My Biggest Regret About Living in Italy

My Biggest Regret While Living in

Every time I mention that I lived in Rome for two and a half years (that half is really important) people generally respond with “Oh you must be fluent in Italian then?” and then I must guilty reply “Well, actually….No”.


This is by far the biggest thing I regret about living in Italy.  How did I live in Rome and have a life there but not speak the language?  Yes I could get by.  I could have a basic conversation, order food (which is truly important) and identify all the food in the grocery store but I couldn’t go farther than that!  I could go ahead and give you all the excuses that I used while I lived there for not learning the language better:

The Romans always respond in English.

All my Italian friends speak better English than I do.

I am an English speaking tour guide


The truth is though, that I was embarrassed.  I was embarrassed about how bad my accent was.  I was embarrassed about how little I knew.  So instead of confronting this and studying and learning I chose to do nothing.  Looking back on this I realize now what a HUGE mistake this was.  I missed out on a lot of opportunities to get to know the local Romans more and to learn even more about the city that I love to hate but love so much.

I cannot describe how much I love this city but also how much it frustrated me.  Perhaps if I had known the language better I would have been able to interact with our neighbors and feel more accepted.
I cannot describe how much I love this city but also how much it frustrated me. Perhaps if I had known the language better I would have been able to interact with our neighbors and feel more accepted.

I always suggest to people to learn a little of the local language before they travel somewhere.  It helps to know hello, please, thank you to get by and show the locals that you are trying.  Language can open up so many doors while you are traveling.  It is such an imperative thing to learn before you go anywhere and I dropped the ball.


Alex and I plan on returning to Italy and to Rome in the near future and I am trying to rectify this mistake.  Nothing will change the fact that I did not learn Italian while I lived there but hopefully by the time I return all those Rosetta Stone lessons will have worked.  I want to talk to locals about their traditions, their life and learn more about this beautiful country.  I don’t want to be held back because I am embarrassed about not knowing the language.  Fear never gets anyone anywhere.  After all what’s the worst that can happen if I mispronounce something?

The goal for 2015 is to become fluent in Italian.  
Soon I will have much more free time on my hands and I can study more.  I will become FLUENT.  Internet and dearest readers I need you to help keep me accountable.  It may not be December 31st yet but I am already planning my resolution and I will not fail this time!

7 thoughts on “My Biggest Regret About Living in Italy

  1. High five! I envy you the opportunity; I’d love to have a chance to learn Italian in Italy. Anyway, don’t be too hard on yourself. I had the same issue when we lived in Panama and Indonesia. Everyone wanted to practice their English with me. So you’re not alone.


  2. Good luck with your goal to speak Italian. It is a beautiful language and the Italians (as you would already know) are really forgiving with any mistakes while trying to speak their language. It opens many doors and many hearts, just trying to give it a go. I arrived in Italy over 14 years ago and have been living here solidly for the last 8 (and a half) years. I arrived not speaking a word of Italian and now speak enough to converse in most subjects. My intention is to perfect the language and although I am still not fluent, I have fun learning new words and phrases whenever I can. The culture is entwined with the language, italian expressions and sayings are also fun to learn. My only ‘tip’ if I can offer you one, is: when you are here in Italy and the Italians answer you in English, just keep responding to them in Italian. ‘In bocca al lupo’ Good luck with your goal for 2015.


  3. It’s brave to admit your faults, so I applaud you on that. I’ve been living here 5 months and feel I’m learning Italian too slowly. I work at home, so I don’t interact much with Italians, but I do take every opportunity I’m given to strike up conversations and learn new words/phrases. I really dislike using Rosetta/Duolingo/etc. What I find helps is to watch the news on TV, read news on the internet and talk to neighbors/shop vendors every chance I get. Italian is a beautiful language (except for the damn passato prossimo conjugation). It also helps that I speak Portuguese, but still, I can feel the language slowly entering my mind and it is definitely a whole new world when you can actually communicate with everyone. Keep at it, eventually it will happen.


    1. I totally agree about the passato prossimo! I think that was a major roadblock for me when I studied it in school! I am definitely using Rosetta right now since we are not in Italy but once we are back I know it will come down to talking with locals, listening to Italian tv, ect… I just need to force myself this time and not retreat to English.


  4. Ha! The title drew me in because I was thinking what on Earth could someone regret about living in Italy?! But….this reminds me of myself. I lived in Italy for three years and could only hold the most simple of conversations. My excuse is that I attended an American school. All the people I knew were Americans and my parents were always there to speak to other Italians when we were out shopping, being tourists or asking for direction. It’s my biggest regret of living there too! People are always so surprised when I say I never learned the language. Bleh. I have a phone app to help me practice my Italian but it’s not always a priority 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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