Ok so this post isn't all that exciting, but if you're considering moving to Italy I promise it will be helpful! Because moving to a new country is exciting and scary, sometimes you just want the comforts of home. So I made a list of a few things that I'd recommend bringing with you when you move to Italy along with some general ways to prepare before you leave. Some are practical, and some are just things to bring so you can have a taste of home that you can't really find while living abroad. Either way, I hope this helps you as you transition into an exciting time of life that you will never forget!
Be sure to check the requirements of everything that will be needed before leaving the USA, including if a visa is required and what kind you would need for your situation and desired living arrangement. I'm married to a European so I did not need a visa prior to my arrival here.
Here are a few of the things we brought:
1. Birth Certificates
2. Marriage License (long version) & Apostille (You will need to get this translated into Italian)
3. Passports and Photocopies of Passports (every page)
You can read all about how I got my permesso here
In Your Medicine Cabinet:
Ibuprofen: In Italy you will find yourself paying roughly €10 for maybe 10 pills. They are expensive and I could potentially use 10 in two or three days when I'm not feeling well! Do yourself a favor and stop by Walmart before you leave and grab a huge bottle.
NyQuil & DayQuil: The options in Italy don't seem to be as strong as they are in the USA so I always grab a few packs when I'm back in the states.
Allergy Medicine: I don't personally need it, but friends who do say it's also not as strong as they would like and it's expensive. Again, grab some while you're in American if you can.
In the Kitchen:
Peanut and/or Almond Butter: I have, on occasion, found peanut butter in select stores but it's never as good and it's wildly expensive.
Brown Sugar: I make chocolate chip cookies a lot for social gatherings and it's so fun to see how much the Italians enjoys these. They always ask for the secret ingredient or how I make them and the secret is in the brown sugar! Italy has brown cane sugar, but not brown sugar for baking.
Vanilla Extract: I've never once found this in a grocery store so I always bring a big bottle back with me!
Your Fav Hot Sauce: I personally love Cholula hot sauce so I always need to buy some from home, but I can pretty easily find Tabasco sauce here.
Favorite Spices: like chili powder, taco seasoning, onion powder & garlic powder (I can occasionally find garlic powder but I went months without finding it and eventually bought some on a trip to Copenhagen).
Measuring Spoons/Cups: It can be difficult to convert measurements while cooking, so I brought over measuring spoons and measuring cups which so much easier than converting all of my recipes.
When your favorite pantry items run out, I'd recommend either checking on Amazon or My American Market. Amazon can get a little pricey so I typically use My American Market. Because it's in France, the shipping fees aren't bad and things arrive fairly quickly. Hooray! P.S. Holiday items tend to sell out fairly quickly so if there's anything that you just have to have for Thanksgiving or Christmas, order a few weeks in advance.
For the Home:
Your Pet: So this might be the most important one, but if you are bringing your dog or cat with you to Italy, you can read about our experience here traveling internationally with our dog. There's lots of paperwork that will need to be completed in advance so don't leave this to the last minute or else you will be stressed.
Candles: This is made the list simply because there's not much of a selection here, and I just love Anthro and Target candles! I have found candles in IKEA, the occasional home store, and Expert sometimes carries Yankee Candles. Again, this is more of a preference thing.
Photos & Prints: If you bring any prints without a frame, know that the standard dimensions here are different so you probably will need a picture mat. We also brought smaller photos already in the frame so we could just set those out immediately. It just makes your new place feel more like home, ya know?
Deodorant: I honestly don't really like the deodorant in Italy so I always load up on that when I'm in the States. There's a lot of roll on and spray options instead of stick deodorant. I mean, yes, they still have stick options but there are so few to chose from and I guess I'm picker than I thought!
VPN: So you can buy this when you arrive in Italy but I highly recommend getting a VPN so you can still watch American Netflix and even some TV channels depending on the VPN you get. I personally use Encrypt.me.
Condoms: So this might be awkward to have on the list, but European condoms kinda suck. Sure, they get the job done, but they're a lot thicker than what we were previously using. We also tried looking online but it was going to be over $50 for a single box soooo that was a no. We also stopped and looked in grocery stores at every country we visited and had no luck. All that to say, if you have a favorite brand, stock up. Unless your favorite brand is Durex which is what you're pretty much limited to here.
General Advance Preparation:
1. I don't know about you, but I had about a million questions before leaving for Italy and a million more once I arrived. I would recommend joining a few Facebook groups where you can ask your questions about things like recommended banks (we don't have an Italian bank since we were only planning on living here for 1-2 years), or translation services for important documents, to asking for other's permesso experiences which range from horrific to fairly easy! Here are the two Facebook groups I recommend: Americans Living in Italy and Ultimate Italy. Both of these groups are private and you will need to request to join them.
2. There are a so many things that you don't know that you don't know, but here are 10 things you should know before visiting, or in this case, moving to Italy.
3. Practice Italian! I feel like this should go without saying, but learning some basic Italian prior to arriving will help immensely. You can use free apps like Duolingo to help get you started and then look into lessons once you arrive. Every little bit helps!
4. Mentally prepare for the unexpected and start practicing the art of patience now. Things often move slower here and in many ways, that's a wonderful thing and in other ways, it can be wildly frustrating.