Working in Italy as an American: Four Big Differences

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  • February 24, 2017
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Ever wonder what it’s like to work for an Italian company? Or wonder how working in Italy differs from working in the United States? Let me try to give you a little insight from my experience as an American employee who’s just started working in a Roman company and a couple of the things I’ve noticed so far working for redBit games.

You think rush hour traffic is bad? Try rush hour on the subway in Rome.

The morning commute in Rome… where to begin? One of the biggest things I’ve had to adjust to working in Rome is the daily task of surviving taking the metro during rush hour. With only three subway lines in a city of 2.9 million inhabitants, moving around with public transit can get pretty cramped pretty fast. (Just to give you an idea, Paris has a population of 2.2 million but it has 16 subway lines— just a bit more than Rome’s three.) A big part of the blame for Rome’s limited subway system can be put on the city’s extraordinary historical richness. More than once, construction of a public project has had to be stopped because someone discovered an original millennia-old part of the ancient city while digging (no big deal, right?).

Cramped subway cars and longer commute times are worthy sacrifices to make though when you live in a city as beautiful as this. Sometimes I might have to squeeze through a wall of passengers in a toothpaste-like fashion to get off at my stop, but it’s all worth it for the moments I step outside and into what feels like a painting, complete with tiny cafes and cobble-stone streets. It doesn’t hurt that I work at a mobile gaming company and have a pretty extensive arsenal of games on my iPhone. When forced to stand next to someone on the subway who definitely ate something oniony for lunch, a good level of Jelly Juice can provide a nice distraction until I get to my stop.

Trading filter coffee for espresso

Oh man do I miss filter coffee. Along with guacamole, brownies, ranch dressing, and roasted red pepper hummus, filter coffee is a quasi-non-existent rarity here in Italy that I really really miss. I can’t really complain though, because Italy hands-down has one of the best coffee cultures in the world.

Though filter coffee isn’t a thing, Italians are masters at making a good espresso. In the mornings, I usually drink a cappuccino with breakfast, while my workday is fueled with periodic shots of espresso (Italy’s answer to a “coffee break”). Best of all, coffee costs just a fraction of the price you’d pay in the United States. In Rome the average cappuccino costs €1.50 ($1.60) and an espresso will only cost you €0.80 ($1.00). At redBit we have an espresso machine right here in the office, so we don’t even need to go to the local café to get our caffeine fix.

Never-ending pizza

Though many aren’t, I can definitely confirm that the stereotype about Italians eating a lot of pizza is true. However, unlike some American pizzas, pizza in Italy is always made with fresh ingredients and places more emphasis on the quality of the meat, vegetables, and cheese going onto the pizza than they do on loading up the pizza with excess dough and toppings.

In Rome, the pizza of choice for lunch or quick snack is pizza a taglio or “pizza by the cut.” Pizzerias that offer pizza a taglio usually have large sheets of pizza with lots of different toppings, and to order you simply ask for a slice of whatever looks tastiest to you which they will then cut (often with scissors) into a portable square shape. My personal favorite is pizza con le zucchine (pizza with mozzarella and shredded zucchini).

We have a pizzeria right next to the office and I can honestly say that at least one person (usually more) is having pizza for lunch every day, myself included.

Lots of Work but Lots of Fun

Whether it’s the fact that I’m working in a gaming company or that I’m working in an Italian company (or some combination of the two), redBit games has by far one of the friendliest work environments I’ve ever encountered. The office jokes together, lunches together, and (most importantly) games together. At any time during the work day, you might hear laughing, cursing (always lightheartedly of course), and sometimes even singing (and then afterwards, someone complaining about the singing).

It’s easy to see that though redBit games takes its work seriously, simultaneously takes care not to take itself too seriously.  As an Italian mobile gaming company, redBit games has struck the perfect balance of work and play. Though we work hard, there’s no lack of fun to be had in this office— something that I think can be attributed to both Italian work-culture and the fact that redBit is simply a fun company that creates fun games.


Post written by Lauren, Marketing Assistant at redBit Games