Everyone loves a brief taste of Italian culture, but for those of you looking to stay longer, and possibly even set down new roots, you may find your life starting to change in unexpected ways.
We spoke to four expatriates who have moved over and fully embraced new lifestyles to see what they thought were the quintessential ways to know you’re living your life the Italian way.
Our four guest expat bloggers are:
Nicola Ferlei Brown is a Rome based British writer and has written for the likes of Marie Claire Italia, Italy Magazine, Macs Magazine and Wanted in Rome Magazine.
Elizabeth Knight from Rome… If You Want To
Francesca Maggi from Burnt by the Tuscan Sun
Gina Tringali from GT Food and Travel
One of Italy’s greatest assets is its wealth of local food markets and stalls. Rich in culinary history, the best way to explore the delicacies of Italy is to try making them yourself so you should be finding yourself in the kitchen a lot more often. That means, as Gina Tringali found, regular trips to the farmers, fishmongers and butchers:
“I just couldn’t imagine living further than a fifteen minute walk from a food market. This is something that I hope to never live without. Fresh produce is available and accessible to most everyone in Italy. I know the farmers personally. These relationships are priceless.” – Gina Tringali
You’re Eating More, But Snacking Less
Italians eat with a much different schedule to the likes of the British or Americans. Sitting down for dinner at 10pm may seem daunting at first, especially with the regularity of four-course meals, but your body will adjust to the greater portions and you’ll find yourself cutting down on in-between meal snacks.
“I eat what I want in moderation. I don’t snack in between meals because my taste buds are still talking about breakfast being buono for the best part of the day.” – Nicola Ferlei Brown
With your grander meals, you are definitely going to develop a taste for the sweeter side of Italian cooking. With a plethora of pastries, desserts, cakes and sweetbreads, you’ll be finding it hard to say no and the taste will linger so long, you’ll try to recreate it again at home.
“The grapes and strawberries here taste like candy. A slice of pecorino with honey makes me want to weep with joy. Calories? Probably, but I’m convinced it’s all healthier and it’s sure more delicious than the way I used to eat.” – Elizabeth Knight
You’re Learning The Language Every Chance You Have
Visiting Italy, you can get by with common phrases and the essentials, but it’s best to embrace the lovely language of Italian if you’re planning on staying longer. This can be a stumbling block for some, though intensive courses can give you a crash course and have you chatting with locals in no time.
A great way to adapt the language barrier is to watch television shows you’re familiar with in Italian. Just a touch of familiarity such as common locations or catchphrases means you can expand your vocabulary even when you’re relaxing!
Home to not just local traders, but local institutions, experts in Italy really know their stuff and this is none more evident than when shopping the exceptional fashion stores of Italy. Always at the cutting edge of style, living in Italy may see you ditch many of the clothes you brought with you, in favour of custom made tailored suits and dresses.
“I wear more tailored clothing and more black than I did before moving. And when in the mood to dress up, I know that in Italy, less doesn’t mean more. Bring on the jewellery” – Nicola Ferlei Brown
You’re Drinking More Coffee
It is impossible to escape the caffeine culture that has grown in Italy. Any small meeting or chat is another opportunity for a drink, and repeated visits to a local or highly recommended cafe will no doubt edge you towards the more elaborate items on their menus. Even if you aren’t a coffee drinker before you arrive in Italy, you’ll soon know espressos from macchiatos, as well as (crucially) which drink to order at specific locations and in different regions of the country.
With so many long lasting businesses, passing from generation to generation, it isn’t hard to see that in Italy, family is the most important thing. We all like getting back in touch with home, but moving to Italy can spark a drive to reconnect with some of the relatives you may only be used to hearing from when holidays come around.
“A part of Italian culture I’ve fallen in love with has been reconnecting with all of my relatives far and wide. People with just a drop of blood like yours in their veins treat you like, well, family! I love the big meals, the traditions, even just having some family over on an occasional Sunday.” – Francesca Maggi
Your Home is De-cluttered
Spending a lot more of your time with relaxing coffees and welcoming family over, you’ll naturally start to relax more. What’s interesting is that this will start to reflect your home, as you start to clean out anything bought and left unused or requiring constant upkeep. Your home will become more open and airy, to reflect your leisure time as your attention turns away from what you own and towards the people you meet.
Your Emotions Run Free
The longer you stay in Italy, the more outspoken you’ll find yourself becoming. Not to say that you’ll become disruptive or unpleasant, it is merely the way Italians embrace their emotions and let everything out. It is their way of staying true to themselves and treating others with respect, rather than passively putting up with something due to an idea of politeness. Italians are much more direct and vocal than other cultures:
“I like the way that you can burst out emotions on a mobile phone whilst on a busy bus and no-one will bat an eyelid. There’s something liberating about, for a while, at least, binning British de rigeur and politeness. Italians can’t hide their emotions, which isn’t always a bad thing. On that note, watching the world go by in this town [Rome] is theatre.” – Nicola Ferlei Brown
With Italy’s rich history of renaissance art, picturesque landscapes and love of the opera, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to find a new love and try your hand at something creative. Without realising it, the art and culture of Italy can carry you away, even if it is something as simple as singing more often! You don’t have to be pitch perfect, but as you let your emotions out more freely when out in the open, don’t be afraid to look inward and try and express yourself creatively.
What are your favourite aspects of Italian culture? What do you miss most coming home after visiting, or what do you wish was different back home? Let us know by tweeting @TuscanyNow