Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reality of an Expat

You come to Italy as tourist and fall in love with the narrow streets, lined with ancient buildings full of rich texture and color you think that the clothes hanging from balconies are cute and add to the depth of the visual impact. You love the country side with it's rolling hills, vineyards and century old farm houses. And there is the sun with it's amber hue and the museums which hold 80% of the worlds art, the stores with the lastest fashions, the old churches and the opera.
Then you decide to leave your nice home in the subburbs of the US with it's wide yard, 3 car garage, big stores, lots of parking, great restaurants from all over the world and move to Italy. Where you find the reality of a country half run by the mafia and the other half by old and only self serving politicians. You see that the reason poeople hang their clothes on the balconies or out the window is that their apartments are tiny and they can't afford the energy for a clothes dryer like the one you left back home. On the streets and in the shops you find people just trying to survive in the rat race of a city overcrowded and polluted. You find people rude and crowding in lines, clerks in stores barely surving on an income that forces them to live with their parents are unhappy and unfriendly. You moved to the big cities because that's where you find more people like yourself and that's where you were most impressed by the famous tourist attractions. But living their you suffer from the reality of a city overcrowded and full of those Italians you thought were so friendly in the tourist places but turn out to be just normal people trying to survive. Cars are parked on sidewalks due to the lack of parking and the inability to create it in cities built back when people only walked or rode horses. You find people suffering from lack of work and low wages pitted against a high cost of living. You say I made the decision to move here so I'm going to adapt and make it work but after months or even years of trying you just have to admit that you can't do it.
Well that is the reality of Italy for many, maybe even most expats but not all. It really depends on your situation, where you live and what income and family you have. I'm happy to be living in a realitively small town in a nice home. I don't have any major complaints. Most people here stay in line and the other day as is typical I stood in a line with just three items with people ahead of me having tons of stuff to buy, they asked me if I wanted to move ahead.


  1. This is a very interesting observation. In many ways, I could say the same thing about living in the USA. The economic crisis Congress is debating has changed many people's daily living habits and threatens to shake things up even more in the future. Many Americans have lost their homes or will in the near future. Some will lose jobs and no universal-type healthcare exists here to manage their illnesses, putting a strain on hospitals and taxpayers alike. It seems like all around, more and more, people are unhappy and having a very difficult time making ends meet.

  2. Silvia, I totally agree with you. The other day I ready an article about the high percentage of adult children moving in with parents and parents moving in with adult children.

  3. I too totally agree with you. When you go to Italy on vacation you sometimes don't realize what is really going on. Things are tough worldwide I know and they are no better or worse in Italy. I too am content living in a small town where parking and smiles are still widely available!
    Enjoying your blog,Lucia www.living-italy.blogspot.com

  4. I spend quite a bit of time in Italyas as my wife is from Sicily. Yes, living and working somewhere is very different and Italy is not always an easy place to be. I could never live in Italy as I couldn't handle the apartment living and other problems.
    For holiday though I love visiting Italy especially to see the family in Sicily.
    Accommodation in Rome