Expats in Italy: Tiana Kai, Florence

Upon arrival in Italy I started exploring my new community: Expats in Italy. I happened upon a fellow Coloradoan who settled in Florence, Tiana Kai.

She agreed to let me interview her on expat life. Lord knows I need all the help I can get with this adjustment! And lucky us, she also provided some Florence travel tips!

Meet Tiana From Florence!

Expats in Italy - Tiana in Florence

Expat Location: Expat in Florence / Firenze

In one word, how would you describe Florence? Timeless  How long have you been in Italy? 16 months and going!

Before moving to Italy where was home? Boulder, Colo. was home for a little over a year and it completely changed my life, but I was born in Hawai’i and was raised in Miami.

What is your occupation and how did you land it – any tips for expats looking for a job in Italy? I am a marketing consultant and love it. I run my own hours and can work from anywhere. The clients I work with are exciting and I have the ability to do some great work that excites me and keeps me interested. I think people do what they do no matter where they live. I was in marketing (and sales) for over 10 years, so I was adamant on staying true to want drives me. I love connecting the dots and solving problems. The question people should ask themselves is what do they love to do and start by contacting people in the same field and start networking. Things take time no matter what country you live in. I had friends asking me about work tips back in the States, so I don’t think this is just an expat issue. 

What kind of paperwork/documentation let you stay in Italy? I married my husband in July 2012, finally! We dated from 2001 to 2003 and always kept in touch. We started really connecting again on Skype in 2011 and things just clicked, so we got married. I am a Florence resident, no citizenship yet.

Any tips on the process for paperwork for expats moving to Italy? One tip, trust no one! I heard tons of different answers to the same question.

I have a helpful list for anyone marrying an Italian, but more specifically in Florence. It’s the most informative post I may ever write!

Read It! Wedding Planning in Italy – Part 1 of 9: Legal Paperwork

What advice do you have for an expat on physically moving to Italy? I was lucky because I came back and forth so many times before I finally lived here, so was able to bring more and more things with me. One thing I didn’t want to rebuy was a nice kitchen knife set, so my knives joined me on a flight on Air Berlin. If anything, I wish I brought less clothes. My Colorado clothes work well in Florence, but not my Miami mamacita clothes. The DVF tight wrap dresses and high heels should have stayed in Miami at my Mom’s house!

What’s the hardest about expat life? The hardest part about moving to Italy was leaving my family. We have a great time together, so it’s hard to not be around as much as they (and I) would like me to be.

I missed one of my best friend’s weddings and another friend’s baby shower, which really bummed me out. Paperwork, public transportation, business hours can all be annoying, but you learn to deal. The hardest part about living in Italy may be making close friends. The close friends I’ve made have really helped me feel like Florence is finally ‘home’.

What do you miss the most about your life “back home”? Famiglia and Boulder, Colo.

What are your favorite restaurants in Florence? There are a good amount of spots here, hard to list them all!

Try It! Florence Eateries: As for best quality and service, my go-to’s are Il Fiesolano (Perseus) and Il Santino because it’s low key and small.

Traditional Florence dish: Bistecca alla Fiorentina, made from the region’s Chianina breed of cattle – prized for tenderness and flavor.

What are your top three MUST-DOs in Florence?

  • Walk up Piazzale Michelangelo then head down for drinks at Rifrullo or Bevo Vino.
  • Shop at the Sant’Ambrogio food market and have a sunset picnic by the river, in a park… don’t forget the wine!
  • Check out one to two museums (Uffizi Gallery and Ferragamo Museum is a good mix).

It’s fun to find another Colorado girl in Italy. Thanks for your time and insight, Tiana! And, I’m relieved I’m not the only one who overpacked on the clothes…PS – my favorite roasting dish traveled in my carry-on. Keep up on Tiana’s Florence adventures through her blog, Tiana in Tuscany. Also, check out her amazing Instagram photos, Tianapix

Any other expats interested in offering your inside tips? Leave me a comment!

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