Moving to Italy
We did this! We lived in Rome for a year, which may have been the happiest year of our adult lives. We almost didn't come back.
Because we knew we weren't going to stay, we didn't put our 7 year old in an Italian public school, where he wouldn't know a word of the language. Rome has two -- possibly more -- English language schools (which feature Italian instruction) -- the American School, and Ambrit, which we chose for its warm, personal vibe and better proximity to the historic center.
I'm sorry to tell you this, because it would add expense, but I actually made an exploratory trip over there the previous May, to scope out schools and neighborhoods. I don't think we could have been fully informed any other way. I returned to the U.S., and then we all went over just before the school year.
I'm just putting in my two cents for Rome. The expat community is very welcoming, we made lifelong friends, the city was a fascinating hot mess, but in a wonderful way. We never ran out of jaw-dropping things to look at (2,000 year old ruins, etc.), the food was fab, and the city, other than one's need to look out for the gypsy pickpockets, was totally safe for kids to walk around by themselves. My son developed a lot of independence.
I'm missing Rome as I'm typing this...
Archived Q&A and Reviews
My husband has a job possibility in Italy (near Venice) for 6 months. Our child will be a little over a year when we are expected to be there. Are we nuts for even thinking about making this move? It's not as if our child will be in school., but none of us speak Italian. Has anyone done this sort of a move with a child under 5? anon
Go Go Go!! I've never lived in Italy but we spent two weeks there when my son was 18 months old. It was wonderful. The flight was long but he slept through most of it. He adjusted to the time change in just a few days. And he loved being there. We spent a week renting an apartment in Rome and every day after breakfast he would go to where his backpack carrier was in the entry way (my husband carried him around on his back all over Rome) and say ''backpack, backpack, let's go.'' The people were very nice. The guidebook stereotype that Italians love kids is absolutely true. He got lots of attention while we were there. Also, we didn't have any trouble getting things we needed for him while we were there. I realize being on vacation is very different from living someplace for six months, but it sounds like it could be the adventure of a lifetime. If it's the kind of thing you would have wanted to do before you had kids, don't let the fact that you have a little one change your mind. Go!! momof2boys
I would die for a reason to move to Italy, although I suppose that would defeat the purpose. Your child probably won't remember it when s/he is older, but you'll be able to go back and give your child the gift of familiarity with another country. You and your husband will learn Italian, a lovely language (though the Venetian dialect, I'm told, is odd), and I'll be you'll find it terrifically horizon-expanding. Go for it. robbie
GO!! How fortunate you are to have the opportunity presented to you!! You would be crazy not to go. You must read 'Paris to the Moon' by Adam Gopnik. Although it is not Italy, it is about the journey and lifes memories he and his family made while living in Paris when his child/ren were less than 5 years. I'm sure there is something similar on the Italian front. My husband and I (without children) have traveled on a bike a month at a time in France ('98 and 2000). We just emersed ourselves in the culture, food and sourroundings. It was an incredible experience. After that we said, we must find a way to work abroad - we havn't reached that goal but can't imagine ever turning down or questioning the chance if/when it is made available. Well now we have 2 year old identical twin boys. We went back to France with them when they were 6 months. Because they were identical we did get an opportunity to mingle more and speak the language as the twins were a topic in and of themselves. You will find ways to meet and talk with people. Even if you use a phrase book you will pick up the language slowly. In fact the beauty of the experience is finding the common communication ground between you and the locals. Sometimes with kids, you will attract people with kids and it's easier to talk with children since they may speak more slowly and have simpler vocabulary. You can have so much fun learning and exploring. In the scheme of a lifetime you will look back and be able to write you own 'Rome to the Moon' journal/book. Think about the adventure of it all with you and your family. You must go. And please when you do - send us all in the network an update. Hilary
My husband and I are considering living in Florence, Italy for one year starting Summer 2004. We have a 1 year old and a 9 year old. We are interested in getting recommendations on housing, house exchange, schools/daycare for the kids, intensive italian classes for adults and kids in Florence, cost of living issues etc. We would love to hear from anyone who has done such a thing or a similar year abroad. Any organizations that faciliate living abroad would be great! Grazie
I went with my mom to live in Florence in 1987. I was in my sophomore year of high school and attended the American Inernational School of Florence. The school is located in a beautiful tuscan villa in the hills surrounding Florence. I had fabulous teachers and met students from all over the world.The majority of the students were Italian and the students there typically learned to speak conversational Italian by the end of the year. I got to spend quite a bit of time helping in the first through fourth grade classrooms. The children learned in both Italian and English. I have fond memories of the school and I would recommend looking into it. I believe they have a website. Florence is beautiful and I would take my children there if I had the opportunity. Liza