Gillian comes from Tennessee, USA. Following her husband's job posting, she moved to Rome nine years ago after staying in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. She particularly enjoys the beach and blogging.
Where are you from, Gillian, and what are you doing nowadays?
I am a Rome based blogger, e-book writer, information curator, traveler, coffee and cocktail drinker. My friends call me “the Source” and I am your go-to girl for the best information on just about anything in the eternal city, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and the island of Ponza. I have lived in some very interesting places in the past 20 years since leaving my home State of Tennessee: Washington, DC; Niamey, Niger; Harare, Zimbabwe and now I live in Rome.
Why did you choose to expatriate to Italy?
My husband is a diplomat with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) whose headquarters are in Rome.
As a US expat, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
I have had it pretty easy. The FAO took care of most of the very complicated visa, residency and paperwork that is required for a US citizen to live in Italy.
How long have you been in the country?
It's been nine years now.
What has attracted you to Rome?
I am quite different from most people who move to Rome out of a love for Italy, for me it (at first) was just another posting.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
The lack of shared information. The Internet was “new-ish” and there were almost no websites with information on how to move around, what to do in Rome, etc. It is so much better now.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there?
It was too terribly difficult. We found our first apartment on Craigslist and our second through word of mouth. I have heard from other expats the the explosion of Air B&B has changed the rental market.
What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?
It is quite difficult to find work in Italy. I would not count on finding work here as a US citizen. The easiest jobs to find are teaching English or working with a tour company if your paperwork is in order.
How do you find the Italian lifestyle?
Romans have life figured out. Leisure time is valued and the work/life balance is healthy and flexible.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
I think so, as best as an outsider can. So much of Roman life revolves around food and rules. I eat at the “very prescribed” times, don’t drink cappuccinos after a meal and I stopped looking for a decent bagel.
What does your every day life in Rome look like?
I work from home, so I start my day checking e-mail and social media accounts. Then, I usually go to a late morning yoga class and back home to work on blog posts or articles for clients. Late afternoon is when I try to meet friends for coffee at a neighborhood bar. On weekends, you are likely to find me at a nearby beach or at the movies if there is something not dubbed.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Rome? Is it easy for an expat to live there?
Rent outside of the historic center can be quite affordable but utilities are high, food is inexpensive for excellent local quality. Rome is not an easy city. Public transportation is limited and crowded and bureaucracy is Byzantine.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I am beach girl. I go to the beach as often as I can: winter, summer, I love it any time of year. I really enjoy the Italian summer beach scene with all of its rules and organization, sunbeds, umbrellas, restaurants... It’s genius!
Your favorite local dishes?
In town: a plate of carbonara with a side dish of cicoria (a dark bitter green, tossed with olive oil, garlic and chili). At my local beach: spaghetti. All vongole and fried moscardini with a bottle of cold Pecorino wine are my go to meals.
What do you like the most about Rome?
The light, the beauty, the chaos.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
Ease. Little things like your cell phone contract to how to throw the trash out can be ridiculously complicated here.
What has motivated you to write your blog “Gillian's Lists”? How does it help?
Once I moved to Rome and the e-mail requests for where to eat, who was a good doctor in town and how to rent a villa in the Italian countryside got too numerous to individually respond to, I created Gillian’s Lists as a place where I could more easily share my knowledge in one dedicated place.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in Italy?
Get your visa, learn Italian.
What are your plans for the future?
We are here in Rome for the foreseeable future. More beaches, more blogging!