A year in Italy

January 9, 2018

Today is 9 January 2018. It was a year ago today that I left my family, friends, and most of my belongings behind to begin one year of living in the Bel Paese, Italia. I set a goal of living one year in Italy as close to the way the average Italian lives as possible. No commitments beyond one year. Piano, piano, take it slowly. And it has been a year of learning, illness, accidents and pure joy in Italy.

When I arrived in Rome, my cousin Sonseere met me at the airport. I had 2 huge suitcases, a rolling carryon and my backpack. Off we went to her new hometown of Arpino, Lazio. I had thought I would be staying with her in her new apartment. However, in typical Italian style, piano, piano. Things take longer than you think.

Sonseere and I stayed in the local hotel and watched the chaos of construction on her apartment. And then, since I was run down before arrival, I ended up with pneumonia and stayed longer in Arpino than I had planned.

The trials and tribulations of obtaining all my Italian documents began in Arpino too. It was much easier for me as an Italian and American Dual Citizen than for ex-pats moving to Italy. Still, it was stressful and quite a lesson in living in Italy. I learned to go with the flow a bit more than before. I surrendered to the Italian bureaucracy since I had no choice. Again, piano, piano.

I left my two big suitcases in Sonseere’s ½ finished apartamento and headed for Maremma. There I studied with Virginia Villani while living with her family for 3 weeks at her home of Poggiobono.

Virginia showed me a gorgeous relic of an ancient Church near her home.

Virginia and I shared two hours per day in Italian lessons in the morning. I ate all my meals and shared time with her lovely family every day. I spoke only Italian (mostly). And three afternoons per week we visited other towns like Pitigliano,

Porto Ercole,


Santo Stefano,

And Orbetello.

While living with Virginia, I also visited Orbetello because I once again became ill and dehydrated. If you are ever sick in Italy, the hospital at Orbetello was excellent. I was so dehydrated, however, that they had a huge challenge getting a needle in my arm.

In late February, my daughter and granddaughter came for a week in Italy too. We spent a whirlwind week together that included time with our cousins in La Spezia, Rosa, Michelle and the family.

It was so difficult to say goodbye to my girls. They have their own path. I will do all I can to help our paths cross often.

March 4th, I signed my lease for my apartment in Chiavari, Liguria. Again, it was stressful. My Italian really wasn’t good enough to understand the entire apartment lease. But I found my tiny one-bedroom apartment by the sea in Chiavari. Nothing could stop me, I thought.

I was wrong. Turning on the gas,


water, lighting the stove,

figuring out the oven, working the washing machine, all of it different from my experience and I was panicked. Still, neighbors I had yet to meet, showed me how to work everything. I felt empowered.

Then the radiators would not work. Luckily, the rental agents came over and got them working. Now I was set.

At the end of March, I returned to Arpino to pick up my Carta D’Identita, my national identity card, and to spend time with cousin Sonseere. We shared Easter with our Buzzelli cousins in Avezzano and Paterno, Abruzzo.

Then it was back to the beachside town of Chiavari for me.

My friend Marjie came from Nashville for a visit. I think the highlight of her visit, other than just being with someone I have known for 40 years, was our trip to Camogli, that luscious Ligurian seaside town only about 30 minutes from me by train.

We thoroughly enjoyed Camogli.

When Marjie returned to the states, it was time for me to settle in and make friends in Chiavari. I had met my friend Sharon before Marjie’s arrival but we had not spent much time together. Sharon has become  a stalwart friend. She has assisted me in so many ways as I settled into my life here in Liguria. She even assisted me with the problems I experienced getting internet service and Wi-Fi in my apartment. That was another test of piano, piano. I have now met several more women friends, one American who, like me, is a dual citizen, musician, and living alone in Genoa. Tom Torriglia has also assisted my transition here as a local.

Speaking of Genoa, my friend and fellow blogger and travel planner, Victoria De Maio and I spent 24 hours together exploring Genoa before one of her tours.

That was fun!

Other visitors to Chiavari have been my friend Susan Nelson and her husband,

Sandra from Campobasso and her brother,

And Mindy from Minnesota!

Who I met at the train station in Milan, traveled back to Chiavari, then to Torino and the Egypt Museum,

And we spent Thanksgiving together in Florence,

my second trip to Florence and Chianti in 2 weeks.

By the time December came around, I realized it had almost been a year of living in Italy. It went so fast. I had so much more to explore, to learn, to experience.

I contacted my landlady and asked for another lease, a four-year lease. We are still negotiating on costs, bills, and timing. But I am staying in Italy.

At this moment I am in Minnesota. My daughter and granddaughter are back in Washington State. We just Skyped for an hour. I miss them and wish we could be in the same city.

Yesterday I spent with my 93-year-old father who is experiencing worsening dementia. I hate to leave him too. I do not know when I will be back to Minnesota, but I wonder what mental state he will be in by then.

He could live to be 100, he is so healthy. Two years ago, he was the one who said to me when he heard I was thinking of moving to Italy, “What is she waiting for, me to die? I could live several more years.”

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to my father once again. I will remember what he said two years ago and know that I can call him and talk with him.

I will miss my family and American friends. But life in Italy is ahead of me. Thanks for taking this journey with me. Let me know when you want to experience your adventure in Italy.

Ci Vediamo dopo. See you soon.

Ciao for now!

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