Moving to another country is always going to be challenging but when you start to make friends, in the local and Expat communities, you’ll soon start to feel at home. Having some friends in your new town or city will make all the difference and help you to make the most of the opportunities and possibilities in your new life.
It might sound like it’s a difficult task to start making friends in a new country but in reality nothing could be further from the truth! For a start, although Italian society can seem like it’s very closed and inward looking, once locals start to get to know you they will soon be treating you like a member of their own family!
On top of this, other foreigners and Expats are always keen to meet new people, especially if you come from a similar part of the world to them. Spending some time with fellow Americans in Italy can help you to overcome feelings of homesickness and they will understand the issues you are facing because they have probably faced those issues themselves in the past!
There’s A Lot of Foreigners Living in Italy.
Italy is a cultural magnet for people all over the world because of its incredible heritage, art and history. As a result, there are a lot of foreigners who are living in Italy, either on a full time basis as Expats or students, long term tourists or those who are just passing through.
This means that you can quickly start to make friends with fellow foreigners which might be easier than befriending the locals, particularly if your Italian language skills are not very good.
There are always bound to be more foreigners in the major cities and cultural hubs of the country although even in the most remote regions of Tuscany and the Dolomites you can still find pockets of Expats all over the place!
So how do you go about meeting new friends in Italy? Should you focus on meeting other Expats or spread your wings and get to know the locals as well?
There are many ways you can go about meeting people in Italy and we’ll detail the ways below. However, when it comes to making new friends you should always be open to meeting local Italians as well as fellow Expats.
Cultivate Friendships Before You Arrive in Italy.
An excellent tip for people who are moving to Italy in the near future is to begin to cultivate friendships and acquaintances before you even arrive! There’s a lot of ways to approach meeting people before you arrive in the country but using the internet is an easy and practical method.
There are many groups on social media and dedicated forums for Expats in Italy which you can join and start making some contacts. Introduce yourself and explain your situation and in no time at all you’ll be chatting to a whole group of new friends.
When you are finding a group try to find ones which are specific to the region you’ll be moving to. Not only will they be able to give you specific advice about how to find a new property for buying or renting, the kind of things you can expect in terms of shopping and where Expats meet in the area; but you’ll also be able to see them more easily when you arrive than if they were scattered all over the country.
Join Social Media Groups.
Once you arrive in the country you should also join local Facebook groups where you can chat with other Expats. Hopefully, you will have already chatted with some of these people before you arrived but once you’re in the country it’s a super convenient way to meet new friends in Italy.
You can also join other social media platforms, such as Instagram or Twitter, but generally speaking Facebook is still the best because it has the most users and groups.
Learn Italian – It Will Revolutionize Your Life!
There’s no single thing you can do to make it easier to meet new friends in Italy than learning the language! Not only can you make new friends in your language classes but as your skills develop you can start to have conversations with locals who only speak Italian.
It will take some time and effort to learn the language but it’s something you’ll never regret; and if you intend to stay in the country for any period of time it’s crucial to know some of the basic elements of the language.
When you do learn the language though local Italians will be drawn to you and encourage you to take part in Italian life! Italians often have the reputation of being extremely proud of their heritage and being quite dismissive of foreigners but if you learn their language all that changes! You’ll soon find yourself chatting away to shopkeepers, people at the train station and locals who gather in the town squares on evenings and weekends.
When In Rome, Do As The Romans Do!
Great advice for anyone who is looking to make friends in Italy, especially with the locals, is to start taking an interest in the things that they enjoy. So, you might be asking what interests the average Italian? Italians love talking about politics, both European, national and local, soccer and of course, food!
Soccer, or football as it’s known in Europe, is a central part of Italian life and so even if you’ve never supported a team before you should definitely consider learning more about the game and even going to the live matches! Italians often gather on the weekends to watch their local team – in fact, the whole town practically shuts down during an important game while the population is focused on the big game! So why not get involved and start enjoying the spirit, camaraderie and fun of following Italy’s favorite sport, soccer, or as they call it, ‘Calcio’.
Alternatively, if sport really isn’t your thing you can brush up on local politics because there’s always some intrigue or scandal that is the talk of town! You should be a little bit more careful though when talking about politics because things can quickly get heated and you don’t want to inadvertently offend anyone. Therefore, it’s safer to stay informed with local goings on and take the attitude of an interested outsider who wants to learn more rather than an expert who will explain how things should be done to the locals!
However, if you want a safe way to strike up a conversation with an Italian then you can always talk about food, wine, recipes and the heritage of the region where you’re living. Italians are fiercely loyal to their regional culture and will love to open up and tell you all about it! This is a great way to connect with locals and while you’re doing it you’ll also be learning some interesting things as well as finding out local tips on the best places to eat or do your grocery shopping.
Use The Meetup App.
Meetup is a fantastic app that lets you find out about local groups that meet up to share their passion; and whether that’s gardening, wine tasting, hiking or visiting museums, you’ll find a group near to you that you can join.
It’s a fun way to meet new people when you’re overseas and with such a wide range of groups on the app – particularly in larger towns and cities – there’s an amazing variety of activities available.
Alternatively, if you can’t find a group you want to join you can set up your own on the app. For instance, you could set up an ‘Expats Meetup’ group or a ‘Learning Italian Cooking’ group and start to connect with new friends.
Introduce Yourself In Bars and Cafes.
Bars and cafes are the center of social life in Italy and so people really don’t mind if you introduce yourself or strike up conversations with strangers and others who you haven’t met before!
This might sound a bit forward, particularly if you’re from a large city like London or New York, where this can often be frowned upon, however in Italy it’s quite a normal part of local customs.
It’s much easier to start conversations with people in bars and cafes if you speak a little Italian although in large international hotel bars you’ll often find gatherings of local Expats. You can easily strike up a conversation and get to know new friends in this way and once you pluck up the courage you’ll soon be making lots of new contacts and acquaintances.
Making New Friends Can Be Daunting But It’s Always Worth It!
It’s not always easy to make new friends, especially if you are shy or have an introverted personality; but once you start putting yourself out there and introducing yourself your circle of friends will rapidly grow. Once you start to meet new people they will usually introduce you to their own circle of friends and so, like ripples on a pond, your own circle of friends will expand.
When you move to a new country and are looking to start making friends one of the best things you can do is to embrace the moment! As you start to create a new routine and visit the same cafes, shops and restaurants you’ll naturally find yourself chatting with shopkeepers, waiters and other customers that you see on a regular basis. This can often be the beginning of new friendships that can grow if you arrange to meet up later, to visit a museum or attend a concert for example.
If you’re living in Italy as an Expat you should certainly join groups with other Expats because you’re bound to have a lot in common with them but try not to restrict yourself to only getting to know other foreigners, because you are in Italy after all! Making the effort to learn a little Italian and meeting the locals will be a great way to find out more about the country and get to know the true spirit of the nation.