Ferragosto and The Italians

Desolate Roman street

I have previously tipped my hat to fellow expats who have played an integral role in my adjustment to Roman life. I am still grateful to them because they help me everyday, but now I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the Italians I have encountered so far. I thought today would be appropriate because it’s Ferragosto, a national Italian holiday that falls right smack in the middle of August, a month during which most of Italy is shut down for vacanza.

Firstly, the Italians I know work incredibly hard. They are driven, smart, ambitious and motivated with admirable work ethics. Their August vacanza is well-deserved. They’ve earned it!

I have been inundated with kindness and generosity from every single Italian with whom I have had the pleasure of interacting. Some I’ve known prior while others I’ve only just met.  As if they don’t have enough on their personal and/or professional plates, they have all said to me something along the lines of the following, “If you need anything at all, tell me. I will do whatever I can to help you.”  And they mean it. Regardless of whether or not we had only just met, they genuinely want to help me.  I had been burned a handful of times in New York on different levels–a couple of which were shocking while others, not so much–so it’s moving and humbling to experience kindness and support of this capacity here in Italy.

Now I don’t want to ruffle any feathers so please know that what I’m about to say is just a generalization, but I have learned that a you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours mentality tends to prevail in the Big Apple.  To play devil’s advocate, I’m sure the reverse can be said for Italy and that there are indeed people here who live by that “what-can-this-person-do-for-me” mentality. I’ve just been lucky to not have crossed paths with any of them yet. Now, I know that everyone in New York  doesn’t perform an action for the sake of reciprocity and I know many, many people who are exceptions. Countless New Yorkers have randomly emailed me to check in, wish me luck in Italy and have said to let them know if I need anything.  And oddly enough the people from whom you think you might hear something, you don’t. But that’s life, isn’t it?

Every time I have asked anyone here for some kind of guidance or direction–big or small–they have helped me without expectation.  In typical American fashion, I thank them profusely and ask them to let me know if they ever need anything since I then feel like I “owe them one.”  I am of course happy and willing to help someone whether or not they have done anything for me and I don’t know if it’s luck or what, but I’m grateful to have the support of like-minded, hard-working good people–both Italians and fellow expats.  Support is crucial and without it, it’s challenging to stay afloat. So on that note, thank you to everyone in the world who has supported me ever, especially during the last year!! 🙂

Buon ferragosto!

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Mary Kasbar

    First, congrats on making the six month mark! So glad you are enjoying your life there. While we all miss you here, we want you to be happy.

  2. says: Sarah May

    Jackie, thank you so much for this post. I am personally so bored of expats generalizing about what jerks Italians are or about their work ethic. It is nice to see someone who is actually OPEN to the reality and not closed to it only because they do not want to accept their host country. MY husband and his friends are smart, hard-working and unlike most of my american friends, would literally give me the shirt off their back (this is actually happened to me) I trust my Italian friends so much more because I really believe they are sincere when they offer anything. Lip service seems to live in the Realm of America. Not to say that this is everyone, but perhaps this is one thing that many of us who moved away felt frustrated by. Thank you!!

  3. says: Joe Aquino

    Caro Jackie: Non credo i miei occhiali. Sì e transferasi a Roma. Wow! Piacere guarda questi uomini dalla Roma perché si amorino bellissima donna. Dimenticato, può aiutarle, e a piacere seda ca… . Te io spero per il migliore. L.O.L. Joe Aquino Pero, spero il migliore per lei. Ci vediamo a presto, in Roma certo…

    1. Grazie mille, Joe! Staro’ a New York per Natale e forse tutto le persone della classa possono incontrare una notte. Sono molto felice qui e vorrei rimanere in Italia per sempre. A presto!

  4. says: Ettore

    I am so happy to hear you are doing well and most people you came across to have been helpful. I am definetly against generalizing but i have to say that Italians have all the defects of the world but not phoniness so I bet people have been sincere to you. I have to say though that only a smile can prompt another smile, so your positive attitude naturally attracts good things and makes the people willing to be helpful.! Buon Ferragosto!

    1. Ciao Ettore! Thank you so much for the kind words & well wishes. Haha..nobody’s perfect of course, but your peeps are some of the best peeps to be. They are genuinely kind. Hope to see you soon! Buon ferragosto a te (belated)!

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