FCI 022 – Expats Living in Rome with Patrizia Di Gregorio

By Rick

October 24, 2015

expats living in rome social groupYou never know what fate has in store for you right around the corner.

In the summer of 2010 I was on a three-month jaunt around the Italian peninsula. It started in Venice where I spent seven weeks studying Venetian history and literature with a group of students from Florida Atlantic University. I passed through Florence for a couple days, then traveled further south to the tiny region of Molise to find the small mountain village where my great-grandparents were born.

Rome wasn’t even supposed to be on the itinerary. But I had a few days to kill before a week-long trip to Sicily, and the Rome airport was the most convenient connection to Catania. I booked a cheap hotel near Piazza Barberini for two nights.

I had already been to Rome several times, and I wasn’t really looking to do any more “tourist” things. So I went online and looked for social events. I found the site for Expats Living in Rome, and it so happened that they were having an aperitivo on the Isola Tiberina that night. And the pictures on their website looked like they were always having a lot of fun.

I showed up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Expats Living in Rome

juneeventThis group was a huge part of my assimilation process. Moving to another country sounds exciting while in the planning stages, but it can be overwhelming once you actually arrive. Meeting fellow expats who were in various phases of the same experience really helped me feel at ease. Not to mention the chance to network; this is your best resource in Italy for finding housing or job opportunities.

But as I often tell other would-be expats, this can also be a double-edged sword. The thing that you DON’T want to do is to isolate yourself inside the expat bubble. If you’re making a move that’s (more or less) permanent, then you need to integrate into the local society, as well. This means meeting Romans, not just other English-speaking expats.

That’s another of the benefits of this group. Depending on the time of year, the ratio of expats to Italians generally hovers around 60-40. I should also clarify that many of the Italians in the group are NOT native Romans, but rather transplants from other regions in Italy. (So if you know anything about campanilismo, in a way these folks are “expats,” too!) In any case, this creates a unique dynamic, and an ideal opportunity for language exchange.

Patrizia Di Gregorio

At the heart of this group is a fireball of energy named Patrizia Di Gregorio. Patrizia is the founder of Expats Living in Rome. Since 2001, she has been involved with Expats living all over Italy, organizing, events and volunteering her time. She is an Italian-American from upstate New York.  She has two children who have been a great inspiration in the work she does.

patty4Patrizia has a rare gift of being able to bring people together. Contact her if you have any questions about moving to Rome, jobs, rooms, etc. She is an “expert expat,” and will guide you in the right direction. Oh, and join the Expats in Rome Facebook Page to stay up to date on all their social events and language exchange opportunities.

Today on my podcast I talk to Patrizia about the history of her group in Rome, and some of the challenges faced by newly arrived expats in the Eternal City. The conversation was recorded live in her living room on the afternoon of October 8th with a bottle of amaro at my elbow. (You can detect the conversation diminishing as it progresses.) We had a lot of fun, and we also broadcasted our chat live via Periscope.

Later that evening, I brought my microphone to her social event at Antica Biblioteca Valle in the Piazza Navona area where I conducted some mini-interviews with various expats in the group. I’ll be publishing these snippets here on my blog/podcast in a day or two. Listening to these conversations, you’ll get a very good idea of how wonderfully diverse this group is—which is sort of a microcosm for the city of Rome itself.

I would like to thank my good friend Patrizia for not only being a guest on my podcast, but also for making my expat transition as smooth (and fun!) as possible when arrived in Rome five years ago. If you’re considering such a move yourself, you’d be wise to look her up when you first arrive.

In fact, if you’re in town this Tuesday (or any Tuesday), come to the weekly expat aperitivo. This week it’s at REC23 in Testacccio, Piazza del Emporio 2.

Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

  • hahahaha this one cracked me up. She is cool. So I hear of all the italian men coming looking for expat women… what about italian women looking for expat men? Whats THAT scene like… I feel like us men have it difficult lol

    • Ralph,

      I cracked up when doing it!! I really need to stop laughing so much!!

      Italian woman looking for Expat men!!! Well the percentage of Expat men to woman in Rome anyway is 8 Expats woman to 1 Expat man. That attend the meet ups on Tuesday nights. Most male expats that come to Rome 3 out of 6 are gay, 3 out of 6 are married. So the percentage is LOW. SO the chances for an Italian woman to meet a single available, age appropriate male expats is slim.

      I know from experience and talks with my Italian female friends. One of the questions they ask me are “When will you find me a nice Expat man?”

      Italian woman come to the event and lose interest in finding a male expat and start showing interest in Italian men instead. These Italian men usually have traveled, worked abroad, experience other than casa di momma!!

      Italian woman usually stop attending because they see that Italian men are interested in an Expat woman instead.

      Patrizia DI Gregorio


      • Well, as a 24 year old who has become bored with his surrounding(not at my mothers, been living alone in solitude. I know sounds depressing but it’s not so bad.), I’m looking to make a big move soon to check on what is outside of the states. I’ve travelled only to Canada (not sure if that even counts). But hey… I’m a fast learner of foreign languages and I also am half Italian so I guess maybe I’ll have an edge? idk. hahah

        • So what is holding you back from making the move? I love Canada even if coming from the US seems like you never left home it’s still travel and experience. It’s good and when you start your journey you will be comparing the difference between countries. Take notes, write a blog, or fall in love!! xoxo

          • I will have to think of a strategy before embarking on that journey. Will need to figure out how much money to take along with me. Need to decide on what kind of business I will start.. try to get a feel for what Italy needs, what kind of App’s are they lacking, how do they feel about on demand services like uber (not thinking about a taxi service.. gotta think outside the box)? I would have to figure out a way to make money, residually. Also.. I feel like now is a good time to make the leap with the Euro being at a low.. the transfer rates aren’t as insane as they were say… 5 or 6 years ago.

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