Someone once told me that ‘there is a sagra every day somewhere in Italy’ but the summer sagras are the best. If you are planning on holidaying during summer then make sure that you slot a couple of these into your itinerary.
I think there is none like it. It’s rhythmic, its passionate, its sexy and its direct (straight to the point). I’ve read that there are significantly less words in the Italian language than in English (200,000 versus 800,000 – so on this basis alone it should be easier to learn, right?). This difference is down to the origins of the language. Italian has its roots in Latin whereas English has influence from the Anglo-Saxons, German, French and other European languages. But also based on one country’s lifestyle versus another. Italians don’t really have a word for ‘hangover’ and the word ‘drunk’ has one or two. I can think of a hundred words in English for the word ‘drunk’ without blinking an eye if you include such words as ‘trollied’, ‘smashed’ and ‘gazebo’ed’. So if you want to know what a hangover is then they will explain to you in Italian that it is ‘the headache you experience the morning after you have drunk too much the night before’ – honest to God!
Being Scottish we have a reputation for being tight (not true!). So this is not the main reason that I’m in Italy, but it helps. It’s lovely to pay only €1 for an espresso or cappuccino (Starbucks would go bust here!) and €3.50 for a margherita pizza and 20c for a 1.5 litre of water (although I could pay 5c but that is another post).
Above are a few of my other favourite ones. We’ll save some others for another post, such as the amazing surroundings, beautiful art, great medical healthcare and good public transport.
And the not so obvious cons…….
Ok, so you have to learn another language. I leave it there! A number of my English speaking friends brought this up in a poll, please refer to my post entitled ‘The Language…….where do I start?‘ for my real views on this one.
As a tourist your do not notice the graffiti, messy streets and tired old buildings but as an expat you do. Often times I look at where I live and I think ‘Oh my God, there are housing estates in the UK that are cleaner and newer than where I live – what will our overseas visitors think of us?’ But so far so good, everyone loves it.
This relates to everything that Italy does not make, all imports such as phones, cars, white goods, electronics, etc.
We follow on from above. Gas, fuel, electricity are significantly more expensive than abroad and I have worked out that the amount of money I have saved on my 17 €1 espressos per day gets swallowed up in my electricity bill, my plan is to drink more coffee per day so as to come out on top!
Italians are not open-minded and are a little anal. Some examples of their way of thinking include not expecting anyone to swim until 3 hours after eating; not eating ice as it will damage your insides and never go out with wet hair as you will die of pneumonia.
In comparison to the rest of Europe and particularly the UK and Germany (although that might change with the influx of refugees in 2016), unemployment is pretty high and so many of the fantastic graduates that this country produces are heading overseas, it is such a pity.
Last con for now…… looking Scottish in a country full of dark-haired, dark-eyed and dark-skinned Adonis’s …….. I had to throw that in!
I think that we will agree that in any country there is good and bad and so without picking each country apart it’s a case of ‘make you bed and lie in it’. You make the best of where you are. We are here and we will make the most of it. I think the pros out way the cons and we are genuinely very fortunate. I love the UK but I love Italy just that little bit more!!
If you feel that I have left any out then please leave a comment below and maybe we can update this from time to time.