The British Embassy in Rome launched an online survey in March to gain a better understanding of British nationals living in Italy. Most Brits are over 55 years of age and have lived in Italy for decades.
The data was collected primarily through the Embassy’s social media accounts @UKinItaly (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). It will inform new communication and engagement strategies aimed at British nationals living in Italy.
There are more than 30,000 UK nationals in Italy, of which over 1,200 took part in the survey.
Where do the Brits live?
The British are primarily in the north of Italy – where industry and international businesses are prevalent.
The most popular regions are Lombardy (20%) and Lazio (18%). However, they are present across Italy with 12% in Tuscany, 7% in Piedmont, 6.5% in Veneto and 5% in Emilia-Romagna. Brits are also present, to a lesser extent, in Abruzzo, Umbria, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.
A large proportion of respondents are also long-standing residents. Almost 20% settled between 10 and 20 years ago, with just under 40% over 20 years ago. But the flow continues, with almost a quarter having moved to Italy between 1 and 5 years ago.
However, the flow of Brits choosing Italy as their new home seems to be unbroken, as a large proportion (22%) have been here for only 1-5 years.
Reasons for moving to Italy
The survey results contradict the stereotype of ex-pats heading to Italy for sun and la dolce vita. Many, in fact, are here for work as well as the European lifestyle.
Most Britons settled in Italy to work (34%), while smaller numbers moved to be with their families or retire, 29% and 27% respectively. Only 2% are in Italy to study.
The vast majority of UK nationals currently living in Italy (almost 60%) are in the 55+ age group. 20% fall into the 45-54 age group. This would tally with the amount of time spent living in Italy.
Integrating with the community
The majority of British nationals are highly integrated into their communities. 70% say most of their friends and acquaintances are Italian nationals.
Almost half the respondents have Italian family members, and 41% use Italian more often than English on a daily basis.
Interestingly, the respondents use a mix of Italian and English sources to stay informed of local and international news.
24% browse mainly English language websites, while a similar number (23%) prefer Italian offline source – newspaper and TV over British ones.
With the UK leaving the EU officially from 1st January 2021, it’s more important than ever for the British Embassy in Rome to maintain good and effective communication with British citizens.
The information from the survey will help with the new Tell a Friend campaign (Passaparola). This campaign addresses the Italian relatives and friends of Britons on local media. It is popular in smaller cities and remote areas of the country.
British Ambassador Jill Morris commented: “The findings of our survey are particularly interesting and a testament to the high degree of integration of my fellow nationals in this beautiful country. The decision to use TV, as well as national and local press for our Passaparola campaign stems from the fact that they are deeply rooted in Italy and very familiar with the language of Dante, whose 700th anniversary we celebrated just a few weeks back”.