In a previous post, I talked about moving to Spain. But maybe you’ve chosen the land of well-dressed and attractive men as your next destination. Since you’ve chosen Italy as your next nesting place, you should be aware of the following before you make your big move. (Don’t worry—I’ll talk about pizza, too.)
1. You’ll need a visa and permit.
If you want to overstay the three-month time limit and you do not belong to a Schengen Area country, you must apply for a visa or permit in your country of origin. If you are studying abroad, you should probably be accepted within 4-8 weeks if the paperwork is done correctly. However, there’s a huge work crisis in Italy, so if you’re not going over to teach English or transferring from a multinational, stay away unless you’re aiming for a waitressing job.
When you arrive, you must go to the police station and show them your visa, and they will give you a little card called permesso di soggiorno, which you should keep on you, especially when traveling.
2. Avoid big cities.
The rent in Milan or Rome will be twice as high as a smaller city, and you’ll probably be earning the same amount—give or take a hundred euro. Before opting for the overpriced obvious choices, why not try smaller—but beautiful—cities such as Bologna, Verona, or Lecce? The south of Italy operates like a Third World country in terms of organization, but the towns are smaller, the food and weather are better, and the people are nicer.
3. Lots of things are done illegally.
Make sure that your boss and your company are offering you a real position with guaranteed pay. Many places offer work in cash without a contract, and I don’t think I need to specify why this is a bad idea. Also, ask for your contract in English so you can take a better look at what you’re getting yourself into. Research the place beforehand to see if anyone has anything negative to say on the Internet. If you’re teaching, look for big-name franchises rather than small private schools.
4. It’s beautiful, and the food is damned good.
I don’t have to tell you that Italy is a beautiful country, because that’s what it’s famous for. If you have the opportunity to travel around Italy for an extended period of time or have decided to move here, there are a ton of beautiful and unique towns to check out, and they may not be the obvious big-city gems. My personal favorites are Porto Venere (pictured above) Sirmione/Lago di Garda, Lecce, and Otranto (pictured below).
Speaking about the food would be redundant because it’s food you’ve already dreamed about.
Fun fact: Fettuccine Alfredo doesn’t exist. It’s an American invention. If you mention Alfredo, people will think you are referring to their uncle, brother, or friend.
5. You’ll need the patience of Buddha.
You will have to accept things that would be considered unacceptable in North America or other parts of the world. Yes, your train was scheduled for 5PM, and no, it won’t arrive before 5:45 or later. Trenitalia, the primary train service, offers horrible customer service. Moreover, if they are over 50 minutes late, sometimes they just cancel the train so they won’t have to exercise their refund policy. (See my post “Is this train on fire!?“)
If you need paperwork done for any reason, make room for a six-hour block in your day, as you will be greeted with long lines and unhappy people waiting to serve you. Better yet, take two days off just in case.
I would suggest getting into some type of hypnotic meditation when you arrive in order to avoid pulling out your own hair. Or you could drown your frustrations with some great wine and pizza.
Fun fact: “Pepperoni” means “pepper.” If you ask for a pepperoni pizza, you will get a pizza with peppers on it. Another American invention. Our version of pepperoni is simply called salami.