Pros and cons of living in Italy

living in italy: pros and cons

Have you ever dreamed of living in Italy—the land of rich history, stunning landscapes, and unparalleled cuisine? Italy is not just a travel destination but a way of life that continues to attract expatriates from around the globe. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of living in Italy, offering insights from my firsthand experiences that could help you decide whether the Italian lifestyle is right for you. Whether you’re contemplating a short-term stay or a permanent move, understanding these aspects will provide a clearer picture of what to expect in the heart of the Mediterranean.

4 Pros to living in Italy

  1. The best food. Seasonal food. Local food.

Every area has its specialties and those are tied to traditions, and to what is grown and when. So as an example, in Sicily, in summer, you will find fichi d’India, a prickly pear fruit – everywhere. That’s when the fruit ripens, so that’s when you eat it! Zucchini flowers, asparagus and artichokes will only be found at the green grocer’s when they are in season. Once the season is done, you simply have to wait until next year. 

Moving to Liguria from Tuscany swung us from Steak to Seafood. Of course you can find good beef at the butcher shop here, but you won’t find the same Chianina or Florentine steak or Rosticciana side ribs anywhere.

Just as you won’t find the red prawns that are typical to the area here in Liguria, or the delicate basil for the pesto that grows on the hillside. 

  1. Quality of life the passeggiata – smelling the wisteria

The passeggiata is a ritual in Italy. Especially on a Sunday, after 3 hours of cooking, and another three at the table, the Sunday stroll is as much a pleasure as it is a necessity. The slowing down, and strolling through parks, or the “old town”, or along the seaside accomplishes the dual task of burning off some of your lunch, as it also preps you for the work week ahead. All of this is accomplished while you take in the scenery on your Sunday Passeggiata. It’s all about smelling the wisteria. 

This is a picture of me on a stroll in Florence after a 3 course meal
  1. Humanity – Italians are well loved around the globe. They are warm, engaging, fun-loving people. The further south you go, the more hospitable the general culture becomes. That said, even in the most Northern Parts of Italy, I have never felt anything but totally welcomed in this county. People just genuinely want you to enjoy the traditions, to participate, taste, and take it all in. They will always go out of their way to help you find something special for you to enjoy. And when you do appreciate it, watch out, as you may just have to eat another whole plate of pasta so as not to offend.
  2. Style – People truly care about what they look like and how they are dressed and groomed. Design and style are in Italians’ DNA. People dress well, daily. Being well dressed is not a good indicator of the individual’s economic status. It is a common practice and it comes to Italians naturally. On the other side of the ocean, I remember my husband taking photos of people wearing their pyjamas as we explored a Super Store in rural Canada while visiting family on holiday. That was a sight for him. 

4 Cons to living in Italy

  1. Everything takes time… sometimes too much time. Service is not pronto or presto. You might just have to wait longer than you would like for your meal. There won’t be an apology, and you won’t get it any faster if you complain. The reign of the “Customer” who is always right is not the mantra in Italy. Being rude and demanding gets you nowhere. People are accustomed to waiting, and also complaining, albeit quietly.  
  2. The Siesta – you can’t get anything done at lunchtime, other than lunch. Get used to the fact that all those errands that you can get done during a lunch break at home will be impossible to fulfil in Italy. Shops, banks, doctor’s offices, public services all close for lunch. Why? Because it’s time for lunch. Then it’s time to rest after lunch.  All of this can take a substantial chunk out of the day. Remember that most shops will be closed from around 12:30 to 3:30 or even 4:00 pm. 
  3. The lineup. One good thing that came from Covid in Italy was social distancing and numbers for taking turns.  I remember my first weeks in Florence in the ‘90s, trying to buy bread. It was an ordeal that would sometimes take me 10 minutes. I would walk into the tiny bakery, all pumped up and ready to place my order. Things were looking good as there were only 2 people ahead of me. As I waited my turn, the shop started to fill and customers flooded to the front. The way it worked was that whoever got closest to the counter, and made eye contact with the server first, belting out their requests the loudest – got their bread. The antics of budding drove me, and still drive me completely mad. In Toronto, we were taught to wait our turn. We naturally form lineups when none are even imposed. Nobody buds, nobody pushes, ever. It is considered to be completely uncivilized and unacceptable. The worst category of bread store budders, or any other type for that matter in Italy, are senior citizens. I came to understand that the well-dressed, elegant woman in her 60s who walked into the shop after I did, and who seemed to embody the epitome of good manners – would get in front of me, one way or another. She turned her head gracefully away from my threatening gaze as I desperately tried to hold my ground. She slipped her foot in front of mine without even touching me, like a ballerina, with her head twisted the other way.  She smiled sweetly at the server, and before I knew it, her order was being filled and I was one step further behind. Budding in Italy is a fine art. Thankfully Covid introduced the “wait your turn” line up with markings on the floors, forcing people to keep their distance. While the floor markings have faded, some of the lessons have remained. And I have gotten much better at holding my ground. 
  4. Time warp. In Italy, time seems to go more slowly. Trends, movements, awakenings all seem to surface here a good 5 to 10 years after they have become common place in North American culture. This can be a really good thing, and also a really bad thing, depending on the trend/movement/awakening that is being or not being adopted. Italy is certainly not on the cutting edge as it is still so deeply entrenched in its own culture and traditions. 

Conclusions

In conclusion, living in Italy offers an enchanting mix of rich traditions, exquisite cuisine, and a lifestyle that prioritizes beauty and leisure. While some aspects of life, such as the relaxed pace and adherence to tradition, may require adjustment, the overall quality of life is undeniably appealing, especially to those seeking a deeper cultural immersion.

Are you captivated by the prospect of waking to the aroma of freshly brewed Italian coffee and spending your evenings strolling through cobblestone streets under a canopy of wisteria? If the Italian way of life calls to you, consider turning this dream into your reality.

At Home’s director is a seasoned expert in luxury properties in the Italian Riviera and is perfectly positioned to guide you through the process of finding your ideal home, whether for a short stay or a permanent move. With an extensive portfolio that includes some of the most exquisite properties in the Portofino Area, we can provide invaluable insights and assistance tailored to the discerning tastes of our customers.

Don’t just dream about living in Italy—make it your home! Contact At Home today to explore how you can start your own Italian adventure. Whether you’re looking to rent for a season or find a permanent residence, we will help you navigate every step towards securing your slice of Italian paradise.

Let your journey begin here. Reach out at info@athome-italy.com or visit our properties for more details and to view our exclusive property listings.

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