Making Friends Abroad: Tips for Expats Adjusting to Life in Italy

So you’ve settled into your new dream life in Italy but now comes the real adult struggle – making friends and navigating a social scene. This is hard enough in our own culture and language, add in a whole new setting and it can be daunting to build out a new social circle. Now, I can’t promise to have all the answers, I myself still am forming my circle, as I balance old friends, new friends, mom friends, single friends, Italian and international. But I can tell you what I have learned about making friends abroad so far. So, read on for some tips for finding your people, and of course, if you are struggling and feeling alone, send me a message on IG! I can’t be your aperitivo everyday friend, but would be happy to connect.

A note about confidence.

No matter which way you choose to find friends, it will probably involve a little movement on your part. You’re going to have to be a little brave. And I know that can be tough. But all I can say is just do it. just try once. There is no worst-case scenario, other than you don’t make a friend that day. But you’ll be no worse off. So be it once a week or once a month, just try.

And while I say that to you, know that even I have struggled with this for my 12+ years in Italy. It can be really tough, but the times I have been able to take a step out of my comfort zone have always helped me ease a little more into this life abroad. So here are some things I’ve pushed myself to do to make friends abroad.

Navigating Language Barriers, And Making Friends Along the Way

Part of the reason making friends abroad can be so tough, is the language. Moving to a new country like Italy can be an adventure, but language barriers can make socializing a little intimidating at first. Yet, if you are opening to learning, this can be a great opportunity to meet new people!

For one, you can look for language classes in your area, and join in. There are often different options for different budgets and levels. This way you can meet other newcomers to Italy, and work on your language skills at the same time.

You can also look for an exchange partner.

Finding a language exchange partner can be a fantastic way to improve your Italian language skills while making new friends. This allows you to teach each other your native languages, providing an opportunity for cultural exchange and deeper connections.

You can look for language exchange partners through social media groups or language exchange meetups. Many Italians are eager to practice their English skills, so offering your language expertise in exchange for Italian practice can lead to great friendships and language improvements.

I know it can be challenging to engage in conversations with native speakers. But it will gradually build your confidence and fluency in Italian. Embracing language exchange opportunities can be a great way to navigate the language barriers and expand your social circle in Italy all at the same time!

Beyond Italian -Take a class!

I’m a strong believer in life-long learning, you can never have enough knowledge. So one way I’ve made friends while living abroad is through courses! I’ve followed my interests and signed up for many language courses, but also cooking classes and wine education classes. All of these have connected me with people who share my interests and we’ve kept that connection going beyond the classroom.

So always be on the hunt to follow your interests and don’t be afraid to sign yourself up for a new adventure!

Get Involved in Community Activities

This of course can depend heavily on where you live, but if you’ve got free time, you might like to look for ways to get involved. That doesn’t just mean volunteer work or seeking out causes, there are a lot of different ways you can get out there and get involved. Maybe you find a local walking group, maybe there’s an event happening in your town, or maybe there is a community clean-up or charity group you’d like to help!

Hop on Facebook and see what local events are going on near you! One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the Italian culture and connect with locals is by attending local festivals and events. This might be something as exciting as the Palio in Siena or the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, or it could be your local towns Fiera di Primavera!

Whether you are in a city or a small town, you’ll quickly learn Italians love to celebrate, and you are sure to find a way to join them.

At first maybe you’d just like to attend to see what everything is about, but when you are feeling a bit more confident, find out if there is a way you can get more involved.

Joining Local Groups

Another effective way to integrate into the community is by joining local groups. This might be a sports club or hobby group. You can often find postings for these types of events near your local Comune offices (or the library) as well as in Facebook groups.

You may find there are even many group events for expats, and in your native tongue!

By engaging in community activities, you can enrich your expat experience in Italy and create meaningful connections with the locals and the international community.

Use the Power of Social and Expat Networks

As much as we crave in-person contact and friends while living abroad, social media is the best place to start. Be it Facebook, a website like InterNations, or even an app like Bumble BFF, there are lots of great ways to start making friends abroad through social media.

Head to Facebook to find local groups or local expat groups. I’ll warn you sometimes things can get messy and negative in there, it helps to turn off notifications and use it strategically. Search for events in the group. Or make a post introducing yourself and see if any like-minded people want to grab a coffee.

By far the best community I have found, as a woman, is Girl Gone International. They are present in over 250 cities worldwide and have an international Facebook group as well. They host regular events monthly-weekly, have fun clubs like book clubs, and offer a safe space for women to connect and thrive. Search your local chapter and start making friends abroad!

If you really want to steer clear of Facebook, look for the platforms Meetup and InterNations, where expats and locals arrange events and social gatherings. Whether it’s a language exchange meet-up or a cultural excursion, these events offer the perfect opportunity to meet new friends.

When it comes to apps, I have found Peanut to be a great resource for moms looking to make friends, and Bumble BFF to meet both locals and other expats!


Making friends abroad will help you so much in adjusting to your new life. If you live closer to a large town or city, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to connect with people – through local events, groups, courses, or meetups. But in the end it will be up to you. So, go ahead, step out of your comfort zone, and immerse yourself in a whole new adventure – the friendships you form will undoubtedly change your life as an expat!

If you found this information helpful you can show your support by buying me a glass of wine 🥂. I really appreciate it and each glass inspires me to research more into life in Italy!

And if you are looking for more help on your journey of making Italy home or looking for local insight to plan the best trip, get in touch, let me help you experience authentic Italy.