This rise in emigration, particularity among Italian millennials, is described as a brain drain. With young, educated Italians struggling with high unemployment rates, many look overseas for opportunities; but at a time when young Italians are so eager to leave, some Italian-Canadians are bucking the trend and moving to the country their parents and grandparents left.
Daniel Di Micco is an Italian-Canadian living and working in Rome. The 30-year-old Montreal native moved in 2016 to manage a location of his uncle’s chain of home goods stores. “It was always something I had in mind,” says Di Micco, who studied business marketing at Concordia University. “I seriously began to consider moving when I worked for Air Canada and was visiting Italy often, and I knew there was opportunity through my mother’s family in Lazio.” Working for a family business means Di Micco is immersed in it all: learning about sales, how to run the business and communicating with suppliers. “I’m still learning, especially how to translate expressions and industry terms, but Google Translate helps.”
The retail store hours are long and the salary probably less than he could make working full-time in Canada, but Di Micco has no regrets about his decision. “I don’t have much free time, but it’s easy to make friends in Rome as there are many people living here from other parts of Italy and other countries,” says Di Micco who has Italian citizenship through his father. “I don’t miss the weather back home, but I do miss my family and the order and structure in Canada – it’s definitely something lacking in Italy and I had to learn to exercise a lot of patience with things like getting my work and medical papers.”
Di Micco says he’s not sure if he’ll be staying long-term, but he’s happily enjoying the lifestyle and culture he made the move for. “Italians very much live day-by-day and it’s my mentality. I’m taking it one day at a time, living in the moment and enjoying the little things – even the 40 degree weather.”
That energy and zest for life Italians are so well-known for is what Roberto Arcieri and Pamela Rubano are hoping to bring back to Canada when they return to Montreal after two years living and working in Florence. “Walking to the bar down the street for an espresso before work, travelling on the weekends, the view of the Duomo from our apartment – it’s what we’re going to miss most,” says Rubano, 25.
The couple left searching for life experience and personal growth after university and can sympathize with young Italians. “I can see why they’re leaving with the economy being what it is and how tough it is to get a good paying job. They’re looking for a new life like our grandparents were when they left for Canada,” says Arcieri, 26. “We’ve been lucky to have this experience, but we’re going home to set our foundation and establish our careers.”
Arcieri and Rubano, who have dual citizenship, both grew up with a strong appreciation for their heritage and always talked about wanting to experience living abroad. Arcieri came first to complete courses at the
European School of Economics and then got an internship at a luxury fashion brand in Florence. Rubano followed shortly after to work at the school. “The Italian friends we’ve made constantly ask us why we left home and are curious about the opportunity to move to Canada,” Rubano says. “That desire to take a risk and learn and experience life in a new country is what we all have in common.”