Why I left Italy

It’s a question that people ask a lot, and I always give the same answer.


When I started my blog few months ago, I still didn’t know it was going to be a sort of lens to show through the life – my life – of a young Italian woman in North America. My readers seem to enjoy my posts about this journey, and now I feel I own them something more.

When you meet somebody for the first time the questions are pretty much the same: what do you do? where are you from?, and that’s usually enough to make people ask THE question:

“Oh, Italy is so beautiful – usually followed by “I wish I could visit it” or “I have been there and I loved it” – why did you leave?”

Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s a very innocent question, but it could actually be very dangerous. If a girl leave her country, her family, her world to go to the other side of the world, maybe there is a story behind it that she doesn’t want to share!
It’s also true that I asked the same question to lots of people  here in Canada, and I don’t think there is nothing bad about it.

Anyway, as I said, my answer is always the same:

“Well, you know, if you go in Italy for vacation it’s really beautiful, but if you actually have to live there, things are pretty hard”

which usually it takes me to have to explain about a very bad luck of jobs, difficulties for young people to build a future and family, and my very “smart” Prime Minister and his scandals with women, underage, justice, mafia, jokes and newspapers.

By the end of this conversation I feel pretty bad for my country, especially because my family is still there, and guilty to feel relived.

Don’t get me wrong, Italy is a great country, it’s just sinking right now, and be in the opposite side of the Globe makes everything much clearer. I wrote about Italy for dummies and it has nothing to do with my country.

Long story short, my answer is: I left because I didn’t have a future there.

I admire those who stay there a fight for their country, because  – as I read somewhere – if everybody leaves, who is going to fix the problem? But in the same time, I do not feel I ran away. Deciding to live your life doesn’t mean running away, plus, even if I feel Italy my country, I know home is everywhere I’m happy.

Sad truth.

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30 responses to “Why I left Italy”

  1. Circe says :

    this is a great post. It’s funny that you say that you think Italy is sinking, I feel the same way about Canada.

    • elenasc says :

      When I got here in Canada everything was so “perfect”, and I couldn’t understand why people were complaining. Now that I have been here few years I’m starting to see things going bad, but trust me, Italy is much worst!

  2. monica says :

    I am Italian. I left Italy at 18 for the Uk and then I came back to Italy 12 years later. 11 years on I wish I did not come back! Things have not changed in the last 25 years at all. While other countries have moved forward, Italy always stays the same. What a pity!

    • elenasc says :

      Hi Monica, Thanks for your comment!
      I always appreciate when other Italians share their story of immigrants, even if I know how painful is to see your own country in this situation.

  3. Marc says :

    Elena,

    It’s the lack of future which is the main complaint of Italians intelligent enough to recognize it, and desperate because their country doesn’t give a damn about them or itself. Most are frightened to leave, though, because the family structure is so cozy and rooted. North Americans, in my experience, have much less difficulty in going their own way. We’re atomized, right?

  4. gianni Lovato says :

    It has been more than 40 years, since I settled in the US. At the time I felt very uncomfortable with my decision, taken for sentimental reasons and for years I yearned to return “home”.
    My problem, however, was that after years of globetrotting for work around the world, I had already started realizing that I never really felt at home anywhere.
    While a large piece of my heart was of course still floating with family and friends around Milan and surrounding areas, various chunks of it were also in Brazil, Scotland, Switzerland, but, most of all, in New York.
    The problem is that the Big Apple, even with all its idiosyncrasies, is a unique city, compared to which most places on earth appear bigoted, provincial, uninteresting, boring.

    Having said that, after visiting Italy again, after a nine years absence and for the first time completely free to enjoy it at leisure, I was able to realize that, despite the politics, the economy, the provincialism, the americanization (at any cost!), the consumerism, the graffiti and the increase of obesity among young people, there are still many individual qualities and characteristics that make our Country unique and enviable. Chief among them: ingenuity, friendliness, warmth and sincere empathy.
    To this day I have yet to be able to say that I found a true friend, as we define them in Italy, on this Continent. (surely my fault)
    Of course, however, this morning I read the Milan newspaper on line and… I am happy to be where I am. It isn’t any easier than it was 40 years ago…

  5. bagnidilucca says :

    I understand what you are saying. I am lucky that I can come and go when I please. I love my time in Italy and can pick off the best of it, but I can see that everyday life for most Italians is not the happy long lunch that most people outside Italy think. I can see little opportunity for young people. In our area, people, especially women, are underemployed. There are very few interesting, stimulating jobs. I love our village, but if it wasn’t for outsiders buying property there it would die. I would hate it to become just a home for expats. At least with new people moving in, there may be a few more work opportuniites, allowing young people to stay.

  6. Scott says :

    I like how you say home is wherever you’re happy.

    I can relate to you a lot from my experiences with being abroad.

    Thanks for posting this, I really did throughly enjoy reading this.

  7. katia68 says :

    I moved back to Italy last July,to take care of my sick mother..There is not a single day that passes by without wishing to be in Minnesota. I feel like a “stranger”, here for the way I see and think about life. Italy, in my mind and heart is not what it is now!

  8. turid says :

    This touches base with a lot of the same things that my fiancee and I feel as well. He’s English and have lived in Italy for 16 years, and I only for 2, but we’re leaving very soon to live in Norway/England. It’s nice to read this, written by an Italian, as it confirms a major part of what we feel as well.
    Thank you Elena!

  9. Eleonora says :

    Ciao Elena,

    Ammiro la tua coraggiosa scelta, e non passa giorno in cui non sogno di lasciare anch’io l’Italia per andarmene all’estero col mio bambino per promettergli/ci un futuro migliore…

    Qui non si può più vivere: lo Stato, la politica, le istituzioni, il senso civico… nulla. Non c’è più nulla. Finita la partecipazione, l’etica. Grande lavaggio di cervelli, e via: tutti resettati. La cosa grave è che non vedo l’approssimarsi di nessuna rivoluzione. L’unica rivoluzione è quella oprata da quelli coraggiosi come te che hanno fatto fagotto.

    Questa conversazione meriterebbe più spazio.
    Che piacere averti “conosciuta”

    Ciao
    Eleonora

    • elenasc says :

      Eleonora,
      grazie di essere passata a farmi visita, e grazie per il tuo commento.
      Non mi reputo di sicuro un eroe, anzi, a volte mi mordo le mani pensando al resto della mia famiglia che è ancora in Italia, senza futuro!
      Forza, dobbiamo farcela in un modo o nell’altro!
      Teniamoci in contatto! Passa a trovarmi e scrivi quando vuoi!

  10. Paola says :

    Hi Elena,
    I just found your blog and absolutely love it! I’m the daughter of Italians who emigrated to the US about 50 years ago, therefore I grew up in the US, but had the good fortune of vacationing frequently in Italy. 10 years ago I married my husband, an Italian who was working on his PhD in the US. His first job was in Italy so we moved there, but a few years later he got an offer from a prominent American university and decided to move back to the US. As much as we both love Italy for many reasons, it was the best decision we ever made. The kind of success he’s had in the US could not ever compare to what he would have had in Italy. In fact, not one of his Italian PhD classmates returned to Italy. Most are enjoying successful careers in the US and some in the UK. We see his brother struggle for any kind of respect and satisfaction in his academic career in Italy, not to mention such low pay. Of course, this comes with regret that we are not closer to his family, but we find a way to see each other every year. I just read an article in Time magazine on-line about this. Italy’s best and brightest are leaving, and with good reason. Americans read “Under the Tuscan Sun” and think we were crazy for leaving Italy. I agree that vacations in Italy are the best, but it’s just not the same as every day life. Best wishes for all of your aspirations. Who knows, maybe one day things in Italy will change.

    • elenasc says :

      Ciao Paola, thanks for passing by and for sharing your story!
      We all hope one day things will be better in Italy!
      Keep in touch, there are new posts coming soon that you will probably enjoy, and I hope to read your comments!

  11. coffeeanddessert says :

    In Portugal I have the same problem you described here :(
    (except for the prime minister, I may not like him but he has no scandals with women)
    If you must change your country to have a future, I think you made the right choice and I wish you lost of luck.

  12. Mike Coyle says :

    Lots of Italians ask me “Why are you living in Italy” – because all of what you said in the this post is so true. Many of them would like to leave for the same reasons you did.

    • elenasc says :

      I know, it’s sad! Which part of Italy are you? Are you living in another country?
      Keep in touch, and you can write me more about your story sending me an email in my section Contact me.

  13. eloradaphne says :

    Hi Elena, I just wanted to tell you that I linked to this post on my blog :)

  14. Fragolina says :

    I agree with you Elena. Home is wherever we are happy. I ( and many other Lebanese) feel the same. When we leave our country, its not that we’re running away from its problems (that we’re leaving them to those who can NOT leave the country), its just we want to have the opportunities to try to live the life we want, maybe our dreams may come true.

  15. Confettina says :

    Ciao Elena. I feel exactly the same way towards my country like you do towards your country. It’s a great place, I love going there, but I do not feel there is a future for me there, at least not the future that I want. I understand “where you’re coming from”, as we say in English :) and hey, I am a frequent visitor to Italy (brother living there) and I love it! :)

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