Katie is an American expat living and working as an au pair in Florence, Italy

Katie Greenaway

February 25 2007

-Where were you born?
St. Louis, Missouri, USA

-In which country and city are you living now?
I live in Firenze, Italia.

katie-&-tina in Italy-Are you living alone or with your family?
I am an au pair and living with a lovely Italian family.

-How long have you been living in Italy?
I got here on 4 Gennaio. January 4th.

-What is your age?

-When did you come up with the idea of living in Italy?
I studied abroad here (well in Fiesole) and I just fell in love with it. My Nana was born here so I believe she had something to do with my obsession. I then came back in Feb 2005 for a 2-week vacation to see if the obsession was still there. And it was! So I resigned from my job, and signed up for a language school in the centro of Firenze. I stayed for 3 months and then I was at a crossroads. I came home very upset thinking I left too soon and I didn’t accomplish everything I set for myself. So I worked odd jobs here and there in 2006, and I decided I always wanted to be a nanny. And I found one wonderful family in the centro of Firenze. Couldn’t ask for anything better!!!

-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Nope, I have worldwide health insurance and I don’t plan on getting deathly ill.

-How do you make your living in Italy? Do you have any type of income generated?
I am an au pair for an Italian family. I found the family thru a lovely agency out of Torino. It didn’t take very long. I asked to be placed in Firenze, and a week later she emailed me and said she found a family in Firenze. It took about a month or so of looking for the right agency and then within a week I already had a tentative date set. 

-Do you speak Italian and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I think it is very important to go to a language school when you get here. So you can start learning ASAP. I have been here 4 times so I really should be fluent but I am not. I can understand quite a lot, I just need to work on speaking.

I think it is very important not to compare your home country to the country you are living in. You really need to accept the different traditions and daily activities that go on in the city or town. That is the best thing about living in a country that isn’t your own. You learn so much about that city and country and in return you learn more about yourself. I love that feeling!

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
Of course I do. I have a new baby niece and goddaughter. I miss everyone all the time. I usually have so much to do in a day that I never really get homesick anymore and because Firenze is like my second home. I never feel alone here.

-Do you have other plans for the future?
I hope to go to graduate school once I find the right one. I want to get my masters in Italian studies and perhaps teach at the college level someday. I love this country so much that I hope to bring the love to other students around the world. I am also applying for citizenship and hope to become a legal dual citizen (American and Italian) someday too. I am also an aspiring writer in that I hope to be a published writer someday soon.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I live with the family in the centro of Firenze.

-What do you think about the Italians?
Italians are very accommodating of Americans or any foreigners. Florentines I find are just so welcoming and are willing to help most if not all of the time if you are lost. 

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Italy?
Positives are many: food, culture, traditions, food, wine, people, food, nightlife, people. 

The negatives are few: I guess sometimes the buses can be a pain to wait for; walking can be a pain, but who wouldn’t want to walk around this gorgeous city. I love to walk in the side streets where the tourists aren’t. You can find a lot of good ristorantes this way as well.

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Italy?
Just be open to the culture and traditions. No city is perfect for everyone, so take the plunge and try Firenze out for a dip, and if you visit here in the summer make sure you book a hotel on the seaside because Firenze is an oven in the summer. 

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Italy?
Olive Oil e Vino Dreams

Living in Florence: Melinda Gallo's blog about her life in Florence.

Florence Journal: information on anything about Florence.

Bleeding Espresso: a good friend who is also a writer and living in her ancestors' birth town in Calabria. Great writer!

The Olive Notes: a couple from Florida who will be moving to Florence in August. They talk about their preparations for their upcoming move.

Amici Over the Ocean: My favorite Italian forum. Great group of people. Information on everything Italian.

au pairing

Ggncally84's picture

how long have you been au pairing with them? i was an au pair to some extent when i moved here and I found it a good experience just not something you could do forever. I love living in florence too but its hard to meet people that actually stay in florence. Are you planning to get your masters here?

I am also an au pair in

msegar1's picture

I am also an au pair in Rome. However, I am finding it difficult to get a working permit or visa. Can you tell me what you did to obtain permission to live and work in Italy.

Hi, I actually have the same

krafdal's picture

Hi, I actually have the same question as Mariel. I am an American who is hoping to become an Au Pair in Florence beginning in August or September of this year, so I still have some time to start the visa process. What was the name of the visa? Would you mind describing the process?
I, too studied abroad in Florence and returned for a week this month to see if the obsession still exists, and unsurprisingly- it does! Its good to find someone else with a similar story.
I also found a small agency within Torino, she has been great! What was yours called? I wonder if its the same one...
I would really appreciate any visa help you could give me, thanks!! I'm so glad things have worked out for you!