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Italy’s culture and lifestyle

With delicious food, a warm climate and countless attractions, it’s not hard to see why the Italians say that life is for living — la Dolce Vita!

Writers, artists, travellers and explorers have extolled the beauty of Italy for centuries. The geographical and physical features of the country are stunning. Then there’s the food, the art, the fact that you can be strolling down a street in any one of Italy’s famous cities and find yourself staring at a beautiful statue, or enter a little country church and discover some beautiful frescos adorning the walls.

Live like the locals

Whether you choose to become a culture vulture or simply spend your time in Italy sipping a lively cup of espresso, or enjoying a reviving plate of antipasti with a glass of Chianti, one of the easiest ways to come to terms with your new home is to spend some time in a local restaurant or café. You can take as much time as you like, and this is the best way to appreciate the local gossip as well as catch up with news and politics. You’ll soon find that nearly everyone in Italy has an opinion, and the sooner that you can learn Italian the better. If you want to improve your knowledge of Italy, then a guided tour could be your best option — there will be guides from all over the world, so you should be able to book a tour in your native language — just follow the umbrella and don’t get left behind.

Once you’re living in Italy, you’ll soon learn that there are a few tips for avoiding the horrendously long tourist queues that are standing in front of most of the popular museums and galleries. One of these is to book and pay for your visit in advance and then you’ll be able to go to the head of the queue.

The politics are confusing

Underneath its calm and tranquil surface, Italy is a country of tumultuous passion. Strong provincial pride is prevalent. Even though a citizen is classified as ‘Italian,’ their first allegiance will be to their province. The slow bureaucracy and inefficiency of certain government departments has led to a general mistrust with Rome and the offices of the State. The American novelist, Dona Leon, who lived and wrote in Venice for many years, details the frustration caused by delays, petty bureaucrats and other frustrations.

You only have to look at the candidates for the 2018 elections to realise that the country is undergoing change. The candidate for the populist 5-star party, (M5S) is a former waiter, Luigi di Maio, then you have Mr Berlusconi, who’s throwing his hat into the ring as leader of Forza Italia, and then there is the Lega Nord, the Brothers of Italy and many other political groups all bidding for the votes of the Italian people. Some of these groups are anti-European Union, some are simply against the eurozone. Italian politics are complex, and you might possibly understand them a little better if you take a daily newspaper during your stay.

The economy

The problems of the Italian economy, high unemployment in some areas, youth emigration and rising debt mean that whichever party takes the lead, they’ll have to deal with these problems. Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) currently stands at 0.5%. There’s also the refugee crisis, as many migrants (11,459 in July 2017 alone) from North Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan arrive on Italian shores seeking asylum. It’s only 1,776 kilometres between Italy and Libya across the Mediterranean Sea.

Some of the islands in the south of Italy, including Lampedusa, feel that they have been overwhelmed by the situation, according to an article in the respected newspaper The New York Times. Many of the migrants have dispersed throughout Italy, and some authorities feel that this is putting an unnecessary strain on the Italian infrastructure and threatening the Italian way of life. You can expect to hear many discussions around this subject once you live in Italy.

Despite all of these internal problems, Italy is still a fantastic destination. Once you’ve learned the language, appreciated Italian culture and found somewhere to live and work you’ll soon appreciate this beautiful country. Take some hikes outside the cities — the pace of life is slower in the countryside, and thanks to Italy’s excellent transport links you’ll find it relatively easy to reach a remote destination.

The country has a strong film industry, there are superb music venues, both new and old, across the country, and what could be more pleasant than sitting out in the sun with a group of friends and soaking up the atmosphere of this vibrant and passionate place.

Learn how to maintain your health and happiness as an expat in our handy guide to a stress-free expat life.1

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