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An Italian Love Story… between expatriates

Posted on June 12th, 2020

by Expats living in Rome

Our Expats Living in Rome social events attract expats and Italians alike.  Their motivations for attending can range from meeting new friends, language exchange, business networking, even dating.  They do not typically include finding a life-long partner, however that’s precisely what happens for some!  

To-date we have tracked at least 34 married couples who matched at our social events.  Here we profile one of our favorite couples and good friends, the Sulimans.

An Italian romance between expats

Meet the Sulimans: Mazen from Syria and Carolyn from the US.  Together they’ve made two gorgeous children, Alessandro & Meraviglia.  While we can’t quite take credit for how cute they are, we can say that we had a part of how they came to be.  We interviewed Carolyn for a little glimpse into how two expatriates shared an Italian romance…

ELIR: Could you tell us how you both came to live in Rome? 

Carolyn: I came to Italy while on sabbatical in 2010. Mazen had first arrived in Rome two years prior, to attend the Swiss School of Management and get his MBA. My initial intention was to stay in Rome only for a month or so, then travel around the country, but I met Mazen and changed my plan!

ELIR: You met at one of our ELIR social events. What motivated you to attend?

Carolyn: A fellow student from my language school invited me to attend my first Expats event. Mazen was also invited by a friend to attend.

ELIR: What happened next?

An Italian romance between expats

Carolyn: Mazen and I met each other on the dance floor that night at Nag’s Head Pub. Where else would an American gal meet a Syrian guy, but at a Scottish pub in the middle of Rome? Ha! We danced the night away and exchanged contact info.

ELIR: Ha ha the Nag’s Head.  How did your relationship evolve from there?

Carolyn: Mazen invited me to meet the next day to watch a soccer game. We also met up the next day, and the day after that… and the rest is history. We hit it off quickly and knew within a very short time that we were meant for each other.


ELIR: Wow, things did take off!  Tell us more about falling in love in Rome… was it as romantic as it sounds?

Carolyn: Rome was absolutely the dreamiest place to start a romance! We still can’t believe our own story. Maybe we should write a book someday!

ELIR: We’d like to read that book.  Were there any difficulties or obstacles dating in Rome?

Carolyn: Our biggest obstacle was visas. We were unable to find a way to live long-term in Italy, so we had to make a plan to live elsewhere. We would have loved to stay, but decided to make a life in the US. We still love to visit Italy!

ELIR: We hear about the visa issue often, it seems to prevent a lot of long-term stays.  How was the transition though, repatriating back to the US with your new partner?

Carolyn: Mazen is originally from Syria and had never visited the US before moving here. It was a huge leap for him. We have been here for 8 years now, and we love it. In addition to his full time job, Mazen teaches Italian at the local college.

ELIR: Would you tell us about your children?  The “expat babies”?

Carolyn: We have 2 beautiful children, both with Italian names, Alessandro (5) and Aya Meraviglia (1.5). They both speak Italian and Arabic.  We have an Italian neighbor who babysits the kids sometimes, so their language skills are strong!

ELIR: Wow, that’s incredible how you still keep the Italian culture in your house!  Tell us, were you able to form any other long lasting relationships from our meetups?

Carolyn: Patrizia (the founder of Expats Living in Rome) is more like family, than a friend. We really miss working with her, and we are eager to visit with her any time we visit Rome. We have many other friends around the world that we first met in Rome. We have met up with a few of them over the years, and we love to keep up with them on social media.

ELIR: It’s wonderful that you were able to reconnect with some of them!  That becomes difficult with how much we migrate nowadays.  We’ve seen you back recently here when Alessandro was a wee, little lad.  When are you coming to visit again?  What are you missing the most about Rome?  

Carolyn: Pizza!!!!!!!!! Truly, the food in Italy is so wonderful. We have been back once since we left, and we hope to visit again within the next year.

ELIR: Yes, that’s part of why some of us expats never left!  We can’t wait to see you all again with your new addition.  Is there any advice that you can offer today’s expats living in Rome?

Carolyn: Savor every moment! The Expats events are such a wonderful way to meet new people, make the most of your time in Rome, and make lifelong connections. Patri (Patrizia) really has a knack for connecting people.

ELIR: Thanks for sharing Carolyn!  Ci rivediamo presto!

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