What’s it really like for expats in lockdown Italy

What’s it really like for expats in lockdown Italy

What’s it really like for expats in lockdown Italy

Those looking to expatriate from the home country can find online accounts of the lifestyle in their chosen destination which can help with decision- making, but what happens nowadays with almost every norm unrecognisable due to the pandemic?

For several decades, Europe has been a favourite location for British expats due to freedom of movement and the ease of settling in, but Brexit and now the pandemic have moved the goal posts and made the game far more difficult. Freedom of movement is still a major issue even although Brexit is, more or less, a done deal, but restriction of almost any movement at all due to the virus is another threat altogether.

Italy is one of the worst hit countries as regards infection from the virus, with seasoned expats now realising things may never be exactly the same again, at least in their lifetimes. The numbers of infections and deaths are now declining, with positive news about the withdrawal of some restrictions as a result, but newly-arrived expats may find their dream destination has lost its seductive glow. It’s a different issue for long-term expats in this country, even although its romantic image is somewhat tarnished.

Except in the winter, Italian social life is focused on the outdoors, whether it’s eating out, strolling around parks and plazas or sitting outside bars along with generous amounts of the local wine. Obviously, this isn’t happening now, and romance isn’t improved by the wearing of a mask covering half the face plus a pair of plastic gloves. Restrictions in the majority of Italy’s populated areas are being taken very seriously, with social distancing and the inability to even travel to a nearby town causing stress to a population used to community-based everything.

If stopped by police whilst going to the local shop, a permit must be shown, and travel between towns is forbidden. Supermarket queues can take hours to navigate, but inside the stores there are no shortages and front-line workers in healthcare, local police and other essential sectors get shopping priority after showing their IDs. Basically, the Italian public is adhering to all requirements, and the strategy is now working as regards reducing the numbers of deaths and infections.

Right now, some businesses are restarting, and expats as well as citizens are monitoring news sites for the daily reduction in the number of cases. For newly-arrived expats who’re wondering whether they’ve made the right choice, Italy still makes good its reputation for romance, song and an iconic love of life, even if it’s all tamped down for a while longer.

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