Italy is a dream vacation destination - the amazing food, beautiful architecture, bustling cities, etc. But, for many expats, settling into life in Italy is anything but a dream. The truth is that for may expats life in Italy presents many challenges.
"I had so much difficulty initially settling in that I never experienced a honeymoon phase. I have been frustrated from day one. Every day is a challenge here. Italians make things much more difficult than need be. It's almost like they intentionally do it to foreigners here in Florence. I am here almost 2 years and leaving in June. I have never gotten out of the irritation, frustration phase," explained one expat in Florence
"..Experiencing depression like never before. Most foreigners here are married to Italians and there is no real expat atmosphere. It has been very isolating. Sure, I have my regular group of friends to go and do things with and I get out and have fun, but it is a small group and, quite honestly, this town gets stale quite quickly (unless you're a barfly). I have done quite a bit of reading since I have been here," said one expat in Florence
"Anger at the continual bureaucracy where ever you go. The sheer amount of paperwork needed to come. And then being told much of what the Italian embassy told you in the US was wrong or not had an apostle or wasn't an official translation of your child's birth certificate," explained an expat in Torino.
"It’s very pricy but the culture is very nice! However, there are drawbacks to all the glamour. American’s will have to accept many concessions as to lifestyle. Shops have segmented work hours; utilities are markedly higher, and you can completely forget about returning anything you buy, regardless of the reason. Theft is fairly common so watch your property and your back. Also, you need to consider medical provisions as well. Get sick and go to a doctor can be a real eye opener. BTW: If you think fuel prices are high in the US of A then you’ll get a rude awakening when you fill up a car in Italy. If that doesn’t affect you, the highway toll fees will," an expat in Verona described.
Many expats expressed frustration with learning Italian. "I wish I had known just how difficult it would be to learn the language and how isolating it is not being able to discuss the problems of the world as Italians love to do. We went to classesx and learned some holiday conversation but did not really have any conception of how uselss that is when living there, so recommend that folk really study before they come," explained one expat.
An expat in Rome advised, "My biggest mistake was not embracing the culture fully - bit trying to compare and contrast everything with my American culture and seeking out English speaking friends. If I had thrown myself into the Italian culture and languge from the beginning, I would have had an easier transition and would have been happier. Please don't compare your new culture to your own - there's a reason you left yours - so embrace the differences! Learn the language as soon as possible - immerse yourself in it, make friends with the locals, send your kids to the local school, learn local recipes and customs - you will get so much more out of the culture that way!!!"