Top Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Moving to Italy

By: barbedwords in Italy

Dear barbedwords,

Things are going well at the moment; my job is secure, I have a nice house and good friends.  I sometimes feel, however, that I could do with more excitement and I should make the most of life.  Do you think moving to Italy could be the answer?

Thank you

Bored of Basildon

Dear Bored of Basildon

I understand your restlessness.  Before moving to Italy, I thought that life wanted to be seized by the horns and taken on a big night on the town.  But after living here for 18 months, I have now come to the conclusion that sometimes life would rather have a quiet evening in with its feet up, enjoying a nice cup of tea and a custard cream whilst watching repeats of ‘The Vicar of Dibley'.

I have compiled a questionnaire to see if moving to Italy would suit you.  Answer yes or no to the following Top Ten Questions:

1.     Stress: Do you enjoy stressful situations where government officials are barking questions at great speed in an incomprehensible language and you fear arrest may come at any moment? 

2.     TV: Are you content to watch TV programmes that all follow the same format: Z-list celebrities talk to a cheesy host who fields questions from the audience, whilst a troupe of bikini-clad young ladies prance about in the background? 

3.     Weather: Can you handle the searing heat in the summer and the lack of frost in the winter?  Being able to wear a t-shirt in December? (You’ll be the only one, mind you.  The Italians dress in full winter wardrobe mode from 1st October, even if it’s still 25 degrees out.)

4.     Cheap Plonk: Can you resist the lure of €2 wine and beer cheaper than apple juice?  Would you be tempted to serve prosecco at breakfast to save money?

5.     Shopping: Are you happy to wear to wear plastic gloves to choose vegetables at the supermarket, else run the risk of old grannies shouting unfathomable insults at you?

6.     Food and Drink: Do you relish frugal activities such as eking out your dwindling supply of teabags by double using each one? Do you have the mathematical skills needed to obsessively count this dwindling supply and draw up a bar chart of how many cups of tea you can have a day before the next visitors arrive from England with fresh supplies?  Will your body survive a 200% increase in your daily caffeine intake as you attempt to keep up with your Italian friends’ cappuccino consumption?

7.     Driving: Will you be able to cope with driving on a roundabout where, at any one time, up to fourteen cars are entering, crossing, stopping and actually parking on the roundabout? 

8.     Dog Poop: Can you do the pavement poop dance to avoid the huge piles of dog turds everywhere?

9.     Walking:  Do you realize that if you start to cross the road on a pedestrian crossing, the cars will actually drive at around you on the crossing whilst shouting and making strange hand gestures?

10. Cultural Differences:  Are you able to change the habits of a lifetime and push your way through hordes of people coming the other way through a doorway as no-one will ever let you pass first?  

If you have answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, then, congratulations; you are crazy enough to move to Italy.  Benvenuto!   

Yours truly


About the author

Expat Blog Listingbarbedwords in Italy is a British expat living in Italy. Blog description: barbedwords is about living and writing in Italy - and quite a bit of cooking. I live in Rome, speak limited Italian and am not that keen on Italian food (there, I've said it!)
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Contest Comments » There are 18 comments

Joanna wrote 10 years ago:

A really original way to tackle the issues of moving abroad. If I was Bored from Basildon, I would move right over to Italy now and ask Barbedwords for intensive training over a bottle or two of vino - she obviously knows her stuff!

Simone Baroke wrote 10 years ago:

Aw, Barb, hilarious as usual :) Plastic gloves are also a must here in Spain.

Alan wrote 10 years ago:

Dear barbedwords, what a fabulous post, absolutely hilarious! I’m on my way as I would love the chance to become Intrepid of Italy! It sounds like great fun to wear skimpy clothing in December, dance around dog poop and take on little old ladies in the supermarket. Yours truly, Wearied of Wokingham

Jack wrote 10 years ago:

While not technically an expat, I wish I'd had these questions before I started living in Italy. A highly accurate representation of what to expect. Written like an expert!

Sally wrote 10 years ago:

You've given me the answers to everything I always wanted to know about Italy but was too afraid to ask. I've answered yes to 8 out of the 10 questions (sorry, but I'm not wearing plastic gloves to pick up carrots and prosecco for breakfast sounds like fun) so Italy here I come!

Anna Belkina wrote 10 years ago:

Oh yeah, I could definitely cut it - sounds like warmer, cheaper Russia! And are you trying to tell me that not EVERYBODY has booze for breakfast? Blasphemy! Is the plastic glove thing for real though? I've never heard of it anywhere!

Max wrote 10 years ago:

Well, I'm glad to say that I said yes to most of these questions, especially the money saving prosecco for breakfast idea. I must move to Italy immediately then? Oh, am I here already. Better have another coffee and side step the dog poop!

Brigid wrote 10 years ago:

Walking in the city. You run the risk of being stampeded by a mass political rally through the streets

Zee wrote 10 years ago:

Dear barbedwords, If I’d completed your questionnaire BEFORE I moved to Italy, I think I would have said ‘no’ to all the questions. However, now I’m here I can just laugh along with you - very funny and totally true! ciao Chuckling of Como

Phil wrote 10 years ago:

Even though you make them very funny, the points you’ve made will actually help anyone thinking of moving to Italy realise that it’s not all La Dolce Vita. I’d love to move to Rome for a while but not sure I can cope with dog poop and the lack of PG Tips!

Tamsin Mitchell wrote 10 years ago:

Yet again a 5 star blog from Barbedwords! I lived in Italy for a 6 months as a teenager and from this hilarious blog it seems not much has changed in 25 years! Super job, keep it up!

Elaine - I Used To Be Indecisive wrote 10 years ago:

It sounds perfect - how do I book my flights? Do you have a guest room? :)

Fred wrote 10 years ago:

So funny and so true. I went to Italy once and had to spend the whole week in the airport as no one would let me out through the doors…obviously, as an Englishman, I apologised to every person who barged past me!

Lyn Worth wrote 10 years ago:

Thanks Barbedwords, fabulous post as always! I love that you point out the funny and crazy bits about living in Italy without being disparaging. Well done!

Rosie Ecoa wrote 10 years ago:

I’ve learnt so much about Italy thanks to your post - obviously you need the prosecco for breakfast to get the courage up to face the dog poop on the pavements and the manic drivers on the road!

Sue wrote 10 years ago:

Excellent! Although having read this I think I can safely say I wont be moving to Italy any time soon ... no matter how much yummy pizza, pasta and ice-cream there is to tempt me!

Living In The Langhe wrote 10 years ago:

Great stuff, as usual. And having been in Italy for a while now I agree wholeheartedly with all these points... although I personally steadfastly refuse to wear the plastic gloves to pick up vegetables. The old ladies can stare all they like!

Jennifer wrote 10 years ago:

This had me laughing out loud. As an American living in Italy these all rang true. I hate that I can't touch the fruit at all when I buy it from a stand.

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