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What to expect when moving to Italy

Hello everyone,

Is there anything you wish you had known before moving to Italy? For example, transportation, internet speeds, types of housing, aspects of the culture or social life.

In your opinion, what's the most important thing to know about Italy?

When would you recommend someone should begin planning their move to Italy?

What were the most helpful ways you found to get organised? For example, did you use a checklist, were there any particularly useful websites or apps?

What advice would you give to future expats preparing to move to Italy?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Interested to see the responses here. I know peoples experiences of such things will help me, and many others, hugely.

The first thing that they should expect to learn is that they should never have come to Italy in the first place.  Italy  is NOT "La Dolce Vita"  It is a disaster.

An explanation would be very helpful...?

Why is it a disaster?

I should have been more specific.  North  Italy is the disaster.  It is infested with refugees,   crime,   violence against women,  beggars in the streets...hatred of Americans..etc.  The only real Italy is Naples and on to the South.  Sicily is the best.   Forget the North.

I hear a lot of bad things aboit Naples. There is a lot of conflicting information going around but no solid truths or facts that help one with a decision like moving to Italy. Also, i'm mot American so i'll be safe from that ;)

Also. I have visited the North very often and never found it to be a problem...? Why is the North so bad?

Real Italy for me has always been the south - La vera Italia! The northerners have always looked down in scorn at the south and considered themselves superior, sadly they are deluded, the south of Italy is just the best place to live in the entire peninsular, the northerners know it too!

Are you living in Italy? If so, as a fellow Brit, what is your opinion of living in Italy?

I am hearing so many mixed messages but no real evidence as to why people say no to moving to Italy. I never knew it was as bad as people are saying.

I just want to know what i'm getting myself into, before I get into anything really.

hippysunshine :

I hear a lot of bad things aboit Naples. There is a lot of conflicting information going around but no solid truths or facts that help one with a decision like moving to Italy. Also, i'm mot American so i'll be safe from that ;)

Naples is  a wonderful place...one of the best..as is Palermo.  Don't listen to the false innuendos about Naples.. I lived near there for 4 years.  It is one of the most charming, cultured cities in Europe.  The people in the North love to disparage Naples..it is the age old hatred by the North (Polentoni)
against the South.  My advice would be to visit Naples, , Campania, Puglia and Sicily...and stay clear of North Italy.  The people in the South are the friendliest, most welcoming people you'll meet.  The Polentoni , especially in Piemonte,  are cold, unfriendly, selfish, arrogant  zombies.  The North is infested with refugees..who are mostly criminals and street beggars...and the authorities  close their eyes to the problem.    I've seen it all ..first-hand.   As a British subject  you'll have all of the privileges and benefits,,,which are denied to Canadians, Americans, Australians, etc.

Tony164 :

Real Italy for me has always been the south - La vera Italia! The northerners have always looked down in scorn at the south and considered themselves superior, sadly they are deluded, the south of Italy is just the best place to live in the entire peninsular, the northerners know it too!

Absolutely right.  The North  (the Polentoni)  is not worthy of calling itself a part of Italy.  The North massacred the Southern people...read the history of that disgrace  they call  "unification".

See now what you are saying about Naples is not what previous people have said about Naples. Hmmm. In fact I have been told the very opposite. And Ross Kemp sure as hell didn't male it look attractive ha.

Also, I have visited the North and never found them to be what you describe and loved the times I have spent there.

In general. Forget the North / South divide. Is Italy a good and safe place to live in? Work, crime, living situations, the lot. I'm not after which area is better than which at this current time, Im after info on what it is really like to live in Italy.

I was wondering about the central area? Like Abruzzo. Any info on that?

In general that part is nice...friendly people, good scenery...lower cost-of-living than in  North, less bureaucracy  etc.

hippysunshine :

See now what you are saying about Naples is not what previous people have said about Naples. Hmmm. In fact I have been told the very opposite. And Ross Kemp sure as hell didn't male it look attractive ha.

Also, I have visited the North and never found them to be what you describe and loved the times I have spent there.

In general. Forget the North / South divide. Is Italy a good and safe place to live in? Work, crime, living situations, the lot. I'm not after which area is better than which at this current time, Im after info on what it is really like to live in Italy.

In  addition to my previous post,  which seems to have disappeared...but I hope that you saw it..( the post in which I described the crime situation, etc.)...I wanted to  add something,  As to the cost of everyday living...for example...a visit to the ophthamologist in the South.. Naples...Palermo etc....a general check-up costs ....about 20-40 euros..depending on which ophthamologist.  In the North..Torino area..the same check-up  costs 110 to 130.  A dentist in the South...costs a fraction of what you'll pay in the North.  Same situation exists with a visit to an internist.

hippysunshine :

Also. I have visited the North very often and never found it to be a problem...? Why is the North so bad?

Visiting as a tourist for a few days is one thing....daily living is quite different.  You really cannot compare the 2 experiences.

hippysunshine :

See now what you are saying about Naples is not what previous people have said about Naples. Hmmm. In fact I have been told the very opposite. And Ross Kemp sure as hell didn't male it look attractive ha.

Also, I have visited the North and never found them to be what you describe and loved the times I have spent there.

In general. Forget the North / South divide. Is Italy a good and safe place to live in? Work, crime, living situations, the lot. I'm not after which area is better than which at this current time, Im after info on what it is really like to live in Italy.

Did you happen to see my response from this morning..in which I described in the detail the crime situation,  the living conditions,  cost-of-living...etc?   I cannot find my post.

NonI didn't see that post :(

Ok..I'll try to remember what I wrote.   The answers to your questions really depend upon where in the country..therefore...you cannot say.."forget the North/South divide".  First,  crime in the North  is rampant...especially in Piemonte, Lombardia etc.  Every day in the North...the towns are filled with African beggars asking for money..and the authorities close their eyes.   In the North,  the refugees from countries whose names we cannot even pronounce...bring crime, rape  etc...etc...  The Romanians, Albanians..whatever they are..etc..place notices on the apartment buildings notifying their cohorts about which apartment is the "easiest "  to rob..i.e.  is there  an elderly person inside..is there  a dog on the premises...etc....  The authorities do absolutely nothing.    This  situation  does not exist in the South...and would not be tolerated in Sicily.      Second,   in the North, the cost of living...food, clothing..daily household essentials...etc...are double..triple even quadruple the costs in the South.  The  prices  of meat, fish, vegetables...etc. in the North are  double or triple the cost of those same things in the South.    Bureaucracy in the North is suffocating...not so in the South.  You being a British subject you won't face the oppressive, strangulating bureaucracy to the extent  suffered by  Canadians, Americans, Australians, etc...at least you won't until Brexit takes effect.  You'll be able to take advantage of the "socialized everything"..free-of-charge.

If it's not tollerated down South, why is nobody doing anything about the North? That's so sad :(
What is the general crime like down South? In particular crimes against women.

I will be moving over with my partner but he works abroad a lot so I will be there on my own (hopefully with new friends) about 4 months of the year, so I need to make sure I move somewhere I feel safe.

Brexit is not good for me and my hopes of moving to Italy, but as long as it's still doable I will get there. I'm not planning to move for about 5 years so currently just trying to get a feel for the country a bit more. Find out about real Italy instead of the holiday side.

I know I have a lot of research to do but have heaps of time to do it in so these conversations really help to get some inside knowledge.

hippysunshine :

If it's not tollerated down South, why is nobody doing anything about the North? That's so sad :(
What is the general crime like down South? In particular crimes against women.

I will be moving over with my partner but he works abroad a lot so I will be there on my own (hopefully with new friends) about 4 months of the year, so I need to make sure I move somewhere I feel safe.

Brexit is not good for me and my hopes of moving to Italy, but as long as it's still doable I will get there. I'm not planning to move for about 5 years so currently just trying to get a feel for the country a bit more. Find out about real Italy instead of the holiday side.

I know I have a lot of research to do but have heaps of time to do it in so these conversations really help to get some inside knowledge.

These are subjects which are better to be discussed in private.  If there is some way to have a private conversation on here, let me know.  I'll be happy to help you as best I can.

ginalouisa :

I was wondering about the central area? Like Abruzzo. Any info on that?

The downside is that there is not much work in that area.   It's an agricultural  zone..and sadly...even the kids of the farmers want to get away because they're not interested in continuing life on farms.  Some of them turn the farms into what's called "Agriturismo"...tourist places.     This is true of a lot of the South  and it's really unfortunate.  History is repeating itself.   A hundred or more years ago , the Southern Italians left and emigrated to  the Northeastern U.S....to find work.  Today the same thing is occurring, although now they're looking  for work in  Germany, the U.K. etc.

I added you as a contact if here is good for you?

hippysunshine :

I added you as a contact if here is good for you?

Hi,  yes..got it..  I accepted.

Everybody, let's please focus on the topic "What to expect when moving to Italy" and try to share factual and useful information with each other.  While sharing experiences is good and can be helpful, let's try to avoid throwing around subjective disparaging comments regarding other nationalities, regions and persons, which can be offensive to others following along. 

Thanks
Romaniac
Expat.com Experts Team

romaniac :

Everybody, let's please focus on the topic "What to expect when moving to Italy" and try to share factual and useful information with each other.  While sharing experiences is good and can be helpful, let's try to avoid throwing around subjective disparaging comments regarding other nationalities, regions and persons, which can be offensive to others following along. 

Thanks
Romaniac
Expat.com Experts Team

You are correct, of course.  Unfortunately, in many aspects of life, travel etc.,    the facts and reality and the truth  are not always the sugar-coated fantasies that we wish them to be.  It's sad if the truth "offends"  people...but it is what it is.  I sincerely wish that someone had told me the factual info about Italy before I ever came...in which case I never would have set foot in the country  except for Naples and Sicily..which are the only "true" Italian places.

I don't think that that the north or central Italy is quite as bad as Horseman makes it out to be, we all have our own personal and often subjective views of living in or even holidaying in Italy. I have met some very fine Italians from all over the country but having lived in Bergamo for a year and in Lecce for a lot longer, I would choose southern Italy every time.

To answer the question "what to expect when moving to Italy" would take several long paragraphs, suffice to say that anybody wishing to live in any part of Italy needs plenty of tolerance, patience, strength of character and an open mind. The country was, is and always will be chaotic, bureaucratic and messy, but always adorable, irresistible and beautiful!

Hi Priscilla

We moved to Italy in 2008, from The Netherlands that is form a well-organised country to ... chaos. Well, not always but often it is like that. To have a good laugh read about our hilarious and horrendous experiences in my book Living in Italy: the Real Deal

Some answers:

Is there anything you wish you had known before moving to Italy? For example, transportation, internet speeds, types of housing, aspects of the culture or social life.
Within major cities (in the North) public transport is okay, as well as long distance high speed train connections. But elsewhere service is scarse and unreliable. Better buy a car!
Internet services are a jungle, ask around in the area where you are planning to move to which is the best option. We struggled with Telecom Italia for years (speed << 1 mB/s) then moved to a wireless option which functioned well for 1.5 years and then went down the drain in 6 months. But since 2 years we have Eolo, wireless, and very reliable (fingers crossed).

In your opinion, what's the most important thing to know about Italy?
Forget about agreements, appointments, promises that are redeemed. Get used to "I will call you, send you this, provide with that..." never to hear of it again. Italians change their mind about plans and projects every day.

When would you recommend someone should begin planning their move to Italy?
Learn the language. Learn the language. Learn the language. Read books about people who did move.

What were the most helpful ways you found to get organised? For example, did you use a checklist, were there any particularly useful websites or apps?
I read a book about buying a house in Italy and surfed the internet to learn about the most horrific experiences. Useful websites there are plenty I think, just Google and read as much as you can. Take notes! Books there are a few too. Mine e.g. ;-) 

What advice would you give to future expats preparing to move to Italy?
See above. Prepare well ahead (at least a year). Go on vacation to several areas. Try a language course in Italy.

Good luck, Buona fortuna
Stef Smulders
Author of Living in Italy: the Real Deal
Villa I Due Padroni B&B
http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni.it/img/auteur.jpg

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