Busted! Three Things You Didn’t Know About Being an Expat in Southern Italy

Many people travel to a new country to immerse themselves into the culture and imagine-if only for a few weeks-what it would be like to live there. If they rent an apartment or a B&B, they can get into the routine of going to the local market, choosing what to prepare for meals and seeing the same people at the local bars and pizzerias.

But breaking out of that tourist-or “traveler,” if you subscribe to the notion that there is a difference-mentality and settling in as an expat are completely different.

Here are three of the biggest myths of being an expat in southern Italy that I’ve come across.

1. Weekend Travel is Easy
One of my favorite things about living in southern Italy is the obvious lack of international tourists. Southern Italy, particularly south of Campania before you reach Sicily, doesn’t cater to tourism and because of that, the infrastructure has suffered.

It isn’t easy to travel around southern Italy by train and getting from Calabria to Puglia by car is downright tough, thus, weekend trips are hard to come by. It’s also expensive. When you’re on vacation, you can justify the expenses. That’s not always the case when you live here.

2. We Don’t Get Bored
While there is something comforting about getting into a routine, mundane tasks like going to work, paying the bills and yes-even shopping at the market and cooking delicious Italian dishes-can get old.

Just because we live in southern Italy, doesn’t entitle us to all-access pass to the fun house. Routine is routine is routine … we are just in the Mediterranean with ours.

3. We “Shouldn’t” Miss Home
I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but I have seriously-seriously!- upset people when I talk about missing things from home. All of southern Italy’s glamor and grandeur could be wrapped and handed to us with a big shiny red bow, but when you are out of your home country for any length of time, you start missing it. That is why some expats I know who have been here 20+ years still have their moms send them care packages with maple and brown sugar oatmeal and Splenda!

What other myths do you think exist about being an expat?

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9 Responses
  1. Ciao Cherrye! #1 is certainly true, and I know we have it a bit easier being so near Naples. But it is expensive. Once you factor in train tickets, eating, hotel, even a weekend in Rome or Florence can be quite a lot. But I’m set on exploring around Campania more this summer and doing more daytrips. Enjoyed this post! 🙂

    Thanks, Laura. I plan to do more day trips this year, too. It’s sad that it is *so* much more expensive here to do a weekend trip than it was (is?) back in the states.

    .-= Laura from Ciao Amalfi´s last blog ..Sugar Snow on the Amalfi Coast =-.

  2. Well said Cherrye, especially the point about routine and boredom. I often get asked about what I cook, and as I am a basic cook I cook the same dishes whichever country I am in; just in the Med the ingredients are fresher and better.

    Yea, I know it seems strange to say you can get “bored” in Italy, but it is what it is … right?

    .-= travelingsuep´s last blog ..Gratitude Friday – a moment of peace =-.

  3. For #3, I get just the opposite that you do. 🙂
    People can’t believe that we don’t miss things from America. When they ask what we miss and we respond, “good, take out Chinese food” they insist that there must be more.
    They also often assume that we moved here because we don’t like America. Very strange!

    Ha, that is strange (and lucky that you can admit to missing things!) I wonder what the difference is-Italy vs France, me being in the south, the people I’m around … 🙂 I was just bemoaning the lack of take out this week! Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood to cook!

    .-= Loulou´s last blog ..Don’t Speak =-.

  4. All of this is so true. It is easier for us to travel up here in Tuscany, but it is the idea that you have to travel if you want to buy a book in English or eat a Chinese meal. And then people can’t beleive it when you whine about it! Oh and libraries. We so miss libraries. But there is so much I don’t miss like traffic and too much snow.

    I miss libraries, too, but I REALLY miss big bookstores where you can hang out for hours … ah ….

    .-= Martha´s last blog ..More Thoughts on Retirement =-.

  5. A friend of mine came over from the UK for a weekend visit a month or so ago. “Where shall we go to eat?’ she asked, and then looked flabbergasted that I didn’t have the first idea. What people forget is that I *live* here. Do you go to restaurants every night when you’re in your own town? No, you do not. So why would you think I do so, just because I live in Italy?

    The other myth is the weather. Friends from the UK assume that I’m bathed in glorious golden sunshine every minute of the day. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth! The temperatures may be higher than in the UK, but it’s also as damp as sin down here, and I feel far colder than I ever do at home, an awful lot of the time. Roll on spring, say I!

    Ha! So funny. I just wrote a post about this (that goes live this Tuesday)!

    .-= Katja´s last blog ..Lost in Translation =-.

  6. So true, so true. Especially the part about missing home. I don’t want to miss home. I like it here. And yet, suddenly I’ll get on the phone with a friend or see pictures of my hometown and yearn for it.

    I’ve found I “appreciate” home in a new way, as well. I mean, I always loved Texas, but now I super duper love it. Ya know? 🙂

    In these southern parts, I have made great friends with my Tom-Tom who guides me, usually, everywhere by car. That way, I don’t have to use maps and rely on the tourist things I was normally used to in more touristy areas. 🙂

    Saluti da Napoli!!!
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Caffe Pignatelli =-.

  7. Liz

    So true! We are 2 months into our 3 months in Italy and The everyday tasks that were amazing are turning mundane. And the annoying things from home are starting to look awesome. 🙂

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