From my “old” blog on BlogCharm. The following is from a post dated December 19th 2007 about “The Sweet Life”.
La Dolce Vita in Italian means The Sweet Life. Something that foreigners think that those that live in Italy have, The Sweet Life. But is this a reality? Do you call 21% of the Italian population, or 12.5 million out of roughly 60 million, living in poverty La Dolce Vita? Prime Minister Romano Prodi issued a decree that these poor will receive 150 euros ($210) next December. But how will that help the months following? I spend about that much at the grocery store for two weeks, just for my husband and I, and that’s going to the discount grocery store. Buying store brand items versus the big name brand. That amount, 150 euros, would have filled up our Ford Mondeo 1.5 times, enough gas for about two weeks if we don’t go anywhere on the weekends. If it weren’t for my husband’s parents helping us out financially, I honestly do not know how we’d make it month-to-month.
People here are struggling to make ends meet. Not only those of us who are not originally from here, even Italians are having a hard time. If I work 20 hours a week EVERY week teaching private lessons of English, I make about the same as a blue collar worker working 40 hours a week if not more. People are having a hard time paying a 500 euro a month mortgage payment. Let alone putting food on the table. , gas in the car and paying the ever increasing utilities. My husband sometimes complains I buy meat at the discount store versus the butcher. Sorry but it’s cheaper and when money is tight, a person has to do what a person has to do in order to save some money.
Then there is the subject of employment. Today’s generations are more education then their ancestors. But does that mean higher wages and better job contracts? No. Today’s young people don’t have such a bright future unless they move abroad. WHO you know is more important that WHAT you know. A recent university graduate what do they have to look forward to when they graduate? A difficult time finding a permanent contract at a decent wage. In the United States I had experience in Customer Service and also as a waitress. Here if I were to be doing the same type of work, full-time working 40+ hours a week I would be lucky to earn 800 euros a month and a temporary contract. In other words, every three months my contract may or may not be renewed. That is if I were lucky enough to land a job. Since I am a married female in my 30’s (child bearing years), I’d be seen as a walking womb. A walking baby maker, with companies hesitant to hire me due to the fact I may or may not at any given time be taking maternity leave.
I am NOT saying the United States is the best country in the world, because it is not. Do I regret moving to Italy? No. Why? Because I’ve learned about the Italian culture, learned the language, learned how things work here, am able to cook some Italian dishes and am able to teach my niece English and watch her grow and learn new things. If you can’t tell, I am a very proud auntie. Also, after moving and living in Italy for over five years now, I look the United States with different eyes. I realize the good and the bad in a different light. Is one country, Italy or the United States better than the other? No, that would be like comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruits yes, but that is where the similarities end.
So do we live the “la bella figura” (beautiful figure) lifestyle? Not at all. Yes Italy has beautiful scenery and just as delicious cuisine. But that does not put a roof over our heads, gas in our car and food in our stomachs. Please remember this before deciding to move here permanently if you are wanting to live and work here. Italy is a wonderful country to retire if you have a good size nest egg in the bank or for vacation.