I am a 50+-year-old British man, born in Hereford. Worked some, ran my own business (computer stuff) and then just had enough. I live with my partner (Italian) who I’ve been with for 6 years and two Bearded Collies, near the centre of Milan. By day, a program manager for an Italian, family-run, company in Engineering; by night I teach English, copy edit and enjoy going out to local bars and restaurants. Summers spent on the Tuscan coast. I couldn’t want for a better life.
What brought you to Italy?
I had always planned to retire to Italy but, one day, I just had enough and decided to come here a bit early. My partner at the time and I really loved Milan, so we came for a year to see how it went. I’m still here 11years later.
What were the initial struggles when you moved?
The main thing was the language but living in Milan is easier. Then the bureaucracy – for everything. Then, of course, it was the small, strange, foreign things – like renting a flat which didn’t have a fitted kitchen, etc.
What are the things that you like/dislike in Italy?
I love the people, the food and (most of the time) the weather. The quality of the food is generally so much better – they use fresh ingredients more often and cook in a lighter way.
I dislike the food (it does get a bit boring – not enough spice), the bureaucracy and the way people walk and drive in the street, like they own the place!
Do you feel yourself integrated?
Hmmm. No, I don’t think I will ever feel integrated completely. I am always aware that I’m a foreigner. But people are very accepting and I’ve certainly become more mellow being a foreigner in a foreign land.
Have you experienced any cases of discrimination/racism?
With regard to discrimination, nothing overtly. Racism doesn’t apply as I’m white, Caucasian with blue eyes and go the right shade of brown in summer – so I look like an Italian with blue eyes (who do exist anyway).
Do you think Italy is a multicultural society?
I don’t think Italy can be considered a multicultural society … yet. It will take a couple more generations to get there. Over the centuries, Italians have emigrated rather than have lots of immigrants and immigrants are a new thing here. To become truly multicultural we need some mixed marriages and a settling down of the immigrants.
Also, Italians are so proud of their culture and, as far as I am concerned, less open to other cultures.
Has any of the stereotypes about Italy and the Italians been confirmed?
Yes. The list would be huge. Bureaucracy is possibly worse than I imagined. Friendliness better. In one way or another nearly all of the stereotypes are correct (of course).
What’s the first thing you do when you go back to the UK?
Go to the supermarket to stock up on cheddar cheese, tea and bacon.
Go for a meal at an Indian restaurant.
Go to the pub for a beer (or two).
What’s the first thing you do when you get back here?
Go for a real coffee.
Have some pasta/pizza!
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