5 Things I Love About Living in Italy
I've lived here long enough to be able to compile what I feel is a pretty solid list of reasons why I love to live in Italy. As I've said, I know very well at this point that it isn't some Under the Tuscan Sun-inspired fairytale, and yet, two years after I first arrived here, nine months total, something urges me to stay as long as I possibly can.
Image credit: Alexandra Wendt.
1. I feel healthier here.
This probably doesn't shock many people, given the reputation of Italian food, though others might consider all the pasta consumed here and think really?? It's true, though. Yes, my carb intake exponentially increases every time I'm here, but all the food I'm getting is fresh and preservative-free, for the most part. Certainly compared to the U.S. Also, snacking isn't really a thing here, and you're not going to find many options for snack foods in stores. The only thing I can't quite get used to is the Italian breakfast, which is, basically, just a few cookies or a brioche. But I have enough of a sweet tooth, and I'm lazy enough in the morning, that I'll comply...until I get more milk for my cereal.
Also, the WALKING. You guys, I walk everywhere, especially here in Siena where it's so easy to get around the city center without public transportation or a car. Back in the States, the way most of our towns and cities are constructed don't make for very pedestrian-friendly places. But here, walking is not only more convenient, it's part of the lifestyle. If you're walking in a city back in the U.S., you probably have a strict Point A to Point B in mind, and just walk to get there and get the walking over with. Here, it's normal to take a stroll with friends, or even by yourself. I love it. I still go to the gym, because I love it and it helps me feel grounded, but with all the walking I do along Siena's hills, it doesn't totally feel necessary.
2. How easy it is to get around.
I can speak for the majority of the U.S.--at least the Midwest/Western half of it--when I say that you generally have two options to get somewhere: by car or by ridiculously expensive plane.
That's not the case here in Italy. No car? No problem (generally.) Trains and buses are at your convenience, and they're really easy to use. Planes are much cheaper. I still marvel at how I can wake up in Siena and end the day in Berlin if I desire.
3. The aperitivo.
Think Happy Hour, but better. For a cheap price of generally between 3 to 5 euros you get a drink and access to amazing appetizer-like foods. Mini sandwiches, bruschetta, pasta, sometimes chips and popcorns. (Make no mistake; Italians like potato chips too. They just hide them behind a fancy bowl and drink and call it an aperitivo.)
But what I love about this is the social aspect. After a long day of school or work you can stop by a bar with a friend and chat over casually great food and an Aperol spritz. I frequently do this alone too, just to sit and people-watch and write in my journal. I feel like such the fancy traveler and writer.
4. Italians know how to live.
In the U.S., I feel like it's always go Go GO. We're always on a mission, working to be at the top, get that promotion, make the most money, generally be better than everyone around us. In short, we glorify being busy. You aren't doing life right if you aren't pulling your hair out from stress by the end of the day.
I don't get that same sense here in Italy. Somehow the people here still manage to work hard and be perfectly successful without that same mentality prevalent in American society. They have a greater appreciation for life here.
I also want to note that back in the States I feel like it's "cool" to move far away from home and brag to everyone about how much you don't miss your family. As someone who's lived hundreds--now thousands--of miles away from home since I was eighteen, and consistently misses it on some level, I hate that. I always wanted to be able to freely express my struggle with wanting to move out of my hometown, but still missing my family terribly, and have other people understand.
I have met Italians who feel the same way as my American friends--they left home and good riddance. I think that's a universal feeling you'll find to some degree everywhere, but I will say here that I have met many more people who never moved very far from home, or who did and yet talk about their home like it's the Promised Land.
I love that. Keep being proud of your home and talk about how much you love and miss your family. I relate.
5. This country is a freaking living museum.
One of the biggest contributors to reverse culture-shock when I went home after study abroad was seeing how ugly everything was compared to Italy. Ugly, modern buildings. Streets that were too wide. Not a piece of art or history more than fifty or so years old to be found.
There's not much to say here other than, as an aspiring art historian, it is an absolute dream and privilege to get to live around everything I study.
Have you been to Italy, and if so, what did you absolutely love about it? Or, if you've ever lived in a foreign country, what was your experience like?