How to make friends in Italy and influen ...

How to make friends in Italy and influence people

Apr 12, 2024

Hello Friend,

I've asked everyone to send me any questions they may have about visiting Italy or anything they are curious to know about the culture or everyday life that I can answer from my experience living in Italy for nearly two decades. 

I thought I'd start sharing a few questions and my more detailed responses with you.

And just remind you to send me your queries on this email : [email protected]

Hi Rochelle,

I have been enjoying reading your posts especially the ones that discuss friendship in Italy, and wonder if I could ask you to elaborate a little. If men and women can't be friends because men are only interested in sex, and women only compete with one another, then do women mostly not have friends? I've read that Italian women tend to socialise mainly within their families, but on the other hand I have read many expats describing having been warmly embraced by their new communities. 

I am about two years out from a somewhat early retirement and have been considering a move to Italy (it would be as a dual citizen), largely, to be honest, for economic considerations, but also for all of the reasons that we all love Italy. However, I would be coming alone. Like you, I'm charming and make a great dinner guest :). I've always found it not too hard to make friends, although my needs for a social life are probably lower than average. My expectation has been that making friends is possible but naturally will take time, but I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps I'm being a bit naive. What are your thoughts on what I could reasonably expect? 

Thanks so much for your time, D.

Hi D.

First of all, thanks so much for reading my posts; that's made my day. I always try to be honest and thorough with everything I write.

I will write a more detailed post about friendships in Italy, how they are usually formed and how to make friends here. How exciting and quite brave you are to be retiring to Italy.

I didn't mean to mislead you into thinking it is so difficult to make friends. I found in Sicily that there is still this traditional idea that men and women can't be friends, but I think that's changing a little, and perhaps in other parts of Italy, it isn't so cut and dry. 

I've always found it hard to make friends simply because most friendships here are formed through going to school; here, often, people have the same people around them; they are from the same town, go to primary and middle school together, then high school and work groups, it seems all a little clicky if you know what I mean.

But I do think the best way to go is to try to connect to the local community, find your regular bar where you get coffee, go to the same stores, be friendly, be sure to join a gym or sports centre, go and see the soccer games become a Milanista, Juventino or Interista, sport is an excellent bonding method. It is always easy to start conversations; it just needs to be cultivated and fed over time before it reaps any deep friendships. But above all, you need to remember to be persistent and patient with yourself; making friends does take time.

I've made lovely friendships with my local baker, butcher, and grocer, and I have all their numbers. I have taught many of the local children English over the years, so I know many people through that kind of connection. There are many local associations you can join if you are interested; the local pro loco is all about volunteering to encourage tourism and will often organise great trips around the area; the Church will also have annual trips, social functions and yes, even prayer groups if you are that way inclined.

If you find yourself living in a city with a significant expat community, you can easily connect with other expats; for example, the Signonella military base outside of Catania has a substantial social network.

So you can see there are endless possibilities.

Making friends in Italy as an expat may require effort, patience, and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone, but the rewards are well worth it. By embracing social opportunities, learning the language, being genuine and approachable, understanding cultural differences, navigating gender dynamics, and overcoming challenges in cross-cultural friendships, you can build meaningful connections and create a fulfilling social life in Italy.

Remember that friendship knows no borders, and by fostering mutual respect, understanding, and empathy, you can forge lasting bonds with people from all walks of life in your adopted home

What I encourage you to do, above all, is try to dedicate time to brushing up on your Italian; I think it is vital if you want to connect with locals and become a part of the community you will be living in. 

Well, this is all I can think of for now, just off the top of my head.

I hope this helps, and please be sure to keep in touch.



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