Australian Expat Living in Italy - Interview with Cherise Vecchio

Published: 7 Jul at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Italy
Cherise is an Australian travel and lifestyle writer originally from Brisbane. Coming from an Italian family, from a young age, she wanted to move to Italy to learn Italian. After studying public relations and media, Cherise developed her blog Four Seasons of Travel to provide budget travel tips and gluten free information. Now living in Florence, she continues to write about her adventures and reviews of places to go and events to see. Cherise Vecchio's expat blog is called FOUR SEASONS OF TRAVEL (see listing here)

Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio

Here's the interview with Cherise Vecchio...

Where are you originally from?
Brisbane, Australia

In which country and city are you living now?
Florence, Italy

How long have you lived in Italy and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been here for three months and plan on moving to another city in Italy over summer - preferably close to the beach with more Italian locals and less tourists!

La Rinascente Rooftop bar
La Rinascente Rooftop bar
Why did you move to Italy and what do you do?
I have been living in Florence trying to learn Italian and experiencing the culture. I went to a language school for two months to learn Italian and now am focusing on my site Four Seasons of Travel writing articles about travelling through Italy about budget and gluten free tips!

Did you bring family with you?
No, but some of my family live in Torino, just 3 hours away.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
There are a lot of American expats in Florence which makes it easy for me to find people to relate to, who are experiencing the cultural differences, however on some occasions I have experienced frustration with Italian rules and laws. As Italy is notourious for its laid back lifestyle when it comes to work, this means that completing a simple task can take much longer than you anticipate.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It has been easy due to the help of social media, events and language school! Facebook has so many groups to make new friends in the city you relocate to. Most people I have met are expats like me, as it is quite hard to meet Italians in Florence due to most of them living outside of the city or sticking with their group of friends they've known for years. However due to Florence being a more touristic city - it is more prominent here than other cities in Italy.

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Aperitivo - where you pay for a drink and get a small buffet in food included! It starts at 6.30pm and cost around 8 euro and is a great way to meet up with friends, have a drink and a bite to eat for cheap! Most bars in Florence and Northern Italy do it!

What do you enjoy most about living in Italy?
The calm lifestyle of Italians, the beautiful architecture and scenery. I also love how central Italy is to the rest of Europe and how easy it is to get on a plane and enter a new country in Europe - it truly is fantastic. In Australia it is much more expensive and time consuming to go on a holiday.

How does the cost of living in Italy compare to home?
Expensive in tourist season, but not too bad considering how busy it does get. Florence is definitely not cheap - around 8-12 euro for an entree (usually a plate of pasta) and between 5-8 euro for an alcoholic drink.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?
That everything has to be done the Italian way - which means it can be so hard to organise licences, visa's, bank accounts etc. Also there is a tax on items that you get sent to Italy - my family sent me a pack from home and I had to pay a 40 euro tax to pick it up.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Italy, what would it be?
Just do it and don't over think the process! You don't need all of your questions answered to move to a new country - just as long as you think you'll like the city! There are so many ways to meet new friends, or find out information about a city, so why wait?

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Trying to learn Italian! In Florence it's surprisingly easy to speak English - I started off so well speaking Italian and then gave up after a while because of work commitments. However I have not given up! I will still continue and aim to be 'fluent' by the end of the year.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
After living in Italy, you take on a more relaxed approach to life. Things take a lot longer to get done, and life in general is a lot slower. In Australia it's all about the hustle and bustle and work is number one, which will be hard to go back to. Italians truely love their culture and are proud of it, and I love when I walk down the streets how I can look into a shop window and there is someone hand crafting the items they are selling - it is not often you see that in Australia. It's the little things!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Save as much money as you can prior to arriving in Italy, it can be hard to get a job and the pay is quite low!
  2. If you want to learn Italian, do a language course, you need a base to get you started.
  3. Join the Facebook group "A Friend in Florence" or one specific to the city you are living in. These are a great way to meet people!
  4. If you are moving here for 6-12months it is important to remember that it takes at least 3 months to feel settled into a city. Even when I go on holidays for a month and come back - or move apartments I feel like I need some time to settle back in. Being an expat in a foreign country, you don't adapt to your lifestyle as quickly as you think, merely because theres so much more to think about than there is when you're living at home!
  5. Try and find an apartment with other Italians - this will help your speaking and knowledge a lot!
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Four Seasons of Travel is a budget travel and lifestyle blog focusing on travel tips through Europe and gluten free food finds. I write about hidden city guides and reviews, offering insights and advice for those moving abroad.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
[email protected] or on Facebook Cherise Vecchio

About the author

Expat Blog ListingCherise Vecchio is an Australian expat living in Italy. Blog description: Wander the world with curiosity.
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