Posts Tagged ‘expat in italy’

An Old Man and His (Italian) Food

Monday, September 27th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

I’ve written a great deal over the last four years about my adorable-yet, somewhat food-obsessed, Calabrese father-in-law. It seems no matter how much he makes-and piles into my plate-or how much I finish … he’s just never satisfied.

He’s blamed me for my husband’s decline (his words, not mine) in appetite and tries to urge the fork forward with promises of delicious bites of Italian delicacies.

So, really … I should have this coming.

A few weeks ago, we were at our daily lunch meet-up-yes, he cooks for us every day-and I noticed he had a special new glass, fully decorated and colored with sparkling, flying Winks fairies. I just couldn’t resist.

expat life in italy: nutella cups

“Nice glass, Nino.” I tell him with a grin, wondering if he realizes his glass is the envy of every 12-year-old girl on the street. “Where’d you get it?”

“Hrmph!” He cut his eyes at me, perhaps sensing my glee.

Not willing to let it go, I persisted.

“But it is so cute,” I told him. “I’m jealous. I want my very own glass, too.”

He ignored my last remark, my husband called me a mafiosa and we finished our meal.

A couple of days later, that conversation forgotten by almost everyone, he showed up with a surprise.

I was standing at the door to our bed and breakfast when he grunted and pushed a small, Nutella-filled glass in my hands.

“There you go,” he told me.

“You eat the Nutella … you get your own glass. Then,” he said pointing to the colored blue and white decoration on the glass, “you will be a champion!”

I looked down and noticed that yes, it was indeed a glass of champions, decorated with bright blue and white drawings in anticipation of the 2010 World Cup Soccer match that Italy bombed.

I laughed. Loudly.

“Thank you,” I told him.

He shook his head at me. “Tisk. You eat all of the Nutella first. Then, you you’ll have your own glass … and then you can say thank you.”

I don’t know why it should surprise me that he jumped at the chance to have me independently eat 200 grams of soft, creamy, chocolate and hazelnut Nutella, but that little present kinda made my day. Yes, two weeks have passed and the would-be world champs are still sitting in my cupboard, 2/3 full of their creamy deliciousness.

But, I’m working on it.

Until then, I thought about sneaking his glass when he wasn’t looking, but there is just something about my 78-year-old father-in-law, drinking his daily Pepsi in that pink and orange fairy glass, that I just can’t destroy.

So, I guess I’ll have to wait … and really, what better excuse is there for finishing off your very own jar of world champion Nutella?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria group tour consultant living in southern Italy. You can read more about living and traveling in Calabria at her site, My Bella Vita or visit her in person at her B&B in Catanzaro, Italy.

Photo: Blondie and Brownie

What I Wish the Locals Understood About Me

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

photo by Sergio Stellato

photo © 2010 by Sergio Stellato

Though I speak the local language and have no problem adapting to any given culture and finding my niche, at times I wonder if the locals really “get” me.  Here are my top 3 things I wish people in my adopted country, Italy, would understand about me.

This isn’t my first language.  Some of my friends here must think I’m obsessive compulsive in the way that I repeat myself so many times in Italian.  It’s just that I feel paranoid at times that I haven’t said something right (and sometimes it really is the case and they think I’ve said something totally different) so I tend to say the same thing in five different ways to make sure I said it right so they understand.  I also find that I don’t understand what people say if they talk with their mouths full of food (something I notice a lot here).  I’m always making people finish chewing first, not because I’m fussy about manners, but because I simply would like to understand what they’re saying!

It’s not as easy for me as it is for them.  Okay, nobody said life in Italy was that easy for anyone.  But there are some things that are a little harder for those of us who weren’t born here and had to learn the language from scratch.  Take just about any bureaucratic process at all, such as residency, and they’ll say, “Oh, easy! Just go here, say this, and there you have it!”  Either they’re kidding themselves or they don’t realize that those of use who don’t already have a paper trail in Italy have a little more work cut out for us.

I don’t know that many people because I am not from here.  I have a few really awesome Italian friends who have gone out of their way to get to know me and provide some great company.  But a lot of times I wonder if people really understand that I don’t really know that many people.  A lot of folks, particularly in a small town like Lecce, have the friends they grew up with and run in the same circles they’ve run in for a while now.  They have their dinner parties, etc.,  and probably assume that I already have plans with my group of friends.  Thing is, I don’t have a group of friends yet.  While I do have a number of priceless friends Italy, it will be a while before I have a “group”  that I run with, as I’m not settled yet.  This makes for nights at home alone – which isn’t so bad, considering it’s a chance to get work done and catch up with friends and family.  Plus, there is tango – the perfect excuse to dress up and get out  of the house!

What do you wish locals understood about you in your adopted country?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes atAffordableCallingCards.net as well as on her own blog,Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

International Cooking in Italy

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

Yes, yes, I know.  I live in Paradise, the land of the best pasta, coffee, wine, ice cream, etc. in the world, so why would I ever crave any other food?

Well, as much as I love the variety here, sometimes I miss things that I would eat at home in the States.  When I was living in Argentina, a good friend of mine, Joli, found a great recipe for flour tortillas.  Since there isn’t much variety in the food down there, it was a delight to be a guest in her house and be able to eat things such as fajitas or tacos. Things you just don’t find in Buenos Aires, and things you certainly don’t find in Lecce, Italy.

This week I am visiting a friend in Bari, which is just a couple hours north of Lecce, and I decided I wanted to prepare a meal as a sign of gratitude.  Well, we all know how Italians are when it comes to tasting other people’s cooking.  I’m always afraid to make traditional dishes here because on top of the “buono, buono!” I have to listen to “It needs more salt”, and “You make a good sauce, for an American”…  I seem to have the most luck when I prepare things that are not Italian.  My Italian friends rave about my international cooking and I find that they are always open and interested in trying new things.  Since I’m the straniera, foreigner, it’s probably more exciting and fun if I bring something new to the table.

Today I prepared fajitas, using the recipe Joli uses for tortillas.  You can find it here, and you’ll see that it’s quite easy.  For filling, I cut up small slices of beef, a couple of bell peppers, an onion, and since this is Southern Italy, a peperoncino, chili pepper, for spice.  I sauteed those together.  You can’t get sour cream in Italy, at least not here in the south, so I used Fage Total yogurt as it makes the best substitute for sour cream.

My friend and his daughter had fun putting the fajitas together, and I enjoyed sharing something new with them.

What are some recipes you simply can’t do without in your adopted country?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes atAffordableCallingCards.net as well as on her own blog,Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

Marrying a Foreigner, Part II: Logistics and Practicality

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

Earlier this week I noted some tips and hints for adjusting to life when you are married to a foreigner, and many of my expat friends weighed in with their own experiences. While adjusting to your new life and learning to merge your cultures is always a good thing, getting to that point might not be easy.

No, I’m not talking about falling in love and the inevitable, if only temporary, long-distance relationship, I’m talking about the practical side of marrying someone from another country.

While the rules and regulations vary widely depending on each person’s nationality, where you get married and where you decide to live, the following sites should get you started. Note: I am an American woman married to an Italian man, therefore, most of the following examples are based on my experiences with these countries.

Marrying a Foreigner

1. Websites

Official (and well-researched unofficial) websites are a prime source of information for people wishing to marry an Italian. Here are few sites you might find helpful.

UK in Italy

US Department of State Naples: Marriage of a US Citizen

Travel.State.Gov: Marriage in Italy

ItaliaAmerica.org: Italian Dual Citizenship

ImmiGroup.com: Marrying and Sponsoring an Italian

2. Forums

While official websites are a great source of logistical information, forums are usually visited by people who’ve been there and offer a great combination of practical know-how and useful tips. Some helpful forums and topics include:

Expat Forum: Marrying an Italian

Expat Forum: Marrying an American

Immigration Boards.com: Marrying an Italian

Expats in Italy: Getting Married Forum

Expats in Italy: Atto Notorio

3. Blogs

While many bloggers visit forums and talk about their experiences marrying a foreigner there, they also write blog posts and articles on their sites. Some particularly helpful expats I’ve come across include:

Ms. Adventures in Italy (My personal go-to expat when I was marrying my own Italian in 2007.)

From Australia to Italy (My Calabria-based counterpart who is chronicling  her marriage to an Italian.)

ReallyRome (A Really great resource on, among other things, marrying an Italian.)

Moving2Italy2 (Extensive resource on moving to Italy, with a section on marrying an Italian.)

It is important to note that each case is unique and there is no one size fits all when it comes to marrying someone from another country. Additionally, laws can change from year to year and Italian consulates, at least in the US, seem to have varying procedures, as well. It is always important to contact your local embassy or consulate before proceeding and get a detailed list of what you need to do before the Big Day. As in most cases when dealing with bureaucratic situations, it is a good idea to allow yourself plenty of time and an even better opportunity for you to practice your patience.

In bocca al lupo!

Do you know any other useful sites, forums or blogs for people wanting to marry a foreigner? If so, please leave them in the comments!

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria tour consultant living in southern Italy. You can read more about living and traveling in Calabria at her site, My Bella Vita or visit her in person at her B&B in Catanzaro, Italy.

Photo: Life 123

Learning to Love Less

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

I was visiting good friends last summer in Texas-we were sitting at one of our favorite Mexican cantinas, sipping on frozen lime margaritas, talking about the good ‘ole days and catching up on the last few years.

“I just love Italy,” one of my peppy ex-Sorority sisters gushed. “I could soooo see myself living there.”

I smiled as she gazed dreamily out the window, no doubt imagining herself strolling to the weekly market each Monday, sipping on stout Italian wine in the evenings, spending her days-riding on a Gondola or dining outside the Colosseum. She exhaled, “It’s just such a beautiful country.”

Not wanting to burst her idealized bubble of the life I’m leading, I politely agreed-because it is true, Italy is a beautiful country-and kept quiet. But secretly I wondered … could she really live here?

As my southern Italian counterpart pointed out last week, you can’t uproot your life back home and replant that baby here in Italy. It is a whole new country world and while we love it here, we’ve definitely learned to live without some of the luxuries of our American lifestyles.

Here are three things I’ve learned to love less here in Calabria.expat life-starbucks

1. Variety

You often hear people say, “Italians love food,” when in fact, what they mean is, “Italians love Italian food.” Especially here in Calabria, diversity, restaurant variety-heck, even a foreign food shelf-are had to come by. I’ve learned to live with this by importing my must-haves, like Velveeta cheese and Starbuck’s vanilla syrup, kicking up my personal non-Italian food recipe list and creating variety in the Italian food we eat and love.

2. Instant Access

One of the hardest things for me to get used to-if one could say I’ve gotten used to it-is learning to live without the instant access we are accustomed to in the US. There are no 24-hour pharmacies-actually, even finding an open pharmacy on Saturday or Sunday is a challenge, customer service calls regularly go un-answered-even during “working” hours and paperwork can take years to get approved.

Still, I believe I can learn something from these would-be frustrating experiences-and that, my friends, is patience. Italy has taught me patience in a way I never could have learned in the United States … and for that, I’m thankful.

expat life-gadgets

3. The Latest Greatest

No doubt if I lived in the US, I’d be on the i(insert latest gadget here) bandwagon. Being in southern Italy, far from the peer pressure that comes with having an office job and well-paid friends, I’m sheltered, in a way, from needing to have the latest, greatest gadget. Many expats in Italy have other priorities and luckily, keeping up with Rossis, isn’t one of them.

Tina and I have weighed in-now it is your turn. What have you learned to live without in your expat adventures?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria tour consultant living in southern Italy. You can read more about living and traveling in Calabria at her site, My Bella Vita or visit her in person at her B&B in Catanzaro, Italy.

Photos: CarbonNYC and Ivyfield via Flickr

Planes, Trains and Boats…getting around Southern Italy

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmediamuseum/

image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmediamuseum/

On a recent trip to Palermo, followed by a visit to Naples, I had the opportunity to experience just about every kind of public transportation option that Italy has to offer.

It all started with a two-hour train ride (8 Euros) to Bari, where I would then catch a bus to the airport.  The national railway network is Trenitalia, and they have regional and express lines that go just about everywhere.  In my case, it was a regional train.  Upon leaving the train station in Bari, I walked to the tobacco kiosk to buy my bus ticket (80 cents) to the airport.  Having done this before, I knew to be aggressive when the bus came and make sure I had a seat on the bus.

To get to Sicily, I flew from Bari to Trapani, which is about an hour or so from Palermo.  It was a Ryanair flight that cost me next to nothing  (11 Euros plus taxes, coming to 18 Euros), the catch being that there are no assigned seats (so you have to fight for a good one) and then you have to listen to several sales pitches for perfumes and lottery tickets.  The flight was one hour and passed by very quickly.  And of course, this being Italy, the people onboard applauded when the plane landed.

To get from Trapani to Palermo, where I would be staying for a few days, I used the shuttle bus service known as Terravision.  For 12 Euros I had a seat on a nice, air conditioned bus, and was let off in a nice area in downtown Palermo.  From there I walked to my bed and breakfast because I had already gotten to know Palermo a bit previously.

I had some time scheduled in Naples, where I was meeting a friend.  Since Sicily is an island, the obvious solution was to take a boat. (Though you can take the train, which sits on a barge for the aquatic part of the trip).  The company I used was Tirrenia, and I opted for a night boat so that I could sleep, as it’s an eight-hour trip.  I reserved a bed in a women’s cabin (though you can also reserve your own cabin) and was pleased to find out that the boat had a restaurant as well as a self-service cafe and a lounge with a full bar. Not bad!  The total price for the boat trip was about 70 Euros and it was well worth it, as when I woke up and looked out the cabin window, I saw Naples in all its splendor, lit up by the golden morning sun.

This is something I really like about living in Europe: the public transportation is so varied and available that you can go anywhere you want for a reasonable price.

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes at AffordableCallingCards.net as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

There’s More than Munchies in the Mezzogiorno

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

Last week I wrote a post at my site, My Bella Vita, that was a spin-off of a post written here at ACC by my fellow expat-in-southern-Italy and travel blogging friend, Tina of Tina Tangos. My post, A Few Things to Love About Southern Italy caused quite a stir when it was posted on Facebook because, gosh darn it-three things to love just ain’t enough.

… or so they said.

Still, it is important to note that there are more than munchies in Italy’s Mezzogiorno. With that in mind, here are three southern Italy traditions I’ve grown to love!

1. Eating on Schedule

Yes, I said there are more than munchies, but that doesn’t mean food isn’t an integral part of our lives. Here in Calabria, we live (and die?) by our mealtime schedule. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner more or less at the same time every day-a routine I mourn for when stateside meals have me dashing through a Chic-Fil-A or filling up on frappuccinos.

Why is this important? I eat less and feel more satisfied here in Italy than I do when I’m in the states.

2. Walking is Expected

My husband was shocked the first time he visited me in Texas and noticed that I drove around a parking lot three times looking for a suitable spot.

“You just passed a row of empty places,” he told me.

“Yea,” I told him, oblivious to his intention. “But they are so far.”

“Cherrye,” he told me. “We are young … it’s not raining … we can walk.”

It seems obvious now, but willingness to walk is a cultural thing-one I’m glad I picked up on and have adapted into my life … even back home.

Just last Christmas, my mom, husband and I were rushing to finish our lists. We told Mom to drop us off on the street-because we could each walk where we needed to go quicker than we could battle pre-Christmas Eve traffic. She did. And yes, people looked at us strangely, but I’d gone to two stores and my husband had shopped in one in the same amount of time it took my mom to get through traffic and find a parking spot.

Why is this important? In addition to the obvious health benefits of walking , I feel stronger and have more energy when I walk often.

3. Finish up with Fruit

Ok, so maybe it *is* all about the food, but I love that we finish off every lunch and dinner with a serving of fresh fruit. Often this fruit is from our garden-oranges and mandarins in winter months, plums and figs in the summer, but sometimes we supplement with watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, strawberries and cherries. Delizioso!

Why is this important? I’ve found eating fruit after each meal helps me stay full longer and since I’m on a schedule, it ensures I get enough fresh fruit each day.

Wbat are some of your favorite traditions, food-related or not, in your new country?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria tour consultant living in southern Italy. You can read more about living and traveling in Calabria at her site, My Bella Vita or visit her in person at her B&B in Catanzaro, Italy.

Photo: flickr, by PhotoLab XL

Doing Without

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

I get into discussions with people in the US, once in a while, that surround the quality of life here in Italy.  It’s a topic I love delving into, as everyone always has a different opinion.  One recent discussion got me thinking about the things that I have learned to live without on my expat adventures.

A car. Being the nomad I am, a car would be pretty useless to me.  I stopped driving 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.  All the money I would have spent on insurance and car repairs, I instead spent on plane ticket and life experiences in new cultures.  While sometimes it is a pain to go without a car in Italy, I still live well – I live where I can walk almost everywhere, there is public transportation and I have recently discovered two local services, SalentoinBus and the Ferrovie del Sud Est, which are a bus and train service, respectively, and they go all over my dear little Salento.  In Buenos Aires it would have been crazy to have a car. With their amazing and reliable bus system, plus the subway (Subte) system, I got everywhere I needed to go with no problems.

A dryer. I know very few people in Italy who have a clothes dryer.  We all hang our clothes up to dry on a clothes line or a laundry rack, and when it’s sunny, things dry pretty quickly.  (In the winter this is no fun and it takes forever).  I think it has something to do with the voltage here, though I’m not sure.  But no dryers.  This was easy for me to get used to since I’m so picky about how my clothes are handled and never use a dryer anyway, but towels and sheets can be a bit of a nightmare.  Nonetheless, it’s really not that big of a deal.  I know people who say ‘I would never live where I can’t have a dryer’, and I say, is it really THAT important?  I ask myself, has my psychological or physical health worsened without a clothes dryer?  No.  Okay, then.

A giant salary. Ok, it would be great to make a  large salary and if one comes along I will definitely consider it, but all in all, I’m happy with how I live.  After having been through a crisis of sorts, my priorities have changed a lot in terms of money and now that I am making enough to live on again without freaking out, I feel pretty relaxed.  The average Italian salary is pretty low, regardless of what you do, and it’s important to consider that if you are looking to live here.  I personally do fine.  I am grateful that I can pay the rent, feed myself, and take tiny little trips around southern Italy.  I like to think that I live extremely well.  I don’t need extra gadgets or new clothes all the time.  Living with this kind of salary teaches you to look at things in a different way, and to save creatively.

What are the things you have learned to live without in your new home?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy.  She writes at AffordableCallingCards.net as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

Three Things Kids Love About Southern Italy

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

I’ve written a bit, both here at ACC and at my website, My Bella Vita about my summer adventures with my nine year old nephew and my friend’s 14 year old son. While I expected them to fall in love with the “hot Italian chics”-their words, not mine, a few of their favorite things about southern Italy took me by surprise.

Here are the top three things (these) kids loved about southern Italy.

1. Calzonesexpat in italy-calzones

Maybe it should have been obvious, but I was seriously shocked by how much my nephew loved fried calzones.

Just last night, he asked for a repeat dinner-of the previous night’s calzones-gobbled the goods before we drove the one kilometer home, and asked us to go back for seconds.

Luckily for us here in Catanzaro, there is a great little pizzeria that sells these babies, fresh from the grease, for just €1.00 each, so he can have an “all you can eat” without breaking the bank.

2. Castlesexpat in italy-castles

It is important to know that southern Italy’s castles are not like the fairy tale castles of England, Germany or France.

Oh no, these castles have suffered invasions, attacks, earthquakes and years of abandonment, so oftentimes you are left with a shell of the castle’s former glory.

So, I was surprised by how much the boys enjoyed them. The castle they most enjoyed (seen above) is Murat Castle, located just off of the main piazza in Pizzo, Calabria. I’m not sure if it is the castle’s imposing presence on the Tyrrhenian, the mock soldiers inside or the idea of tough men fighting tougher wars, but they loved it.

3. Beachesexpat in italy-beaches

Ok, so I really kinda figured the boys would love the beaches, but I was still surprised at just. how. much.

Seriously, they couldn’t get enough of the creamy tan sand, frothy waves and blue-green waters of Calabria’s coastline.

In fact, they couldn’t settle on just one beach and instead urged me to take them on day trips so they could check out the beaches in other cities around the area. Their favorite-if not for the warm Tyrrhenian waters, then for the topless sunbather-was the beach (pictured above) just beneath the Murat Castle in Pizzo.

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria tour consultant living in southern Italy. You can read more about her adventures in Calabria at her site, My Bella Vita or visit her in person at her B&B in Catanzaro.

Photos: iskcon.net, Cherrye at My Bella Vita

More Things to Love About Living in Italy

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

Will I ever run out of things to love about Italy?  I doubt it.  Here are my latest three favorite things…

Going out to buy wine. Everywhere else I have lived, purchasing wine has naturally involved buying a bottle at a time.  In Italy, you will certainly be able to do that, and good wine does not cost very much.  It’s an essential food here, and therefore accessible.  Something I have noticed a lot, particularly here in the Salento, is the act of going to a wine producer’s outlet and having them fill a jug several liters full of the elixir.  Prices are around 1 or 2 Euros a liter and if you know where to go, the quality is good.  I have found my place, where I am able to get three liters of wine for around 4 Euros or less.  If you consider that a bottle of wine is less than a liter, then you have an idea of what a good deal that is.  Once you get home, you simply transfer the wine from the large jug to more manageable bottles, and you’ve got enough wine for the week.

Gelato, even for the slim and trim. I love that gelato is not frowned upon as a diet-killer.  Here, particularly in the summer, it’s perfectly acceptable and normal to consume it on a very regular basis.  I have it almost every day (and no weight gain!).  I remember once commenting that gelato must be fattening, and a rather svelte Italian friend said, “Ha! You silly. Gelato doesn’t count!”   Of course not.   And it can make you so happy!  When I need a pick-me-up, I simply hop over to Natale, the nearby gelateria, and get a cone with two wonderful flavors such as pistachio and pine nut, and then I walk over to the Roman amphitheater in Piazza Sant’Oronzo and stare at it as I indulge in my nice cold treat.

The produce. Things look like they’ve just been picked here.  The zucchini still has the flowers attached.  Tomatoes are all kinds of different shapes and they actually taste like tomatoes.  Greens need to be washed really well because they still have dirt on the roots. Things are available in season and it doesn’t cost a lot to buy vegetables.  It’s amazing how high your quality of life feels when you don’t have to worry about being able to afford to eat healthy.  And with so much flavor, who can complain?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes at AffordableCallingCards.net as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

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