17 Signs That Italy Might Make You Crazy And Possibly Homicidal

Italy is a beautiful country and there’s absolutely no denying that. However, when you live in Italy for a while there are certain things that can take some getting used to, and some things that you’ll never get used to, and those things will make you insane. A friend of mine refers to expats in categories based on how well-suited people were to move to Italy in the first place. I’m not exactly sure which category I’d fit into because honestly I can identity with pretty much all of them. There is a part of me that is the Hopeless Romantic: I’ll always love and appreciate small things like bright flowers against stone buildings, entire families sitting down to wine and dine, and old women, widows, in black strolling the streets together. I’m also a Snob: Living in Italy because it’s just classier and a little more “cultured.”At times I’m the Adventurer: I love Italy’s close proximity to other parts of the world. And then, for many months out of the year, I am the Ren-Fair expat. The Ren-Rair expat is a word that my friend coined that means, “renaissance fair” expat, an outcast, quirky but also creepy, bitter, and a little bit insane (to be honest that’s kind of me even in the US…so….

For the Italophiles out there, you’re thinking, “oh no! Not me! If I had a chance to live in Italy, oh boy! I’d enjoy every minute of it!” And you know, you’d probably enjoy most of it but then something totally crazy will happen that can only happen in Italy and you’re suddenly like, “I NEVER WANT TO SEE PEOPLE AGAIN! FUCK THIS PLACE!” Then you don’t leave your apartment for a week except to walk your dog while you hiss at people who pass you on the sidewalk. It’s part of living the immigrant life in a country that could not possibly be more different than most other places on earth. So, here is a list of reasons that Italy might make you (temporarily or permanently) insane:

1.You function best with rules, order, and structure.


2. In elementary school you excelled at standing in line. Lines are “fair,” and you love that they exist.


3. You use the internet to gather most of your information. In fact, Siri makes most of your dinner reservations for you. (Didn’t know she could do that? SHE TOTALLY CAN!)

mostly because this is just good....way to promote relational living


4. You conduct most of your business online, via email, or again, by having Siri write text messages for you.


5. You were born in North America and you expect people to do what they say they’ll do. You’re direct and quickly get to the point. When people are verbose it irritates the shit out of you.

21 Ways You Will Drive Your Friends Crazy After Studying Abroad


6. Screaming and yelling freaks you out because you associate screaming with punching, stabbing, and gun violence.

Italian Humor haha @Sharon Macdonald Macdonald Macdonald Villanti @Maria Canavello Mrasek Canavello Mrasek Neves

It’s Got My Name On It @Pinterest

7. You’re independent. People telling you what to do will make you tantrum out. (This is me. I become a six-year-old when bossed around).


8. You don’t speak any Italian at all and don’t intend to start anytime soon.

9. The idea of “trying” to make friends seems exhausting.

10. As far as you’re concerned this is a perfectly acceptable way to hold a dinner conversation: “I’ve read that babies actually pee in the womb. Did you read that article on gray matter and the mental development between the sexes? A monkey bit me in Thailand so I probably have some kind of contagious monkey disease.”

Sperlonga, Italy

11. You have a vagina.


12. You really want to get married before you turn fifty-five.


13. Money is very important to you and you want to live somewhere that provides you the opportunity to make a lot of it.


14. The idea of your in-laws packing your suitcases, ironing your underwear and sheets, or possibly moving into your house is terrifying. The idea keeps you up at night.


15. When buying a panini you expect to see people wash their hands after fondling money.


16. You do not like dogs and do not understand why there are ten in your favorite restaurant in Florence. Also, did the waiter seriously just bring them a bowl of ham?(p.s. YOU SUCK! What kind of psycho doesn’t like dogs? Asshat.)


17. “Breakfast” to you is a relaxing time where you enjoy a massive cup of coffee and possibly a yogurt or eggs. The idea of standing up and taking a shot of coffee is not very comforting, especially on a cold day.

Coffee and Culture. My recent article in The Florence Newspaper.

Coffee and Culture. Florence Newspaper.

57 thoughts on “17 Signs That Italy Might Make You Crazy And Possibly Homicidal

  1. “15. When buying a panini you expect to see people wash their hands after fondling money” – I tend to not look anymore at these things because I would throw up everytime I see people handle meat with no gloves after scratching their butt, so far I have been free of food sickness so let’s cross our fingers..

    • I do the exact same thing. I order and then pick up Oliver and play with him or something to avoid watching the horror behind the counter. Hahaha. The worst was once the guy sneezed INTO HIS HAND, then grabbed a handful of salami. I didn’t eat the sandwich, I gave the meat to my pup and just grabbed a juice. Shockingly, I still haven’t had food poisoning either.

      • I am from Italy, I am an expat in the Netherlands, though. I find this so weird to hear, I’ve been living in Italy for 18 years of my life, and I have rarely seen such a thing, honestly. I tend to see these dirty habits abroad more than Italy, and trust me, I am not talking like this because I want to defend my country. It can happen, as it happens everywhere, but Italians usually tend to be pretty clean, compared at least to the average European country. I rarely have to ask for a new fork in Italy, because I already found it dirty at a restaurant, but I have to ask for a new one 8 times out of ten in the Netherlands, or Spain, or wherever else I go in Europe (and trust me, I travel a lot).
        And honestly, I live with a bunch of Americans here, and no offense, but I think that your habits are also considered “dirty” in Italy (such as, walking barefoot mostly everywhere, wtf?!)

    • I’m an expat living in Florence and also married to an Italian, so I can see some of your same frustration. However I have to admit that I find this particular accusation in terms of food service kind of ridiculous. I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens in both the US and here in Florence, have run bar in both countries and now co-own a cafè with my husband. I’ve seen a lot of food handling over the last decade, particularly the kind that happens out of customers’ sight, and I have to warn you: if you think Italians mishandle foodstuffs, never, ever, enter another American restaurant as long as you live. Besides the fact that laws are more stringent and exacting in Italy than they are in the States, the culture of cleanliness is generally FAR superior, particularly in the industry. Wearing gloves regularly? Testing fridge temperatures? Washing your hands after using the toilet? I don’t think I ever saw a fellow cook do those things in the States, but they ALL do it in Tuscany (I won’t speak for anywhere south of here). Oh yeah, and that whole spitting in an obnoxious customer’s food? It’s practically tradition in the US, but an Italian wouldn’t dream of it. So be glad you’re eating your salami here.

      • I don’t think that anyone is talking about restaurants, this was a light-hearted joke about panini. I’ve actually never heard anyone say that the sandwich places they frequent practice amazing hygiene, something tells me that maybe you haven’t lived in Italy for very long but I could be wrong. If you’ve ventured to a lot of panini places (particularly the famous ones in Florence), I’m surprised you haven’t noticed that a lot of people don’t always wash their hands, they don’t always wear gloves, and they frequently handle money and food simultaneously. One of them that I’m thinking of right now doesn’t even have a sink so that must make hand-washing kind of difficult. The number of restaurants closed every year in Italy for being absolutely gross is probably lower than in the US but it still happens (in fact, there is usually a news story every year about restaurants being closed all over from the North to the South for gross practices). I worked in restaurants all through college and none of them did anything gross to the food in the US (none that I’ve worked at, I definitely know that it happens all the time). My husband (Italian), just read your comment and said, “Well, the restaurants I worked at in Italy did gross things to the food so I don’t know what she’s talking about,” so I think it’s unfair to assume that it doesn’t happen in Italy. Nobody is saying that Italy is a gross place and everyone is nasty, but from what I’ve seen it’s pretty common practice (not everyone does it, but many, many do) to handle sandwiches and money without washing hands. I’ve seen it at least 100 times in my 5 years in the country, probably because I’m a germ freak and I watch for it.

      • It’s unfortunate that you make assumptions about how long I’ve lived here or where I eat. I wasn’t at all attempting to one up you or your experience. However, that said, I will inform you that I’ve lived here longer than you have and worked in the food industry in Italy and the United States as much more than a student waitress. I wasn’t discussing practices from the point of view of an expat, I was doing so from that of someone whose profession is this sector and whose experience is vast. I simply wanted to point out that it seemed an unfair thing to say, particularly as an American, where industry practices are sometimes, though not always, much worse.

        On the other hand, numbers 1, 2, 11, and 14 I think deserve a standing ovation. My husband and I are expecting our first child and I think that birth terrifies me far less than my mother in law’s intentions to move in afterwards in order to “help”. Please, lord, no…

        Your blog is lovely and well written. I meant no offense, I was simply a bit offended myself, to be honest, since I’ve been making panini in Florence for more than 6 years, and I take my love of food very seriously, just like my husband and our colleagues.

      • I wasn’t offended by your comment or trying to be rude at all, definitely wasn’t trying to one-up you, I have just never, ever heard anyone say that the hygiene at sandwich places is amazing as a whole. Sure, clean places exist, but they are usually overshadowed by the kind of icky ones. I could email you at least five that you can go to tomorrow and they absolutely don’t wash their hands or wear gloves, ever. I think we clearly frequent different places (and I should probably start going where you go because it sounds like less hepatitis B. I’m sure that the panini place that you run is very clean and is probably delicious and badass. I’m sorry if number 17 offended you. It’s meant to be light and not offensive.

        First and foremost, congrats on the baby! I don’t know your mother-in-law but if she’s anything like mine you might want to get a padlock for your door. And some earplugs. And practice screaming, “NO! NO! NO!” Although, honestly, that’s never helped me and she still does whatever she wants anyway. Also, so far, nobody knows what I mean by “swaddle” the baby, so if you plan on doing that let me know how that conversation goes because I’d be curious about how it plays out.

    • I feel like I need to bring up the “refusing to sneeze or cough in their hand, but only behind their shoulder in air, where either I or some other unwilling victim is lurking” and you need to write an entire post on the spread of germs. I have been sneezed at IN THE FACE by my boss without any apology/remorse whatsoever…

  2. I think I have gone crazy. I try to tell my sister in law that I love her and her family. She runs out of the house crying, my wife(Italian of course) screamers at me that I have no eyes to see that I have emotionally overwhelmed my sister in law and that I am an Idiot!,,,,
    14 years of trying, and I still don’t get it.
    I may never return to Italy, leave our house here in southern Italy and our home in Florida to her, buy an RV, and disappear into the mountains of western USA. How can these people be so FUCKING crazy. I feel like I have to dance a waltz to say, your ok, WTF?
    American totally driven insane.

    • Marti, that sounds really complicated! Hang in there! We’ve all be there with the cultural misunderstandings and the confusion. That was basically my every day, some days it’s better, some days it’s more difficult, but just know you’re not alone. All of us are right behind you and have totally had to deal with similar misunderstandings.

    • Marti, hang in there, man. We all “married” into this Italian family called, “Crazy.” But remember, we’re operating over here with an American mentality. Of course, some things are going to seem looney tunes to us. Especially the emotional/relationships stuff. I don’t blame you for wanting to leave “La Dolce Vita” and moving out to the Mesa with your Winnebago. I’m slowly, but surely planning my cob house in Joshua Tree as I type this.

      Italians are as crazy as any other group of people, no more, no less. But look at it this way, perhaps the great food, beautiful landscape, and proximity to an anarchist state should even up the bounty a bit… Corraggio! We liberated this country, it would be a real shame if we all jumped ship and left them to their own devices…. (trust me, you’re torturing them as much as they’re torturing you).

  3. There could be so many more. I’ll just do a quicky: You expect that shop owners will have the right amount of change when you purchase something.

  4. HAHAH.. you know how to make a girl smile. I am currently dealing with number 7, I never thought I would become my seven year old self again, yet it happens. often. *sigh
    6) I am struggling to shout, after being trained to use a calm voice, yelling to talk feels alien to me. I end up whispering or something.
    8) I only can speak Italian with people that I know speak absolutely no English.
    9. I can make friends –with other foreigner girls. No luck with Italian girls
    15) This was the biggest adjustment…I try to look away

    • I’ve been there, too. I still struggle to speak Italian with my friends who I know are fluent in English. Also, I’m only friends with a few Italians myself. The cultural differences can certainly make it difficult for both parties. I’m now a professional screamer.

  5. Yesterday I caught up with another American woman at our sagra. She’s been here for several years, much longer than myself. I don’t think she’s talked with anyone in a long time about her feelings about being an American in Italy because she was screaming pretty angrily about Italy’s inability to make lines or park cars. Anyways, I’m going to pass this along to her with a tranquillizer (I just read you can get ketamina at the pharmacy – wowza) and hope she feels better. Thanks!

    • It honestly always helps to know that you’re not alone. I’ve found that a lot of expats feel like they sound “ungrateful” to complain or like they’re disappointing people, but being an immigrant in another country is DIFFICULT. It’s normally to lose your shit every once in a while.😉

  6. Unfortunately, all of the above describes me (except for the vagina part!), so I’m in big trouble when in Italy. I’ve had some of the same experiences and don’t know if I could handle living there, especially the insane bureaucracy, but I’d sure like to try. Also, I agree with the previous comment, looking forward to reading your book when it’s finished.

    • Thank you Richard! Well, I think that moving abroad is a challenge for everyone but it’s definitely worth it. It really broadens your view of things, while making you simultaneously insane. Honestly, a year or two abroad can be good for the soul, if you don’t go mad. haha. You should do it! And when you struggle, we’ll all be here to remind you that you’re not the only one losing it.😉

  7. This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. So creative. Must have taken many hours. Last year I (English and Germanic ancestry – the only way I could tell if a parent was mad at me is if they raised an eyebrow) spent several weeks in Italy with my best friend (Italian ancestry). Need I say more? I’m in Prague now with my friend where the Czechs wait for the walk sign BEFORE they cross the street. She’s impatient with this behavior, but I’m in heaven! Keep writing, PLEASE! Oh, BTW, my late husband was of Italian descent. When we visited his family for the first time in NY, well, you can imagine….

  8. Hi, I loved this and for a long time I did feel alone in what are normal living in Italy senario’s..I actually get called the German because I teach ballet and therefore I am teaching a discipline with that that is required if you want a career in dance, it is required for more than just dance..I am not German, I am Scottish. The shouting thing, Ha!!! When I moved to Montelupo, I had a friend who shouted and shouted and interupted, so I had to shout to be heard, exhausting!! And…if you make a plan you honour it right….grrrrr and they are always late!!!!..Thank you for this blog, I don’t feel alone….

    • You’re not alone Catarina! There are thousands of us going through all of the same things, struggling with the same frustrations of being a foreigner. Just remember, we’ve all been there, and even on days when you feel crazy, just remember we’re probably all feeling a little crazy, too.

  9. My in-laws are Brazilian and sound very similar. I love my mother-in-law so much, and she’s pretty good about giving me space, but she does things like go through my laundry basked and take my underwear out to wash it by hand (and then iron it, of course). She also makes comments about stuff that American mothers-in-law might not, like my feet being too dry and how much I feed my kids.

  10. Great post. When I explain these things to Italians they think I’m just crazy/difficult and when I tell them all the other “expats” feel EXACTLY the same way and consistently validate my opinions, well, they tend to change the subject! I go completely crazy at least once a year. I have been here for 10 years. And guess what? It doesn’t ever get much better (actually the more you know/understand the worse it is – romantic newbies beware). Clearly I’m a masochist!

    • You’re not alone. We’ve all been on the roller coaster that is living abroad. Just remember on days when shit gets really difficult and you’re going crazy, I’ve been crazy, too. I’ve thrown tantrums, I’ve screamed, regressed, cried, complained, been humiliated, and also experienced the magic and awesome of living in another world. Some weeks there’s a cataclysm of whatthefuck! Other weeks I’m chugging wine in an olive grove. We’re all in this together.😉

      • BIanca, 10 years!??! You’re a Queen! I’ve only been in oliveland for 3 years, and I’m about to cap somebody. (I’m a Philly girl and also a Virgo, so now we know where my tolerance level for crap lies…..) I lost my mind a long time ago. Thank goodness for Misty and her blog – she saved me from going on a Godzilla rampage…..

    • True. I’ve been here 2 decades and I’ve learned to avoid pitfalls or keeping an arm’s length to those I know would not be to my liking. I used to say to my late husband and his sister, “why is it that when I go to visit his sister with enthusiasm, I always come back home all frazzled and upset.” They couldn’t understand me.

  11. You keep hitting the head on the nail! Never before has someone had the “fegato”/courage to write and tell it like it is. I’ve had to delete my Italian ex-colleague of my late Italian husband who I’ve considered a friend but the moment I have to express my unpleasant or even disgusting experiences I’ve had living here, she’d jump and ready to hammer me down. Hey, this is a Democratic country. I love Italy very much but there is no perfection in this world, therefore, allow me to share those culturally-shocking experiences that I’ve had since living here!
    (Meta M on Google+) (Metina Rachmatika on FB).

  12. Pingback: First Time On Surviving In Italy? | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  13. Awesome blog, awesome post, very relatable, very true…it’s a struggle if you have a different cultural background to assimilate the Italian way of life. Speaking of coffee, I was at first looked upon for taking my coffee “da portare via” (to go) , because I’m already in a “bar”, so where the hell am I going with it, anyways? :)) Far, far away from the morning small talk, which is intrusive by the way, I heard a lot of bowel movements and gross stuff kids do conversations before 9 a.m.😉 I am also a disgrace for ruining coffee with milk or water…Ordering an “Americano” in an old fashioned Italian bar takes a lot of guts, because it’s.just.wrong :))

  14. It’s great to see you’re not affected by the “if you don’t like it here GO HOME!!!” mentality that Italians often throw at you when you’re a foreigner and not completely besotted with everything in the country. (Or if you are, that you’re braving the many many angry Italians who may want your head for the many honest posts on the blog.) Keep it up!

    • I do get some pretty pissed off Italians, some pretty pissed of Americans, and everyone in-between. But, most of the people who come here realize that it’s my personal experience and it’s also a humor blog so I’m lucky that most of the readers are badasses, like yourself.😉

  15. OMG! this sounds like you are talking about my County (Nigeria), shouting, in-laws,not saying what you mean….etc. i would totally fit into the madness.its hilarious…lol.

  16. Quanti stereotipi tutti in una volta! I am an Italian living in the US…should I start? Ma no, non ne ho voglia…ce ne sarebbe per troppo tempo. Regards

    • Kind of dramatic, no? You should check out my post regarding what is or is not considered a stereotype (and also keep in mind that this is a fun, humor blog). In the US? I’d love for you to give a whack at it. I’m not a nationalist by any means and I’m pretty sure I could do a wonderful job making fun of the US. Want me to start? There are a ton of fat people, most people don’t walk further than to their cars in the garage or parking lot, the food is often toxic at best, we’re obsessed with rules and laws (to the point of being obnoxious tattle-tales), etc, etc., etc. Give it a go. I’m sure I’ll find it entertaining.

      • Well actually, she’s the epitome of a stereotype. An Italian woman living in the USA and bitching in Italian about an American writing a blog about her personal observations and experiences in Italy…..

        Mara, calma cara. La vita è troppo corto….. Questo blog è solamente l’esperienze di lei. E per ridere. Beve un po è rilassarsi.

        Grazie mille.

        Cordiali saluti.

  17. Hey!
    Nice post, I really love your blog and it’s so hilarious to me as italian😀

    Could you please tell me, if you know, the title/artist of the pic n°11? I have been looking for that for a long time!

  18. Very comforting post and comments ! Even if Point #15 is the same everywhere I’m afraid, even if Point #5 can be felt exactly the same by non-American foreigners who speak Italian very well (such as me!), and even if Point #6 doesn’t mention yelling from caused insanity, on the other side😉
    I’m French (with Italian ancestry) and I’ve been living and working in Italy for 5 years.
    It is so hard sometimes …. many many thanks for your post🙂🙂
    Ciao, buona fortuna, buon proseguimento !!
    Continuerò a leggerti perché mi sa’ che potrà divertirmi ed aiutarmi🙂

  19. Living in Greece and #1 and #7 is the biggest struggle, I have been told so many times that plans change! And don’t get me started on what I should and shouldn’t do! It’s like I must have not learned anything in my life before I moved here and my opinions are irrelevant! More Wine and thanks again for this post, it goes to show we are not alone!🙂

  20. Love your blog! Been to Italy many times and would give anything to live there. You’re so lucky! The art, the music, the food, the wine and incredible scenic beauty!! Living the good life in Calif. but still yearn for Italia!!!

  21. Numbers 1-7. #7 made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants followed closely by #5. I’m in a new relationship with an Italian man and currently spending 2 months with him in Italy. He thinks it’s normal to order me around and I am like WTF? Do you think you might try adding please to the sentence and make it a request instead of an order? Or maybe try NOT telling me what I should be doing or where I should be doing it? Or worse, he makes plans for me without consulting me. And he is unable to a) answer a direct question with a direct answer and b) stick to any kind of plan at all. It’s maddening and does make me feel a bit homicidal.

    I have to say it was comforting to know that it is cultural and not just him. He is trying really hard to say please.

    He asked me why I was laughing so hard, so I shared this article with him and we laughed about it together. I think we came up with about 10 more things that can throw me over the edge.

    Today he just asked if I would stay another month. I think I need real technology and real breakfast for a while.

    • Oh god, seems like you’re writing about my situation haha, it’s definately a hate/love thing lol…. And he almost never wants to go along with my plans especially things like going to the theatre, opera, travelling outside of Italy etc. He has tried hard tho … It’s all very challenging to say the least…. and I must be a kind of masochista myself to enjoy the ride 😂

  22. ME, got a minute? We have been living here in Milano are for 3 months and today might be the day I lose it. If I had read this list before we moved, I would have better ascertained how wrong I am for Italy. But today … today, the crazy repairman our cheap landlady uses to do everything (though I’m quite sure he is certified to do nothing) decided to try to solve the massive hornet nest problem (burrowed into an exterior wall of the house) by blocking their entry hole with a giant wad of masking tape!!!??!?! Yep, nothing turns the tide on African hornets like masking tape. Now they’re just swarming mad all over the side of the house. Honest to Pete, you can’t make this cap up. This is only one of the thousand paper cuts. Italy was a romantic dream but the reality has been more of a dark comedy.

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