Why Italy?

There are people in this world who weigh their decisions carefully from one hand to the other, intricately analyzing the possible consequences of one path versus another and the impacts each will have on their futures.

Then there are people who throw caution to the wind, take one day at a time, and go where the spirit leads them.

Then there’s me.

I appear to be the first, but with some serious genetic predispositions towards the second. The result is that I’m impulsive, but dedicated. Hence, I find myself in Italy… for the rest of my life.

Shall I explain?

So, at age 26 I met and fell in love with an Italian in my masters degree program in Sydney, Australia. I know, I know, I know… who doesn’t fall in love with an Italian in their mid-20’s while on study-holiday in Australia? One would think it would end there – a fling Down Under with a tall, dark, Mediterranean dude. Excellent.

But no! What were really a series of very very small decisions, so small that I didn’t even consider them life-altering decisions at the time, combined forces to lead my life down a path that I had never once considered. At first it was just a quick “why don’t you just move in with me?” Then there were plans for an around-the-world trip. Then we checked our wallets and did some math. “How about we stay in my Italian hometown for a bit and save up?” Sure! Why not? Italy is supposed to be lovely in the summer! Then the financial crisis hit and work became scarce. We picked up some work as freelance architects for friends of La Famiglia, just to get by. Two projects turned into five. We opened an office. We chose a business name.

Three years later, I’m staring at my tall, dark, handsome Italiano, who is down on one knee in the middle of Rome, and I’m thinking… “How the HELL did that happen?!”

And there you have it. Poof. Life just does what it wants, doesn’t it?

So, here I am. Some days I absolutely love it. Some days I want to take Italy, stuff it into a soccer ball, and punt it into space.

Today is sunny, so I’m crushing pretty hard.

Are you an expat in Italy? Tell me your story of how you got here!!

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34 thoughts on “Why Italy?

  1. I’m from NY and live in Milan, which I love most days, but sometimes get quite frustrated! I saw that you live in Reggio Emilia such a cute city I especially loved the bookstore there – I believe it’s called Libreria all’Arco

    • Hi Elena, thanks for reading! Yes, it is a cute city. And yes, all’Arco is a great bookstore. A bit weak in the English section, but hey – we’re in Reggio Emilia. Let’s not get crazy! I’m technically in a small town in the province of Reggio, however. So think Reggio… now think smaller… now think smaller again… not quite there yet… a little more. Let’s put it this way – 8 minutes to cross town by foot – and that’s the really long way. 🙂 Whenever I go to Milan I stock up on bagels from California Bakery and stick them in my freezer when I get home! Anyway, thanks for stopping by, stay in touch!
      -M

    • so true, so true
      thanks for commenting, Toni (girl’s name) – I liked your post on that subject… I’m going to have to explore your site more when I get a spare minute!
      -M

  2. Just discovered your blog through IRG, and am devastated that I didn’t know about it when I was living in Umbria. I was in Spello for a year with my family (husband who got his Italian citizenship in the last few weeks before we left, 3 children who were in public school, and 2 cats who took turns running away for the fun of being rescued off of Italian heights), and it was an astonishing experience. I am newly back on American soil and already longing for Italy. Though I admit, I am enjoying the air conditioning and Thai food quite a bit. Anyway, reading your blog reminds me of so many of our conversations over aperol spritzes, and I love your writing style. Can’t wait to read more, and btw, I think fitaly is a fabulous idea.

    • Thanks, Michelle. I’m sad to hear you’ve left… sadder to hear you have air conditioning and Thai food, while I’m soaking in a puddle of my own sweat with a plate of pasta in front of me. Ew.

      Hopefully #fitaly will take off… I need people to chat with about it to stay encouraged. My husband can’t understand why I question a diet which has served his family well for generations. I then point out that I am not a farmer.

      Stay in touch!
      -M

      • Well, I’ll be cheering you on from Charlottesville, Virginia, if that’s any comfort. And I’ll be cheering while I’m looking at plane fares to get back. Crossing my fingers for the Infiorata. In any case, I remember talking to my Italian teacher about food, and he tried to tell me that the reason that they don’t eat much wheat in my community (I was trying to explain my family’s belief in the power of high protein, low gluten because he was advocating the Italian diet for my children of a cookie in the morning and bread at snack) is because America was founded by the English, and those Brits don’t eat much wheat. I tried to explain about the whole “amber waves of grain” thing, but he looked at me so befuddled that I gave up. And quietly passed on the Umbrian bread.

        • haha… I mean, even if there were a few seeds involved… enough whole kernels to be able to call it a complex carbohydrate… come on, people!

  3. I just stubbled upon your blog. I too am a Texas gal, married to an italo-americano (first generation, parents immigrated to Boston when they were kids). Now we have the “ancestral” home in Lucca. We lived there permanently for about five years but family matters pulled us back to the States. Now faciamo il pendolo between Texas and Tuscany. We plan to retire back to Lucca once the kids are in college, unless we decide we just can’t stand dealing with the layers of Byzantine bureaucracy and chaos. Anyway, keep it up; I enjoy your posts.

    • Lovely to “meet” you, Jane! That would be so nice, to swing back and forth… tricky with our line of work, but as we’re getting more into writing and energy consulting it could be possible. Lucca is not a bad base from which to tackle the chaos. Thanks for reading!
      -M

  4. Married to Italy… the name of your blog and everything in it so much substance and hilarity. I just got to a few of your posts and cant wait to read the rest. My name is Jaeriah… nice to meet you. I actually searched “what is a customary gift for an Italian family after marrying in?” on Google and stumbled on your blog from one of the links. I am returning to italy in a few days after a year and a half. My Italian husband and I currently live in Vancouver and got married here last December. So almost a year! A little background on us. In the summer of 2011… I was a 21 year old Canadian young graduate traveling to Europe for the first time for a backpacking and volunteer trip. What was suppose to be a 4 month trip turned out to be 8 months. I traveled through the eastern part of Europe and decided to start my volunteer exchange helping out in Hostels, BnBs and Hotels in exchange for housing/food in Italian small towns. I landed the small town of Monte del Lago in Perugia, Umbria where my future husband works as a Chef…. and well… how everything happened after that was a dream come true. Fast forward til now…. we have decided to settle in Vancouver, my hometown for the time being and make frequent visits back home. To keep this short and hopefully our exchange will continue… any thoughts, experiences to share, advice would be greatly appreciated. The road we’ve been on thus far has been a rocky, rewarding, but truly loving beyond measure one…. considering our many factors such as language (as he did not speak a word of English when we met), culture difference, and age gap (17 years). Thank you M, and hope to hear soon! I am a reader!

    • Hi Jaeriah, and benvenuti! Thanks so much for joining me on my crazy journey. I must say, you’ve already got a huge advantage in mitigating the culture shock, not living here year round. But even so, I’m sure you’ve already seen that an intercultural marriage has a whole bunch of baggage with it that can be really rewarding if dealt with correctly. It can also drive you completely nuts sometimes!! The more you can try to understand how things work here, the easier it will be for you to help your husband adjust to life in Canada (which will no doubt be challenging for him). As far as your search – the answer is FOOD! Always food. And drink. I’m not sure what Vancouver is known for, but I’m from Texas, so whenever I come back from a trip I bring tequila, American honey, pecans, and real BBQ sauce. Always a hit… even if they have no clue how to use any of it. 🙂
      Anyway, I’m really glad you are enjoying the reading! Stay tuned for more!
      -M

    • Excellent, Lauren! I spent a month in India with my hubby before we gat married. It was… rough. I can’t imagine moving there!
      -M

  5. Hi M! I stumbled upon your blog as a fellow expat friend posted something about #Fitaly on Facebook. Great idea, I’d love to share some recipes, as I too am rebelling against pork, pasta, and my growing ass. I am from NY, spending my childhood on Long Island (LawnGuyland) and my “adult” life (dare I call it that) from 18-28 living in NYC. I came to Italy in Jan 2012 to do a second Master at UNIBO’s Alma Grad School. I was fed up with my life in the big city…after an MBA and several years working the corporate finance grind I was burnt out and over it! I have close ties to Italy and had vacationed here down south in Salerno with my best friend and her cousins for years, and it was really a dream come true to come study here. Fast-forward to Summer 2012, while I was down in Salerno on my extended student-life vacation, I bumped into a friend of a friend who I had met 3 summers ago, who is now slated to be my husband in about 15 days. Yeah, funny how that stuff just happens. We now live together in Rome (thank god) primarily due to my excellence in the are of palle romping and partly due to my fiancee being a really talented chef. However, he hails from a mountain top about 15 mins outside of Salerno down in Campania. Population of said mountain— 2,000. I am thankful as hell to have spend the majority of my time living here in “cities” like Bologna and Rome, however La Familia life is quite different, and being just a mere 2 hours away on the Frecciarossa or Italo, we do in fact spend a lot of time there. They too are a pork-driven culture, and many of my experiences are almost identical to those described in your blog. I also almost died at my first pork-slaughter/eat weird pork shit till you want to vomit festival last winter. I won’t go into details, but girl you hit the freakin nail on the head and I literally stayed up reading every single post until my eyes were like falling out of my head the first nite I discovered you. In just under two years here, with 1.5 of them being lets say, “engaged to Italy” I have definitely had my share of ups and downs and I really appreciate your witty writing style and I feel like I could be reading a story about myself in reading your posts. Its nice to know I am not alone. Thanks for putting it out there 🙂 Best, Nicole

    • Oh wow! Congratulations on the upcoming wedding! Thanks so much for reading. I am way late with my Fitaly post for last week, but my stupid scale broke. Arg. So I’m going to need to catch up this week and try to get a new one by Friday. SO happy to hear from someone in a similar position. It completely changed things for me when I started discovering other people out there having the same experiences. Keep in touch, and keep asking me about Fitaly! I need to be held accountable! Ack! -M

  6. Im so glad to have found your blog! your “about” story cracked me up. I am from Dallas now living with my Italian husband in the Veneto. oh what a life we lead…. 🙂

  7. Hello M,

    Just read your fantastic blog. Although I am an Italian, a pure Piedmontese guy, I have always been enjoying the… Impact between different cultures, different worlds. I work with many foreign colleagues, and that’s always fun and instructive to learn how they see us. This is a great blog. Enjoy your stay and, above all, benvenuta in Italia!

    Greetings from the rainy (not snowy, damn) Milan.

    Marco

  8. Ciao M!, congrats for your excellent Italian. It’s always quite difficult for people coming from abroad. I hope you’ll enjoy this beautiful, crazy land. I am in Milan but come from Biella, and grew up between Chiavari (Liguria) and Champoluc (Aosta Valley). Have you ever been there?

    Marco

    • wow, che bello! My marito’s zia spends every summer in the Aosta Valley. We’ve only been through once, but it was gorgeous. I’m definitely going to have make it back soon! How on EARTH can you handle living in Milan after growing up there?! 🙂

  9. You absolutely right… It’s difficult to stay here. But in Biella I could find no jobs, nor in Turin. Milan at least still offers good employments and you know, it’s such a large town, very impersonal: you come here, you attend to your duties and then go away. I almost love this. In small towns and villages, neighbours are always too “close” and omnipresent. Here, at least, no-one cares about you.

    Marco

  10. Hi M! I am also a fellow Texas. Born and raised in Houston, moved to Austin for 7 years before moving to Italy. My hubby is Italian (Roman) and lived in Austin before moving to Milan 7 years ago. Your stories are fab. I would be nice to meet at some point…maybe we can have a BBQ!!! Take care!

  11. I imagine you’re watching the Super Bowl online so I’ll keep my reply short 😉 what a funny blog you have!! Alas, I’m not from Texas, but I do come from the US (Chicago girl, here) and I also love barbecue! I live with my husband here in the provincia of Brescia. I mostly love it but sometimes have a hard time adjusting due to the fact that I still work in the US as a flight attendant so I’m gone about every 2 or 3 weeks for the same amount of time. I get used to being here and then suddenly I’m back in the US going to CVS at midnight for nail polish remover. Its both lovely and difficult. Anyway, I’m in Italy for the next two weeks and I’ll be catching up on your blog archives while it rains! Keep up the hilarious writing!

    • Thanks, Elise! Yes, I am watching the Super Slaughter… but finding it hard to justify staying up past 3 am for this massacre.
      Thanks for reading! I’m going to have to send you on a CVS run for me someday. 🙂
      -M

  12. Hi M!
    Thanks for the useful, and humorous, information on your blog. My wife and I recently moved to Umbria from Dallas to be a little closer to her family, and I can certainly relate to your perspective. Thank you for the good information and keep up the good work.

    • ohey!!!! The Big D! That is is where I hail from myself. 🙂 Benvenuti in Italia and welcome to the life of Texpats.

      I’ve been MIA lately, but hope to get back to writing soon. thanks for the note, stay in touch!
      -M

  13. Hi there and nice to meet you! I am Valerie. Well, I used to be just Valerie. Now I am Valerie-the-American-from-LosAngeles-married-to-an-Italian. I miss being just Valerie. Anyway, my Italian friend sent me your link on facebook and I have only read this blogpost, so thanks so much for my future reading. I am living in Treviso, which is about 20 minutes from Venice.

    Everyone says two things, well, I lie… says three things when I meet them: 1) You should start a blog! 2) Why did you move here? and 3) You should teach English! So, I did start teaching, but haven’t started a Blog. Truth is, I probably would start a blog, if I ‘loved’ Italy every single day. Being a former Los Angeleno, I have found it incredibly difficult to acclimate, anche se, our friends and family are terrific. A huge help. But no help at all, when you just want to hop in your car and drive to Michael’s crafts at 8pm. I see so many blogs from expats and they are just super chipper and find the beauty in every cobblestone they walk on. I’m just not there yet and it’s been 3 years, 1 month, and 10 days. WAH!!!!!

    Okay, also what’s UP with my fat assets????? WOW, if my husband would have told me then, what I know now about pushy relatives that force you to eat Cheesecake Factory portions of food, I would have said, “I love you, but…” I mean, naturally in California, you aim to look your best (and I did) (and I was!), you have so much in terms of healthy choices for food that are also ethnic and not your basic boring Italian dish. Yes, I am so OVER Italian food… I digress…. But, we also had hills and mountains all around so to hop in your car and zip to Michael’s crafts, THEN zip to go on a hike, was amazing, fast, and kept me in shape.

    I was a vegetarian… yes ‘was’… I knew it too! I knew I would become a victim of bacon once again… and yes, I Spaghetti alla Carbonara was my downfall. 20 years of being a Los Angeleno Vegetarian Bye-Bye! Hellooooo bacon-eating, carb lovin’ figure!!! Never, ever, did I even consider eating pasta, maaaaaybe once every two or three months…. Never did I eat bread, pizza, cheese, or drink wine… AND I ATE SO MUCH FOOD in LA… but nope.. not carbs. Anyway, my buns are bigger than ever and my boobs are now a topic of conversation… Yikes.

    Allora… just wanted to share my story. I will continue reading your posts.. that make me smile and giggle… And I am happy to hear you started your own Arch business! Good for you! I was a sales rep in LA for several lighting companies and worked with Architects, Lighting Designers, and Electrical Engineers daily! I miss lighting!!!!! Just a lot of “Missing” going on in 3 years that I hope to not have in 6…

    Alla prossima!

    Valerie

    • Oh Valerie. Valerie, Valerie, Valerie. Would that I could tell you differently, my dear, but alas… it will not change. You touched on MANY subjects that I lament about here on this blog frequently. In fact, the reason I do the blog is precisely because I don’t love Italy every day, and I need this as therapy for coping with it! It’s always so morbidly comforting to hear that someone else is going through the same stuff, the same frustrations, the same shocking experiences. But I can’t say that the “missing” will decrease over time. It hasn’t for me, anyway. You just get more used to it I guess.

      The blogs that are all happy butterflies and flowers and cute cobblestone photos are full of it, if you ask me. The only thing I can figure is that they are not full time residents or they are not trying to work here… or both. I mean, sure, if I could leave for 3 months out of the year, I’d love Italy a lot more!! Or if I didn’t have to try and solicit clients, then get them to pay their damn bills, sure, it would be a cinch! Heck, Italians themselves complain about that aspect. Or perhaps, these bloggers are using their blogs as therapy as well; only they restrict themselves to writing about fairy tale crap, while at home in real life they are frustrated and bitter.

      Who knows. But I promise you this – no butterflies here. Only coping mechanisms.

      🙂 Thanks for stopping by and reading! Keep in touch!
      – M

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