How to find work in Italy or a warning to other foolhardy immigrants.


Whilst I was living in the UK I begged and pleaded suggested to Mrs Sensible that we should consider living in Italy. I explained my grand plan which included,  drinking copious quantities of Italian wine and sunbathing learning Italian and opening a bed and breakfast.

An Englishman

My dream was an Italian Bed and Breakfast.

We didn’t manage to open a bed and breakfast, unfortunately the bottom dropped out of the UK housing market whilst I was repainting the kitchen wall and it soon became apparent that after selling our house, we would receive about £5.00 and a burst balloon and Italians don’t accept burst balloons as down payments on houses.  Following this unfortunate news we didn’t scrap my fantastic grand plan our plans. First, Mrs S had found a teaching job in Italy and was living with some nuns in a nunnery and second; I am an optimist. I knew I would find a job. (If Mrs Sensible is reading this, she will now be gnashing her teeth and pulling her hair out)   So here is my Italian CV or how I found work in Italy.   Horticultural Executive One morning a market for flowers and hand-made objects was set up near our little house, Mrs S and I decided to have a little look. One of the stalls The English Cottage Garden was run by two women, their stall was selling typical plants found in a UK garden.  I managed to impress them with my horticultural knowledge by exclaiming, “That’s a nice white rose and my mum has one of those purple flowers in her garden.” I was instantly offered the position of Chief Hole Digger and Lawnmower Operative.

I became quite proficient at digging holes

I became quite proficient at digging holes

I worked 5 hours a day digging holes mowing the lawn and removing weeds from the garden. I understood weeds were anything green that didn’t have a flower at the top. One day Stephania decided we would prune the roses, Adriana and I were summoned to help. Stephania would spend 5 minutes looking at a branch and eventually she would clip a piece, this was then handed to Adriana who looked at it and then passed the piece of rose cutting to me, my job was to place it in the wheelbarrow.   Assistant Building Contractor Our landlord was a builder and one evening he was complaining that he had to replace a leaking water-pipe and his assistant was ill. Bravely and without a second thought I offered my services. Mrs S told him that I knew one end of a screwdriver from the other and I was duly appointed, Executive Sweeper Upper. I spent 3 weeks removing old concrete, mixing new concrete, carrying concrete and complaining to Mrs S that I may never ever be able to stand up straight again.

Builders Bum an English tradition

Builders Bum an English tradition

Landscape Gardener At another gardening market, I was stood watching a karate exhibition. As one poor guy was kicked and dropped to the floor I muttered, ouch! A man called Georgio who was stood next to me, said “you English?” Georgio and I then spent 10 minutes chatting to one another, Georgio using his poor English and me with my appalling Italian. We occasionally winced as the poor guys kicked and punch each other to death.

we are training our cats in Karate

we are training our cats in Karate

I asked Giorgio if he was considering joining the karate club, he told me he didn’t have the time, at the moment he had too much work on. I immediately offered my services, after all, I now knew how to drop rose cuttings into a wheel barrow. Amazingly I was offered the part time job of Exterior Carpet Fitter Temporary Garden Lawn Layer.

Company car

Following his course on turf laying, Pecora Nera no longer needed to wash Mrs Sensible’s car.

I discovered laying a garden lawn is very similar to laying a carpet in a house, the main difference in laying a lawn, is there are no door frames or fireplaces to cut around, plus if you make a mistake when you cut a piece of turf, you just cut a small piece to fill in the hole you made and stamp on it. Despite  helping Georgio lay several lawns and other gardening duties, we are still the best of friends and my knees have recovered.   English Teacher In my quest to live in Sicily, I applied for a job as an English teacher with the Berlitz Language School in Catania. I relocated to Zia Ester’s apartment in Sicily and left Mrs S in Piedmonte. Having used but not necessarily studied English, I easily passed the interview and was appointed Commercial and Business English Tutor. Berlitz told me they would e mail me some training literature and a start date. That was 5 years ago and I am still waiting for the training literature and my start date, so Berlitz please pull your finger out.

5 years

5 years and still waiting, but this is Italy so there is still some hope!

Private English Tutor Mrs Sensible told me that a local business man needed some English lessons and she had organised for me to meet the man in a local café. After plying him with lots of bottles of beer (I haven’t yet found an Italian that can drink an Englishman under the table) he offered me a job as an Industrial Pump Salesman. I know it is not the job I was after and I knew less about industrial pumps than I did about weeding gardens or teaching English. For three years I sold Industrial pumps for the man. Our friendship and my services ceased when he decided to alter how he paid me, basically my wages just didn’t arrive and if you read this you little git, send me my money or I will spill the beans about the English pub, the transsexual and a very drunk Italian.

She knew she was a he, I knew she was a he, the question is.. did my drunken friend know she was a he!!

She knew she was a he, I knew she was a he, the question is.. did my drunken Italian friend know she was a he!!

Private English Tutor I decided to advertise as a private English tutor and within a fortnight, I managed to secure a group of eleven friends who wanted to practise English conversation. I also found an engineer who was relocating to France (please don’t ask me why he wanted English and not French) and a local manager who needed English for work.   During a lesson with the eleven friends, I suggested we should have an English lesson based around something I love. They agreed so I organised a combined English lesson and wine tasting, it was so much fun we now open a bottle of wine at the start of every lesson.

The incredible Thursday Group.

The incredible Thursday Group at our English murder mystery night.

English Crisps Because Mrs Sensible was only on a yearly contract with the schools, she didn’t receive any salary during the long summer holidays and my teaching money was just not enough for us to survive on. So we decided to look for a smaller house to rent. A friend of ours offered us an apartment that was attached to his house. While we were explaining why we needed a smaller house, he suggested we could work together and find products we both could sell, we looked at importing crisps into Italy and contacting my old pump customers to see if we could supply them with a new range of pumps.   And that is how Tough Guy Europe was born, it is early days and the Italian bureaucracy is crazy but we have some good customers and another 2 pallets of pumps on the way. And in the immortally words of Del Boy said “this time next year we will be millionaires”   So here are a couple of thoughts for anyone who wants to find a job in Italy.

  • In my experience jobs are given to friends and family.
  • If you are here and looking for a job, tell everyone, even strangers that you need work.
  • I have registered with Manpower and four or five other agencies, in my opinion it was a waste of time.
  • Berlitz is a waste of time.
  • I have registered with online job agencies and I still receive their spam mail.
  • If you are not fluent in the language of your chosen country you will struggle.
  • Without the support of Mrs Sensible I would be starving or back living in the UK.

C.O:S:I are a group of friends from different parts of Italy, once a month we pick a subject to blog about, if you go to my C.O:S:I link and then read their blogs, they will no doubt have some useful information on how to find a job in Italy.

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58 thoughts on “How to find work in Italy or a warning to other foolhardy immigrants.

  1. I’m having such a bad day I’m glad I read your post (sorry about what I’m going to say because obviously you’ve written about your hardships) but this really made me laugh 🙂 Mind you I think you could say the same about the job situation in Spain, I really don’t know why on earth people from overseas come to live here…

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  2. Haha…this has made me giggle as we are on a countdown to ‘The Dream – Destination Lazio’. But as my language skills are rubbish (4 years of learning and I can’t remember anything beyond ordering food) I’ve decided to restructure and keep my business in the UK and divide our time between countries or we would find ourselves penniless in the Bel Paese ☺️

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  3. I am so thankful I’m retired (with sufficient income) and don’t have to look for work anywhere. I wouldn’t want to have to do that again. It’s the same here…friends and family or the old “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
    Good luck with the business and do hope you are millionaires (or at least thousandaires) by this time next year.
    And that’s a really cute karate kitten!

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      • I had the unexpected and amazing surprise that my net monthly retirement income is $102 more than what my net income was working! (combination of pension from my job and Social Security). It’s so nice to have money deposited into my bank account every month for reading books, watching TV, playing with cats, watering my plants etc. Doing what I want when I want. Oh, the only thing I “have” to do….study Italian for what I hope is the big move in three years.
        So I wish you luck and success in your endeavors. Hopefully I can meet you and Mrs. S someday when I’m living in Italy too (says someone who just discovered that she does have Italian ancestors after all….Charles I of the Kingdom of Naples was my 22 great grandfather….oh, those French who went to the Crusades and discovered they liked it in Italy).
        Michelle

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  4. Ah, don’t ruin my dream of a new life in Italy, Pecora! I much prefer to ignore all the warnings and delude myself that it’ll all fall into place. My Italian’s not up to scratch yet, but I have enough saved to live there for a few years without having to work and, in the meantime, hope that I can reach a reasonable level of fluency/blag my way through Italian life. Sadly, no Mrs. Sensible for me. 😦 Yet…

    Everyone says that it’s difficult to find work in Italy. Just try searching Google for: it’s hard to find work in Italy. Then do the same for Germany, Switzerland, the U.K…. all the same answers! I’m due a lot of luck, so maybe it’ll turn out alright…

    That Berlitz thing made me laugh, mind. Just be patient, man. It’s only been five years! Hope that your new crisp venture is going well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Andy, don’t worry my Italian isn’t up to scratch yet and I have been here 6 years. I found my Mrs Sensible in an Italian restaurant, it took 3 months of eating there 3 times a week before she agreed to a date.

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      • That spam filter really doesn’t like me, does it? 😀 Funny, I always used to post with my spoof e. mail address, which I use to sign up to sites ‘n’ suchlike, so that I don’t get spam in my principal one. Now that I use my actual e. mail address, it thinks that I’m up to no good!

        There’s definitely something to those Italian women, but searching imitation Italian restaurants for one probably won’t get me very far. I read the expats message board on which you used to post, but it’s got so depressing lately regarding life there. I’m just trying to keep my hopes up without deluding myself that it’ll be a walk in the park. That’s why it’s good to read your snippets of life in Italy. It’s not depressing, just realistic, and more than a little amusing, too. 🙂

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        • Hi Andy, no my spam filter doesn’t like you…. 😉 I found Mrs S in a real Italian restaurant all the staff were Italian and the food was traditional, not the ‘Garlic laced food’ than is normally found. I haven’t been on the expats website for ages, maybe I should go and have a look. It is possible to live in Italy…. it’s just not very easy.

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  5. Well done on managing to face a rather unsatisfactory situation with some British humour. Now forget your British roots, turn native, and work those contacts!

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  6. Jack of all trades, master of none 😉 I’m going to start a German course next month in order to stave off homelessness here – I’d imagine the Germans are probably more likely to speak English than the Italians though! Apart from your (probably fluent by now) students of course 😉

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  7. I really hope that this time next year you will be a millionaire – surely it’s your turn to have the luck! Maybe pumps are going to be the way forward, or the crisps. I hope Berlitz haven’t finally got round to sending you their literature in the mail – the fact that you have moved would really confuse them. 🙂

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  8. Pingback: Working in Italy as an expat

  9. Well done! Very funny, but spot-on. It seems you have to create your own job, really, unless, as you say, you have an uncle who has a friends whose cousin needs a big hole dug in their backyard.

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  10. I love the kitten piccie. What timing!

    It’s hard finding work here in France too and the gov is determined to undermine anyone who attempts to set up a company. Makes you wonder if they really want everyone on the dole, except that if everyone’s on the dole, where’s the money coming from? Joined-up thinking is not a skill they possess. Nor is common sense.

    I hope your knew enterprise is wildly successful. 🙂

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  11. Hi..I am married to ‘mr sensible” ..I am always saying “come on let’s up sticks and get out of England.. let’s live in France or Italy… let’s do something exciting.” .. his reply ” you can’t just up and leave , it all takes time and planning. ” … oh yeah forgot that bit. He works in Formula1 , so I said apply for a job with Ferrari…and he has another answer, I cannot speak Italian. ..Learn then. 🙂 ..great post, great story. Thanks for brightening the day..

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    • Hi Annie, our sensible partners are very useful in keeping our feet on the ground. Without Mrs Sensible I would either be back in the UK or … back in the UK.
      Having said that, if you don’t try now, you may regret it later. I love Italy but I think it has given me a few more silver hairs.

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  12. Best of luck with the new venture PN, you definitely deserve a bit of good fortune! Have you considered combining the crisps and pumps? I’m pretty sure it’s never been done before and a pump that can fire crisps across a room could be your key to becoming a millionaire!

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    • Hi Madeline, Thank you for the nice comment, Rick and The Girl in Florence write much more sensible posts than I do. I did set out to be a blogger who wrote informative posts about life in Italy.. but as you can see I failed miserably.

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  13. This is hysterical… we have friends who run and B&B in Italy, the problems they have had with the government are not so funny… btw, Fawlty Towers is one of my favorite BBC shows, is this one with the Italian adventure available….??

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love the humor, definitely my style of self-deprecation and subtle sarcasrm, only you can carry it off better than I. I’m already retired and considering attempting a move to Florence (again) but waiting for an unknown rich relative to die to make the transition monetarily feasible. Interested in another (very) temprorary side job?

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  15. Pingback: Sicilian dolce far niente or how to pretend not to work in Southern Italy | Unwilling Expat

  16. Ha ha! Oh man, I know the struggle well! This month is shaping up to be OK after a total panic at the end of last month that I’d end up living on the streets 🙂 Good advice! How’s your Italian coming along? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Listen young lady, it is Friday and I am Chilaxing so don’t go asking stuff like how is my Italian. 🙂

      As long as I can order wine and ask for the loo I am happy.

      I had a little tizzy this month as well, I had 800 Kilo of pumps arrive at the docks and customs decided I should pay the import VAT aaarrrghhh, my accountant managed to straighten it all out before I hit the grappa..

      Liked by 1 person

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