Living in Italy all these years will leave American expat Jennifer with a multitude of treasured memories

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Jennifer

-Where were you born?
Orlando, Florida, USA

-In which country and city are you living now?
Gardone Val Trompia, Italy

-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my husband and two sons.

-How long have you been living in Italy?
15 years

-What is your age?
40

Ponte di Legno-When did you come up with the idea of living in Italy?
My husband is Italian. We met in Mexico in 1992, and got married soon after.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
No, since we were married.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
No, I was automatically insured immediately.

-How do you make your living in Italy? Do you have any type of income generated?
I'm a full-time freelance translator. The first eight years I lived here my husband and I ran an Alpine Refuge with a restaurant. I also did some English teaching stints after that. I've been translating for 7 years. Jobs in Italy are scarce and hard to come by, and the laws regulating employment are complicated. I wouldn't recommend Italy to someone who needs to find immediate work.

-Do you speak Italian and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
After so many years here, I literally dream in Italian. I think it's extremely important to speak the local language of a country you are residing in, which I know requires a lot of effort. Italians generally don't speak much English, so learning Italian was vital for me. It also turned into the job I have and love today.

Respecting local customs comes easy in Italy - their culture and traditions are quite similar to my own, with the exception that the food is so much a part (a delicious part) of everything here!

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I miss my family more and more as time wears on. I was quite nomadic even before moving to Italy, and hadn't lived near my family since I left home at 17. Having children and thinking of your parents aging becomes more difficult the longer you stay away, I think. As far as missing home, that, too, seems to become more prevalent the longer I am away. Italy isn't always an easy country to navigate for an American. You have to get pretty creative! When I arrived here 15 years ago, it wasn't nearly as international as it is now, and the Internet was not yet a part of daily life here, which has certainly made it less isolating than it was during those early years.

-Do you have other plans for the future?
Yes... we are moving home to Colorado! Ironic that I am doing this interview now, I know. We are calling this next year a "trial period" in the US, then we'll see where that goes.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We own a home, which is over three centuries old and made of stone. I think it's what I'll miss the most.

-What is the cost of living in Italy?
High high high! Unbelievably high...

-What do you think about the Italians?
The Italian people are lovers of the good life, and the most generous of hosts. I live in the mountains in a small town, so my being an American has made me just a little famous, which isn't always fun. The Italian people also have no idea that staring is rude, and waiting in line is a mystery to them.

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Italy?
The positive aspect is Italy itself. The incredible, immense beauty here. The wealth of art and history, the cuisine, the landscape, the sea. The negative aspect is the difficulty in carving out a life in the maze of bureaucracy and taxes here. It's the major reason for our eminent departure.

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Italy?
Patience. Patience. Patience. And learn Italian. Not only will it make your life easier, it will make your life richer for its beauty and musicality.

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Italy?
I've done quite a bit of writing about my experiences in Italy on my own blog: The Verge

I also enjoy reading Italian Trivia, written by another expat named Jennifer.

The U.S. consulate in Milan is a very useful resource.

Traveling to Italy

michaelb's picture

My wife and I are trying to work out plans to spend 14-16 days traveling in Italy and Greece. There are many tour companies and travel agents around but we are trying to find someone who is familiar with Italy who can tell us the places to see, to stay, to eat, the ways to get around the country without getting run over, etc.

Can you suggest anyone that could help us plan a more enjoyable trip to Italy in late Sept/early Oct.?

Thank You!
Michael