August 10, 2007

Meet Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli, from Italy, who has lived in Brazil for over 20 years. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

I am from Rome, Italy. I am a Real Estate Broker by profession. My hobby is motorcycle mechanics. I am married to an American and together we enjoy cooking, traveling, and studying each other’s native languages. My wife and I are now selling lots on the coast of São Paulo and building custom homes. We also have several guest apartments at our house that we rent for weekend visitors.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I moved to Brazil 24 years ago. Needless to say it was very different then. I came here with my father who worked with a large investment company. I was only 18 at the time, and started working in Real Estate almost immediately.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

When I came here Brazil still had a dictator. There were no imported cars, no imported foods, etc., only Brazilian products. Brazil was very isolated because of this. It was a shock coming from an international center like Rome. On the coast of São Paulo, where I lived then and still live now, there were barely passable roads and very little infrastructure.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I miss my family, the Italian food, and the drinking fountains in Rome.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

Hmmm. well there have been a few times I could actually feel the grey hairs sprouting out of my head! Mostly it is the bureaucracy that gets frustrating. Trying to get a visa for my wife was a nightmare, obtaining the title deed for my house on the coast (which I built myself in the mid 80’s when there were no other buildings in the neighborhood) is already a 4 year court case, oh, and then there was the time the government took all the money out of everyone’s bank account, leaving a maximum of about US$1,500 and me completely bankrupt. And so it goes.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

One of the earliest I remember was getting off a plane in Rio and I saw Tim Maia singing out on the runway. He was filming a TV show or something. I went to check it out and saw that there was no amplification; his voice was so powerful you could hear it loud and clear from several hundred yards.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

I like the standard of living I can have for the amount of work I do. We both work a lot, my wife and I, but we work from home and have time to visit the beach and travel to see our families. We don&rsquot;t make a lot of money by US standards, but the cost of living here is really low. We enjoy good health, fresh air, healthy food, etc. things we couldn’t afford in our home countries.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

On the coast my favorite restaurant is Bar do Japones in Caraguatatuba. They have great sushi, sashimi and other Japanese foods, as well as typical Brazilian dishes.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

The funny incidents start when you learn to laugh about the frustrating incidents. Like when the Department of Motor Vehicles is on strike the week you need to renew your driver’s license and you end up with no license for a month. Or when you need a current proof of address (a bill with your name on it) to receive a payment, but the post office is on strike. Learning to laugh about these situations is an essential survival skill here. Even in the worst predicament Brazilians will calmly reassure you that your troubles are normal and it will all work out in the end (whenever that may be!).

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

Wow, that&rsquot;s a tough one, it is all different! The politics, the people, the lifestyle, even the way people drive is different. This week my wife and some friends visiting from America were struck by the difference in the coverage of the Pan American Games in Rio; they had never seen a national TV station show only their country’s athletes, and only their countries’ award ceremonies. In the US or Italy this would never happen, but TV Globo cut right from the Brazilian silver medalists to the soap opera without batting an eyelash. Globo knows their audience well and it made sense to them to do that, but it was a striking difference from the sports coverage in our own countries.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along?

What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse? Well. after 24 years, I think I have more problems remembering Italian words! Sometimes I confuse my wife though, because some words are exactly the same, but mean different things in each language. If she doesn’t know which I am speaking I might not make any sense!

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Brazil is a big lesson in patience, especially for people who are from first world countries. You really have to be able to keep calm during some trying experiences and long waits, especially if you are moving here for good. Other than that, enjoy all there is to enjoy, the beautiful natural surroundings, the delicious fresh food, the weather. Keep a low profile and learn the language! Outside of select groups in the capital cities, very few people speak English here. You will enjoy your time much more if you can get around independently and make your wishes known.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

If you are visiting São Paulo it is great to come to the coast. People are amazed at how beautiful it is here, and how close it is to the city. Even in winter” it is 80 degrees and sunny most days. It is easy to take the bus and be on the beach just 3 hours later.

Readers who would like more info about visiting the north coast of São Paulo may contact me through my website

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

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