The Italian Dream: Why I’m Leaving Italy

April 29, 2018 (Last Updated: October 27, 2019) by Emily

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Yes, you read right, we’re leaving Italy. We’re packing up our house in the Tuscan countryside, saying goodbye to sipping wine right next to the vineyard where the grapes were grown and soaking up our last few days of blue skies and sunshine before we move back to Scotland. 

But why? Let me explain….

A photo of a yellow outside wall of a building with a table with a green checkered tablecloth and two back seats

The Italian Dream

Living in Italy was a dream come true. We moved here after years of dreaming about la dolce vita, eating the most beautiful food, sipping on wine in the sunshine and soaking up the culture, language and landscape Italy has to offer.

Four years ago we made the decision we were going to leave our jobs and leave to go to Milan, find jobs somewhere and try as best we could to make it work for as long as possible.

The thing is a job offer came out of nowhere, unexpectedly before we even left. My boyfriend Nathan applied for a job to work on the restoration of a Tuscan villa and got it! There was one catch though, he had to leave straight away!

We were filled with so much excitement, joy, nervousness and being only 22, naivety! So we packed our bags and off we went, a one-way ticket to Tuscany.
A photo of the city of Florence and the Ponte Vecchio at sunset

Living In Italy

Phew, living in Italy has been the biggest challenge we’ve ever had to face..EVER! It’s been so much fun and the best experience. We lived right next to the beach in a seaside town for two years and then moved to the countryside in the Tuscan hills of Siena for another two years.

The Things I’ll Miss and Loved Whilst Living In Italy

  • The People – I’ve met so many great people and friends in Italy especially my friend Stefania who’s not only been the kindest person I’ve ever met but she’s helped me with so many things along the way, she’s a true friend for life and I’ll miss our get-togethers, picnics and all the beautiful lunches we’ve had together.
  • Food – This had to be on the list, it’s pretty much the main reason we moved lol! The quality of food is so much higher in the supermarkets, the tomatoes, peaches, everything is so much juicer and tastes incredible. Bell peppers and fennel bulbs are the size of my head and half the price of what they are back in Scotland.
  • Italian Ingredients – This one’s obvious but having Italian produce at my fingertips has been a luxury. The cheese sections are huge and filled with burrata, gorgonzola, pecorino, taleggio, scamorza, mozzarella…this could be an endless list and it’s totally different from what you get in UK supermarkets. Also the raw meats, cured meats and PASTA sections are so varied and so amazing. Let’s just say I’m stocking up on things I won’t get back home.
  • The Weather – Blue skies and hot summers. The weather is beautiful in Italy especially during the summer, something I definitely did not have back in Scotland. Suddenly we were able to make plans knowing the weather would be great. Going to the beach, BBQs and picnics are all normal things you can enjoy when the sun is shining and I will miss it!
  • The Landscape – I have seen the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen in my life living in Italy. From the most beautiful sunsets over the Mediterranean Sea to the rolling hills of Siena. The clusters of old and rustic, dusty orange towns dotted around the hills and windy roads of cypress trees. Vineyards and olive groves for miles, that, I will definitely miss.

A photo of the Tuscan countryside, an old rustic farmhouse with cypress trees surrounding it

The Things That Made Life Hard

Ok so I’ve given my reasons for loving Italy and what I’ll miss but WHY am I leaving?! The thing is life has not been so easy and as romantic as people think when you say you live in Italy. It’s not a living holiday and we’ve run into our fair share of problems. Here is a short list of the things that made life difficult.

  • No Jobs – It’s so hard to find work in Italy unless you live in a large city like Florence or Rome and even when you find a job it’s almost always seasonal just for the summer.
  • Having a Job doesn’t Mean you Get Paid! – Can you imagine working hard for the month, it gets to payday, you check your bank and you’ve not been paid?!  This happened A LOT and unfortunately, it’s a common thing in Italy. Employer’s say they can’t afford to pay you and then don’t. I can’t even start to explain the stresses we had with this.
  • Self Employment Is A No Go – In the UK becoming self-employed it a fairly simple process and being so young (and not doing much research) we just assumed it would be the same in Italy. When you work for yourself in Italy you are hit with high taxes, accountant fees that you can’t avoid and you’re pretty much left with nothing after all your hard work. When I first started working doing English lessons I sent the information to my accountant who then told me I’d have to pay 110% my wage after taking off tax and fees. Yup, I would have to pay more than I earned (and it was very little), crazy right?! After talking to Italian friends they all said becoming self employed is a BAD IDEA (if only I knew before).
  • Customer Service Ain’t Great – Try searching for a new apartment, opening a bank account, registering with a doctor….all these things take forever and I’m not joking. I know people that have had to wait 6 months just to open a bank account. Our experience searching for a new apartment to rent was awful, agencies don’t reply to emails or answer the phone. It was stressful to say the least.
  • Driving – When I first started driving in Italy I thought the big problem for me was getting used to driving on the right hand side of the road, little did I know that would be the easiest thing to overcome. Driving in Italy is CRAZY! There are no other words to describe it. It doesn’t scare me anymore, I just have to expect the unexpected whenever I get in my car but I will never understand it. Oh and then there’s the annual car tax that you pay basically just because you have a car (no it doesn’t go towards road repairs or toll fees it’s just because).
  • Money – Yup, if you have plenty to throw around then you’ll do just fine living in Italy. If you’re like us and come to Italy looking for adventure with no more than a suitcase then it’s going to be a problem. Jobs pay low (if you can get one) and there is a tax for EVERYTHING and if it’s not a tax that you’re paying then it’s a charge that some company will make you pay, well, just because.

Personal Reasons For Leaving

Apart from some of the reasons I listed above that made life hard for us living in Italy there are a few personal reasons for us leaving. All the things below are things or comfort and nostalgia and what I’m looking forward to having again.

  • Family – Four years is a long time to be so far away from friends and family and although we were so set on living in Italy for the rest of our lives, it soon dawned on us that we were only going to see our family once or twice a year. It just got harder and harder and we soon realised how important it is to have our family around us.
  • Home Comforts – I started to miss silly everyday things like going to the cinema without watching a dubbed film. Topshop (yes, I miss the British high street shops lol). Telling a joke to someone that actually gets it (that’s when languages get difficult). Drugstores, being able to run into a drugstore for makeup and toiletries, there are no shops that are like that in Italy. CHRISTMAS, I am a Christmas crazy! It’s pretty much on my mind all year long and Edinburgh has the most amazing Christmas market which I missed like crazy. I also missed the shops filled with Christmas decs, clothes, gifts and music! I got none of that in Italy and I know it’s all commercialised and some people hate it but I just love it and to me, it’s a big deal. P.S it’s the atmosphere and Christmassy feeling I miss not the gifts. Diversity, the UK is so diverse when it comes to different cultures. Although I cook and eat Italian food the majority of the time I missed being able to buy ingredients to make an Indian curry or go out for Mexican food.

A photo of Edinburgh city at dawn

So What’s Happening To Inside The Rustic Kitchen?

The big question everyone always asks me is but what will happen to your blog? I can safely say I am going nowhere! This blog is my life, seriously it’s like a baby and Italian food is my passion.

I can’t imagine my life without blogging and I will always continue to cook Italian food as I always have *happy dance*.

I actually think not living in Italy will help me help you more when it comes to Italian food. It’s so easy for me to run to the shops and pick up fancy Italian ingredients that not everyone can get their hands on easily. THIS will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited about it. I’ll be able to know what it’s like to try and create recipes without that luxury anymore and find the best solutions. Easier recipes for you and a better understanding for me!

When Is This Move Happening?

Next week! Ahh, as I’m typing this I’m waiting on the removal company arriving to pick up our stuff and take it all the way back to Edinburgh. The extra crazy part? We’re driving…let me rephrase that, I’m driving! Yes, I’m driving the 4 day journey from Siena to Scotland because we have a dog and it’s the only way for us.

Nathan can’t drive and I have no sense of direction so he’s the map and I get us there. It’ll be an experience but I think it’ll be fun (I’ll let you know).

So there you have it, we’re leaving Italy and I am SO excited! I can’t wait to go home and start the next chapter of our lives. I’m so curious, have you moved to or lived in another country? How was your experience, did you move back and why?

I love talking about this kinda stuff so let me know all about it in the comments below! In the meantime, I’ll see you next week with more yummy recipes and updates!




  • Reply
    November 13, 2020 at 1:45 am

    Love your blog. Its the first time i’m seeing it! Logged on to it and can’t wait to hear more! But for right i am not computer savvy and i have difficulty finding how to print a recipe if its not clearly out there . I do search for it. Can you help me ???

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      November 13, 2020 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Angela, I’m so happy to have you following along I hope you enjoy the recipes! At the top of each page (above the title), there is a green print button or at the very bottom of the page where the complete recipe is, you’ll see print written in text to the right underneath the thumbnail photo of the recipe. Let me know if you have any other issues and I’ll do my best to help! Emily.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2020 at 1:30 am

    Dear Emily, I am enjoying your post in 2020… I get it… another friend of mine lived in 🇮🇹 fir ten years… but then she left for many of the reasons you stated. And she missed her family! I visited Edinburgh in 1989 (as an adventurous 20 year old) — what a beautiful city! And you will have all the lovely memories of Italy and bring back Sunshine with you! Love your site amd am subscribing!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2019 at 3:46 am

    great entry. just found your blog, and enjoy it. your honesty about living abroad is good. thank you for sharing the story. cheers

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      July 22, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      Hi James, thanks so much for taking the time to read it. I hope you get a chance to try some recipes! 🙂

  • Reply
    Teresa Ward Valverde
    June 15, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Hello. I just discovered yourself by looking for a recipe for roasted Italian potatoes. Anyway I was married before my divorce to a real Italian but now live in France with my second husband. Loved reading your story & have to agree in both ways about being on foreign soil is not the same as being where our own roots began but it’s a real sacrifice & now that I live in France in the South Côte d’Azur near Hyéres it’s exactly that a real sacrifice but for love as my husband is french & my family is now here. I am actually Irish born in Dublin but from a small village outside in the countryside. Anyway it’s now 8 years & I’m still here but still struggling with certain things here after all these years, but it’s like this but I still am here, love it & don’t ever see myself going home for now unless it’s for holidays but probably when I retire but that’s many, many years in the future. But just to share I enjoyed reading your experiences in moving to Italy & then back again because I was in the same boat before with moving there but now the tides turned & living here in France. Life is life & sometimes the grass is never greener on the other side but it’s about sacrifice & how much one is willing to put into sticking it out no matter what no matter the cultural change, love for someone or something but yes have to agree with children it’s definitely different & difficult but because it’s the second time around for me & my husband in that area we only have each other so no worries but it’s an experience & passion which I’ve dreamed about all my life just not in the country I thought or dreamed about when I was younger. Thank you for sharing your story, respect & admiration for your journey & experiences.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Emily. Thank you for blog and recipes!. Like them very much. Tasty and very usefull too!. If I may ask, which template are you using for your recipes?

  • Reply
    August 10, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Just discovered you through Caroline’s “Pinch Me I’m Eating” post. I really enjoyed reading your Personal Post. I had no idea Italy was like that to live in. I am from the USA, but did live in Mexico for three years.
    I will be reading and following your blog and recipes in the future. I hope you made it safely with the driving. God bless!

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      August 11, 2018 at 11:54 am

      Hi De, thanks so much for your nice comment. I’ve never been to Mexico but would love to go, how did you find it living there? So happy to have you following along!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    Pathetic! Is my response. Christmas? Get a grip. Cinemas? Drugstores? Topshop? Diversity? Jeez, Italy is better off without you. When you grow up, you will realise just how silly you are and sound. Arrivederci!

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      July 21, 2018 at 12:31 am

      Hi Susie, you seem to have skipped my whole post and only read my last paragraph which were the silly little things I missed about home and NOT the reasons I left Italy. Did you read the part where I experienced the lack employment or jobs not paying my paycheck at the end of the month? What about the part of missing our family and loved ones? We LOVE Italy and have met the most incredible people that will remain lifelong friends and even they understand why we had to leave. I’m sorry if my experience of living in Italy offended you somehow. Addio!

    • Reply
      July 29, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Susie, how rude!
      Emily, loved reading all your reasons for and against and am looking forward to your next blog

    • Reply
      March 8, 2019 at 10:49 am

      Jeez Susie – get a grip yourself (& some manners too).

  • Reply
    May 13, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Emily, after reading everything you wrote I totally agree. Haha the driving, I tell everybody it’s like being in a video game, never take your eyes off the road because you never know what will jump out in front of you! My eldest daughter is now living in my home city of Toronto and my youngest will be leaving in a year, my husband and I will probably make Toronto our home too. Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world but unfortunately terribly governed. I wish you all the best.

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 13, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      Hi Rosemary, thanks so much for your comment. Haha it’s so true, I think a big thing for me was to be able to go back to Italy (for holidays) and be able to enjoy and love it instead of taking it for granted because of the stresses we had over there. I wish you and your family all the best too!

    • Reply
      September 29, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      You don’t need to respond to an idiot like Susie Know it All. She is the one who needs the diversity.

  • Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    My dears!!! I will miss you all and our prosecco filled dinners too! Best of luck with the move and drive safe (don’t get lost!)
    Please come back and visit soon! xx

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Lucieeee, I know..hopefully we can get back to see you soon (Rome or Pisa). Thanks so much I’ll let you know how the drive goes ha fingers crossed!

  • Reply
    Anne Marie
    May 1, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Have a great next adventure. Thank you for the blog and generously sharing your thoughts. I am a dual US/Italian citizen and have long wondered about picking it all up and taking a shot at a life in Italy… this post is helpful context. (I am self employed, and so is my partner!)

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 1, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      Hi Anne Marie, I’m glad this was helpful for you. Some people can make it work and I’d never say don’t do it ever but there are a lot of things to take into consideration before making the leap. Self employment is definitely very tricky in Italy and what I found with accountants is that they don’t tell you everything you need to know unless you ask…hence all the problems.

      • Reply
        September 29, 2019 at 7:20 pm

        That picture of a a home surrounded by Italian cypress trees in the hills look so much like our Northern California wine region.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    I will miss you…

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    You’ve got this Emily! As incredible as your photos of Italy are, I completely understand why you can’t live there. And it’s always there to visit when you miss it. However being by friends and family can not be underestimated. Especially if you guys ever want to start your own family one day. I am happy to have met you and I look forward to continue to work with you! Best of luck on the move and we will be in touch.

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 1, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      Thank you so much Sophia. Starting a family would’ve been far too difficult without family around, that’s a big one for sure!

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Good luck, Emily! I hope you are happy when you get settled!

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Emily! Big news! I understand how you feel as I moved from Switzerland to Southern France about 20 years ago, from a very organized and serviceable country to an over overtaxed country, where the motto is “why make things simple when you can make them so complicated”. Well, we just got along with it and loved the life, surroundings, made good friends but I’ve met so many people who went back. I know it is not easy to migrate, we’re thinking of maybe go back when we retire… I wish you good luck for your move, you will probably find that people have changed while you were away, well it’s not them, it’s you LOL. All the best, see you here on your blog and into our groups!

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 1, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Patty, thanks so much. You definitely will know how we feel by the sounds of it. Will keep you updated!

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    So sorry to hear you are leaving Italy Emily, but I am not surprised. Those are the same reasons I left Italy 30 years ago and never looked back. I am closed enough to the Italian border so I can jump in a car and still buy all the ingredients I need, but France is not that easy either. There is a big difference between the Anglosaxon way of business and the Europe Continental, and I was devastated when Brexit was voted at the referendum. Good luck with your return and I have only one suggestion for you.

    I drove from Milan to Stavanger Norway in 1992 and back in 1994 crossing Germany and while I loved the black forest ….. the road is long, never-ending……AND THERE ARE NO GAS STATIONS !!! That was some years ago, but please make sure you check that out. I still have nightmares about it, LOL

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      May 1, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Laura, thanks so much and I felt the same with Brexit…I really wish it wasn’t happening! A lot of people that have lived in Italy before can totally understand our reasons, you’ll know best!

  • Reply
    April 29, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Well, good luck to you. I am in the states and have always ‘dreamed’ of living in another country, especially the Meditteranian or UK but could never imagine being that far from my family. So I know what you mean. Thank you for this explanation in your blog and I wish you both & the dog well! Now I have another place I want to visit, Edinburgh for Christmas!!!! I love that Christmassy feeling too! Thanks for your insight & wonderful recipes too!

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      April 30, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Living far away from family was definitely one of the hardest things, it’s a hard decision to make for sure! Oh you should definitely visit Edinburgh at Christmas time if you can (I can’t promise it won’t rain though lol). If you do, send me an email and I’ll send you all the best places to eat and visit too! Hope you have a lovely day!

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