By: Jenny Durfey, BA, 2014-2017
Moving to Italy two years ago was an exciting and daunting prospect. One of my main worries or curiosities was where I would be living. I remember searching on Italian realtor websites to try and piece together some idea of what apartments in Italy actually looked like.
However when I finally arrived I was still surprised at what I found. (Don’t worry, this isn’t the part where I tell you it was even more horrific than I had imagined). I remember I walked in and couldn’t believe how big it was. The ceilings were tall, the kitchen was modern, and there was even a patio. A pleasant surprise indeed, however I don’t want to give you too much of an idealized image of what you’ll find. What I have found after changing apartments three times in the last two years is that apartments here pretty much always come with a good and a not-so-good. Maybe you’ll have a terrace…but then only one bathroom for the four people living there. Apartments can come in a wide variety of styles and sizes (always smaller than American apartments) and with this, you’ll never really know which you will get until you arrive. There are however some things that you can expect in your Italian apartment.
- No dryers. You heard me, no fluffy, hot towels fresh out of the dryer. Those charming pictures of laundry hanging outside of apartments are in fact real. Though whether you find it charming when it’s hanging in your living room in the winter remains to be seen. Expect to have at least one hanger to dry clothes on in the apartment and if on a higher level, one line outside the window. If you are on a tight schedule or just want warm sheets, there are many self-service laundromats around Florence.
- Washing machines in Italy tend to be on the small side. They may also be in places that we in the U.S. would think odd. For example, my current washing machine is in my kitchen (I don’t think it’s weird anymore but when I gave a tour of my place to a friend’s mom, she could not get over the fact that I do my laundry in the kitchen).
- Electrical blackouts. They are a fairly common occurrence, especially if you and your roommates are doing everything at once. Usually blow drying your hair, while someone is making breakfast, another person is straightening their hair while someone’s clothes are in the washer, will do the trick. If this does happen, don’t panic. First, switch everything in your apartment off. Your landlord has probably shown you a box with a switch. After everything has been turned off, you just have to flip the switch until the power comes back on. This has happened to me multiple times in all the apartments I have lived in.
- Also, water. I would say to expect the temperature and pressure of the water to be determined by how many people are using it at the same time. Here all it really takes for the water pressure to go down is someone using one other water source. While one person is showering, try to refrain from washing dishes or doing laundry (it gets unpleasantly cold!).
- One thing that never fails to disappoint me in Italian apartments is the funky furniture and decor. All of the furnishings tend to be random mismatched pieces, like horrible orange couches matched with puke-green armchairs and leather desk chairs straight out of the ‘70s. Paintings and pictures are usually impeccably strange. In my first apartment a picture of gelatin hung in the living room.
So, when moving to Italy, you needn’t be afraid of what you’ll find in your apartment (unless questionable taste in decor gives you nightmares). It may not feel like home at first, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly that will change.