Living La Vita Bella in Italy - One Gelato at a Time!

We are Americans who got Italian citizenship and moved to Italy.

Life can sometimes get a little too laid-back in Italy, according to Sarah, but life can be wonderful there overall. Read what she has to say about the people, the food, and the importance of establishing personal relationships there.


Sarah Familia

-Where were you born?

I was born in the United States and grew up in California.

-In which country and city are you living now?

I live in a picturesque little town with a castle on the mountainside in Piedmont, Italy.

-Are you living alone or with your family?

I moved here with my husband and two children, ages 3 and 5.

-How long have you been living in Italy?

We spent seven months here a couple of years ago, but this year we've come back to stay, and have been living in Italy for four months.

-What is your age?


-When did you come up with the idea of living in that country in Italy?

We've always loved traveling, so when we found out my husband could get Italian citizenship by descent, we immediately decided to move here.

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

We had a pretty crazy time getting the Italian government to recognize his citizenship (lots of long frustrating days in Italian government offices), but now that he has it, he can work without any problems.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

When we first came, we got international health insurance with Multinational Underwriters. Now we are on the Italian national healthcare system.

-How do you make your living in Italy? Do you have any type of income generated?

My husband got a job working for the company of the mayor who helped get him citizenship.

-Do you speak Italian and do you think it's important to speak the local language?

Yes, it is important to learn Italian! Many Italians, especially in larger cities, do speak English, at least somewhat. But you will miss out on so much if you don't learn it.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.

We spend a lot of time on Google chat with the grandparents. Other than family, we don't miss much of anything. Life in Italy is wonderful, especially once you get used to slowing down, not being able to get as much done in a day, only shopping before 7:30 at night, etc.

-Do you have other plans for the future?

We love being based in Europe because of the great access to European and Middle Eastern destinations for vacations. We've done some traveling around and plan to do more.

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?

We are renting. A nice two or three bedroom apartment (fully furnished) will run you about 600 euros a month where we live, in a small town in Piedmont. 

-What is the cost of living in Italy?

Utilities and gasoline are quite expensive compared to the States. We spend a lot on food, but you don't have to :). The salary to cost of living ratio is not great in Italy.

-What do you think about the Italians?

Italians are some of the kindest, most friendly people in the world. They generally love practicing their English and are very welcoming. However, they do love their way of doing things and aren't necessarily open to new ideas. For example, restaurants serving anything other than Italian food are comparatively rare (good thing Italian food is so good!). Also, in Northern Italy, sad but true, people of ethnicities other than white may encounter some racism :(.

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Italy?

Positives: Beautiful scenery, excellent food, laid-back lifestyle. Before you know it, you will start dressing and looking like an Italian because you're tired of looking like a sloppy foreigner. Everything just seems more romantic here in Italy. 

Negatives: laid-back lifestyle, anything to do with bureaucracy. Sometimes things are a little TOO slow. 

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Italy?

Make sure you're prepared to dedicate time for really getting to know people, because personal relationships make the world go round in Italy.

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Italy?

All the nitty-gritties of how we moved to Italy and our adventures now that we're here can be found on my blog at