Writer Profile: Carla Coulson

This internationally acclaimed photographer and author from Australia proved that you can find love, creative success and cultural integration as a foreigner in Italy. She has published Italian Joy, Paris Tango, Chasing a Dream, and collaborated on My French Life, French Essence and My Amalfi Coast. She now lives in Paris and is married to an Italian.

The most difficult moment was the fear associated with not earning money and the thought of going home. There were many tears.

What are some of the greatest misconceptions about running away to Italy?

That it all will be roses!! Most of us eventually will need a job and things work differently in Italy and finding a job can be almost impossible if you don’t have a European passport. Without an income staying in Italy is difficult so you need to think about this before leaving home.

In the beginning, what was your most difficult period or moment and, at the other end of the journey, what has been the most rewarding?

The journey for me has been life enriching. Italy taught me so many lessons that I needed to learn and one of those was patience. Italy also taught me to live in the moment, to enjoy the simple things in life like eating well, being with family and friends and being thankful for what I have. The most difficult moment for me was wondering how I would make a living and the fear associated with not earning money and the thought of going home. There were many tears and gut wrenching moments but coming out the other side has been the greatest experience of my life.

What is your advice for expats in Rome, both the foreigner who is enchanted and naive, and the straniera who is at the end of their tether and thinking of giving up and flying home?

Follow your heart. If you really want something bad enough find a way to make it work. Italy isn’t for everyone, for me it was a total love affair but I have many friends who have had totally different reactions. Do what feels best for you. If the dream didn’t work out the way you wanted it to don’t feel embarrassed about going home.

How did your view of Italy change after living, working and falling in love here?

I had and still have rose coloured glasses when it comes to Italy! But I do realise that Italy doesn’t offer the same work opportunities to its youth as Australia does. I come from a place where you can get ahead on your merit, unfortunately in Italy you need a powerful cousin or uncle!

Now that you no longer live in Italy, what are the four things you miss the most?

I miss the music in daily life, the food, the people and the history. I adore standing in a busy café drinking a cappuccino and having a warm brioche filled with marmalade in the other hand. So many simple pleasures that I miss that I try and cram in on every visit to Italy. When I first arrived in Italy I never felt alone, there were so many little interactions all day with my fruit and veg guy, in a café, at the latteria, that made life feel special. I miss this.

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