10 things everyone who moves to Italy learns to do

10 things everyone who moves to Italy learns to do

Italy gets into your blood. Ask anyone who has ever visited Rome or Venice and they’ll tell you they left a piece of their heart there. Its passion is so undeniably infectious that even the most patriotic of expats will soon find themselves picking up Italianisms, air-kissing strangers enthusiastically while complentating the merits of different brands of prosciutto crudo. Here are 10 things that living in Italy will teach you:

fold your pizza

1,  Fold your pizza.  Who knew I was eating pizza wrong all these years? Certainly not me despite all that practice I’d had! Shortly after moving here I noticed that Italians fold their pizza slices, allowing them to gobble more without losing any of the toppings or getting pizza all over their faces.


2,  Follow the rules of coffee consumption (see this earlier post)

go in giro

3,  Go “in giro”. As a teacher I often have the following exchange with my students:

Me: Giovanni, what did you do this weekend?

Giovanni: Oh, nothing much, I just went in giro.

To go in giro literally means to go around in a circle. When this was first explained to me I didn’t get it.

Me: Oh so to go for a walk?

Giovanni: No, it’s normally done in a car

Me: But without a destination?

G: Precisely

Me: But why?

G: why not?

Me: Oh.

4.  Forget all rules of the road they may have once learned, particularly when it comes to parking.  When in Rome…

ice cream sandwich

5. Eat an ice cream sandwich.Yep, you read that right, no more soggy tuna mayo for me. You can have scoops of your favourite flavours sandwiched between a melt-in-your-mouth brioche.  A sugar coma will follow but my god it’s worth it!

6.  Become overly acquainted with your car horn.  You can see your friend in the bar? Honk. Your football team has just won a match? Honk.  You’re not sure but you think you recognise the car driving towards you? Honk.  Giuseppe said he’d meet you in the street but he’s nowhere to be seen and you’re already late, oh and it’s one o’clock in the morning? You guessed it, HONK HONK HONK!


Italian hand gestures

7.  Communicate with your hands more than with your mouth.   A quick flick of the wrist can land you in all sorts of trouble when you first move to Italy but then, quicker than you can neck an espresso, you’ll find yourself engaging in a whole array of non verbal language.  I promise I’ll write a post revealing all later but for the moment Italian hand gestures I salute you!  (With the volume of most conversations being so high they are pretty much essential after all 😉 )

8.  Allow a lunch to last ALL day.  It will happen. Regularly.  You will love it.

9.  Cook carbonara the real way. One of the first meals my husband cooked me was spaghetti carbonara and I’ll admit at first I was dubious.

“Where’s the cream and mushrooms? What the hell are you doing with that egg?!”

But after the first forkful I knew the so-called Carbonara I’d religiously eaten in England was a lowly impersonator. The look on my husband’s face when I described it confirmed things. When it comes to food Italians win hands down.

who_cares_wall_clock10. Learn to function on Italian time.

According to my husband I am incredibly rude. Why? Because I’m on time. This is apparently a complete disregard to the entire Italian race who according to him will surely be too busy doing something to actually make the appointment you’d organised.  In Italy there are only four times: breakfast, lunchtime, dinnertime and coffee time.  All other times are unimportant. Just as the Spanish have “Hasta Mañana” the Italians have ” A Dopo”, accompanied by a hand wave.  At first I found this infuriating coming from London where everything is so precise but then I realised it was me who’d got it wrong. Life’s too short to rush around, it’s exactly when we slow down, chat to the stranger in the street about our children’s sleeping habits, have another glass of wine with a friend or do one more lap of the piazza, that we are really living.  In a place so beautiful why get hung up on a couple of minutes, A dopo…

Have I forgotten anything? Share your experiences in the comments below.


Related Posts

Tropea and the Coast of the Gods

Tropea and the Coast of the Gods

The coast of Calabria has some beautiful names, the Costa Viola named after the colour of the water reflecting the land’s greenery, the Costa Tirrenica which to me sounds strong and warrior-like and the Costa degli Dei: the Coast of the Gods, which upon first […]

Inspiring Italian idioms and sayings

Inspiring Italian idioms and sayings

Think about the Italian language. You’re swooning aren’t you? Of course you are, it’s as natural as gelato; you can’t help yourself but indulge in it.  Just thinking about it makes me sigh, that musical sing-songy nature which oozes charm and romance.  No wonder it’s admired the […]

9 thoughts on “10 things everyone who moves to Italy learns to do”

  • That’s just in the south! 🙂 Up here near Vicenza, you can be on time (at least, it’s not considered rude), very few people sound their horn and I’ve never seen an ice cream sandwich! 😱

  • These are not so true in Rome! Noone would eat that icecream sandwhich I think (me definitely not and frankly Ive never seen one here, thanks God), and most people are not notoriously late here, though things definitely take much longer than in the north (literally everything is slower). I also think these hand gestures are such a stereotype, not everyone is doing it, and this I say based on my 2.5 years of living in Rome. Perhaps its different where you live, but it cannot be generalized to the entire South of Italy. The regions are so different with their own unique culture and mentality. Driving is crazy here but there is one and simple rule: fill the gaps. This was actually told by an Italian friend of mine, and I see how true it is – that’s why there are no lanes, they are simply trying to fill in the gaps! 😉

    • That’s funny! Love the idea of trying to fill in the gaps! Isn’t it strange how the regions are so different then!

  • I live in the South, as in Sicily, and its pretty precise, well spoken! I had a good chuckle… for the good… But what about the clothes and dressing up/and not really” down” ???? Now that is something that was a blast of hot or cold air depending on how you look at it or where you come from..?

    • That is so true, I forgot about the dressing up. Even a trip to the supermarket makes me feel hideously underdressed, if only I had that much free time to dedicate to my appearance! 🙂 Sicily is beautiful, where about are you based?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *