How to live frugally in Italy

06/18/2012 - 02:53


Although the question may have been tongue in cheek, it got me thinking. All of these below are what I do in order to be frugal - a financial necessity, but the results are also a pleasure. Give to neighbours / friends / acquaintances any vegetables, fruit, wine, olive oil etc that you have or produce. You will probably receive back in kind, and in abundance. Watch the expense of going to bars on a regular basis. Minimise eating at restaurants. Although balance this way of thinking with valuing sociability and supporting local businesses.  In the winter heat one area of the house and stay there mostly. Wear warmer clothes, even indoors. Don't expect to be toasty warm for a while and let yourself 'feel' the difference in seasons.  Use heavier bedding and if needed, hot water bottles. Go out walking around if you get cold - it may be warmer outdoors during the day if it is sunny. The exercise will warm you up anyway. Obviously not a solution in the snow / rain / wind. Saw or cut wood for the stove if you have one - warms you twice as the old saying goes. Perhaps change your thinking on what gives you pleasure and satisfaction - away from materialistic concerns - such as clothes, furnishings, electronic goods. Prioritise valuing human connection, natural beauty, the wonders of the built environment, ok health.  Walk, cycle, use public transport - don't hop in a car all the time.  Enjoy learning Italian and practice as much as you can. Feel good about your improvements in this area, rather than feeling self-critical about how lousy your language skills are, or worse giving up altogether. Become an observer of cultural differences - endlessly fascinating and always happening. Totally free entertainment - comedy, drama, tragedy, the everyday - it's all here.  And partaking of all of these activities above is also why I like being here!     

Some interesting reading on this one & I too will be trying to be as self sufficient as possible. Hoping it won't  prove too difficult. I am an outdoor person & love walking & cycling. One of my passions is cooking & baking & the commenti made about sharing within the local community with produce is correct.  I will be producing as much of my own products as possible, also discovered blackberry bushes on my walks with dogs to pick for jams:-)) If I bake a cake for my farmer neighbor he returns daily with fresh produce for me. I make my own pasta & bread:-) Anyone wanting a Birthday or celebration cake making, I'd be more than happy to bake :-) Not sure how I can get around the meat suppy though, I love animals too much to breed & then pop them into the oven:-(  Suppose I could call a favour to the farmer & not keep count on the chickens or name them!!! Looking forward to reading more interesting suggestions....Maxine

Well done Angie for interesting subject!  Whether you are in Italy or Timbuktoo (?) this is a very important subject at present and I'm sure everyone has tips that can be passed on and be of benefit to others. 

Are you daring to suggest not buying Heinz Baked Beans????   We're not living there yet so it's not something I've looked to buy but have them at home in the UK as a permanet fixture in the cupboard - I'm taking it they must be expensive?  Will have to pack them in my case when I'm flying to and fro.............along with sun tan lotion which everyone keeps saying is really expensive too!

In reply to by Esme

Esme, I totally agree with that it's perhaps not frugal to pack Baked Beans with the extra weight charges & in that case it may be cheaper to buy in Italy. However....Homemade Baked Beans are simple to make & surpass the canned version for taste & being 'Frugal' price! So for all Baked Bean lovers why don't you make big batches of them & freeze for upto 3 months

Great that this has kicked off some good ideas...have just returned from the neighbours with eggs and lettuce, Maxine my cake baking skills are lacking but will buy them shortbread biscuits from the Little British Food Shop in Servigliano, last time I was there italians were in buying bacon! Pamela I loved your post...made me think again about why we live here. 

Angie, I had to send this to you :-)  prep time - less than 30 mins Bake time - 15 -20 mins Makes 20-25 biscuits 125g butter 55g Caster Sugar 180g Plain Flour Preheat oven 190c/375f/Gas 5 Beat butter & sugar together until smooth Stir in flour to get a smooth paste Turn onto work surface, roll to 1/2 inch thick Cut into fingers & place on baking tray. Sprinkle with some sugar & place in fridge for 20 mins to chill. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until light golden brown. Distribute them out & let me know what you get in return...Maxine

I'll be flying back to the UK every other week for work so will only need half a suitcase of clothes etc - never thought I'd be filling the other half with beans though - so maybe one week suntan lotion and then the next beans (what a scintillating thought) - that way I can add in some new clothes that I'll just have to buy as well!  Just remembered this thread is about being frugal - I guess though if I'm frugal in Italy I can spend what I've saved elsewhere???

Seems perfectly frugal to me to use up the allocated suitcase weight by packing in a few tins of Baked Beans - you can then open up a Little British Food Shop - and make a killing flogging the beans to homesick expats.

In reply to by Pat H

No one could accuse this forum of being 'vibrant' now. other tips for saving money: Drive an English registered car for as long as possible, avoiding paying for revisione or bollo. Don't bother to make a control of your heating boiler every year. Pay only the tax for residents but dom't live here - no one will know! :)

Pat, everyone (apart from the more lively and interesting gang on the old forum) wanted a nice, quiet, polite forum and for people like me to sod off - and for the most part, they got exactly what they wanted.  wink

I'm with Vikings123 on this one, by some dried fagole, soak overnight, drain, boil up, then make a nice tomato passata with garlic and fresh sage a touch of chilli; sorted ....

In reply to by Flip

Hi -    Could you tell me what fagole and passata mean - you seem to be using Italian words - and this is an English forum

I don't think it counts as 'writing in Italian' when the Italian is misspelt. And I do not recommend looking up fagola, which would be the presumed singular of fagole, unless you are sure to be able to avoid urban dictionary definitions... It is the site which decided on the underlining! Yet another bizarre glitch, or maybe a feature?

All these recipies for home made baked beans are fine; I make them myself; soak the beans overnight, add onions, celery and tomato - BUT - it's not the same. Heinz baked beans have sugar in them, are thick and gloopy, and taste wonderful with chips and sausages.  I wait 'till I am back home in England to have my Heinz beans.  However, in Italy I have visitors from England who need feeding, and as well as cooking up my big pans of cannellini beans to make the equivalent of Heinz, I have cooked wonderful inexpensive soups from dried peas (geen and yellow) and lentils.  I add fresh produce from the market and sprinkle with fresh herbs or cheese.  My guests think I am so clever and imagine (ha ha) that I am cooking Italian.  (In truth, I just want to save my money for proseccos down at the local bar).  I won't be back in Italy for 3 weeks, but I know that I have soup bases in the freezer - made from those sweet white onions that I bought by the kilo in the market, and also I have soups made with the produce given to me by my neighbours from their ortos.  I've got cherries frozen in syrup; they seemed to have had a glut two weeks ago, and they gave me baskets of them.  I'm looking forward to the outsized peppers and tomatoes, apricots and figs.  My neighbours look after me.  In return I take them M&S clothes for the children, Jubilee tins of biscuits, and soaps made from roses.  They are astounded at the strange times of day and night that we have our meals.  (Why?  I am on holiday).   I see them peering over the hedge into our garden where I have the table set, and down from the balcony above, to see what we are up to this time.  I hide my afternoon glass(es) of white wine in a teacup, and pretend to be sober when we return from our proseccos rather late in the evening only to start cooking dinner!  Don't really know what they think of me, I just know they feel sorry for my husband whose stomach must be suffering  ....... no wonder he has a pancio (paunch?).  I love our neighbours, and they are so friendly towards us, and keen to meet any new people we bring out from England.  Mostly our neighbours are from Milan and Genoa, and they are at their holiday apartments too, so perhaps they are more forgiving and accepting or our stange habits.  All I know is that I can't wait to get back to Italy and the wonderful sunshine and company of the locals.

Thinking Back. We have a very nice Italian guy (retired), living near to us. We were sorting out the orto, and he rotovated it for a few euro. He saw our English fork, we had been using to dig the ground and said how good he thought it was, as there was no equivalent here. I ordered one from Amazon as a gift for him and he was so pleased and even wanted to pay for it. Anyway, some time later, we were discussing truffles. A few days later, he turned up with a very large white truffle, as our gift from him. He and his brother also cut down a very large Oak tree in the garden,which we had permission for from the Commune. Gave them all the wood as had no need for it here, which was 2 tractor trailers full. No cost to us, so it does work.