After 5 awesome years in Madrid, I made the move to Turin, in northwestern Italy. The move came as a bit of a surprise– I had never imagined myself living la dolce vita— and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to like about it. Or love about it. Or completely hate about it. Two months in, and I don’t know if I have answered those questions completely. But as an American moving to Italy, there have been plenty of first impressions!
If you’re thinking about making the move to Italia, here are a few of my first impressions about life in Italy.
An American moving to Italy: first impressions
1. Pizza is complicated business
Back home in New York, pizza is a ritual. An experience. A point of pride for anyone growing up in the Big Apple. But pump those brakes, NYC: it’s better in Italy.
Ouch. That one hurt to admit. It’s totally true, though! But not only is pizza wayyy better, it’s much more complicated. In most reputable pizzerias, there are somewhere around 3 pages of different pizzas to choose from on the menu, all with wildly different, almost unimaginable toppings and combinations. Each time the waiter arrives to take my order, I practically give them a cross examination about what ingredients are what.
Useful observation: try pizza with a whole burrata on it. You’re welcome.
2. …and I suck at eating pizza
Speaking of pizza, let me be the first to say that I’m terrible at eating it. Awful. Terrible, in that it takes me about a hundred years to finish one. In case you didn’t know, Italians annihilate it! Pizza nights with my husband’s family or friends always comes down to my sister-in-law or someone asking if they can finish it for me. It’s sad, but true.
Useful observation: though I may eat pizza slowly/can’t finish a whole pizza on my own, I have found that I can demolish a hamburger in half the time that it takes my Italian family. Experience may be key here.
3. Everybody owns a Fiat 500
In Italy, and especially in my new home Turin, Fiat is king. And lately, it seems like everyone owns the new Fiat 500. Seriously, everyone. They’re everywhere. It’s the car of the moment. If you want to fit in in Italy, you can do no wrong with the 500.
Useful observation: I kinda want one too…
4. Northern Italy is criminally underrated
Before moving to Turin, I was admittedly a bit disappointed that we weren’t going somewhere a bit more “glamorous” (read: Rome or Milan). That changed once I realized just what Piemonte had to offer: pretty much the best of Italy! Ferrero. Fiat. Martini. Lavazza. Truffles. The Alps. Apericena. Vineyards. History. What else could you ask for? Turin may not have the Coliseum or Fashion Week, but it has Nutella. And that’s much, much better anyway.
Useful observation: try the truffles. They will change your LIFE.
5. Italy has some unique festivals
And by unique, I mean that you will not find anything like them outside of Italy. Sure, everybody knows about carnevale in Venice. But have you heard of the Palio di Siena? Or The weekend celebration for the Calcio Fiorentino final? Or, my personal favorite, the Orange Battle in Ivrea, where participants have a day-long, medieval-themed orange fight throughout the streets.
Useful observation: oranges REALLY hurt when thrown. Be sure to wear something red to cover your head if multiple bruises aren’t your style. Trust me, I know from experience…
6. Italians drive like everyone is in the F1
Italians drive fast, man. And I say that as a New Yorker! I’m a pro at driving through the worst bits of Manhattan. I have tangoed with the most hardened taxi drivers in New York. But Italians are on another level. Tone it down on the espresso, italianos!
Useful observation: In Spain, drivers always stop at crosswalks to let pedestrians by. DO NOT make this mistake in Italy!
7. We have the coolest windows
Architecture in Italy is gorgeous, and my favorite part is the shuttered windows. In my new house (which happens to be a few hundred years old), we have these incredibly beautiful, traditionally Italian, green shuttered windows that open up to the main street. Every time I open them in the morning, I feel like Belle from the first scene of Beauty and the Beast, except I say “buongiorno” instead of “bonjour”.
Useful observation: the old man that lives across the street and smokes his morning cigarette on his balcony facing mine definitely thinks I’m a freak for this. We can’t all be Disney princesses, I guess? A girl can dream.
8. Italy is amazing
Italia is incredible. Want to know my real first impressions of Italy? I’m REALLY going to love it here.
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