Living in Italy: Everything You Need to Know
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Are you thinking about living in Italy?
From its diverse culture, millennia-old history, art, literature, architecture, and fashion, Italy has so much to offer. Also, if you are looking for romance, Venice is its epicentre.
Whether you are travelling to Italy for a holiday or relocating to this beautiful land, its diversity in almost every aspect of life makes everything interesting.
But what is it like living in Italy? What key points should you note before travelling or relocating to the land of the once greatest army?
Well, if you are interested in moving to Italy – whether you are looking for a temporary job or want to become an Italian citizen – I have prepared a list of crucial facts and things that will help your life here flow easily.
From the country’s amazing food to the costs involved, let’s get into a comprehensive overview of what it’s like living in Italy.
Living in Italy: Things You Should Know
Cost of Living in Italy
When relocating to a new place, the cost of living in the area is the first thing that most people will look for. Is it cheaper than where you are coming from, or will you need to dig deeper into your finances? Assessing the cost of living helps determine whether the new place is ideal for you, especially when working on a budget.
So, what will living in Italy be like in terms of cost?
Living in Italy isn’t cheap at all! That’s the hard fact. In fact, in 2020, Italy was reported to be among the most expensive countries to live in Europe. While life here is beautiful and alluring, it can also charm money from your pockets!
However, this doesn’t mean you should shelf your dream of living in Italy. The cost of living will vary significantly based on the city you settle in.
The cost of living in expensive cities in north Italy is substantially higher than in southern rural areas. This is due to a significant north/ south divide in the country, and the fact that annual income is a lot higher in the north whereas economic downturn has impacted the income per capita in the south in the last few years.
While there are expensive cities like Milan, Florence, and Rome, American or British citizens will find other cities to be a lot cheaper. You may even have disposable income after you have paid for all your necessities!
Some of the costs you should consider here include:
- Housing costs: One bedroom apartment in a major city centre costs around $1,500, while the same in the small southern towns will cost roughly $600.
- Transportation costs: One gallon of gas costs about $6.64, while public transport pass goes for $40 per month, on average.
- Cost of food: A meal in a simple restaurant goes for around $15 (maybe more in touristy or expensive cities), while dinner for two in a fancy hotel will cost you about $80. The good news is, Italy has such amazing food, that even a simple meal will be delicious!
- Entertainment: A pint of beer here costs between $5 and $6 (maybe more in a city centre or in a tourist area), while enjoying a movie will cost you around $20.
Italian Lifestyle and Culture
In Italy, culture is immersed in arts, architecture, religion, music, family, and unique food. Italy was once home to some of the most influential leaders who ever lived, with history and culture spanning over 3000 years. The European country is full of friendly locals and dynamic history.
Italy’s population is about 61 million people. Approximately 96% of these people are Italians. The rest of the population comprises Germans, North Africans, Albanians, Italo-Albanians, Australians, and other European ethnic groups.
Italian culture has also been influenced by the neighboring countries, including France, Australia, and Switzerland.
Therefore, learning to speak Italian is paramount before settling in Italy.
The official language in this beautiful country is Italian, and around 96% of people speak it as their first langauge.
The Italian language is also considered one of the most famous Romance languages – stemming from Venice, “the home of romance.” Other dialects found in Italy include Albanian, Corsican, Croatian, Catalan, French, Greek, German, etc.
English is spoken by younger people, but you might find that there is a language barrier with older people or outside of the larger cities – English speakers are less common in the countryside. That’s why it is a great idea to have at least a basic understanding of Italian!
An overwhelming majority (80-90%) of people living in Italy are Roman Catholics. That goes without saying!
Vatican City, located in Rome, is the centre of Roman Catholic and the Pope’s residence. In fact, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world, and it’s headed by the Pope. You’ll notice religion has a strong presence in daily life in Italy compared to other European countries.
The rest of Italy’s population comprises Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish religions and Atheists.
Art, Music, and Literature
These are three crucial aspects engraved in Italian culture. In almost every corner of every street in every Italian city, you can be sure to be met by fantastic art.
Here, art, music, and literature are not confined to the museums. They go beyond the famous Venice, Florence, and Rome Museums. In fact, Italy’s atmosphere itself resonates with art, music, and literature.
For instance, Italy’s most famous piece of art is painted on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in the Vatican. The painting was done around 1508 to 1512 by Michelangelo. And Italy is also home to other world-famous artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Leon Battista Alberti.
Italian culture is also known for its incredible operas, with some of the world’s greatest composers like Luciano Pavarotti and Ruggero Leoncavallo.
This is one thing that will make living in Italy quite revitalizing – and it’s something that British and American citizens in particular love about the country!
If you enjoy classic yet amazing food, Italian cuisine is considered one of the world’s best. It’s one cuisine that has significantly influenced the world’s food culture over the years. What’s more, every meal is a masterpiece in Italy – you’ll get to enjoy mouthwatering dishes as part of your daily life!
As part of Italian meals, cheese, pasta, and wine will never miss. There are numerous forms of pasta, including spaghetti, penne, fusilli, linguine, and lasagna. And, these are integral parts of almost every meal, especially in central Italy.
Here, every meal is an art. And, every bite is simply mouth-watering.In the northern region of Italy, the main dishes include rice, potatoes, fish, pork, sausages, risotto, and pasta. In the southern region, tomatoes are the staple.
Every meal will contain tomatoes, either fresh or cooked. Other popular ingredients in the south include pepper, capers, garlic, eggplant, ricotta cheese, olives, etc.
Food is believed to give Italians a higher quality of life and is part of what makes families stronger. This way, every gathering comprises of mouth-watering meals that you’ll find quite difficult to resist.
So, if you are planning to live in Italy, food shouldn’t bother you at all. The country has some of the most fantastic food in Europe. And, even if you have dietary requirements, the cuisine is so varied that you’ll be able to find some delicious dishes to suit you. Take a look at this guide to being vegan in Venice for more information!
Wine is also an integral part of Italian food culture. With some of the biggest vineyards in the world, wine has been part of the Italian culture for thousands of years.
Be ready to enjoy some of the best wines you’ll find nowhere else. These are the best wine regions to visit during your time in Italy.
Customs and Etiquette
If you are planning on living in Italy, here are some things you should bear in mind.
First, it’s prudent to learn at least something small about the local greetings. Whether friends or strangers, Italians are used to wishing a good day or good evening to each other (Buongiorno, Buona sera). But if you’ve heard of “ciao,” this one is for good friends, not strangers.
Also, the greetings are accompanied by a kiss on the left and the right cheek for great friends. Shaking hands will do for strangers or not-so-good friends.
When it comes to dressing codes, Italy is more conservative than the West or other European countries. This is because it’s more of a religious country. Therefore, you ought to be appropriately dressed. Remember, the churches contain many of the best attractions in Italy. This means that appropriate dressing is not negotiable, especially if you want to visit churches.
Some clothing, such as shorts, sleeveless garments, tank tops, etc., are strictly prohibited in churches. If it’s too hot, especially during summer, ensure to carry a scarf to cover your shoulders if you are wearing sleeveless tops.
Another thing to remember is always requesting an il conto (check) after dining in a restaurant. Italians will never bring the bill to your table unless you ask for it.
And, smoking is banned in all public establishments.
Italy is full of rich, diverse, and vibrant nightlife. Numerous bars and clubs operate across the major cities, including Rome, Padua, Bologna, Naples, etc. Mostly these establishments are up and running from 9:00 pm, operating through almost the entire night.
Most clubs will operate within the city centres during winter and retreat to the beautiful beaches when summer warmth kicks in. Both tourists and locals are seen flocking the beaches for a piece of entertainment, creating scenes as seen in Grado and Rimini.
If you are used to partying, nothing has to change when you move to Italy. On the contrary, it might even become better!
One thing is for sure with Italian nightlife; the options are infinite. Whether you love classical music, jazz, indie, rock, techno, or folk, Italian cities offer numerous opportunities for the best night.
There are also frequent open-air concerts held in multiple big cities or tourist hubs. Generally, these open concerts are held in summer, making it one of the best times to visit Italy for tourists.
But if you are there to stay, any time is the best time for partying.
Best Shopping Opportunities
While living in Italy, shopping is also a crucial thing to consider. Where do you shop? How convenient is it? And, do shopping malls operate 24/7?
When it comes to fashion, Italy is known for its exquisite designs. Whether it is shoes, clothes, or classy bags, everyone wants to wear Italian.
Three main cities are known to offer the best shopping opportunities for fashion items. These include Rome, Milan, and Florence. This is because they are considered the centres of fashion in Italy.
One thing to note is that different regions in Italy are known for different products. For instance, Venice is famous for the Murano glass, Carrara for marble, and Cremona for handmade violins.
This means that you should have a clue of what region sells what?
Shopping hours are mainly from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, from Monday to Saturday, with a 2hrs break from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. In large cities, the shops might remain open even during lunch hours.
On Sundays, most shops will be closed for the entire day. But, you can still find a few open ones. Supermarkets and malls in the big tourist hubs like Florence and Venice will be open.
Millions of tourists come to Italy each year for vacations, pilgrimage tours, business, or even relocation. And, it’s not without a valid reason.
Italy has more attractions than you can comprehend. Right from its rich history, attractive art and architecture, picturesque sights, and fun opportunities, Italy is an excellent travel destination. Of course, it’s also one of the most beautiful countries in the world!
Here, you are sure to see some of the most famous sights in the world and come face to face with the famed Roman culture.
Some of the best things to do and see in Italy include:
- Glide through Venice canals in one of the famed gondolas
- Go hiking at Cinque Terre
- Go bike riding at Tuscan hill Italian towns
- Enjoy an Opera
- Take a history tour through ancient Rome’s city centre. Here’s a 3 days in Rome itinerary.
- Enjoy some beach time
- Attend local festivals
- Go on a road trip through north Italy or drive from Naples to Palermo in southern Italy.
- Eat plenty of fantastic food!
There is never a shortage of activities to do or sites to visit while living in Italy.
About the authour
Kyle Kroeger is a travel blogger for his site ViaTravelers. ViaTravelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure. Follow him on Instagram and YouTube to get his latest travel updates in real-time.