Three Differences Between Living in Italy and Living in America

Living in Italy
Photo: Gari Baldi

For many people living in Italy is a dream. Heck, even those of us in Italy can appreciate her romance. But sometimes here in the bel paese we expats get stumped and confused and amazed at the differences. While there are, no doubt, more than these, here are the three biggest differences I’ve noticed between my two favorite countries.

1. A Name … is a Name … is a Name

Did you know that women in Italy don’t change their names when they get married?

Well, they don’t. In fact, it isn’t even an option.

That is where the feminist in me gets all riled up. If my husband and I lived in America, I might or might not have changed my name. However, I rebel against the fact that I don’t have that option and that Italy doesn’t give me the choice of whether I will share a last name with my children.

I just don’t wanna be left out … that is all.

2. Leaving With the One Who Brought You

Recently I have noticed how decidedly Calabrian it is to stick with the group you came with. In Italy-like in America- it is common for friends or couples to meet up for dinner or drinks.

The difference is that in Calabria, once you are with them – you are with them the whole night. Breaking away from the group or leaving early-even if you are tired, don’t feel well or have to work the next morning-is seen as insulting. In America, it is actually pretty normal for people to break away from the group at different times throughout the night, for various reasons, without offending the group.

3. It’s My Place, I’ll Pay

And this might have something to do with that.

In America, it is expected that when you go out for ice cream or coffee everyone will pick up his own tab … not so here in the bel paese. Apparently there is an unwritten code here in Calabria that if you take someone to “your” local bar, you are expected to pay.

If I had a quarter for every time someone told me, “You can pay for mine when I visit America,” well … I’d have enough to buy my own coffee.

But things aren’t always different … in fact, the longer I’m in Calabria, the more I realize that some things never change. Be sure to join me next week for the follow up to this post and to check out all the ways Texans are like Calabrians.

What about you? What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between your new country and your home?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer living in southern Italy. In addition to, she writes about living and traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita. Comments and messages are welcome on both sites.

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  1. by Edmondo Donato

    If I’m not mistaken (at my age, molto vecchio, always a possibility!) the town pictured is Pitigilino, Grosetto Tuscany.
    My maternal Nonna’s birthplace.

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