US Expat in Italy - Don't get burnt by the Tuscan sun!

Published: 27 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Italy
Francesca Maggi first came to Italy at the tender age of 4 months. A return visit at age 6 sealed her fate as she endured the agony and enjoyed the ecstasy of this country of contradictions. She has been working with Italy for over 30 years, 21 of them as a resident. When she's not bringing museum shows & apps to Italy, she blogs & tweets about the less-publicized view of Italy's more mind-boggling ways. Francesca's expat blog and newly-published book is called Burnt by the Tuscan Sun (see listing here)

Meet Francesca - American Expat in Italy
Meet Francesca - American Expat in Italy

Here's the interview with Francesca...

Where are you originally from?
Detroit, Michigan USA

In which country and city are you living now?

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been in Italy for 21 years, 12 of those in Milan and the rest in Rome. I plan on staying until the Colosseum falls (as legend has it, when it falls, Rome will fall and so will the world).

Why did you move and what do you do?
I had wanted to live in Italy since I was a little girl. In college, I came for internships and then moved to Italy for 1 yr fresh out of Univ of Michigan. I returned to New York, where I began working in Trade with Italy across a variety of jobs until being transferred with a company out of Detroit as their Country Manager. I later moved to direct Acoustiguide, introducing audioguides to Italy's most important cultural sites; some of which are still on offer like at the Peggy Guggenheim & Doria Pamphilj museums.
I am now a multimedia content producer and editor, working on books, blogs, podcasts, audio & video productions as well as Augmented Reality apps.

My first passport
My first passport
Did you bring family with you? Just my cat Brooklyn.
Now I have my dog Arcibaldo who travels with me wherever I go.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It was quite easy, especially if you know the language and I was quite familiar with Italy. Having said that, I still can't get an Italian to go to a movie at the last minute and ... from my experiences my (strictly cathartic) blog was born: Burnt by the Tuscan Sun - need I say more?

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
The best part of being an expat is the ease of making friends, meeting new people, belonging to a group (or many) quite easily. Locals want to get to know you, expats want to cling to you. Definitely easier than in NYC and you get invited to a whole lot of amazing places - events - you name it as well.
Having said that, it was far easier to make long-lasting friendships with other expats than with locals, but that may be due to my intense travel schedule and not being with an Italian partner.

Umbrian Treats
Umbrian Treats
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
All of Italy is a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
I post all my travel tips on my blog page, the good, the bad & the ugly:

What do you enjoy most about living here?
The history of the place which seeps through the soles of your shoes and into your soul. And being so close to the rest of Europe (and the vacation time to enjoy it!)

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Although I haven't been back in awhile, I believe the cost of Italy is on par - and on many items like milk and gas - five times more expensive than in the NY area. Eating out is about the same, and train travel is out of control.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Well, this is what my entire blog is dedicated to! But, in a nutshell, the entire country, including the expat community, suffers from not living up to its potential. Brilliant people out of work or in mundane jobs, top managers abroad come here and end up teaching English or tending bar in their spare time. And, if you get a job...the pay is nothing like you might be used to elsewhere.

Cartoon from my book illustrator
Cartoon from my book illustrator, witty satirist Gianni Falcone summing up Life in Italy copyright
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Make sure you always carry lots of change - oh and, learn the language posthaste.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
By far, the cross-cultural issues couples will face. That, and letting animals be pets--and not beasts of burden.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Try to come abroad with a Company from your home country.
  2. If you come to look for a job, you will need to know the language. Keep your expectations low on the job front and then the disappointment may not be so deep.
  3. Take advantage of most opportunities that present themselves, it's all who you know.
  4. Take advantage of the country and really see new places regularly.
  5. If you can avoid it, don't get an Italian driver's license and avoid the post office (but that's impossible).

Book Cover
Book Cover
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun, takes Italians to task about their Quality of Life meme. They get the claim to fame, but anyone who actually lives here knows that the beautiful lifestyle comes with more than a few thorns in its side. I also blog about culture & current events and things that drive all us expats crazy from time to time.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted through my blog (see below)

Francesca blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Burnt by the Tuscan Sun has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Francesca, please also drop her a quick comment below.

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Comments » There is 1 comment

Anne Marie Harm wrote 11 years ago:

Great interview! Thanks for the inspiration.

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