Amy is a British expat who moved to Torremaggiore in the Puglia region of southern Italy to take up a post teaching English at a private language school. Besides her three colleagues, there is not much of an expat community to speak of in the town, but Amy finds the locals are friendly and the food, is of course, fantastic. You can read more about what she has to say about living in Italy on her blog, sunshineandtomatoes.blogspot.it
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: The Midlands, UK
Q: Where are you living now?
A: A small town called Torremaggiore, in Puglia, Italy.
Q: How long have you lived in Italy?
A: Just over 18 months.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: To take a teaching position in a private language school.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Puglia, how’s the quality of life?
A: My town is very laid back, with a relaxed pace of life – it's a typical southern Italian town! The people are friendly and the food is fantastic.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: There isn't really an expat community, so I was definitely thrown in at the deep end! This has helped with my Italian learning however! I miss my family and friends the most. I definitely don't miss English food!
Q: Is Torremaggiore safe?
A: More or less. There have been some burglaries and car part theft recently, but that's the extent of it. The nearby town of San Severo is a different story, however. There, I sometimes don't feel safe, even during the day. There has been a lot of drug crime there recently.
Q: How would you rate the public transport in Puglia? Do you need to own a car, or is the public transport sufficient for getting around? What are the different options?
The public transport in this region is mediocre. There are buses, and they don't cost too much, but they aren't too reliable. Train connections are fairly good, however, even though my town doesn't have a train station! You can expect some delays with trains. The best way to get around is by car, but driving here can be rather dangerous. Insurance is also pricey.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Italy?
A: Fairly good. The doctors are thorough, even though bedside manner is sometimes lacking. The pharmacists are also very helpful and knowledgeable. Medicine can often be pricey.
About living in Puglia
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: There's a mixture of house/flat quality here. In my town, there are a lot of new, modern houses going up around the outskirts. Accommodation in the centre is not the best quality, but it definitely has character.
Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: My rent is very reasonable (particularly in comparison to the UK) and I live fairly near the centre. Housing costs aren't too high in general, and people here can afford pretty decent accommodation even on a basic salary.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: There aren't any other expats, apart from my three colleagues. We spend some time together, but I also like branching out and meeting others. Everyone here is very warm and friendly, but it takes time to get to know people, and for them to get to know you.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Fairly. But the language barrier was a bit of an issue at first!
About working in Italy
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit for Italy?
A: No, because I'm an EU citizen. My boss assisted me with any other documents that were required.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in the region, is there plenty of work?
A: No, there's a big problem with unemployment, although this is true for most of Italy, not just my region.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: I would say that it's more relaxed, but people still work hard, and often long hours. Shops are shut between 12.30 and about 5pm, and people work again in the evening.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: If you're moving to a small town like the one I'm living in, it may seem difficult at first, but persevere. Embrace the culture, get out there and meet new people, and take advantage of the fact that not many people speak English. You'll learn the language much quicker! Living in a small town is really fulfilling and if you're moving to the south of Italy, you'll love it, especially the gorgeous weather (and great food)!
~ Interviewed July 2012