28 September 2017

Melinda Gallo - Expat in Florence, Italy

Melinda Gallo - Expat in Florence, Italy

We’ve had the chance to talk to Melinda Gallo, an American expat who has moved to Florence, Italy alone. Ms. Gallo who has been living there for 13 years, now works as a writer. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I’m originally from California. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Silicon Valley.


Q: What made you move out of the US?

A: After doing my junior year abroad in Lyon, France, I decided I wanted to live in France after college. A year and a half later, I was hired at a French software company in Paris. I lived in Paris for six years and moved to England for a couple of years before arriving in Florence.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Florence, Italy. After working as a freelance database and web developer for many years, I wanted to take a break from my job. I decided to come to Florence because I wanted to find my inspiration to write and to learn Italian. I initially planned on staying three months in Florence, but I felt such a strong connection to Florence after only three days that I moved here permanently.


Q: How long have you been living in Italy?

A: I have been living in Florence for the last 13 years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live alone in Florence.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I miss people more than places; however, with the Internet, it’s so easy to remain in contact. I’ve never been homesick because I focus on being present where I am.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I love them! The Florentines I know are sincere, down-to-earth, and playful. After living in three different countries, I have realized that I meet people me with traits that I appreciate. Even though there might be some truth in stereotypes, I give every person I meet a chance to show me who they are and disregard the stereotypes.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Italy? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: I find it easy to meet people generally. I think it’s important to be open and sincere with others and be truly interested in people.  

I socialize with both locals and expats.

I don’t have a social circle and prefer to not have ties to any one group. By doing so, it allows me to meet and interact with new people all the time.


Q: How does the cost of living in Italy compared to your home?


  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: An espresso is usually about 1,20 Euros and a cappuccino around 1,80.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: You can easily eat for around 10-12 Euros.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: The prices vary, but generally around 40 Euros a person.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: To buy a good bottle of Chianti, you spend around 10-15 Euros. 


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: I initially arrived with a visa and then acquired Italian citizenship through my grandparents. I found that it was helpful to obtain information directly at the government offices before submitting all my paperwork to make sure I had exactly what they wanted.  


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Italy is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: I have used the local healthcare very rarely, but it worked quite well. I prefer a more holistic approach to healthcare and have been fortunate to have found many wonderful holistic practitioners.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: In every location where I became an expat, the biggest challenge was always creating an entirely new life for myself. I couldn’t just recreate my old life in a new location; I had to learn about the culture and customs to create a new life for myself.

Living overseas isn’t about losing yourself in another culture, but finding your way in it so you can learn more about the world in which you are living.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Italy?

A: I don’t view my life in Florence as having positive and a negative side. I fully embrace Florence and my life here completely. There might be things I don’t like, but I don’t focus on them. I choose instead to focus on all the things I love about living in Florence.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Florence might be a small city, but it is quite dynamic. Besides the traditional events that take place in Florence, there are also many exhibitions, concerts, and shows. I would recommend that future expats check out what is going on in Florence as often as possible so they don’t miss out.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No, I love living in Florence and it is my home.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: The one tip I would like to give expats living in Florence is to let go of your expectations and ideas about Florence so you can embrace the city, the people, the language, and the culture as much as you can. Being an expat is an opportunity to immerse yourself into a new location and culture to increase your understanding and love of the world around you.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Italy?

A: My favorite websites about Florence are The Florentine and Te la do io Firenze.