9 September 2016

Rick Zullo - Expat in Rome, Italy

Rick Zullo - Expat in Rome, Italy

We’ve had the chance to talk to Rick Zullo, 49, an American expat who has moved to Rome with his family. Mr. Rick Zullo who has been living there for five years now works as a writer.

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: South Florida, USA


Q: What made you move out of South Florida?

A: I had just sold my business and so it was good timing to look for a new adventure.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Rome, Italy


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I had studied Italian at university and wanted to deepen my knowledge of the language and culture.


Q: How long have you been living in Rome? 

A: Off and on for five years


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Rome?

A: Fighting the notorious Italian bureaucracy.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Rome? What was your experience with these?

A: Yes, Italy is known for being not only difficult but also vague regarding residency permits, etc. The national healthcare system is quite good, however, compared to the US, which doesn't really have one.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: Family.


Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: My wife in native Italian.


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

A: Yes, it’s easy to make expat connections in Rome. Meeting the locals is more difficult, and just takes time. Italians are quick to be friendly, but slow to be friends.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: I think the attractions of Rome are well-known enough, so my advice is to venture out into the “Castelli Romani,” the little hill towns around Rome.


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

A: Rent and energy are more expensive in Italy; food is cheaper.

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 1 euro

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 15 euro a person, all included

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 50 euro a person

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

A: A decent wine can be as cheap as 4 to 5 euro. But I don’t smoke, so not sure about cigarettes.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Rome?

A: The cultural is incredibly diverse from region to region, and there are so many layers to uncover. The people are friendly, but only up to a point. They are also very closed of their own families and life-long friends.


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

A: Positive: quality of life, healthy living, limitless cultural explorations. Negative: Poor infrastructures, complex bureaucracy, stagnate economy.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: A little, not too much.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Watch American TV shows on the Internet.


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

A: I go home often enough to where it isn’t really an issue.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Sorting out all the paperwork.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in Rome?

A: Move to a bigger city, first then after you’ve adjusted you can decide if you really want to restore that crumbling farmhouse in the countryside.


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

A: Besides Rick’s Rome? Ha, ha… I like Girl in Florence, Surviving Italy, The Unwilling Expat, Married to Italy, Sex Lies, and Nutella, Married to Italy, An Englishman in Italy.