This week's Togetherness edition is dedicated to the foreigners who have adopted Portugal as their home. What has driven them to make this life-changing decision? What are the sunny and the shadowy sides of Portugal? Which good lessons can Portugal teach to their native countries? Find out the surprising answers to these questions. Home is - definitely - where the heart is.
Responsible for permaculture at Areias do Seixo Hotel
1. How long do you live in Portugal ?
We moved to Portugal in July 2018. We left with our small Clio (car), our dog, a pasta machine and a great deal of will to build our future.
2. Why did you decide to move to Portugal?
The job situation in Italy was complicated, no meritocracy and very little opportunities for young people. Even with very different education backgrounds, Luca and I found ourselves in the same situation: short term contracts, precariousness, and little hope. We thought we would be better off in a new country, having to learn a new language and a whole new culture.
One thing of Portugal struck us immediately in a positive way: The sense of community throughout the population; We never felt excluded, but on the contrary helped in the integration process by colleagues and neighbours.
Another aspect of this country that made us fall in love with it is what we call the human rhythm: People always find time for good conversation; you do not continuously feel yourself running as we often felt when living in Italy: running in the morning to get to work, frantic rhythms that often are not very productive on the job site, running to go grocery shopping without thinking about it, only to be able to put something in your belly.
And last but not least another great aspect of Portugal is that they have amazing wines!!
3. What are the sunny and the shadowy sides of Portugal?
If there are dark clouds here in Portugal those would be the public health system. Because of the pandemic the frail system has collapsed, and we find ourselves struggling to be able to get a family doctor assigned.
4. Which lessons can your native country learn from Portugal?
In Italy people do not live their present lives; You are always travelling towards an obscure future: By living like that you can never appreciate what you have but you are always wanting more to justify your sacrifices.
It is the culture of accumulation and unhappiness. Portugal, on the other hand, has been showing us about being present and minimalist and living in the community which will bring out what is intrinsically solidary.
In Italy, at this moment, prevails egoism.
5. What can Portugal learn from your native country?
I am not so sure that Italy at the moment has something to teach to Portugal. It is a complicated time in history – politically, socially, and economically. In our opinion
Portugal should put attention and efforts in monitoring the politics of work.
In our home country entrepreneurs’ interests were put ahead of workers’ rights and their lives, limiting meritocracy and the stability of people.
Work should be a balanced relation between who is offering the job and who is looking for it.
6. What have you learned with the Portuguese "saudade"?
We miss our families, and old friendships built throughout the years. Technology helps reducing the distance, but our son is growing up not having very
important figures such as grandparents and uncles and that is hard for us, but this heavy feeling never made us think, not even for a second, that this wasn’t the
right place for us. We were lucky, and a bit audacious, to find a great place where to do what we love to do, where the feeling is of mutual respect.