What do I love about living in Italy–Sue Cooper

It has been a while since I have had an expat themed post on the blog.  I recently stumbled upon Sue’s blog – Move to Italy, and I wanted to ask her if she would be happy to write a guest post.  I believe her blog radiates her enthusiasm for life in Italy and I was so pleased she wanted to share this post with readers of my blog.

What do I love about living in Italy?

I was given the task by Cathy to identify what I love about Italy. It’s not hard to think of things so I’ll limit it to five otherwise we’ll be here all week.

1. Quite simply, I love the country! I came here on holiday for the first time about 10 years ago with a friend and I was immediately struck with how much Italy had to offer: Ancient villages, towns and cities steeped in history, beautiful countryside taking you from rolling hills to mountains to crystal clear seas – all within a few kilometres of each other. I’ve lived in Italy for a year and a half or so now but the countryside here and the beautiful sunsets never fail to take my breath away.

Majella National Park in Abruzzo

In Majella National Park in Abruzzo


Autumn walk around Cingoli, Le Marche

Autumn walk around Cingoli, Le Marche


2. I love that lots of the little villages have their own traditions. When I moved here, it was to a town called Camerano in Le Marche on the east coast. There’s an event there at the end of the summer each year that I’ve dubbed ‘The Big Tray Race’ where a team representing the eight zones (Camerano is barely big enough to have even one zone to be honest, but still!) have a time trial racing around the streets with, well, a big tray.  I thought it was a cute anomaly just for Camerano but it seems there’s a competitive element in a lot of the towns. I love their ingenuity with their games too. My new local town, Sarnano, has games such as “The Running with the Jar” not to mention “The Climbing of the Tree”. The Olympics would be a lot more entertaining for me if they had Italians running it.


My ‘zone’ did well in this – they were so fast they were just a blur, as you can see…Nothing at all to do with my photographic skills!



I missed the “Castrum Sarnani” games in Sarnano but I’m pleased to say the festivities lasted all week and I caught this fabulous show with a fire-guy – not sure how else to describe him


3. I love the work/life balance. I’m writing this during August, the month of Ferragosto when nobody seems to be at work at all. If I’d have grown up here, I don’t think I would have had the same aversion to work as I currently do. I know the Italians work hard but from an outsider’s perspective, it’s difficult to imagine. Shops open in the morning for three hours or so before a four-hour lunch break, and then they’ll squeeze in another two or three hours work before dinner. Shops and offices in villages sometimes just don’t even open at all for no obvious reason. Now, you might think I’m being critical – and in fact, when I want to buy a sandwich for lunch and all the places that sell sandwiches are closed for lunch, maybe I am. But who has it right? The UK with their 24 hour shops, 50+ hour weeks, lunch-at-your-desk, live-for-the-weekend philosophy? Or the Italians who have traditionally long lunch breaks and summer holidays where they have the opportunity to actually spend time with their families doing things they enjoy. My philosophy is that life is for living, not working and the Italians have this spot on (alas perhaps not for their economy…).


The Italians are so laid back during August they even have beds on the beach


4. I love their gestures. I love “boh” and a shrug of the shoulders meaning “I don’t know”. My favourite and most useful Italian gesture is to put your fingers together and waggle the back of your hand at someone, meaning “what on earth?” (or various less polite derivatives).  In fact, that gesture is almost a pre-requisite for driving here. However, I will never get the hang of putting my index finger to my cheek and twisting it to indicate that something is good (usually food but not limited to that). You can sort of work out what the other gestures mean, but that one just looks like they’re gesturing that they’d like to drill through their cheek.

5. I love the food. Apart from the fabulous pizzas and pastas, the vegetables seemed so outlandish when I got here. In the UK, the fruit and veg aisle in the supermarket is like a vegetable catwalk. They’re the ‘right’ colour, the ‘right’ proportions and the ‘right’ shape. My lack of interest in gardening has led to a sheltered life: I assumed that these were simply what vegetables look like. However, let me tell you, the non catwalk varieties which make a regular appearance in the Italian supermarkets are much more interesting and often tastier. Besides the discovery of cucumbers that are shaped like rainbows, there are vegetables I had never even seen before. I even made a drink last year from corbezzoli – a sort of red spiky fruit that appeared on lots of the trees near where I live. Italy has opened up a whole new source of wild food scavenging.

Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear? I still don’t know! These never made an appearance in my UK supermarket.



Is it a cauliflower? Is it broccoli?!

To summarise, there’s lots I love about Italy which is why I moved here but I’ve discovered so much more having lived here and I’m still learning. If you get the opportunity to live here for a bit, I would certainly recommend it.