The ten positives you’ll notice after moving to Italy from the US

We all know Italy is an amazing place to visit. But is it really still "la dolce vita" when you live here permanently? One reader who moved from the US says it is - if you focus on the positives.

The ten positives you'll notice after moving to Italy from the US
The town of Arrone, Umbria. Photo courtesy of Rita Graziano

Rita Graziano, an Italian-American California Bay Area native who has lived in Umbria, Italy for a little over a year now, told The Local how, of the many striking differences she’s found compared to life in the USA, it’s the little things – and the positive things – that stand out to her the most.

While it’s easy enough to complain about Italy’s famously slow bureaucracy, and the hiccups many of us experience after moving, Rita said: “I don’t dwell on those. Sometimes I am amused, sometimes frustrated, but always willing to let it be in the end.”

READ ALSO: The biggest culture shocks you’ll experience after moving to Italy

Rita, who works remotely and made the move alone with “dogs and cats galore”, says the slower pace of life and “the lack of the “buy, buy, buy” mentality of the US” are some of the biggest positives.

Here, Rita gives us a quick glimpse of her life in Italy by describing some of the beautiful moments and gestures which define for her what living here is really all about.

The beauty

The way you can “stumble upon” beauty anywhere. The gorgeous architecture in churches and other buildings as well as small points of beauty such as the way someone has arranged their garden flowers

The patience

The patience of the people with my poor Italian, the way they apologize because they don’t speak English! (Not necessary to apologize — this is Italy!) and the way they will say “I speak only a few words of English”, and then they speak it very well in fact.

READ ALSO: The 15 absolute worst things about living in Italy

Photo: Clare Speak/The Local

The church bells

The sound of the church bells ringing, randomly as well as gloriously at 12 noon in the piazza.

The kindness

I asked the pharmacist where the health center was and she dropped everything to walk with me there so I would be sure to find it. And when I put my credit card in the wrong slot of the gas station machine, in the dark, in the pouring rain, I was able to get it back at the  Carabinieri station with four Carabinieri attentively listening to my poorly-told story, eager to help.

The friendliness

The way at holiday time, everyone greets each other with Buon Natale or Buon Anno. And how the vet’s office (she is the only one for the village of Arrone) is not only a place to take your animals but is a social meeting place where people drop by to chat even while she is giving your animal a vaccination.

Rita’s cat Harry, who as a kitten was saved by Arrone’s vet. Photo: Rita Graziano.

The openness

The way you can meet people in a restaurant – in Spoleto my friend and I became immediate friends with a 97-year-old Navy veteran.

READ ALSO: Seven surprising Italian food rules foreigners fall foul of

The history

There’s too much to say here, but as an example, the town of Terni, which was bombed 120 times during the war so is not a pretty city like so many others. And in Umbria the many hilltop villages built in the middle ages, causing me to wonder every time: how on earth did they build those villages and towers perched precariously on a hilltop?

The seasons

This is probably a California thing, but here in Italy every season unfolds with such beauty and is distinct and wondrous.

Photo: Clare Speak/The Local

The people

The old men sitting in cafes talking endlessly and watching the world go by. And the way every single Italian has an opinion on most things!

The security

The feeling that I am safe and never alone. People are always willing to help.

The creativity

The creativity used to make everything work… somehow.

Do you agree or disagree with the opinions expressed in this article? Let us know in the comment section below.

Member comments

  1. So, so perfect! We’ve been here since early ’18, and our Christmas cards to friends and family back in the US that first year included this “Top 10” list of “Rules for Living in Southern Italy”:

    10. The traffic lines on the streets are just for decoration.
    9. If something happens at 3:30 instead of 2:30, it’s not the end of the world.
    8. Life’s too short to eat fast food.
    7. Life’s too short to eat bad food.
    6. Most big problems usually aren’t.
    5. You’re never too busy to help someone.
    4. Coffee isn’t just coffee. It’s an art form.
    3. Same goes for cooking, only more so.
    2. Life is meant to be enjoyed!
    1. Family and friends are EVERYTHING!

  2. This is a paid subscription why are there pop up ads everywhere?
    It makes attempting to read the Local very frustrating

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For members


Five expert tips for getting your Italian elective residency visa approved

Here are the main things you should know if you want to succeed first time round when applying for Italy's popular - but elusive - elective residency visa.

Five expert tips for getting your Italian elective residency visa approved

The elective residency visa (ERV) is a popular route to permanently relocating to Italy, but the application process can be hard to navigate and the rejection rate high.

To help readers who are considering taking the plunge maximise their chance of success first time round, The Local spoke to three experts about how to put together the best application possible.

Based on what they told us, we put together a detailed guide to the process, as well as specific advice for UK applicants.

Here are five key takeaways on how to make a successful elective residency visa application.

Write a convincing cover letter

Most consulates require a letter of motivation along with your application explaining why you want to move to Italy.

Applicants often put minimal effort into this, simply saying they love the Italian food and weather, says Elze Obrikyte from Giambrone & Partners – and that’s a mistake.

She says ‘pre-rejection’ decisions are often issued on the basis of this letter alone, even if all the other requirements are met. 

EXPLAINED: How to apply for an elective residency visa to move to Italy

That’s because consular officials want to see you have a strong interest in moving to Italy permanently, not just coming for short stints on holiday.

Because of this, you want to make sure you underscore your ties to Italy, your familiarity with the town you plan to move to, and any other supporting information.

While language skills aren’t a requirement, “if you mention that you are studying Italian or you know Italian, which helps you to integrate better, this is also an advantage for your application,” says Obrikyte.

You should provide as much evidence as you can for a successful ERV application. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP.
Showing you have a strong connection to Italy will help your application. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Get your finances in order

Because you’re not allowed to work or receive an ‘active’ income when you come to Italy on an ERV, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have a ‘passive income’ of at least €31,000 per year (€38,000 joint income for married couples).

Nick Metta of Studio Legale Metta says applicants sometimes think that having a large amount of money invested in bonds or the stock market is sufficient, but this won’t satisfy the officials reviewing your application.

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

Whether it’s in the form of a pension, annuity, rent, or some other mechanism, you need to prove that you receive a regular income stream in perpetuity and won’t become a burden on the Italian state.

If you don’t currently have passive income of at least €31,000 you may want to speak to a consultant about restructuring your finances, as you won’t be granted an ERV unless the consulate can check this box.

More is more

Consulates can differ in their exact requirements for the ERV, with some saying you don’t necessarily have to provide a letter of motivation or travel tickets to Italy.

But our experts were all agreed: it’s always best to include as much documentation as possible with your application to be on the safe side.

Even though not all consulates require travel tickets, “it’s always better just to enclose them,” says Obrikyte; “I always advise our clients to close as many documents as possible, just to reduce the risk of rejection”.

READ ALSO: How to apply for an Italian elective residency visa from the UK

“The cover letter for some consulates is not a requirement, for some consulates it is a requirement,” says Metta. “We always recommend that you prepare and file a cover letter with every single elective residency visa application.”

The experts also recommend providing a separate cover page with a contents summary for all the documentation submitted, to make things easy for the consular official reviewing your application.

Agencies can assist you in making sure all your paperwork is in order.

You should provide as much evidence as you can for a successful ERV application. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Be polite and deferential

The Italian consulate in charge of reviewing your ERV application has total power over whether or not it’s accepted – including the ability to raise the income threshold above the official minimum.

That means you want to be as deferential as possible all your interactions with staff, and avoid coming across as entitled or demanding.

READ ALSO: ‘Seek legal advice’: Your advice on applying for Italian visas post-Brexit

“You don’t want to go there and say ‘oh, here is the printing of the law’ and this and that – absolutely not,” says Metta.

You’ll also want to make sure you book your travel tickets for at least 90 days after your appointment date – the full period allotted for the consulate to review the application – so it doesn’t seem like you’re trying to rush their decision.

There’s room to negotiate

Finally, our experts stressed that if your application is rejected, that decision isn’t necessarily final.

Obrikyte says it’s typical for consulates to issue a ‘pre-rejection’ notice before delivering their final answer that specifies what the sticking point is, giving you a chance to fix the issue.

“In that occasion it is possible to try to negotiate and change their mind, and this happens very very often,” she says.

When a client of his was told he needed income of at least €100,000, “we contacted the person in charge, exchanged correspondence, provided some extra legal support in terms of evidence and official sources, and we got another appointment and the person finally got their visa,” Metta says.

While you can appeal a rejection in court, Metta says he advises his clients just to reapply, as it’s “so much faster, easier.”

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For further information on the ERV and how to apply, visit the Italian foreign ministry’s visa website.