Home stories 21 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy (Or visiting Italy)

21 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy (Or visiting Italy)

written by M.E. Evans November 20, 2013

1. Italian men have a reputation for being family oriented and for being wonderful lovers. They’re also famous for being cheaters, liars, and scammers. Dating in Italy can be a lot like playing the lottery. You’ll either win a hopeless romantic or a spoiled man-child who could possibly ruin your life with his two-timing and drama. Here is a great slideshow titled, “Five Reasons To Date An Italian And Five Not To.” 

Gelato Cones (Florence)

Gelato Cones (Florence) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. While you’re in Italy you might lose ten pounds from walking but you’ll likely gain twenty from the overload of gelato. However, not all gelato is created equal. Here is the ten best places to get gelato in Florence. Go where the locals go and avoid the tourist traps where the gelato is anything but delicious. Ten Best Places To Get Gelato In Florence, Italy. 

3. There is a drinking method for Italian coffee. Un cafe (a shot of espresso) is okay for all day. Usually, a Capuccino is only drank in the morning (but I drink it all day cause I wanna). At a bar (cafe) you can order whatever you want but in a home they’re not going to make you a capuccino or Americano so don’t ask for it.

4. Aperitivo is like “happy hour” where people grab a snack and a drink usually from a cafe or somewhere like Kitch.

5. Men are really touchy-feely here. If you’re a dude prepare yourself to be kissed and hugged a lot by other dudes. You’ll live.

6. You cannot go into a church without your shoulders covered. Buy a pretty scarf and carry it with you all day when you’re site-seeing.

7. People do not often smile in customer service. They’re not being mean to you. That “holy shit I’m so excited about life” shit-eating grin that everyone has in the US is not common in Europe. It’s because people are “rude” it’s just not how they are.

8. When going to someone’s house always, always, ALWAYS bring a gift with you. A bottle of wine, some chocolates, flowers, something. Even just a casual lunch with a close friend. Do not show up to a dinner party empty handed.

9. Italians do not use “ciao” for people they don’t know. It’s rude. If you don’t know someone use “salve” to say hello and arrivaderci to say goodbye. Don’t use “ciao” unless the other person does first. This never changes if you’re talking with someone older than you. Even if you know them (unless they are family).

10. Table manners in Italy are formal. Don’t reach across the table, or snap and scream at your waitress. Don’t taste food off of each other’s plates. Even at a casual place or in a house. Also, make sure to fill up empty wine or water glasses for other people at your table. Filling up ONLY your glass when other glasses are empty is not nice. Don’t eat anything until everyone else starts eating. Don’t rest your hands in your lap. Hold fork in left hand, knife in right.

11. When you greet a friend you kiss on the cheek, left first, right second. But you don’t really put your lips on their skin. You just kind of make a kissing sound while you do it. If you plant a big wet one on someone you’ll scare them.

12. American women have a reputation for being whores. If someone asks you out be weary that they might be doing it just out of the assumption that you’re an easy lay. “But he’s so nice to me.” Doesn’t matter. Italian men are lovers. They

are insanely nice to everyone, even one-night-stands. They lay it on thick. Italian women play “hard to get” more. Try, if possible, to at least hang out casually (and non-sexually) a few times before things escalate so he will take the relationship seriously if that’s your goal. Unless you’re just in it for fun, then totally who cares. Here is an interesting article on dating Italian men. However, since I married one, I have to say that there are obviously exceptions to every rule.

13. Wiki has a great page on Italian etiquette. 

14. There are a lot of fascists in Italy. Yep. Seriously.

15. Soccer is the national sport. If you want to make small talk or bond, soccer is always the way to start. Brush up on the regional teams and learn some lingo.

16. Italians do not understand sarcasm or being ironic in the same way that the English or Americans do. Their sense of humor is more “slapstick,” unless they’ve spent time in England or had an American girlfriend (or had sex with multiple Americans which is more likely). You totally won’t get their jokes. And they won’t get yours.

17. Everyone in Florence LOVES DOGS. I’ve never, ever lived in a more dog friendly place EVER. These people LOVE dogs. Pretty much everyone has one too, hence the mass amount of dog shit on the streets. Dogs can go in restaurants, in almost all bars or cafe’s, and in more or less all clothing stores. People will try to feed your dog treats and pet your dog constantly. If you want to bring your dog to Italy make sure he/she is used to being approached by strangers.

18. Italian men are very close with their mothers. Half, HALF of all Italian men live with their parents into their 30’s. Mammoni is a serious thing here. What is mammoni, you ask? Where the mom and son are so overly attached that they still have a relationship similar to the relationship a child would have with his mother.

19. The people who sell things in the streets are usually from Senegal or Pakistan (with the roses and tissues). They are not beggers. They are peddling cheap merchandise in hopes of bettering their lives. Italians are not rude to them (generally) and more often than not they become friendly with the regular ones in their areas. My husband and I chat with them regularly. Treat them with respect. They are working their asses off trying to improve their lives. Yes, it might be annoying to have someone dangling roses in front of your face while you’re trying to romance someone on a date, just smile and say, “no, grazie.” If they persist, say “no.” Usually they’re not pushy. They’re salesmen though. And salesmen can be annoying anywhere. There is a large immigration battle here so while a lot of Italians don’t WANT immigrants here they are not usually mean to them.

20. “Gypsies,” the women in the long skirts, braided hair, and sandals, are originally from North-East India and are an ethnic group called Romani. Most of the ones in Italy immigrated to Romania and then to Italy after they were driven out of Romania. They are all over Europe because they have no homeland due to prejudice (historically they have faced genocide, forced sterilization, among other brutalities). They’re not usually dangerous but they can pickpocket on occasion. When they are near, keep your things close to you. Ignore them when they ask you for money. If you smile and politely say “no” they’ll push harder and next thing you know they are following you for 10 miles shaking their cup in your face. My dog is racist and bites them. I did not teach him to be an asshole. Really. Not all Romani people live an alternative “Gypsy,” lifestyle, many of them try to be good citizens. However, politics and prejudice has made it difficult for them because they are often associated with crime despite the fact that they’re not all criminals. In 2008 in Naples, people at the beach looked on as two little Romani girls drowned, then continued to tan only pausing occasionally to take pictures of their little dead bodies. That gives you the cold, completely insane, racism that exists between Italy and the Romani.

21. Almost all rapes in Florence are reported by American students statistically accusing eastern European men (often from Albania). This isn’t to say that Albanians are evil rapists because that’s not true and most of them are like the nicest people ever and are hardworking, good people. HOWEVER, statistics are statistics most likely because there is also a high number of undocumented post-war Albanians who are nuts and involved in illegal shit in Florence that give everyone a bad name. Don’t get wasted in public and talk with weird dudes you don’t know no matter where they are from and never go to someone’s apartment or leave a club with anyone. That’s how it starts. Practice the buddy system. Also? This absolutely does NOT mean that men from other nationalities are safer. Use good judgement with men.

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The Travelling Chopsticks November 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Love your list! Especially about your racist dog – Gypsies can be pretty hard core in Europe, you have to keep your wits about you! Also I have now learnt the word mammoni…have definitely met my fair share of those in my life 😉

M.E. Evans November 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Thanks babe! hahaha.

Queen October 21, 2015 at 7:16 am

Well if the Romani people can’t get jobs, how are the suppose to survive without stealing? Maybe if Italians were less racist towards them and actually gave them jobs -_- I lived in Italy for month, and when I came across a Romani family on the streets, I was told to ignore them, but I’m not like that. Rather, I gave them some food, and they were hella grateful. Did they try to steal from me? No. Maybe because I didn’t just ignore them.

M.E. Evans October 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Totally feel ya.

Isobel June 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

it’s not as simple as that. Most Romani communities choose not to integrate, don’t want to work + become part of society. Steps have been taken in the past to promote integration but they refused.

orangejuice June 30, 2016 at 6:44 am

To Queen: sorry but nope. You clearly don’t know this situation very well. The gypsy you see begging in the street are just a small part of them which refuse to integrate. It’s not abosolutely true they can’t get a job in Italy, many of them live a “normal” life as every other person, they have a house, they send their children to school, they work etc etc so, if they WANT they can have a normal life in Italy. The fact is that many of them prefer living “beyond the law”, many of them REFUSE to take their children at school even though social assistences try to help them and the government requires them to go to school. They simply don’t want to. Do you know that there are even camps where the police is not allowed to enter? and when they try, gyspsy start protesting and rioting. It’s an difficult situation to deal with, don’t assume so easily that it’s always italians’ fault. Can you tell me (for example) why the situation is different with africans or other beggers? Because they’re open to you, if you gave them food or try to help them, they are more likely to be nice to you and they are not used to stealing from other people, they beg ot try to sell things to make some money, but they are not known for pickpocketing or stuff. I’m fed up with people who say “italians are racist against the gypsy” ’cause the situation is not that easy. I live near one of these gypsy camps, I’ve been robbed many times and they also manage to get oil out of my car at night and I can’t take it anymore. As I said before, it’s not that they are all like that, the majority of them live a normal life, but many refuse to inegrate. Sorry but you talk about things you don’t know.

M.E. Evans June 30, 2016 at 6:54 am

Actually, I did t write this from observation. I read quite a bit of articles and a book about the Romani. A few of the articles I read were Italian articles written by Italian journalists. I wouldn’t assume that multiple sources were incorrect, but apparently maybe they are.

Wendy September 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm

I hadn’t realized that there were people still living a gypsy life. As a girl I used to see a lot of gypsies and tinkers in Wales but not these days. Their lifestyle is a nomadic one, predating our settled one. Not an easy way of life

Bryan June 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I think that you you come to Italy with the “american” thought of iwhat italy should be you would be in difficulty.. Like you are…

Brits and americans have the general arrogance to define cultures with fixed models. This is not your fault but your “model” propaganda agenda promoting you are the best in the world. (Usa dream world police, brits good at soccer)…
The media and mainstream propaganda induced you to think this. Whence, you come to another culture the shock is great. Initially you have anger.. But not because the other culture is confused. Because it is different to what you were taught. The achievement lies in accepting you were brainwashed and other cultures have their goodness… Not attacking them for self defense.

The choice is yours

Kat June 26, 2016 at 10:49 pm

The writer was not attacking anyone. You are the one who seems severely defensive ? She was expressing her own opinions based on her own life experience.. and i think the whole purpose was to help an ‘outsider’ who is either visiting or moving to Italy, have an idea of what to expect. Propaganda.. brainwashing… anger.. So dramatic. I think you’re reading way more into this then is actually there.. And you say ‘American” like it’s a dirty word.

Fots July 28, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I agree…you sound angry. She’s just expressing her opinion on how she experienced Italy. Relax!

Romeo Santorini September 5, 2016 at 5:00 am

Yes yes yes !

Expat Eye November 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I once ‘accidentally’ head-butted the Irish Ambassador here when he tried to do the kissy-kissy thing 🙂 I would be a nightmare in Italy!

M.E. Evans November 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Either you’d knock everyone out or you’d end up accidentally kissing everyone. Both could be comical and probably a little traumatic for you. lol.

Pippa Pirrip November 20, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I love this!

Most importantly, I’m glad to report that I made it to 4 of the top 10 gelato shops when I was in Florence. I have this rule when I’m in Italy that I have to have 2 scoops a day and I think when I was in Florence I was far exceeding my minimum requirement! My visit in March was also the first time I had semi-freddo, but I still prefer the real stuff. (In Venice it was so cold I switched to Vin Brule.)

I missed my dog so much in Florence! Every 2 feet I saw someone else’s little dog and thought how much I’d have loved having mine there, she could have sniffed butts and been cooed over all day! Puppy heaven.

I did buy something from an old Gypsy woman in Rome, and I hate to say it, but I suspect it was stolen (and I told her so.) I accidentally made eye contact with her and there was no escape, she just kept following me yelling, “Acquista!” She kept dropping her price and when I said no to 8 Euro, she started mumbling something nefarious sounding and I picked up the word “maledire”. It was like something out of a bad horror movie and my first day in Italy, so I just bought the damned thing (a saint medallion on a broken chain) to avoid starting my vacation off with some crazy curse! I’m from the land of Voodoo- can’t be too careful!

Deborah Guber November 21, 2013 at 3:59 am

Ah, if only I had read #1 on the list BEFORE my trip to Florence last summer…

M.E. Evans November 26, 2013 at 11:33 pm

haha! The part about being good lovers or cheating monsters? Wink, Wink.

Deborah Guber November 27, 2013 at 1:22 am

Who’s to say they can’t be both? It’s what makes them so damn intruiging…

I love your blog, by the way. It’s side splittingly funny. If you ever decide to sell spectator seats to a dinner you share with your in-laws, sign me up! 😉

Raluca November 23, 2013 at 8:08 am

Hey I think you’re hilarious and I can relate to everything you say since I live in Italy. But I am Romanian and pride is pride and I wanted to say that gypsies are not Romanian, they are from India, they infiltrated Romania first and now they’re spreading everywhere.

M.E. Evans November 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Ah! Thank you! I’ll note that. 🙂

Vikram Malik September 6, 2014 at 12:19 am

They came from India MANY CENTURIES ago!! By your logic, most Americans wouldn’t be “from America”!

Daniela April 12, 2015 at 10:58 am


Thank you for setting it straight. Too often people get the wrong impression about Romanians.


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Jenna April 21, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Omg this was sooo helpful thanks so much!!
When i’ve finished college and uni I want to move to Italy and teach English language but I didn’t know if I could. I’ve been doing lots of research and I’m learning Italian so then i’ll atleast know a few words.
Italian boys are charmers and flirts i once spent £30 in 3 days on chocolate because an Italian boy was selling it,it was comletely my fault of course, but he was beautiful.

RagazzAmbulante May 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm

I had to laugh about #9. I was with an American friend in Florence at one point and she said “ciao” to a woman and her elderly mother on the street. After they gave her the DIRTIEST look, I scolded her and told her that she can’t say that. She got really embarrassed and asked what she should have said, so I said “You should say ‘buon giorno’,” to which she turned around and shouted (because they were now thirty feet behind us) “BUON GIORNO!!!” They turned around, looked at her, and saw that I was a puddle of embarrassment on the floor, and asked me, “What’s wrong with your friend?” I had to explain, “È americana!” At which point they understood and we were all able to laughed about it.

M.E. Evans May 26, 2014 at 7:45 pm

haha! Really? I’m not surprised. It took me a really long time to get used to using formal language, too. I don’t know why. It is reeaally embarrassing.

Lauren August 20, 2014 at 9:39 pm

This is so helpful! It took me Awhile to get used to the cheek kissing living in hawaii!

livangie September 18, 2014 at 11:14 am

I’m italian and I live in Italy, many of these things are untrue, like american women aren’t seen like whores, and you don’t have to take a gift with you when you go at someone else’s house, and also the thing about sarcasm is false, the thing of the kiss ”first left then right, and don’t really kiss but just make the sound” is false, then not only in florence people love dogs.
The rest is true

melirey96 February 7, 2017 at 10:56 am

I always dreamed of living in Italy. My great great grandfather is from Italy. For an American to want to live in Italy, what would they need to do?

Zio Riccio October 28, 2014 at 5:24 pm

This is a ton of “oh-Europe-is-so-cultural” shit. “Oh-Italy is so traditional and interesting and you need to get used to it”. Fucking tourists, just relax and get on with the flow, and stop treating us like mobile circus attractions that do “weird and typically passionate” stuff, Peace… off

M.E. Evans October 28, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I don’t find Italians particularly interesting, honestly. I do find them to be more traditional than Americans in a certain sense of the word. I find Europeans less “weird,” and more “different,” in a way that isn’t negative or positive.

Angelo Pace May 11, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Born in Italy 1962 migrated to Australia 1968, my parents keep doing all the “traditional” things to this day. I returned for a brief visit 2011 after a 43 absence. I shared with family in Italy what my life has been since leaving my birth place and it was like we, in Australia, were stuck in time capsule. Things we do was what Italy used to do 43 years ago and no longer do.

Through your article and despite having raised in Australia I have a better understanding of why I am so different. Mille grazie 🙂 I do miss my country profoundly and am truly grieved not to have maintained a dual citizenship as things are SO difficult to rectify today.

Edoardo February 19, 2015 at 9:44 am

I’m Italian and I can be against your list in almost things about “sarcasm”, “man” and what they do. Maybe you live in Italy but i’m sure that you really don’t know how important is the family concept. It is the start of all the relationship and here such england and usa there are the liars but aboveall there are honest people, ready to help you in any occasion. Our society, although is broken in so many arguments expecially politicians, is so generous and full of love. May you don’t know that our country is helping everyday thousands of immigrants meanwhile they’re trying to arrive here aboard boats like fishing boats and the European Union turns his back, mind her own business. The fascism in Italy is disappeared, nobody is it, becouse should means being like devil. So, don’t you invent things that you already know they’re untrue, may you have an Italian dinasty and you don’t know becouse you think you’re American but perhaps you don’t know REAL AMERICANS don’t exist anymore since the English conquer in Northern America. Don’t you know why? Becouse the English “GOOD PEOPLE” have murdered them one by one. In the same time Italian killed a lot of Ebrew during the second world war, meanwhile Mussolini was at the power so… We all made our errors but NOW the most important thing is not to be racists against any people, against any man or woman, against any religions, becouse in this globalize world is the only thing that we can do. Italy loves America, i love America… It is the country that defense me anytime i need, but i’m sure that America doesn’t love us too. Byebye

Davide Cuda July 7, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Edoardo, se tu capissi il sarcasmo Yankee non avresti nemmeno commentato. Tutto il resto sono una montagna di fesserie, partendo dal fatto che “non ci sono fascisti in Italia”. Vallo a raccontare agli autobus carichi di idioti che ogni anno vanno a Predappio a fare la festa della merda e a quelli che votano Lega Nord.


PS: sorry, had to write this in Italian.

Shelly June 21, 2016 at 10:57 am

Oh yes, many Americans truly do love Italy and Italians. Some of us even dream of marrying an exciting, vibrant Italian, like a dream of marrying a prince. Your country is so beautiful and your culture is so interesting. I hope to visit one day, with my husband.

Maria Miller January 29, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Will like to move to Italy’s Country, I’m interested in learning about cooking from the country people. I’m 60 years old, retired and living in small amount, a non-drinker, non smoker and widow, will I be safe in Italy Country? – when I said “Country” I mean out of the city and traffic. Thank You

M.E. Evans January 29, 2017 at 6:35 pm

You will definitely be safe and probably have a wonderful time. 😘

Joe Verdi April 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

I would love to move to Italy but muslim refugees and Africans are coming over 1,000 a wk. by boat especially in silicy and there is a turf war going on between the Sicilians and the Africans.Things are changing but not for the better.Sorry but its a reality.

Sarajane March 25, 2015 at 8:11 am

Hi,i am sarajane from shillong meghalaya india, last year i went to visit in italy and i stayed in genova for 3 month, and i really like the italian culture,i dont understand their language but i went to school to learn its not so easy but i have learned a few words its really interesting i love the people they are too good.Italy is one of the best place i’ve ever been to.i like the people their because they really care about their family and some of them are really romantic its very cute
i surely will visit italy again someday

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Paolo BrunoPaolo May 12, 2015 at 5:53 am

I’m Italian and I love this post 😀 A lot of this 21 things are true 🙂
1) About sarcarm is not easy to understand the tone in other languages :°D
2) Yes, Gipsy and Mammoni people is a big problem 😀
3) ”first left then right, and don’t really kiss but just make the sound”, really is not true, maybe just the first time but from the second time you can give two very very big kisses 😀
4) About Fascism, it’s not fascism, just Extreme Right.

hugs and kisses 😀

Barbara May 25, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Sigh. You started off great, but finished off pretty poorly. I know you mean well, but some things you stated are rooted in xenophobia. First off, “gypsy” is a derogatory term used for people of the Roma and Sinti nomadic tribes. “Zingaro” is derived from a Greek term meaning “untouchable.” They have no “homeland,” because over the centuries, they have consistently been persecuted and treated as outcasts of society – forced into slavery, genocide (500,000 died in the Holocaust), expelled from towns, etc. There is no consensus as to where they originate, but while there is a large community of them currently in Romania, they are not ethnically Romanian. Yes, I know it’s difficult to deal with them, but the last thing that anyone should do is forget they are human and treat them like the scourge of the earth.

Secondly, your whole most rapists are Albanians thing is rooted in fear-driven stereotypes, and FYI those statistics are blown out of proportion by the notoriously hysterical media. Men rape. Not just Albanian men. Men of every ethnicity, race, creed. Albanians and Romanians in Italy are an oppressed minority, and the anti-immigrant sentiment is very often targeted at them.

It’s important to remember that xenophobia & racism manifests itself in many different ways and forms in Europe than it does in the U.S. Don’t typecast people, and definitely don’t publish an article that further pushes ignorant attitudes.

Here are a couple articles for you to read up on: http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/improving-rights-roma-italy


M.E. Evans May 27, 2015 at 1:14 am

Barbara, I don’t disagree with anything you’re saying. Both groups are not treated well in Italy and that sucks and I would hate to write something that perpetuates stereotypes. Not my goal.”Gypsy,” is a debated term that can go both ways, it can be both a term of endearment and a racial slur. It can mean people who are nomadic and who live an alternative lifestyle (which is how it’s often used in the US) and it can also be a racial slur for Romani people (who were thought to be from Egypt hence gypsy). I know the history of where the Italian Gypsies come from (India) and I’ve written about it here before in great length from a sympathetic standpoint. I use the word Gypsy in this case to reference the nomadic lifestyle, not to the ethnic group “Romani,” because I don’t think they are always the same group. Many Romani people work for a living and try their best, despite difficulty and oppression, to participate in society. I don’t feel like the people in Piazza Duomo represent all the Romani people. They seem to be more in line with the non-traditional-living nomads. Gypsy, I’ll agree, can be racist if you’re using it in a derogatory way referencing an ethnic group instead of a lifestyle. Gypsy (capitalized) is used by nomadic people who are not Romani to describe their way of life. The Romani are from India originally, and they have been mistreated historically as you accurately described during the holocaust, etc., and still are, for example, they’re not allowed to go to school in Italy from what I’ve read and heard. Totally not cool. It doesn’t change the fact that the nomadic Romani (as I’ll go ahead and call Gypsies since they’re living a non-traditional life) do beg aggressively and some will occasionally snatch money out of your hand at the train station if you’re not careful. I think the Romani should be given residency and their children should be allowed in Italian schools and they should be allowed to make roots anywhere they see fit and treated with the respect that they deserve. However, I’m not going to hand one of the Gypsy beggers (these people specifically, not to say that all Gypsies or nomadic people are beggers) in Piazza Duomo a 20 and then have them follow me around for 2 hours because of it (tried that, it’s a terrible idea). And the Albanian stats. They are pretty solid despite being super shitty and unfortunate and not what I’d consider representational of the Albanian people as a whole. Most of the reported rapes in Florence are American women accusing an Albanian attacker (emphasis on American woman more than Albanian attacker). In no way did I mean to imply that only Albanian men rape. That would be insane. Of course all men can and do rape (and of course Italians do it too…they’re also responsible for a lot of human trafficking in Florence). In fact I didn’t say “avoid Albanians.” Rather, I said that “many Albanians are great but the stats are this. Don’t get wasted and talk to guys you don’t know.” I did not write “don’t get wasted and talk to Albanians.” But those are the rape stats released in Florence and I think they do represent something important (namely that American women studying there seem to be targeted more than Italian women and that the accused is often a small undocumented group of Albanians-not Albanian’s who are residing legally in Italy like everyone else). While I don’t support people assuming that all Albanians are rapists (because they’re absolutely not) I’d feel just as uncomfortable not mentioning the city statistics (as of five years ago at least). That would be equally as shitty. I didn’t make the numbers and I’d cite them just the same if it said most rapes were by American men (wouldn’t be shocking given our rape culture). In terms of cultures with a high percentage of rape the US is king, since we have the rapiest, least safe, first world country.

Jimmy June 7, 2016 at 3:45 pm

All children are legally required to go to school, even gypsy children. Their parents sometimes refuse to let them attend.

orangejuice June 25, 2016 at 8:20 am

Gypsy in Italy are not allowed to go to school? WTF?? The government requires them to go to school!!! Social assistances try to intervenee in some cases but they REFUSE to send their children at school. They don’t want to integrate in the society, otherwise they would. The gypsy who you see begging in the streets are just a small part of their ethnic group. Many of them live in houses, send children to schools, work etc etc, so, if they WANT they can have a normal life in Italy. I read the girl in the previous comment who said italians are racist ’cause “they could give them food and stuff”, you have literally NO IDEA of how things are in Italy, regarding the “gypsy problem” if I can call it like that. If they refuse to integrate it’s not the italians who are racist, it’s their fault. Do you know that in some gypsy camps the POLICE is not allowed to enter? Do you think this is ok? Many times when the social assistances try to help them and want to enter their camp their get angry and start protesting. They don’t want help and prefer living beyond the law, sorry but that’s as simple as that.

sissi June 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm

I can agree with many things you say…but if you state that Italy is full of Fascists, I am sorry, but this mean you don’t even know what Fascism is.

M.E. Evans June 24, 2015 at 9:22 am

There are fascists in Italy. I read about them often in articles in the Repubblica, and Local.it, Vice, who have all frequently covered the rising fascism in Italy, especially in the last few years. There are extreme Fascist groups like Casa Pound. And even Italian documentary Filmmakers have filmed neo fascist gatherings (Italy, Love It or Leave It talks a lot about rising fascism in Italy). In Florence there is tons of pro fascism graffiti and large groups of young skinheads wandering around at night harassing immigrants. I don’t think that everyone is fascist, obviously, but compared to other countries, Italy has a growing neo fascist presence.

orangejuice June 30, 2016 at 6:24 am

“I don’t think that everyone is fascist, obviously, but compared to other countries, Italy has a growing neo fascist presence.” which other countries do you compare italy to? Because neonazi/fascist movements exist in Sweden, Norway, Germany etc etc especially nowadays, the intolerance has been increasing. That said, “casapound” in Italy is like a drop in the sea, a very VERY restricted and small group, just like in any other countries with a presence of this kind of intolerant movement. To get you the idea, casapound always run for local and national election and they alway get things like 0,0000000001 % of votes (basically their families and friends)…they’ve never been elected anywhere. I think you are describing this phenomenon in a way that seems far bigger than it actually is.

M.E. Evans June 30, 2016 at 6:50 am

Other countries, like the Canada or the US. Although, now that Trump is running, we are seeing racists rising in the US also.

KP October 10, 2015 at 3:45 am

Hi, thanks for a detailed post! I visited Italy last year with my wife and kid and had the most wonderful time there. Especially Florence! Wish I had read this before we visited! 🙂

We’re from India and I couldn’t help but point out what seems to be an inadvertent error in what you’ve mentioned about the Romanis! Yes, they originated from India (appear to have left the sub-continent about 1500 years ago) but from the north-western region (present day Rajasthan, etc.) and not the north-east! Wiki has a detailed description about a geneological study done in 2012 about this.

Danno October 14, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Your take on the Romani is funny. Americans have very simplistic views of societal or cultural history. Never a concept of historical context…Never. They wake up to a new world every day.
Yeah, Americans have it all figured out.

M.E. Evans October 15, 2015 at 9:20 am

By all means, educate us. Keep in mind that this article isn’t about the Romani people, it’s a light-hearted, list on things Americans will typically be intrigued or surprised by, given the cultural differences. So please, in less than one paragraph tell me what I missed about the Romani people and I’ll add it. I’m fairly certain that I included a brief historical overview. So what else would you add in a few sentences? Enlighten us, oh brilliant one.

Andrea Langdon November 3, 2015 at 6:27 am

Love your post! It’s so informative and helpful. I’m moving to work in Italy in the middle of the next year and it’s so great to read form someone who’s been through all this, lived in Italy and felt it’s spirit. Thank you for sharing your experience!

h February 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Super insightful!!

Scott March 3, 2016 at 1:02 am

Right on! I married an Italian girl from southern Italy! The only thing I would say is off-base (and probably is the difference between south and north…I gather you are in Toscana?) is number 10. Reaching across the table is par for the course. It feels more rude to interupt someone to have them pass you something, then to even stand up and reach across the whole table. People will pass things if they notice, but reaching is more common. Also, nobody here waits for everyone to start eating. In fact sometimes they begin before everyone is seated or even in the room. As soon as food hits the table eating begins. Usually this is just snacking on bread, meats and cheese as the pasta is being prepared. Then of course the pasta is dished out and everyone eats as soon as they receive their plate. I have found this lack of waiting to be refreshing and also noticed it in Spain. Interesting it is common to wait in the north here.
Ciao Ciao!!!

Diego Fleitas March 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Great and helpful! Thanks to share your experience! I’d love to live in Italy for a while, either to work or study. 🙂

Anna Maria Migliozzi June 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Hi Guys my parents are Italian but I was born and raised in London,U.K.I spent all of my holidays in Naples,Italy with most my family and lived in Florence for 1 year with my Autie and cousin.Ive never been to America so I can’t comment on how Americans are.All I can tell you is that Italian girls/women are sweet and kind not bitchy like British women.Italians except and integrate other cultures much more then British women.As a child growing up in London in early 80’s I was very badly bullied by white British children.Whereas I was very much loved and cared for in Italy.As I grew up British culture I much much worse:teenagers just having one night stands,taking drugs and getting drunk.In Italy my teenage cousins and friends had romantic partners and there family’s looked out for them and got to know them and encouraged them as they got older to be engaged and move in together.There is a complete seperation between Iyalian and British culture.As for immigrants lots of real British people don’t work and are racist against immigrants who live in Britain(including Italians) and tell us to go back home.Italians never tell British or Americans to go back home.British people are very grumpy Italians are lovely they smile and welcome you and are very cool with kids.Not like Britain they hate kids.Is so funny how British or Americans judge us Italians from living in Italy only for a small pierod of time clearly showing they’ve never actually inter grated and tried to be Italian.Whereas us Italians especially here in Britain really integrate and an honestly say Eventhough theres a lot of work in Britain,and our pay is 3 times as much as Italy, there is a special love a happiness in Italy that money can’t buy.I suspect that’s why most Brits and Americans can’t accept.Theres just a massive irony as everytime I turn on the tv there’s British people on there immigrating to Italy because they love the people and lifestyle so much.God bless Italy it is a magical place full of love .Haters will always hate.I suspect there not happy with there own lives.Oh by the way atleast Italian men are fit and know how to make love not like crude British guys who are soooo unromantic and crap at love making!! Just like you have you’re opinion I have mine.Its actually really disrespectful to criticise another culture and country just from visiting it especially when everyone in the world loves it and thats the reason that you went there.

RagazzAmbulante June 26, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Obviously you’ve never been to the Veneto! 😀 I totally agree with what you’re saying, but want to add that from my experience these are more characteristics of the south of Italy. I was chatting a while ago with a man from Bari, and he told me that in the south they’re very open and accepting of other cultures because they’re used to immigrants. Bari has been an important port city between Europe, Africa and the Middle East for CENTURIES. Meanwhile, you OFTEN hear in the Veneto people talking about all these immigrants that need to go home, though they’re mostly talking about those from, once again, Africa and the Middle East. I have had some people tell me I need to go back to the US, but that’s a different story because they think life is SOOOOOO much better over there and they can’t fathom why I would have chosen to come here of my own accord.

Then, the women here do tend a little more to a little more to “avere il puzzo sotto il naso”. They can be really nasty, and they are not what I would call friendly. I have not made one really good famale friend since I moved here 2 years ago, all my closest friends are either women from other cultures, or men. But that is something I find fascinating about Italy, that the culture can differ so much between north and south.

M.E. Evans June 28, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Hmmm. This is the opposite of my experience and every other expat in Italy that I know. I’ve experienced lot of racism and anti-foreign/immigration sentiments in both central Italy and the south. I’ve been yelled at in the street by fascist kids “get out of Italy!” And one tried to spit on me when he heard my American accent. My Italian family is also super racist. I’ve only made a few Italian friends that are women, and they are all southern or were born in the south, but for the most part Italian women are not warm and open. In fact, they’re far more closed than any American woman I’ve ever met. My family is multicultural, foreign cultures and concepts are definitely not new to me. I was shocked in Italy by how ethnocentric people can be (can be, not everyone is), and how close-minded they could be about other cultures. I’ve spent equal time between the “north,” and the south and I’ve yet to witness an entire culture of saints. I know a lot of Italians who are total badasses and I adore them but to no entire population is full of good people who are super duper nice and warm. That utopia doesn’t exist, anywhere. Unfortunately.

Fots July 28, 2016 at 6:15 pm

And its so lovely how Italians generalize Brits and Americans. It’s so interesting how people are not able to read things anymore with the perspective of an opinion. Is it possible for us to just say everyone has a different view and experience that is unique. The over generalizing on everyone’s part is quite ridiculous. You don’t know all Brits or Americans…All Americans don’t chase money and do not feel superior to other countries. I think we can all say that each of us will experience countries and peoples differently based on what we experience, who me meet along the way, based on our likes and dislikes.

IT/US from Europe October 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

1 and 14… sexist much?
The thing about touchy-feely men is not true. Only a small percentage of guys kiss other guys on the cheek. This trend is definitely dying out.

The “ciao”thing? Absolutely untrue.

Most of the items have some truth in them but you embellished or simply invented for shock value.

In all of Europe you will find people living with their parents partially due to the economic crisis and because people travel more, and more and more people come from mixed families.

The rape story is a scare story and false. Millions of women never report sexual assault because it is so common everywhere and never persecuted as it should be. Anyone can be a perpetrator as anyone can be a victim. Don’t be lulled in a false sense of security just because the man isn’t Albanian.

Mary imogen Kinnamon November 8, 2016 at 8:41 pm


Mary imogen Kinnamon November 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm

What I love about Italian men is the they are sexist, they are always complimentary ~ u can walk out to get espresso looking pretty are but they will always find something nice to say, like, “Beautiful eyes!” ” Bella, bellisima”~ different than sleazy American guys & their “appraisals”, sounds, etc, the Italians have an appreciation of females

mary diorio December 21, 2016 at 5:16 am

I haven’t enjoyed an article this much in a long time. And I’ve NEVER laughed out loud over one.
I lived for 23 yrs of my life, the very best yrs, in Italy, bringing up my only child and working both as an American, then as an Italian.
Now, 23 yrs after returning to the US for what I’d hoped would never be this long, I want only to spend what is left of my life back in Italy. If wishes were kisses….
This is a great article because it’s true, written with such humour and apparent love and respect for Italy, I must thank you.
ps. about gypsies, I must say I thought I was Sooo smart.. but while a little gypsy girl cried to me on the street, her mother was able to lift my wallet. I NEVER felt a thing! All this while I was trying desperately to calm the child (an actor deserving of the Davide Donatello) and decipher what language she was sobbing! No, you really need to be less trusting in italy. But once you catch on to and fall in love with the life, it’s truly enjoyable and beautiful.
I was never as happy, HEALTHY or more alive, as when I lived in Rome.

elizabeth February 13, 2017 at 11:03 pm

Thank you for your candor. How hard is it to immigrate from the US to Italy? I tried doing it the ancestral way and I have kind of given up on trying to figure out if my relatives forfeited their Italian citizenship when they immigrated here.

M.E. Evans February 14, 2017 at 7:25 am

Well, the easiest way is to marry someone. Otherwise, you can try to get a work visa (nearly impossible) or live there as a student for five years and then apply for citizenship. The ancestral way is probably the easiest without marrying someone.

Lea March 26, 2017 at 1:37 pm

I really enjoyed this article and it’s energy. Thank you for the insight!

S April 28, 2017 at 5:42 am

I loved this. Candid, fair to all, realism.

Rosa Farneti May 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm

hahahahahahahahaahaa. I am Italian !!! If you reach over the table , to get something yourself while other’s are trying to eat, is sign of disrespectfull.. I mean doesn’t clickin your head . Don’t you have any common sense?? You shouldn’t put your hand in front of anyone’s face and their plate, trying to reach for whatever. You do not do that!! You don’t have any idea of our Galateo???? ( manners while you are eating with others.)


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