Last week, I shared five things I despise most about living in Italy. I realize I may have ruffled some feathers with that post, and also might have come across as ungrateful and cynical; but, I refuse to conceal the ‘ugly’ of moving abroad. As I wrote in a recent Instagram caption,
“Living in Italy isn’t always sharing-a-plate-of-spaghetti-with-your-lover-while-someone-plays-the-accordion, or riding-a-Vespa-down-a-seaside-mountain-on-a-sunny-day glamorous”.
However, there are two sides to every coin; so, today, I share with you five reasons why you should move to Italy.
(Again, these are just my opinions and observations as an Italian-American living in Italy.)
1. Pizza, pasta & gelato
Enough said. Food, whether cooking or consuming it, is an art here. From start to finish, Italians are meticulous throughout the process of preparing a meal. They are patient, skillful and use only the best ingredients in their dishes–fresh produce, aromatic herbs, quality cheeses and carefully cured meats. Italians are able to distinguish appreciating and savoring food from simply gorging on and inhaling it. The former is one of the things I admire most about this beautiful country–Italian cuisine is cherished and celebrated. Food is so much more than a means to nutrition; it is tradition, pleasure and the bedrock of Italian society.
The variety of flavors and dishes throughout the twenty regions is also extraordinary. You will not find the same cuisine, say, in Calabria as you would in Veneto. The fantastic news, though, is that regardless of where you travel to in Italy, your palate will not be disappointed!
2. Lifestyle and attitude
The Italian lifestyle is exceptionally different from that of the States. In Italy, especially in the south, taking it easy is the law of the land. Of course, in larger cities such as Milano, it’s ironically difficult to take it easy; but the Italians–compared to Americans–tend to possess an effortlessly laid-back attitude. They, like most Europeans, take their time in the mundanities of the day-to-day, while simultaneously striving to stretch every second of it. Simple activities such as meeting with friends or going for post-dinner walks are pleasurable (recurring theme here!) for Italians. Speaking of walks, Italians generally have a more active lifestyle and spend a lot of time outdoors. They prioritize experiences over material things, especially traveling and exploring other cultures. I have yet to meet an Italian who hasn’t traveled beyond the boot, and that includes toddlers….
3. Scenic landscapes in every region
One of the best parts about living in Italy is that every landscape resembles a painting. Whether it’s driving in the north towards France with the Alps as the backdrop, or sunbathing on crisp, white sand along the Adriatic in Puglia, everywhere you look is a stunning masterpiece of nature.
To be honest, I have not traveled nearly enough in the U.S. to be able to say that this is not true back home. However, the New York City skyline–as gorgeous and breathtaking as it is–simply does not measure up to the Italian mountains, hillsides, valleys, lakes, rivers, beaches, seas, islands, volcanoes and waterfalls.
4. Rich culture steeped in history
Birthplace of one of the greatest civilizations in the world, Italy is an utter paradise for history mega nerds like myself. Although I touched upon the Italian culture a little bit in each of the previous three items, the country’s history is truly remarkable and deserves its own section. Roma, the nation’s capital and my favorite city in the world, is a labyrinth of ancient treasures and historical treats. Wandering around and reveling among the ruins, you’re immediately transported to the days of the Roman empire. The history of the peninsula, of course, did not begin with the creation of the Roman empire; but, this specific period remains a personal favorite of mine to explore. While each and every region bears its own compelling past, a few of my favorite historical cities in Italy are:
- Torino (Piemonte)
- Siena (Tuscany)
- Florence (Tuscany)
- Paestum (Campania)
- Matera (Basilicata)
- Gallipoli (Puglia)
5. Easy travel within Italy and around Europe
Another aspect I thoroughly enjoy about living here is the ease with which I can travel to other Italian cities. Salerno is just a five-hour express train ride from Milano, and a flight from Palermo to Venice is just under two hours. We often take day-trips by car to nearby cities and towns, as well.
Additionally, Europe is a relatively small continent, so travel among many European countries is pretty cheap. When I studied abroad six years ago, a flight from Marseille, France to Porto, Portugal cost me just under €35! Since Italy borders four nations in the north (France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia), it’s very easy to explore different cultures without spending a ton of money.
Truthfully, sometimes just staying in Milano and discovering the different neighborhoods is enjoyable all on its own. As an expat/immigrant/foreigner/whatever noun I classify myself as, that’s the best part of living in a city that is not mine–every day is a new experience, and every experience is another opportunity to explore!