Thursday, January 31, 2013

Should I stay or should I go? My Italian love affair

The frustration of living in Italy. It's a common theme around here. It always has been, it always will be. In fact there has even been a documentary film made titled Italy:  Love it or Leave it addressing the issue, which  is quite serious these days. Two guys, one Italian one German, travel the entire country in a vintage Fiat 500 in search of a reason, something, anything, to stay here.

Over the 12 years I've spent living here I have seen many people come and go, some of them very good friends that I miss dearly. Both expats and Italians. I won't lie, it's hard to get close to someone and then one day find out that they are leaving because Italy no longer has anything to offer them. Of course with the way things are going lately with the economy and politicians I can't say I blame them. I've had my moments too. In fact back in 2004 I was frustrated enough to leave an amazing apartment and a 'decent' job and convince my husband to move to California with me.

We spent 3 years there while I went back to school and he worked odd jobs and took ESL classes at the local community center. Perhaps it was our circumstance that weren't ideal but somehow we ended up back in Italy. Why? Well because at the end of the day it's the place that suites us best. For now anyway.

I learned two very valuable lessons in those 3 years. Nothing and nowhere is perfect. And never say never.

Sure I get jealous of my sister's beautiful big house with her giant kitchen and family room, but guess what? Turns out she is just as jealous of my tiny one bedroom apartment and miniature kitchen in the city. For some Italy is not the best option for living as I can assure you it is nothing like 'Under the Tuscan Sun' or 'La Dolce Vita' unless of of course you are independently wealthy or freakishly gorgeous.
So NOT my life. 
But it does have its benefits and of course it's disadvantages, but so do most countries in the world. As my dear friend Michele put it before returning to Boston, one thing is for sure, no body moves to Italy to make money. Our reasons in fact, are very different.

The fact of the matter is this; Italy is an amazing country to visit or to come to study and a great place to live if you are an artist, designer, historian or other type of creative person who wants to be inspired Every. Single. Day. Or the kind of person looking for a new adventure and isn't concerned with the inner workings of the system or who doesn't mind working whatever job(s) come your way just to get by, then Italy is your country soul mate. The food is incredible and fresh and healthy, the wine is to die for and lets face it, the place is breathtakingly beautiful and chock full of history.

But if you are career oriented and looking to make good money or if you prefer structure over chaos, and expect things to function properly such as public services, then I would say that it will only be a matter of time before you decide its time to see other people. And it certainly doesn't help that the Italians themselves are not their usually happy go lucky selves these days. All things considered.

So the important question to ask yourself, wether you're deciding to come or go is, not where you are going to be happy, but rather what do you need to be happy. Trust me, living in Italy, is most definitely a test of mankind's greatest virtue and believe me, I have my moments even now, yes even now. There are times when I am ready to pick up and go but at the end of the day, what it comes down to is searching inside yourself and understanding what happiness means to you. We can't depend on anyone or anything else to that for us. Happiness is ours and ours alone. So just remember that the grass is not always greener, on either side.

One thing is for sure, everyone has to do what is best for them to find their happiness.

What do you think of all this? Have you loved and left? Or are you forever faithful? (or at least for now anyway) are you somewhere in between? Tell us the tale of your Italian affair!

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  1. As an American woman living in Italy put it in a blog post I read recently... the question to ask yourself, no matter where you live, is this: are you thriving or merely surviving?

    Food for thought, Sara--thanks :-)

    1. Absolutely Elizabeth! That is a great question to ask indeed. I would love to read that post and get another perspective. Would you like to share the link? Thanks for stopping by!

    2. This is the link to the original blog post, and you'll find the comment follows...

    3. Thanks for sharing the link Elizabeth. A great post indeed, I really enjoyed reading it and of course very much related to it and of course had to leave a comment of my own! A presto!

  2. Great post, Sara. I really enjoyed reading it. I agree with you in everything. However, I am quite sure that I will stay in Italy. This is where my heart belongs... nonostante tutto :-)

    1. Thank you Birgitte! I have a feeling we will grow old together, as I am also quite sure that this is where I am meant to be too, and in the end, that's a pretty good feeling, nonostante tutto :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love this post! I find a lot of the grumbling about Italy and life here recently quite tiresome. Your post and the Lincoln quote have made my day!

  4. Ciao Gillian! Thank you for your comment. It really has been quite difficult around here lately - let's hope things will be better soon. But it is certainly important to try and stay positive and be happy and thankful for all of the good things Italy has to offer us! Thanks for stopping by!


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