Today I overheard a conversation between two friends. One needs to move to a larger apartment, her son is turning 12 and he needs to have a room of his own instead of the couch in the living room. She and her husband had just visited a perfect two bedroom / two bath apartment with a reasonable price, terrace, parking place. What’s the catch? Her mother now lives down the street, a 5-10 minute walk. This other apartment would be instead a 10-15 minute drive – much too far away. How would she manage when her son is sick, or if her mother just wants to stop by and help out?
I have seen figures that range from 80-90% of Italians that live within one square kilometer of their parents. They help each other out, up and down the generational scale, like Renzo and Anna. The smallest unit of Italian survival is the family, and it is best to have its members close by. From the figures above, most Italians do not feel their individuality and independence as adults threatened by having their parents next door, downstairs or just around the corner. How many of you expats out there moved to be near your parents-in-law? How many of your US friends would do the same? Our smallest unit of survival is ourselves, as individuals, and at the end of the day, we both seek out and are affirmed by our self-reliance.