What is the difference between living and working in Northern Italy and England

07/10/2009 - 16:12

Ciao a tutti!Does anyone out there have any experiences of living and working in Northern Italy and compared it to England? Would be really interested to know any thoughts or experiences and if any conclusions reached as to whether or not Italy has more to offer than England? 



Have friends who live near La Spezia/Cinque Terre but not, unfortunately, in Piemonte.  Hopefully somebody on the site can answer your questions.In my limited experience everywhere in Italy is great.  Welcome to the Piazza. 

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Buon giorno Gerbillo, Thank you for taking the time to answer my post and it is nice to hear your positive view on Italy! I hear Cinque terre is suppossed to be amazing. I will familiarise myself with the site and explore other members who may have experience in this areaGrazie 

The Cinque Terre are indeed amazing and a must to visit.  Spring and autumn are much better than now - too many people, especially from the USA.They can be reached by train or car.  But by far the best way is by sea from Portovenere (which you can reach by boat from La Spezia or Lerici).  The boats stop at 4 and you can jump off, have a stroll round and then take the next boat on down.Fabulous!  

Hi and welcome to the Comunity, Antonietta. We are in Northern Tuscany (Bagni di Lucca), but Piemonte is a beautiful region as well. Hard to find a place that is not great in Italy. Best wishes with all your plans. 

Hi and thankyou for your warm welcome. Yes so I have heard and read this about Piemonte and need to get a feel of this which I hopefully will soon! I am looking to relocate permanently so need to look at all the information available to me with open eyes!! I hear Toscana is suppossed to be beautiful, been to Umbria which I really liked. Thanks again for your reply 

Hi and welcome to the Comunity, Antonietta. We are in Northern Tuscany (Bagni di Lucca), but Piemonte is a beautiful region as well. Hard to find a place that is not great in Italy. Best wishes with all your plans. Submitted by Gala Placidia on 11 July 2009 - 8:08am. Perhaps the above post will assist your understanding (She (Gala) made the above statement to which I had made a replytherefore your sarcasm is unwarranted.  

Hi Turnip,Really sorry, but I am afraid I still do not get it? When you say my sarcasm is unwarranted, I was not be sarcastic but trying to understand how your post related to what I was asking for and how it now relates to another post you added in? 

Hi!A warm welcome to the community.Here you are some hints to better navigate the website.Through the following links you can browse:TopicsLocationsYou could also check all the existing groups here: GroupsSome new members from Piedmont have recently joined the Piazza, and you can look for them through the Map Of User LocationsDon't hesitate to contact me via private message to ask any information.  

Hi Antonietta,I see you've picked up on Diana's thread, and having lived in Piedmonte for a while, she will be a good resource for you.  We've bought a place in the Monferrato region of Piedmont and will be moving out there soon.  I have to say I have fallen in love with the place -the people have been wonderfully welcoming, both Italian and the ex-pats we've already met , and the area has lots to offer.  Although I cannot answer your questions at the moment, I do hope that you find that answers you are after, and look forward to the fact that you may become a 'neighbour'. 

In reply to by montana stroud

Hi Montana,Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post. Not heard from Diane yet, am waiting in anticipation!  I have done a bit of research and have heard monferrato is suppossed to very nice near Asti? It is great to hear you have fallen in love with the area, what is it about the area that you have fallen in love with? Are there a lot of ex- pats there, as I read there were not so many living in that region?  Good luck with your move and I hope you have some great experiences in Piemonte, it sounds like you already have.It would be great if I did become a neighbour, I am convinced my husband just needs to be now ! Sinceramente   

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi GerbilloConvinced to live in Italy, and give up his career and family hope that makes it clearer! Ironic thing is we are both from Italian parentage, second generation, which gets in the way as we get a one sided view, which is not helpful.

We've been coming to the same village in Piemonte for 20 years, and for the last 4 have spent 6 months every year living here.   The people are great, we don't directly know and never meet any ex-pats which is good for our Italian at least.   The cost of living has sadly risen over the past year or so, but it pays to eat seasonally and cook local dishes.   The quality of the food is very high -  the vegetables and fruit taste as they should, and Piemonte meat , particularly beef, is really good.    We get fish from Liguria at the local markets.   The markets are wonderful, with several each week to choose from.  It's still cheap to have coffee in a bar, and we buy good wine from a Langhe vineyard which is only 35 minutes away for 3.50 euro's a bottle - you can get cheaper if you take your own container.  Our neighbours are very friendly and helpful, and I love the courtesy with which we are treated in all the shops, and the way everybody greets us in passing.   Local eating places are fantastic and very good value.  I can't comment on schools or work, as we're retired.  We're an hour away from Torino by train, and I find something new ito enjoy n the city each time I visit.  So you can mix a rural life with an injection of city buzz when you need to!  We're also an hour from the Ligurian coast, so a day at the beach is well within reach.  Hope you get further positive information!

i lived in the north of italy from 1975 till 1994,so the best part of twenty years.northern italy is very industrious,people work very hard,it's expensive but that depends where and how you live.if you have a house it's decidedly better because renting is next to impossible especially in the cities.if you have to work and have a good job it can be very rewarding and fulfilling.honestly i've no idea what it's likeif one doesn't work.the boundary between country and city is far less marked then further south and one feels the "influence" of the city much more in the north also because you get factors like commuting, like in the UK.Immigrant population is the highest in thecountry in the northern regions ,which supplies labour but brings with it other social problems so probably personal security is more of an issue.winter can be quite hard again depending where you live, and the summers across the plain of the po valley can be hot and humid.there's lots more i could say but wouldn't want to be tedious

Hi Antonietta,We started our search in Tuscany because given the criteria we were looking for, our property agent thought that would be the best place to start.  We weren't finding what we were looking for so after several months of trying, we then expanded the search to Piedmont.  The house we bought was the only one we needed to see - despite a huge amount of work to be done, we were smitten and since buying, on each visit we find it just gets better and better. The area is stunning - I still cannot get over the view from our house of the Alps in the winter - like a picture postcard.We are discovering that there are more expats in Monferrato than we realised, and the ones we have met have been very helpful so far.  If you are on facebook, look for the group Expats in Monferrato, and hook up with me there too - we can catch up some more.

In reply to by montana stroud

Hi Montana,Thanks for giving me some background on your journey to discovering Piemonte, sounds magical and seems like you have had a really positive experience of the area.Will definetly hook up with you on facebook and check out expats in Monferrato very soon. Thanks for your post.  

Always bear in mind that the low bits of Piemonte can be incredibly hot and humid during the summer and freezing cold, as in minus 14c, during the winter. The higher you go up, the colder it gets as well, so keep that in mind if you are thinking of moving here full-time. Of course, if you only are thinking of the odd holiday jaunt, the choice will be more dictated by proximity to sea/mountains and airports. Torino is not a bad airport, but Genova has more flights these days, apparently. It's all good though.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

 Hi Kay,Thanks for the info, any piece of information is really useful!  When you say low parts of Piemonte do you mean near the po river or South Piemonte, in terms of being really cold in winter. I have tried to research this but had difficulty finding anything regarding how cold it can get for the winter months. We are actually looking to immigrate, rather than buy a holiday home so I need to ensure I do my homework in terms of winter temperatures amongst other important things!Always good to know about airports too! 

Now now Antonietta & Turnip. Let Aunty Gerbillo explain.In response to A's initial posting Gala Placidia replied on 11 July at 9:08 pm saying:'Hard to find a place that is not great in Italy'.Turnip does not agree with this view so, on 16 July at 11.24pm, he/she says:'Naples - thieves paradise'.There you are!  Problem solved.  Nobody being sarcastic.  Purely a difference of views which, in reality, doesn't involve Antonietta at all.So now everybody is happy.(PS Aunty Gerbillo is always available to solve problems - however serious or trivial). 

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Aunty Gerbillo!Thanks for coming to the rescue, it was much appreciated. Being someone who's family come from a province very close to Naples I am very familiar with what Turnip is referring to, just did not understand his post and how it related, but now I do!!Thanks again

hi antoniettamyself and my dear wife are moving to Seborga liguria in a few months. we are protected from a lot of bad weather by the alps behind us. i have had barbecues in feb last year. its a temperate climate. one of the best spots in italy. the italian riviera was a winter home to the rich british in the early 20th century because of the climate

Antonietta, I sent you a PM before but you never replied...Anyway. i am from Monferrato, but I grew up in Torino. I worked there for a few years after university ( I am an Architect) and then moved to London and then Glasgow.What can I say. First of all I think that it really depends on your line of work. As a general comment I can say that in Italy is much more difficult to get a permanent job, that working hours are longer in a very stupid way, as productivity obviously decreases after you have been in an office for 8 hours, but usually in Italy you are expected to work long hours to please your boss.Working mothers have an harder time in Italy that they have here ( as I am one and I am ok, but most of my Italian friends face very difficult situations)My husband and I would like to live in Italy but work is our major concern. I am trying to set up my own company (www.latoca.co.uk) but the credit crunch is not helping one bit! I am also back at university doing a phd and hoping o be able to land some consultancy work after that...I find it very difficult to approach the subject on such general levels... I would need to know more about what your ideas are.Italy s a lovely place to live in, I would consider work there as the only downside. But I am also aware of the fact that maybe a foreigner would see things with a different perspective and with a different set of experiences and would maybe be able to work the system or find taht gap in the market that would make a successfull business.It really depends on what you would like to do...Paola

Hi Paola,I must of missed yours for some reason, had a lot of replies at one point of obviously missed yours out. Thank you for taking the time to reply again.My line of work is counselling and psychology I too have a website (www.mapcounselling.com) where I offer an internet counselling service, which I can do virtually anywhere but was also looking to set up private practice in Italy but not sure how this will work but will obviously look into this thoroughly. I have not read anywhere about working mothers and long hours in Italy and was not awareof this issues so that is really useful. I wil take a look at your website. Hope things pick up for you! I take it you mean credit crunch in England?You say you are from Monferratto, are you living in England or Italy at the moment?  There is so much to consider!!

Hi Montana,I am not sure if I have read your PM, will need to look back and check? I think I missed your first one and then picked it up so really sorry if that has happened again. I know Haywards Heath, I am not far from East Grinstead area.Yes that is a co-incidence. What has been your experience of Piemonte in terms integration and red tape?We are due to come to Piemonte next Friday so will be trying to explore every part of it as possible!       

I have never been to Naples but plan to check it out on my travels. I appreciate it is the home of the Camorra but is it as deprived as this thread depicts?   Sorry Antonietta for asking this in your thread.  Good luck in your plans to live and work in Italy.  Please keep us all informed on how you get on.

Naples from my experiences as a child and from family and friends who are from there all say pretty much the same thing. It is an amazing place but yes there are pockets of poverty and a very large drug culutre. Do not know if you saw Mcintyre who did a feature on Naples and the problems with crime and drug culture?  There is a lot of stuff that goes on that tourists are not aware of, not sure if good or bad thing? Not sure if that is what you wanted to know?Thank you for your warm wishes. I will let you know 

Thank you Antonietta.  I guess Naples has it's cross to bear as many of the inner cities in the UK.  Certainly were I live in Nottingham we have  very much the same scenairio. Yes you are right you have to tread cautiously in such places but I would still like to have the experience.Take care!

Hi Antonietta,Just to add my mustard...  We've lived in the La Spezia area for for 5 years, 1/2 hour from the 5Terre, which we avoid during the summer.  We love it here, neighbours have been extremely kind and helpful, however we live well below the poverty line.  We left Surrey because of long working hours and high living costs.  Here we work a plot of land to supply us with basic foods and srape by with a bit of English teaching (my wife), and organising some wine tastings for tourists http://users3.jabry.com/tuscanytipple/.  However, another reason for our move was psychological problems of my wife, due to brain damage sustained from an accident.  The lifestyle here, no pressure and plenty of physical excersise, helps her, the only drawback is that, also as a result of her illness, she can't learn Italian and therefore not find the correct medical help for her condition either.  But talking about health, the national health service here is considerably from what we were used to in the UK!If you want to know anymore about our life here, check out my blog: http://pathtoselfsufficiency.blogspot.com/Good Luck


Firstly; truely heartfelt congrats to Heiko for having the courage to move to Italy to enter a more sustainable lifestyle for your wife; surely not an easy move, but definitely the best move. I hope she continues to enjoy her life to the full, and admire your determination.Jean and I have lived both in the north east and middle of Italy. The difference is notable in that in the north east (Viadana MN) - not to be confused with Viadana near Brescia - the expansion of industry seems to consume the coutryside at a rapid rate. Planning permission is often retrospective, and the timescale of daily work tends to be more 'English' - early start - snack (ish) for lunch - back to work. This may be because the worker who once lived near his place of work would return home to have lunch, then rest up before a mid-afternoon start. People tend to travel further for work opportunities, so going home at lunchtime is a no no much to the consternation of 'Nonna'. We found that after about 7;00 p.m. village centres would become deserted, workers having finished at 6;00 p.m. and gone home. Often shops would close at 7;30 p.m. and then 'ghost town'. We also found that the locals were less accepting, and would even 'cold shoulder' you, maybe due to the huge influx of migrant workers (Italian and not) required to sustain the local industries. The roads infrastructure is aimed at better heavy goods movement, so slowly even more minor roads are being upgraded to support the eternal lorry procession.We moved to the Marche region where I had originally lived 1985-1993 before returning to UK, and found that the pace of life seems to retain more the traditional values and timescales, although there's considerable industry in our area (near Ascoli Piceno) there doesn't seem to be the 'constant 'busy bee' element that we experienced in the north, and the industrial elements seem more contained. People here have time for you; welcome you into the community, and actively try to involve you in local activities.Having moved here (Le Marche) from North Yorkshire, we have found many similarities to the attitude that we experienced in Yorkshire. There generally people are friendly, homely and welcoming, but most would certainly not support the 'Italianisms' that we are involved with (and actually enjoy).

Hi Andrew,Was really interested in your post and your experiences of North East Italy. Have you had any encounters in North West of Italy or have any knowledge of the Piemonte areas?It sounds like Le Marche is an area that suits you better, not an area I know very much about, still trying to find an area that encompasses a lot of things myself and my family are looking for, still keep coming up with this part of Italy but not sure If I am missing some other areas that might be better suited. Thanks for your info, every bit helps!Antonietta      

Hi Antonietta;I've not had much experience in the North West of Italy except for travelling through, but generally have found that the areas around Torino and Milan are based on their industrial capacity, therefore are serviced by good roads; often dual carriageways; but then with the road situations that they bring and the sprawling factory areas etc.Obviously the area around Valle d'Aosta; Asti and Alessandria are very beautiful, but again that depends on what you're looking for, or what your background is. Jean and I both come originally from hilly - almost mountainous - regions of England, and we're not attracted to the flat plains of Lombardy and Emilia, rather the hills and mountains 'from whence cometh my strength'.We've also found that the more south you go generally the lifestyle is more laid back. That suits us as we've lived in Italy for some years now and adapted, but however have met people who have been determined to go back to UK as they can't cope with the way things work / don't work here. I don't know if you read on the forum that someone was quite disappointed as no-one at the electricity offices spoke English, and I also imagine no-one spoke Dutch, German or French!Wherever you go you'll need to either be flexible in your approach to local beaurocrats and officials, unless you do as some have and basically involve yourself in an English based community where there's a 'comfort zone'. Problems tend to be solved within this 'peer group', and eventually there's a group generated sort of solution, generally accompanied by 'group indignation'. Personally although we have some really nice English friends here, we also try and integrate, and have some very aimiable Italian neighbours and friends.We've settled in Le Marche as it suits us both from the point of view of lifestyle and surroundings. Having travelled in Tuscany and the North East, we have been able to select objectively.Hope this helps;

Hi Heiko, Sorry taken so long to get back to you. Thank  you for replying to my question.  Co-incidently I too live in Surrey. I just wanted to say your honesty really touched me and it sounds like you have had a welcoming and supportive experience in Italy, which must of been so important for you and your wife when you intially immigrated from Surrey. When you say well below the poverty line, I take it finding work is difficult over there? Is that more to do with being foreign or more to do with lack of employment opportunities?  I am hoping, as I currently offer an internet and face to face counselling service, www.mapcounselling.com, that this is something I can continue and expand on in Italy. We are looking at moving to South of Piemonte, where the weather is suppossed to be not as cold in the winter months? You mentioned that the health service is considerably different to that in UK, In what way, in expertise or in competence? Are you able to access any health care in Switzerland even though not a resident, as I have read they have an amazing healthcare system but not too sure as to whether you can acccess it from outside? Good luck, I really hope you manage to find the correct type of support for your wife and thank you once again for taking the time out to reply.I will take a look at your website.All the best Antonietta

Antonietta, i live in the Uk at the moment, in Glasgow, but we are hoping to relocate in about 4 to 5 years... I just started a phd so that will keep me here for that lenght of time! Will you be visiting Piemonte any time soon?Paola

Hi Paola,Good luck with your PHD, sounds like you have a lot of hard work ahead of you!Yes we are going to Piemonte next Friday for 2 weeks so will be great to get a feel for this particular region, especially as I come from the campania region in Italy so not sure what to expect.Can't wait but also apprehensive about what I will discover and whether I will get a good enough picture in such a short time.   

antonietta, wehre will you go in Piemonte? we will be there at the same time, we are in Lu Monferrato ( AL) http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=via+sabbione,+lu,+15040&sll=45.674365,9.689885&sspn=0.0436,0.07699&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A Also, go to my website at: http://www.latoca.co.uk/page5.html and follow the links for tourist guides you will be able to download free guides for all the areas of Piemonte. They are quite well made, I printed them all and I keep a copy in our house in Lu.Paola

Hi Paola,That's a co-incidence! Thank you for taking the time out to send me the links. I really appreciate it. We are doing one week around Tortona Casasco (self catering) and another week in Parodi Ligure, think that is near Novi ligure self catering again.Monferratto is somewhere I would like to explore as from what I have read on different posts sounds interesting. I can't wait!!Antonietta 

Hi Antonietta,Employement is difficult to come by unless you someone who knows someone, if you know what I mean.  Even our Italian neighbour, who was looking for work for 2 years, eventually replaced a cousin on maternity leave within a family company.  Health service, I'm comparing to National Health in the UK.  It is free here and queues in hospitals are almost unheard of.  We both have had minor admittances to A&E, as did my mother on visit, we were always seen almost immediately, appropriate tests were carried out with immediate results and administration of suitable drugs and seing a specialist. My first experience of the Italian health sytem was a during a business visit to Italy.  I suffered a bladder and kidney infection, which had been left to simmer, because I was still awaiting results of tests from my GP in the UK.  Had he had the resources to do all the tests and an immediate consultation with a urologist, the whole thing would have easily been brought under control.  The result was that I was ill on and off for some 6 months.  The whole experience, admittance, tests, scans, X-ray, consultation, took for 4 hours and was free.  In England I had to wait 3 months before I could see the urologist!