Sunday, August 27, 2006

Moving to Italy

Over the past year various sites have asked me to write an article about how someone would move to Italy. Many acquaintances have asked the same questions since our return. Usually the main reasoning is that these individuals feel they have the Italian mentality. They are usually somewhat distraught by the innate superficiality of the US lifestyle. The beautiful scenery, fashion, great food, and warm people are appealing. My suggestion is usually, “don’t! At least not immediately.” Take some time to gather information and try out the new lifestyle before leaping in with both feet.

When you move to Italy you become an immigrant. That means adapting to a different culture. Forget everything about what is acceptable and what is not. I have brought to Italy numerous US employees for short periods, usually 1-2 years. Our company would provide full support, pay all the bills, and go out of our way to make the US employee comfortable. Still, less than 80% would have a good experience. If one attempts this process on his own, without a significant support structure, that number decreases to less than 25%. You can read about various experiences of ex-pats currently in Italy checking out the side bar. Tracie in Naples and Anne in Busto Arsizio are two really good ones. If you read their stories over time you will see that even with an extended family support system, they are often women who have married Italian men, sometimes they are happy, sometimes they are very distraught.

Immigrating is a traumatic experience. The immigrant is no one, even less than the usual Joe citizen, often taken advantage of, heavily criticized should he express an opinion different than generally accepted culture. To put this into perspective the experience would be the same as the South American immigrant coming to the US and locating in Dallas. I can imagine the thoughts at this point, “but, I am rich, I am an American, I am not like the South American!” An immigrant is an immigrant. Survival depends on the capability to adapt, to accept the bad and look for the good forgetting everything that is generally accepted “knowledge.”

A simple example of some basic differences is the Natalie Holloway case. The news, lawyers, and general public highly criticized the officials for applying their law. You could be in Italy, a neighbor goes to the police and states that you hit him, you can be imprisoned and held without being charged. You are not innocent until proven guilty, you are guilty and it is your responsibility to prove that you are innocent. Understanding this basic difference is important to living and surviving but it is completely different than your culture. Perhaps this is a sensationalist example, but it is very real and is just one of the many differences in basic perceptions of right and wrong.

If you want to attempt the Italian lifestyle I suggest you vacation often, if funds are not a problem buy a house and visit regularly. If your company offers the opportunity to move for several years, by all means do so if they will take care of the basic necessities. It can be a marvelous and eye-opening experience and you may find that Italy is the place you want to live the rest of your life. Many Americans live and work successfully in Italy. Many wealthy Americans have chosen Italy as their primary point of residence. Others have invested heavily in wineries, farms, real estate and other activities. Italy is a great place to live but it is important to understand the process before taking the step.

Additional information may be found at the Ex-pats in Italy website.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Jennifer said...

Out of curiosity, how difficult is it to obtain a visa to immigrate into the country? Are there a lot of options?

1:45 AM

 
Blogger Travel Italy said...

Jennifer Legal visas for Americans are not difficult. You must show capacity to sustain yourself and go through all of the beaurocratic stuff just like the US. If you are an 18-24 year old girl from the eastern European countries not part of the EU it is very difficult. This is because they are targetting prostitution rings.

Italy has done several amnesties like the ones proposed here in the US and they have been disasters increasing illegal imigration (the people come in small boats, from northern Aftrica, that often capsize) so they are rethinking that process.

5:55 AM

 
Blogger Ann said...

Great and valids points taht you bring up. Immigrating is not something that should be taken lightly, and yes an immigrant is an immigrant. Even though I now have Italian citizenship, through marriage, I will be forever seen in the local's eyes as a foreigner/immigrant. Life in Italy isn't the "La dolce vita"
Ann
p.s. David, thanks for the mention!
http://www.blogcharm.com/amborg

7:29 AM

 
Blogger Travel Italy said...

Ann Thanks for stopping by and I am very happy that your citizenship finely came through. It is more valuable than most realize and should help you get established and have a bit more tranquility.

9:36 AM

 
Blogger Ann said...

Thanks David! No more permesso's, yeah!!! One of my students, nice guy but a little slow at times, thought even though I now have Italian citizenship, that I would STILL have to renew my permesso, unable to vote etc. I was like hello, I now have the same rights as you do buddy. I am able to vote etc., just like every other Italian citizen.

2:01 AM

 
Blogger Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Oh, people! Don't even get me started on the permesso "incubo"!! That would be a story over a glass (or bottle) of wine! In speaking of visas, study visas aren't so difficult if you enroll in a school but a work permit is definitely another story.

But, where there's a will, there's a way, and in Italy it seems somehow if a person is determined enough, the pieces can (eventually) fall into place.

A presto!

1:37 PM

 
Blogger Travel Italy said...

Shelley I am all for the bottle of wine. When I first did my Permesso di soggiorno it took 2 yrs to get the temporary version...

Shelley has just entered the blogging world and writes a blog about her experiences in Rome. I think it will be a very good read.

2:06 PM

 
Anonymous Donny said...

Wow,

Honestly I am only moving to Italy to be with my fiancee.

should I try for a visa or do you think we can get married in less than 90 days (I have all my paperwork ready - just need it signed by the consulate..... I am not even going to discuss how "helpful" they have been). Heh I cannot for the life of me talk her into moving to the US (there are two reasons why I am having a hard time - my kids, but they get to grow up in two worlds so it is a good thing).

I hope I can find some sort of work there - I am trying to learn Italian. I am an electrician and she has my resume (CV there)..... So ....

I am crossing my fingers - June 9th is coming fast and I hope we can get everything done in time to be legal.

1:52 PM

 
Blogger Travel Italy said...

Donny Once my kids visited the US they were adament about not living in the US.

Much has to do with your personal situation. If you are able to get a job and her family embraces you then you will find it difficult to leave Italy.

Once your kids have lived in Italy they will, most likely, no longer appreciate the US environment (Italy is marvelous for anyone under 30).

For your working papers I suggest you go through the rigors of getting everything in order. Artisans (Electricians are part of this group)have civil and criminal responsibility for the work they do. I am not saying you would do anything wrong but if something happens they will look hard at your legal status first.

Good luck!

3:30 PM

 

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