Why Everyone Should Live In Italy At Least Once In Their Lives

Savonarola's preaching attracted huge crowds t...

Savonarola’s preaching attracted huge crowds to Florence Cathedral – like much of the city, Botticelli had come under his sway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often write from a cynical point of view in a tone that is best described as sardonic when I write about Italy. At some point, and this happens to everyone, the acid haze of expatriate living eventually turns into an expatriate hangover. You remember the greatness of your life before but suddenly you see it through a veil of nausea and mental fog. However, I do love Italy. Obviously because I married it and trust me if you marry an Italian you are marrying Italy. Much like an STD, you can move them physically out of Italy but they’ll still carry it around inside of them. And why would you want to remove Italy from them? Aside from the two-hundred obvious reasons (crap economy, confusing sheep fascist mentality, over-bearing family, cheating) there isn’t anything. Italy in many ways is exactly what I needed when I needed it. Everyone at least once in their life needs it.

Italiano: Frantoio.

Italiano: Frantoio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s get past the art and architecture which is obviously breathtaking, the oldness of it all seems insane for those of us from countries who were the most recent on the “we are getting fucking the ass without lube,” receiving end of European imperialism. The cobblestone once drowned in the piss in the likes of Da Vinci (and oh my God I am peeing there now!). This place has homed greatness for centuries and I am stumbling drunk all over it. If you stop and stare at the city for even a moment it is unbelievable how absurdly cool is Florence. All of it. But that’s obvious.

The food is something else we could talk about. The bright red tomatoes bulging out of crates onto the street, the smell of fresh bread wafting from cafès and pasticceria, meals that only require olive oil and salt as seasoning because the ingredients are so fresh it doesn’t seem like it came from twenty-thirteen rather we’re back in the nineteen-twenties before our food was plastic and genetically fucked. But everyone knows about the food.

Italian Women #1

Italian Women #1 (Photo credit: an untrained eye)

It’s the relationship with life and the strange people that make Florence and Italy so unique and incredible but it’s not necessarily the personal interactions but rather just watching them exist. In some ways it’s like taking acid and watching a 3-D movie, but in a good way. The old couple of about ninety years old with their matching cane set holding hands while they slowly make their way around the block after lunch, the group of elderly widows in matching black walking together and talking about their children or their late husbands, the young boys playing soccer in the street while their mother screams out of the window to come eat (she is wearing an apron and leaning over red poppy flowers in the window planter), Italian husbands in the street holding their wives purses with their infant strapped to their chest while the mother walks slowly behind in stilettos, deeply inhaling a cigarette, teenagers fighting in a square and nobody calls the police because, well, kids fight, an old woman drinking tea in the window of a restaurant with her little terrier on her legs, comfortably asleep on her Prada pant-suit. A pretty woman walks by and all of the heads of the street turn to follow her. The men stare. The women stare. If you make eye contact you’ll be locked there because there is no reason to look away. Personal space doesn’t exist.

In Italy life isn’t passed by because people are too busy living it. Food is enjoyed for hours at a time instead of inhaled. Anything that is meant to be enjoyed is savored in a way that is strictly Italian and while I can’t say much for any other relationship I can say that my husband doesn’t look at me but he stares at me for hours every day. He softly touches me in between moments of clinging, pulling, grasping and tugging. He doesn’t kiss me but rather he tastes my mouth (and the rest of me) like he’s tasting wine. And sex, as far as I can tell from talking with friends, varies from person to person but something you’ll hear often is that with Italian men it’s less about sex and more about enveloping someone in a raw, animalistic way. It’s like being with someone’s ID only to wake up in the morning with coffee next to the bed and someone playing with your hair and whispering nice things in your ear. It can often be misleading by how sweet and fully devoted they can seem even for a one-night-stand.

There is an (often obnoxious) long-lost will to argue and nag and fight that disappeared long ago in the US and England for a more “civilized” approach to life: witty jokes, perfection in well-played but limited animation. Italy has maintained its naive innocents with its thousands of years of wisdom. It lends those of us from another world a different perspective, a break. It gives us a look into the past and teaches a full appreciation for the present. Once you learn it you won’t forget it and you’ll forever see the world through Italian-tainted lenses.

54 thoughts on “Why Everyone Should Live In Italy At Least Once In Their Lives

  1. I really wish I could, more than I can say. My best bet is to either go out there for a Post-Doc or marry an Italian.

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    • Is your roommate the incredible hulk? The Duomo is gigantic (not saying that I don’t believe you, but I am saying that this person is possibly the strongest person ever). Never been to Italy? You should pop over. It’s nice (and super annoying).

      • It happened, and there was a witness. Trooch had a great throwing arm.
        He was amazing and hilarious at the same time. Fire a perfect spiral at him and he’d catch the football in his outstretched hand – no tucking. We had a dartboard with cheap plastic darts, and once I scored a bullseye. He scored a bullseye stuck right in the end of mine.

        Trooch died of esophageal cancer several years ago, and I asked friends who knew him to submit true stories for a tribute booklet that I got printed and distributed to whoever wanted a copy. Here’s the story of The Duomo Incident, written by a classmate:


        “Having spent lots of time with Trooch makes coming up with one particular story a challenge; I felt like every time I was with Trooch there was another story.

        So I’m walking home with Trooch real late one night from the Red Garter Bar, located in a not so great section of Florence Italy. It isn’t an easy walk as we had definitely consumed far more Chianti that evening then either of us should have, but I was with Trooch, so between his non-stop banter and the ever present laughter that seems to always fill the time when you are with him, we steadily make progress toward our home on the other side of town.

        It is uncharacteristically quiet this night as we pass around the back side of the Duomo Cathedral and head down Via de’ Cerretani, which runs parallel to the cathedral when we come upon a good sized pile of Sicilian blood oranges at the edge of the street. We stop at the pile and both look down to check them out. When we look back up at each other there is a twinkle in Trooch’s eyes that instantly told me I was in for some type of adventure shortly.

        Trooch reaches down into the pile, picks up one of the oranges and starts to slowly toss it up and down in his hand. He turns to me and says “I bet I can throw this all the way over the Duomo,” and without any further hesitation the thing is airborne! All I could think as I watched that orange heading toward one of the most significant pieces of Renaissance architecture in the world was, “Holy shit! We are about to put an orange through a 500 year-old stained-glass window!”

        There I am standing next to Trooch, both of us frozen in our steps as we realize that the orange is actually going to clear the top of the building… what a relief. Moments later we hear a car alarm go off on the other side of the Duomo. Apparently the orange must have come down on a parked car on the other side of the building setting off the alarm.

        Needless to say, Don and I beat feet, and a wail of Italian police sirens broke out as we got a few blocks away. I think we were too scared to say anything to each other until we were blocks and blocks away… then it was just laughter on top of laughter.”

        Trooch was fun as hell. I miss him.

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  5. I really don’t think there is one single thing which makes Italy special. I believe it is the sum of many small things that makes it so unique. Italy is a ‘hate it or love it’ place. One thing is for sure though: it never leaves you indifferent.

    • Darling, I think you’re misunderstanding this entire post.I’m completely making fun of America and England and this entire post is about how ITALY IS AMAZING. I don’t know how that could possibly offend you. You don’t like posts about how great your country is?

    • Rome brought brutal oppression and extortion to all regions it controlled (until it was brutally oppressed and extorted itself) but it also brought the rule of law. The English adopted and amended the Roman concept of government and spread it throughout the world via colonization. When the various colonies eventually emancipated themselves from the monarchy, they all retained that basic rule of law, and these are the relatively civil countries of today.

      Oh, and Italy didn’t exist until 1861.

      • I’m fairly well read on the history of Italy as the country it is now, and before it was unified, when it was part of the Roman empire, and well before that. But this isn’t a history blog so it would be weird if I wrote posts about the history of Italy and it’s people. I do, on occasion, recommend books to my readers on these things though. I follow a number of great historians and read their books when I have a chance. It’s not only Italy that existed before it was the country it is today, that would pretty much be every country in the world. The United States existed before Europeans “found” it, for example.

  6. I’m Italian and I just discovered your blog, I have to say I like your stories many true many others more funny then real🙂 but I like all your posts and your point of view, thanks for this beautiful writing🙂

  7. For some reason, everything I hear and read about Italy accords with my own views, from the views about diet to the way they wear their clothes. I’ve wanted to visit it since 2000, when I studied Italian at university. The people make SENSE. And when they see something they don’t agree with, they FIGHT. I can’t tell you how much I like that! If I did get the chance to go there, it would definitely be for the people and only for the people.

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  11. Hi! I visited Italy in 2013 and covered a few major tourist attractions. I can’t say anythign but I LOVE ITALY!! I am so in awe of the people and food and the beauty (how can one miss) Florence stays one of my fav… It’s so nice to chance upon your blog. Do tell if there are job opportunities in Italy😉 Have written a lot about it on my blog too http://ishitasood.blogspot.in/

    • Job opportunities for expats are few and far between unless you the full, legal right to work. Italy is beautiful. I always recommend studying in Italy or starting your own business rather than finding work there. Also, they don’t pay very much, so that’s lame.🙂

      • Check the stuff I have about moving to Italy. I wrote a post called How To Move To Italy. Search it and that will give you info on jobs, etc. Good luck babe! I hope you make it over!

  12. excuse me, where have you seen these things in florence?
    the group of elderly widows in matching black walking together and talking about their children or their late husbands, the young boys playing soccer in the street while their mother screams out of the window to come eat (she is wearing an apron and leaning over red poppy flowers in the window planter). I live in florence but I’ve never seen anything like this. it looks like something you watched on tv.
    and american teenagers never fight? I know some of them even have weapons and take them at school. please don’t be so stereotypical about Italy. It has a lot of problems and bad things but I can’t stand stereotypes about it.

    • I don’t normally write back to comments that irritate me but I’m going through a stressful period so I’m going to take it out on you. Let’s start by saying that just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist (unicorns, dragons, dwarves) and no two experiences are the same. A lot of expats have never been punched in the ear by an angry moroccan but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen to me. A lot of expats have not been chased by an old man with his willy out and his pants around his ankles in broad daylight, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen to me and a group of my friends.

      I live in Campo di Marte in a gated apartment community near the stadium. There is, in fact, a little area that children play in and the mom, who wears an apron, leans over the balcony to call them inside for dinner. I see her doing it fairly regularly. Not to mention, you kind of always see it in small cities south of Florence. My husband’s hometown is tiny and I’ve not only seen it but been called in by my apron wearing mother-in-law to eat. She definitely leaned out of the balcony for it. In my same area in Florence I walk my asshole dog about four times per day and in the afternoon a group of four old women, in widows clothing, walk around the same block together. I often walk behind them and I’ve even photographed them a time or two (it’s possibly on this blog somewhere). But you’re totally right, since you’ve never seen it, I probably imagined all of it. I do drink a lot so that’s totally possible.

      I never wrote that teenagers never fight. I would go back and read the post again. If you’re going to comment about it at least comment correctly. I wrote: Teenagers fight, and nobody calls the police. Which is definitely true since I’ve seen a multitude of teens kicking the shit out of each other in Santa Croce but I’ve only seen cops there once.

      You telling me that Italy has a lot of problems and that I shouldn’t be stereotypical is kind of hilarious and is possibly the first time I’ve ever received a comment telling me that I’m depicting Italy stereotypically or too nice. I should probably frame it. You clearly had a bad day (probably because living in Italy is pretty irritating), and flipped because I painted a mostly nice picture. I say “mostly nice” because I also mentioned fascism, sheep mentality, and dirty streets in this post. So suck it.

  13. Pingback: Cont… My Life In Italy: Our Love Is Like The West Side Story With Spaghetti And Flying Pans | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  14. My family immigrated from Italy to the US. I didn’t grow up there, but I’ve gone on vacation there for summers in my youth. So many sweet memories. Your blog is humorous with a love for Italy. It’s an effortless read. I’ve just found your blog today and I’m happy that I did. 🙂

    • Thank you! I appreciate that! Which part of Italy is your family from?

      Yes, I do love Italy. It’s a beautiful country. I’m glad you found me! Feel free to give me any suggestions on things you’d like to read or anything at all. I love to hear from people.😉

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  16. Living in Italy is in many cases very pleasant and interesting, nevertheless there are many differences between the various Italian cities; Frenze, Rome, Venice tourist cities are highly organized where there are services and facilities that help to move and live. Unfortunately this does not happen in all parts of Italy where there are also areas where the quality of life is certainly enviable.

  17. The reasons for living in Italy can be many and different from each other, this is because Italy offers an area that changes its appearance and its characteristics in relatively short distances. In Italy we can find modern cities like Milan and Turin or city full of medieval and Renaissance architectural works as Florence and Rome. Even from an environmental point of view Italy offers plenty of variety, you can move from the sea to the mountains with a few hours of travel, crossing landscapes of the countryside and hills. From a geographical point of view this European state despite being relatively small offers the most diverse characteristics that generally can be found only in much larger states.

  18. Italy is where you find… Beauty; Sun; Food & Wine (fit for a King and for all to enjoy); A language of romance succumbed to a Lifestyle of Quality; Relaxation… but then there’s Napoli…and my retirement in August 2015… Ciao mia amici… vivere la vita al massimo…

  19. Yip! Without a doubt Italy “Food and wine” Fit for a king and for all to enjoy-‘you got it mate,’ I left England 14 years ago to work in Italy and have married a Romanian artist with 2 of a family and never to return! Sun, Beauty, and great food! This is the life!

    Brian (Darlington)

  20. I can agree with Italy’s beautiful lifestyle and vibrant social outlook, however, Italy has serious unemployment and if you think immigrating to Italy without family connections of some sort or a UK pension, you might as well stay at home; living in Italy can turn out to be not what you expected. The welfare system in Italy is nothing at all like what people take for granted in the UK-you’ve been warned. If you have money or a good job Italy is indeed for you to enjoy, if not life will be very difficult.

  21. Amalfi and Capri is where to live, working/playing only during the holiday season and soaking up the sun for the rest of the year. Now that’s living.

  22. I had a feeling Venice’s crowds would annoy me and I was right. But as is other places in Italy, there’s a reason Venice is among the most-visited destinations in the world: It’s incredible, if you can find your own quiet spot, away from the crowds.

  23. What I recall about growing up in Italy you have put into words. A kind and loving people who celebrate life. I saw them celebrate even small accomplishments with a joy and happiness that even today many years later as I reflect back on them I am overcome with happiness.

    • Sorry folks… Just purchased another property in England… So it’ll have to be 3 months in England and 9 months in Italy…Bella tutti Italia… Don’t work too hard… Ciao dopo…

  24. Hi so I am in a high school world literature class and our project for right now is to find out what it is like to live in the country we are studying. I am researching Italy and i was wondering if it would be okay if I were to ask you some questions? Let me know as soon as you can!


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