As our time comes to a close of living abroad in Italy, I wanted to share a few things that I've loved about our time here. Obviously we started off our time here with a few bumps and bruises with the unforgiving bureaucracy system which you can read all about here, but once we got up and running and started to get into the swing of life (which honestly, takes quite a bit of time) we found a sweet spot. Instead of simply surviving like we did during our first 6-8 months, we began enjoying many aspects of expat life in Italy.
P.S. if you're doing this whole living abroad thing, you're not crazy for struggling. Trust me, it's normal. So without further ado here are the...
Top 10 Things I Love About Living Abroad in Italy
1. Ease of Travel
Traveling within Europe is honestly incredible. The cost of flights is usually reasonable or surprisingly low like the time we paid $25 per person for our flights to London. We have been able to see so much more of the world while living here and I cannot be more thankful for how easy it can be and relatively inexpensive since we can also travel during shoulder or off-season. There's no way we'd be able to travel this much in Europe without living here and I think the memories we've created here will be the most precious thing I leave with.
2. Walking Everywhere
Who needs the gym when you're walking several miles a day? Between the incredible quality of food and all the walking you do, it's fairly easy to stay healthy. I've loved how I can see more of the city, while also naturally staying active because walking has become a part of my everyday rhythm of life. It's not my favorite thing when I have to grocery shop in the middle of the summer, but other than that, I really quite enjoy it.
3. Cost of Living is Cheaper
In comparison to the States, living in Italy has been significantly cheaper! The phone bill, rent, cost of food, honestly just everything is so much cheaper. This has allowed us the opportunity to travel a lot while we're here because as I mentioned before, flying within Europe is generally inexpensive especially when traveling during the off-season. I still remember when our cell phone service provider told us we could have 30 gigs of data each for only €10 a month per person. After paying $125 per month for 5 gigs each we were in heaven. Things might be a bit more expensive the further north you go in Italy, but in Salerno the prices are incredible.
4. All the Markets
Christmas markets, food markets, random markets that pop up throughout the year...I love how Europe in general has so many fun markets. Of course the Christmas markets are my favorite because they are so happy and pure, but I enjoy walking through the outdoor food markets and seeing farmers bringing in their fresh ingredients that still have a little dirt on them and the vibrant floral arrangements that only cost a few euros. I just love it all.
5. The Italian Food
I feel like this is kind of a no-brainer, but Italians do Italian food perfectly. The pasta is always al dente, the sauce is always simple an delicious and the pizza, gelato and wine are out-of-this-world incredible. We always feel satisfied but never disgustingly full which I felt was easy to do before moving here. The ingredients are fresh and there are less preservatives which makes all the difference. When we've gone back to Florida for family or work, our stomachs are always a bit of a wreck for the first few days which speaks volumes to the difference in quality.
I'll be honest, when we first arrived I was like what the hell am I supposed to do with all these trash cans? I would throw things away all the time and then realize I put it in the wrong one, dig it out and throw it away again. The States could really use an overhaul in this regard and once we got into a rhythm, I quite liked it! I felt as if I was contributing my small part to help the environment so I've really appreciated the emphasize on recycling here.
7. The Architecture, Duh
I mean there is seriously so much character around every corner. I can't help but take photos of buildings all the time, and while sure, that might be a bit strange, I find so much beauty in the every day wear and tear of the building with the laundry hanging out to dry and the occasional nonna watching over the street. If only walls could talk...
8. Living Life in a Different Culture
So this one obvi hasn't always been easy, but it's taught me a lot about myself, pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in ways I would have otherwise avoided. It's easy to stay within your bubble because it's scary to explore the unknown but living life in a new culture will teach you about priorities, and give you a different lens in which you can view the world. It's hard to capture a different culture on vacation, when everyone is trying to accommodate you, but living, struggling through a new language, new government, new stores, new friends, new everything is in the end, incredible. At the very least, unforgettable!
9. The Stories
I feel like we could write a book of all the weird, terrible or just funny things that have happened to us. Like the time a stranger rang our doorbell and asked if he could stay with us for a few days before kayaking to Africa (he had met David one time and I was along #creepy). Or the time I was walking down the street wearing jeans and a jean jacket and an elderly man stopped me and told me to put on a coat because it was too cold outside. Like, do I know you? Or how about the time our downstairs neighbor rang our doorbell to ask if David could play his song, Bella for her daughter's birthday...aka a room of 20+ 9 year olds. So. Many. Stories.
10. The History
History is everywhere! Being able to regularly see things like the Colosseum, the ruins of Pompeii, an abundance of castles, walk through the streets of ancient Rome, it's incredible. I never loved history class in school, but seeing things in person breathes new life into the things you once learned about and provides a fresh perspective.
There you have it, the top 10 things I've loved about living in Italy! If you're thinking about moving abroad, whether to Italy or somewhere else, it will be challenging, but it will change you for the better. I highly recommend doing it if you're on the fence about it. There are always a million excuses not to go, but home will still be there if/when you decide to return. Just in case you're thinking about Italy, here are the top 10 things you should know before arriving!