Rick, an American expat
As every last Saturday of the month I ask 10 questions to a friend of mine who moved to Italy from another country. I had the idea of this interview because it is interesting to know another point of view regarding Italy, its lifestyle and its traditions.
So we are here again to interview Rick Zullo, an American expat, who married an Italian woman and opened a blog, where he started to tell his life as expat in Italy. I suggest that you read Rick’s blog because sometimes the articles are funny, like that one about the use of the bidet by Italian people.
1) Talk us about you
Ciao, I’m Rick, an American blogger, web marketer, and proud dad. My passion for Italy has its roots in my Italian-American heritage, which keeps me grounded with one foot firmly planted in both countries. When I’m not wandering through the Bel Paese or writing for my blog, I’m trying to improve my Italian language skills with help from my two year-old daughter, Demetra. (She already uses the congiuntivo better than me!).
2) Why did you move to Italy?
Like so many other dreamy-eyed foreigners on holiday, I “fell in love” with the beauty and the diverse cultural landscape of Italy during my first trip in 2000. But I found that I wasn’t satisfied with experiencing just the stereotypes or someone else’s fantasy, so I took it a step further. I went back to university to pursue a degree in Italian Studies, going deeper into the language, the literature, the history, and the arts. Then in 2010, after three months spent travelling around the country, I finally decided to call Rome my “home.”
3) What are the reasons why Americans should visit Italy at least once in their life?
Italy’s history contains the most important moments from the history of Western Civilization, both the beauty and the tragedy. It can all be found here, still “alive” in the art and architecture; the language and culture. Oh, and the best food on the entire planet!
4) What advice would you like to give to Americans on holiday in our country?
It sounds cliché, but you simply must step off the tourist track that only rushes you through Venice, Florence and Rome. If you do that, you’ve only seen the “museum” side of Italy, and not the true beauty of the people and the culture. Slow down, and spend a few lazy days exploring some smaller towns and villages. You might not check off every item on the tourist “must-see” itinerary, but you’ll have experienced an encounter with a more accurate version of this amazing country.
5) What should they avoid when visiting Italy and why?
I guess I sort of answered that in Question 4, but in general don’t be shy about getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with real people. Avoid large tour groups and “museum only” itineraries. Ask the waiter what he had for lunch and then order that, even if you don’t know what it is!
6) What is your favorite Italian dish?
To choose only one is a real injustice to the many dishes that I love! In Rome, I like the traditional pasta dishes like Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe. In Sicily, I love the seafood, such as “braciole di pesce spade.” In Tuscany, the hearty soups and stews. And in Naples, pizza margherita, of course!
7) What is your favorite Italian place?
My “favorite place” is always changing as I discover new ones. Right now it’s the Aeolian Islands in Sicily. Last year, I spent time on the coast of Liguria for the first time, and I really loved it. Before that, it was the Lake Region of Lombardia and Veneto. Ask me next year and I’ll have a new favorite!
8) Why did you create your blog?
The blog started as a way to chronicle my experience in order to help other expats adjust to life in Italy. Now it’s more travel focused, and as answered in the previous question, I’m always on the lookout for a new discovery!
9) What do you think about Rome?
Rome is exciting and chaotic. Sometimes it’s a bit much to take, and it’s necessary to get out of the city for a few days to help clear your mind. But it is NEVER boring, and no matter how long you live in this “Capital of the World,” you will never run out of new discoveries. Even native Romans aren’t familiar with every important site in their own city – there’s just too much for one lifetime.
10) Now you live in Italy. Will you go back to US one day?
Well, I already go back and forth a lot, so for now I get to enjoy the best of both worlds. But my daughter will start school in a couple of years, and that will be the moment to decide which country will be my “permanent” home. In either case, I will always go back and forth a lot. I’m not willing to give up either one.