From USA to Italy - Expat Interview With Michelle Fabio

Published: 29 Nov at 3 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Italy
MIchelle Fabio is an attorney-turned-freelance writer and editor. Since 2003, Michelle has lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, where she fell in love with a local named Paolo and now savors simplicity one sip at a time at her blog Bleeding Espresso (see listing here) via discussions of mindfulness, living a deliberate life, and appreciating small pleasures, including preparing meals with fresh, local ingredients. She is the Managing Editor of Gemelli Press, a boutique publisher dedicated to the bel paese, official blogger for, and mum to two dogs, many hens, two ducks, and two goats, which she writes about at Goat Berries. She has written The Art of the Law School Personal Statement (a guide for law school applicants), co-written the Unofficial Guide to Nutella with fellow Italy expat Sara Rosso, helps law students write application essays at the Personal Statement Artist, and is working on her first novel.

Bleeding Espresso

Here's the interview with MIchelle...

Where are you originally from?
I'm from a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania, USA.

In which country and city are you living now?
I live in my ancestors' medieval village, Badolato in Calabria, Italy.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved here in 2003 and have no plans of leaving.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved because I wanted to experience my ancestors' village and way of life for a year or so; after that year I decided to make things more permanent. I'm a former attorney and freelance writer and editor, and I'm also the managing editor at Gemelli Press LLC, a boutique publisher that combines passions for books and Italy.

Bleeding EspressoDid you bring family with you?

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Challenging, to say the least, especially since I didn't speak Italian. But living in a new culture is so much more than the language; it's getting to know all the little tidbits that a native-born citizen just knows by living there. And it takes a good while.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I'm in a pretty rural area so there aren't too many expats around, but we always seem to find each other; meeting people was not difficult as you literally have to be out and about quite often just to get anything done around here, but making friends with Italian local women, in particular, has been much more challenging. Where I live, people are extremely nice but going beyond that for a deeper relationship takes a lot of work since so many women's lives are already quite full with their own families, including husbands, children, in-laws, cousins, childhood friends, etc.

Bleeding EspressoWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Calabria has amazing beaches, though I recommend avoiding August when it is packed and too dang hot. Calabria is also full of wonderful ancient cultural sites, including several archaeological areas, but as far as night life and such for younguns, there's not much going on, so if you're looking for that, I'd go much farther north on the peninsula. There's also not much work besides English teaching to be found down here.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
The way I feel here; it's a touchy-feely response, but that's really at the heart of it. I just feel at home.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Some things are more expensive (electronics, American brand name anything), but others are more affordable like fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
As mentioned above, if you need to find employment beyond English teaching here in Calabria, it's probably going to be tough. Also, as everyone knows...bureaucracy. BLAH. But you do get used to it, more or less.

Bleeding EspressoIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Leave your logic at home. Things don't work here the way you're used to them working at home, and Italy is not changing for you; stop trying to figure things out based on your old logic and just deal with it. The faster you accept the way things are and work with them, the better off you'll be.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Being away from my family, particularly during certain holidays, special occasions, and difficult personal/family times.

Bleeding EspressoWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Study Italian before you come.
  2. Have an open mind about what you're about to experience.
  3. Refrain from comparing things to "home" too often.
  4. The aforementioned "don't use logic" advice.
  5. Have a sense of humor. A really, really good sense of humor.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I write at Bleeding Espresso, which started out as a way to keep in touch with family and friends and to build an online presence for a budding freelance writing career. Now BE has developed into a place where I dig deeper and really explore how my life has changed since I moved to Italy in 2003. The posts are much more reflective and based on ideas such as simplicity, mindfulness, and living in the moment as these have become the principles upon which my daily life are based.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
My contact info is on all my websites: Bleeding Espresso (see below for link), (yes, I raise goats!), my personal site but the easiest is just michelle{at}michellefabio{at}com.

MIchelle blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Bleeding Espresso has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with MIchelle, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Gil wrote 11 years ago:

Great interview! I came away with the feeling that Michelle really loves her new life in Calabria.

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