12 Tips For Moving to Italy From Our Americans Moving to Abruzzo TV Episode

Lexy Lux and her husband, Craig Sutter, retired full-time in Italy in December 2021 and bought a house in Civitella Messer Raimondo in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. Originally from Oklahoma, they now live at the base of the Maiella Mountains in Italy and about 40 minutes from the Adriatic. They were inspired by our Season 2 episode on Abruzzo to search for a house in this diverse region – and bought one on their first trip!

Lexy and Craig appear in Season 3 of Dream of Italy on PBS in an episode about Americans moving to Abruzzo. Here are their tips for navigating a new life in Italy:

  1. Begin studying and learning the Italian language as early as possible. Watch Italian television shows and movies, utilize learning apps and workbooks and take some classes or hire a tutor, all to immerse yourself in the language—and continue when you arrive in Italy.
  2. Have patience! Italy (at least the south) has a slower pace of life, especially compared to the U.S. The bureaucracy here often meets or exceeds commonly held assumptions, so just expect things to take longer.
  3. Drive-throughs are not a thing here; instead, meals are meant to be sit-down affairs, thoroughly enjoyed and not devoured.
  4. Embrace trying new things. You likely won’t find the brands you are used to in food, drink, health, beauty and other products. Some may have the same name, but the ingredients are different since Europe is much stricter than the U.S. regarding additives. While you may miss Cheetos, you will also find amazing things like pistachio butter.
  5. Do your research on topics such as taxes, healthcare, insurance, and driver’s licenses. It’s all different here.
  6. Check your ego at the door. You will make silly mistakes with the language. Our experience has been that Italians will work with you in communicating (often offering the correct term or phrasing), so long as you make the effort on your part.
  7. Billboards and mass advertising are rare here. Products or services you are looking for will be available, but not obvious from the usual advertising sources—or even from the storefront itself. Sometimes you have to search or ask others where things are sold or offered, and you will often be impressed with the products that are carried once you find a particular store or shop.
  8. The culinary delights are amazing—often prepared with simple products and ingredients, but artfully combined in recipes passed down through generations. And of course the wines here are fantastic, and usually inexpensive.
  9. Pictures simply cannot do Italy justice. When we are cranky or frustrated, we just step outside and look at the mountains or the sea view and are mesmerized. My phone is full of photos that barely begin to capture the essence of the Italian landscape.
  10. Enjoy all the festivals and holidays. Anything can form the basis for an event, from renaming a street, to a Christmas witch, to artichokes. Italians are always throwing some type of festival or party (and often with fireworks).
  11. The 9 to 5 workday as we know it doesn’t exist here. You can expect the workday to run from around 8:30 or 9 a.m. until 12:30 or 1 p.m., followed by a 2.5- to 3-hour riposa in the afternoon, with the workday starting again around 4 p.m. until around 7:00, then aperitivo with dinner at 8 p.m.
  12. Make this an opportunity to pare possessions down and embrace Italian styling when you arrive. You don’t need to ship everything overseas.