Season two of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s Master of None has been at the center of the pop culture zeitgeist for almost two weeks now. The season has been lauded for its takes on 21st century dating, multiculturalism, and ethics — and deservedly so. The show starts off with Dev living a pretty idyllic life in Italy with morning commute on a vintage bike, a job making pasta, and plenty of friends (who also rarely have to endure work) to eat with in Modena, Italy.
Throughout our binging, one question that kept popping up was “OhmigodhowdoImovetoItalyrightfuckingnowandlivethereforeverandeverandhowmuchmoneywithitcost?” Because seriously, who out there doesn’t want to spend a summer living in Modena, eating some of the best food in the world, and flirting with beautiful people?
So, here it is. This is how much Dev’s summer in Italy cost. Basically. There may well be other expenses that we don’t see. We do meet Dev at the end of his stay when he’s ready to spend extra cash for his birthday and ticking a few items off the ol’ bucket list. So, let’s just pretend he was a little more frugal in the first months of his stay.
First, there’s the flight. A flight for this summer (June 1-August 31) to Bologna from New York will set you back $867 right now. From there, it’s a short train ride up to Modena that costs about €4. That flight is the biggest expense by far.
Alternately (and probably wiser) get the cheapest flight you can find to Europe and take a longer train ride. After all, trains in Europe are a typical — and deeply enjoyable — mode of seeing the countryside.
Now, let’s dive into the fun stuff.
Living In Modena
As far as monthly expenses go, let’s say that Dev rented a small furnished apartment in the center of town since he can cycle to work everyday. He’s probably buying minimal groceries from a market — like milk, eggs, fresh bread, fruit, veg, etc.
Dev was definitely also getting meals from his work. But, at the same time, he was likely going out to eat at least a couple times a week (a couple times a day when Arnie gets to town).
So, let’s say he’s eating out 10 times a month at €20 a pop. We also see Dev meeting friends at local spots like Archer or when he takes Arnie for a sandwich at Bar Schiavoni. These spots are generally really cheap to grab a quick bite and drink at. So he’s never breaking the bank. Expensive, iconic meals are put off for big events like his birthday.
We see Dev stops for a morning espresso on the way to work, which is an expense of about a €1 a day. With the pile of DVDs on the bedside table, it’s safe to say Dev is probably going to the movies a few times a month. That’ll set him back €8 a pop in Modena.
Rent: €500 for a one-room apartment in the city center
Grocery budget: €180
Morning Espresso: €30
Eating Out (in general): €300
Total: €1,181 or $1,328 per month
So, Dev lived in Italy for three months, that’s a budget of around €3,643 ($4,095). There’s also the matter of his phone, which was evidently still on a US plan. So, it’d be safe to say that’s at least another $50 a month. No so terrible, right?
There are a few big one-time expenses. Dev buys a bike to commute around town. And then there are the big meals we see Dev enjoy. Again, these feel like he’s been waiting for a special occasion to hit up, so not part of the everyday experience.
Used Bike On Ebay: €200
Birthday Party At Enoteca Compagnia del Taglio: A few drinks and some tasty snacks, let’s say €50 tops.
A Meal At Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana: €220 for a nine plate tasting menu and €130 for the wine pairing, which, let’s face it, you know they totally went all in on. So that’s €350 each for a meal.
Vespa Rental: €50 for a day.
That’s €730 worth of extras that made the final cut, so let’s just round that up to €1,000.
That gives us a grand total of €4,643 or $5,219 to live in Italy for three months. That’s three months of amazing food and experiences that’ll last the rest of your life. Dev learned a real skill (pasta making) and made lifelong friends. These are the types of experiences that’ll stay with you and help you develop as a human.
The memories of a summer spent in Italy — really living your life — will inform everything else you do. Remember, dolce vita is a life philosophy which Americans crave right now, more than ever.
A big caveat here is that Dev was likely also being paid a base salary at Pasta Fresca as an apprentice. There’s a pretty big chance that Dev simply went to every fresh pasta shop and asked to work there until one said yes. This is not unprecedented. How much he was paid, is up for debate. But he was likely paid somewhere in the neighborhood of €1,000 a month. This isn’t clearly established in the series and he could easily have been there working for free just for the experience.
So, at the end of the day, flights, life, fun, and food set Dev back $6,086 minus any salary he might have made while learning the finer arts of pasta making. Either way, that’s the best six grand he probably ever spent.