June 6, 2012 by JL Walker
In my previous post, curious readers find out how I ended up studying Italian and then coming to Italy. But you may be asking yourself how someone can decide to move to a new country to potentially live out their life in a foreign land. And feel so strongly about it that they decide to request dual citizenship.
Like any place on earth, there are pros about living in the country of Italy and there are cons. I’ll focus on the positive aspects that I happen to find different from my birthplace. I’m not trying to criticize where I’m from, these just happen to be some differences I’ve noticed.
- Food. Most people I know in Italy are generally really aware of the food they’re eating, where it came from, who made it and often even the history behind it. When I have dinner with friends, whether it’s at a restaurant or at someone’s home, conversation often revolves around the food we’re eating and the wine we may be drinking. There are certain rules about eating, like waiting for everyone to arrive before ordering and eating foods in a certain order which is supposedly good for digestion. This wasn’t really a big part of my culture when I was living in the US.
- Family. For better or worse, family ties are very important. It seems that children prefer to stay close to other family members, choosing to live in the same city, the same part of town or even the same apartment building.
- La dolce vita. I know it sounds cheesy, but Italy has long been know for la dolce vita, or the sweet life. In some ways this is true, because there seems to be more focus on appreciating the little things in life, and less focus on money and ambition. Most people have at least 1-hour lunch breaks and take a break from work and recharge. With the Mediterranean and the Alps close by, lots of people are passionate about skiing or sailing, hiking or days at the beach. Good food and wine are sought out and appreciated by many, not just the rich or the elitist.
- Health insurance. This is a difference between the US and most parts of Europe that I feel strongly about. I have experienced the public health system in Milan first-hand and am very happy with it. I realize that my taxes are much higher than what I would pay in the US, but part of the reason for this is that healthcare is provided for everyone living in the country, regardless of their employment status. I believe medical treatment should a right, the same way education and free speech are rights. Even though my current job provides a form of private healthcare (and therefore a similar job in the US would theoretically provide insurance), I’m happy to live in a place where universal health assistance is a shared value.