By Mattia Ruaro

Being Italian, in my opiniitalian translationon, is sometimes bitter-sweet; you have this sense of belonging to your culture, but this feeling is mixed with the omnipresent idea that there are many negative cultural traits that you just want to distance yourself from as much as possible. And this is something I feel we Italians are very good at.

The UK has always been one of the most popular destinations for Italians to live; in 2007, 171,000 Italians were registered as naturalized British citizens, according to the Italian Registry of Residents Abroad (AIRE). That does not include Italians in the UK who are not permanent residents, so the actual number of Italians living in the UK may be much larger.

The UK has always been considered as a home-away-from-home by many Italians, where society seems to run smoothly and most importantly, where people are happy. The grass may not necessarily be greener on the other side but it is well maintained and better cared for.

Italians have always had a sort of inferiority complex towards the Brits, albeit it one mixed with a real admiration for most of its popular exports, especially the football! The charm of this country is really strong for us Mediterranean folks, but no one seems to know why exactly. I am not such a good example; I quickly succumbed to the very same allure that enthrals most of my countrymen, especially the young ones.

I think one of the best things about living in the UK is the honest recognition and reward you receive when you do your job properly. This ‘appreciation’, in my opinion, is something that the Italian workplace clearly lacks, which may be part of the reason why so many young Italians choose to leave in the first place.

This may sound like a sentiment akin to the ‘American Dream’, but perhaps some of my countrymen haven’t realised that you do not necessarily need to cross the entire ocean to find what you are looking for.

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2 responses to “The Perception of the UK in Italy”

  1. Mattia,

    It is always interesting to find out the perceptions that people from other countries have of your nation.

    I think you have the start to a very interesting series of articles here I know you could develop from the different nationalities in the company.

    How has it differed from the way you thought of the UK and especially Wales before you left Italy?

    I look forward to seeing more.

    Kind regards


    • Mattia Ruaro says:

      To be honest, after living here for a while, I have not changed my heart on you Brits. I honestly think you are hardworking, down-to-earth people, that deserve the place they have in the world. What I especially like, is the attitude you have towards foreigners: “Britain is an island”, they say, and it is true. But not entirely. You know when to detach yourself from the lot, but you also know when you should blend in.
      Wales is not different on that: not once have I felt rejected or not welcome. On the contrary, when I show that I am willing to learn more about the country (Wales is unfortunately not so well-known among us, it is still considered as a “region” of England), everyone does his/her best to teach me more.
      Now, the only thing I want to do in Britain is to learn more about it, to explore it further and learn from it. After all, that is the most important thing when getting in touch with other cultures, right? Make your mind broader, and you will be sharper.
      Or at least that is what I am trying to do. And Britain has definitely helped with this.

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