Making Lists 06 | Pros & Cons of living in Italy by Natalie

Making Lists is back!! I have some very exciting people on the cards for the next few weeks, so get excited! Today I am so happy to introduce you to Natalie from the stunning La Designerie blog & talented graphic design studio. I first came across Natalie thanks to Freya who introduced us a little while ago, I don't know if you remember but Freya hosted a giveaway on my blog giving away one of Natalie's beautiful blog designs! 

Since then I've been in awe of her beautiful photography & amazing website. Natalie lives in beautiful Milan, Italy. Being a real lover of the Italian culture (& food) I couldn't be more excited when I received her list(s) in my inbox! Not only does she talk about all the reasons why Italy is wonderful, she also puts the light on a side of Italy you might not know, being an insider & having lived there for 5 years she knows her way around the country well enough to give us all the ins & outs. It's been interesting to read about her overall experience of moving to a foreign country..but I'm getting ahead of myself. Go read it, & let us know if you had similar experiences with Italy or any other country!

Thanks Tania for giving me the possibility to be a part of your beautiful Making List series! Your invite arrived in a list-making period, since I’m in the middle of rebranding La Designerie & I was trying some list & project managing apps in hope to find the right one for me! However, what I’m going to share here today is not about organization, projects & time management. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to dedicate this list to the pros & cons of living in Italy. Some of the things I’m going to say below are well known & they may sound like clichés, but on the other hand I’ll also tell you something you don't usually see on a 2 day long visit to Rome, Florence or Venice.

It was love at first sight with Italy, it was almost ten years ago at The Amalfi Coast – a beautiful romance that many of us know could easily happen with countries like Italy, Spain & France. From that romance was born the decision to move & spend the rest of my life there. Five years before that I was living in a small town near Switzerland, & today I live in Milan. Many cities were visited during that time, many experiences were lived & archived.

It’s always a joy to wake up & realize that I’m lucky for:

| PROS |

1. The coffee. That great cup of espresso. Authentic, aromatic, & only a few steps from my apartment.

2. The architecture & the cuisine. The stunning Piazza & the magnificent Duomo, the smaller but not less gorgeous churches disseminated everywhere, no matter the city or the region. Beautiful historical buildings take your breath away, even if you pass by them every day. And! you can eat those “gnocchi alla sorrentina” almost in every restaurant. Not to mention the pizza! Dozens types of authentic pizza with authentic flavors and ingredients are waiting for you.   

3. The language. Italian language has been part of my life for almost 13 years now & I’m still  convinced that it’s not one of the most beautiful – it’s THE most beautiful language in the world (and I speak four other languages from three different  Indo-European language families). I remember the first days in Italy, when I was going out only to listen to the people speak. It was pure happiness for me.

4. The art. There is an incredible art abundance here in Italy. I’m not surprised that this country is on the top of the World Heritage Site list. As a passionate lover of art, I adore the fact that I live near a huge amount of masterpieces. Only Vatican has an inestimable value. Literally. 

5. Related to the architecture & the art, there is also an incredibly beautiful nature. The peninsula is bathed by five seas, plenty of small gems of islands and seashores are waiting to be discovered in summer. Want to talk about the famous Tuscan hills? Or prefer the topic about some of the best ski stations in the world? 

 

This is such a blessed country, as it seems, except for :

| CONS |

1. The traffic. What the nature has generously gave to this land, Italians generously and systematically destroy. I’ve never see anywhere in Europe with traffic as intense as in Italy. At first it was a little bit shocking for me. Asphalting & cementing is a never-ending story here. People suffocate in the cities, the highroads are an infinite line of cars, bikes are not part of your everyday life. Public transports seems to be introduced as being only for old people or poor immigrants. 

2. Coffee shops. I hate the local coffee shops as much as I love their coffee. What I’m talking about are not those expensive snobbish coffees around some Duomo, or Museo. I’m talking about the numerous ordinary coffees that you’ll probably not see on the three itineraries on your carefully curated city guide. Usually it’s a depressing, poorly curated atmosphere, with no personality or even the minimal effort to embellish the space. Usually there are no tables or chairs, so what you consider your sacred moment of relaxation ends up to be a sad pay-drink-run three minutes long experience. If you – despite every discouraging sign – decide to stop and take a seat, you’ll probably pay an extra fee for “consuming” that cheap plastic seat & not so joyful paper table cloth. Working or just surfing on your laptop while drinking your coffee? Dream on!

3. The cuisine. You can really love, adore, admire, & endlessly enjoy pizza & pasta, but believe me, one day, you’ll wake up and you’ll want to eat something else. That’s the crucial moment when the struggle starts. There are two possibilities: home cooking or you have to have a really deep pocket.

4. Mentality. Generally, the thinking scheme and logic for most Italians works like this: you wake up in the morning & go to the office, obviously by car. That means you have a job and you are a happy person with great and successful future. Every alteration is considered suspicious and unproductive. Apply this logic to whatever you want. I think you get the point that here reigns a black and white world.   

5. Discrimination. What I’m going to say is from my personal experience as I’m labeled like  an “extracomunitarian”. Yes, labeling people is such a common thing here, and being a woman, plus extracomunitarian, without a car (by choice)… you’re destined to 'fail', no matter who you really are, your capacities and ethic qualities. The stereotypes are such a vivid reality, that sometimes puts you in a situation where you question your decisions & hopes. To make things worst, there is a considerable presence of disinformation & ignorance. 

 

Every country has its bright, positive and lovely face, that smile to the strangers with a polite & gentle expression. At the same time, there are no country in the world that doesn’t have a dark, complicated & disappointing side under the polished surface. What you’ll like or dislike about living in another country, different from your homeland, will depend especially on what you loved or hated in your birthplace. When we decide to move to another culture, it’s usually because we want and expect something better, a society to learn & be motivated from. Our expectation are high, high like the beauty in the adverts we see on TV & papers, or the idyllic imagery on someone’s mediterranean shabby blog with an invisible but high content filtering. Consequently, our disappointment will be as big as our hopes and expectation. Those experiences – beautiful and bad – shape us, our visions & self-awareness & it’s up to us to choose if we will transform them in creative or destructive energy. In my case, I can only thank my disillusions from the past – they helped me to discover who I really am & what I really love.