To say that moving to Italy is an adjustment, is an understatement. As beautiful and amazing as it is, living in Italy comes with many quirks and traditions that one must get used to. Here are five things I’ve learnt so far:
1 – Learning a new language at 26 is incredibly hard, especially one as difficult as Italian. I have lived in Italy for 3 years now and I am nowhere near fluent, in fact it’s quite embarrassing actually.
If I could give you one piece of advice when it comes to learning a new language, it is to make friends with locals who either don’t speak English or only very little. And, obviously to practice, practice, practice.
2 – Everything in moderation. It’s a known fact that Italian food is some of the best in the world. Especially when it comes to carbs and sweets — hello gnocchi and tiramisu! But one very surprising thing that shocked me when I first moved to Italy, was how slim most people are.
The key to living and eating like a true Italian comes down to moderation and when you eat what you eat. Italians generally have their largest meal of the day at lunch, which often includes your staple carbs like pasta or bread. Dinner usually consists of some type of meat and vegetables and breakfast is typically a coffee and a croissant. Sweets and cakes are usually reserved for special occasions or treats.
3 – Italians take their midday nap or siesta quite seriously. It’s incredibly common for shops, offices, pharmacies etc to close from 12pm to 3pm each day. So, even when travelling don’t be alarmed to find that things drop off a little for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. For larger, touristy cities this isn’t a huge issue, but it’s definitely the case in smaller towns like Padova.
4 – Everything comes to a halt over summer. Unfortunately, we moved to Italy in August and learnt the hard way that most businesses and even government offices close over the summer period, or at least work at a slower pace. We were without internet for 3 months, and did not sort out our visa’s properly until well into September. “It’s summer and it’s Italy, it is normal. Stay calm”, often being the general excuse for such delays.
Obviously, being a tourist and passing through a city as opposed to moving there is a little different but still something to be weary of.
5 – Tranquillo is a sentiment that all foreigners best be getting use to quite quickly, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from numbers 3 and 4. The literal translation in English is calm. Italy functions like no other country I’ve lived in before and it takes some getting use to.
Event starting 7pm? Expect it to start at 8pm. Waiting in line for anything? Expect an Italian to cut in, as they do not do queues very well here. Want to cross the road at a crossing? Expect to wait a while as Italians don’t like to stop.
Living in Italy is a real test of one’s patience, and something that all foreigners need learn asap. Or as the Italians say, just stay calm!