The Frills and Frustrations of Living in Italy

May 30, 2017

Arpino Sunset

Living in Italy is a dream shared by millions of people like me. I am fortunate enough to be living my dream right now. Living in Italy is everything I ever dreamed it would be, and more. The land itself is incredibly varied and stunning.

The architecture is incredible.

Sienna Duomo

The antiquities are nearly unrivaled in the entire world.

The Colosseum

The artwork is everywhere.

Michelangelo’s Moses

The people are beautiful, kind and so much fun.

My friends, 2 of the Winefathers in Udine

Living in Liguria has been a joy overall. The people are very friendly and the sea is a 2-minute walk from my apartment. What could be better? There are so many frills to living here.

According to The Cambridge Dictionary, one definition of frill is:

Extra things that are added to something to make it more pleasant or more attractive, but that

Are not necessary.

There are frills all around my home town of Chiavari.  Last week I visited two of them.

Portofino is a place where the rich and famous hang out on the Italian Riviera. My friend and I took the Ferry to the port of Portofino.

Above are the small boats in port.

A yacht of one of the Jet Setters

We sat by the water and enjoyed 2 Mojitos each. Apperitivi was included. The drinks were very strong as we kept watch for the stars and nibbled on our snacks. We should have asked for the cost of those 4 mojitos. When we asked for il conto, the bill, we discovered they were 15 Euros each.  That was a bit frustrating.

Riding back to Chiavari with some beautiful people napping.

We also visited Camogli, one of the loveliest towns on the sea that I have ever enjoyed. This time we took the train. My friend had never ridden first class on Trenitalia. I popped for the 9 Euros each for the fast and comfortable ride. Unfortunately, in Chiavari, the signage for the trains is difficult to read and the speakers were not very loud. Our train was delayed 20 minutes. We watched the slower regionale, regional train, go before us. Another resident was waiting for our train and as we talked it pulled in. We all quickly climbed aboard and off we went. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong train. It did not stop in Camogli. The first stop was Genoa. I was very frustrated with myself on that one. My friend, Marjie, teased me incessantly while I bought the tickets for the slow train back to Camogli.  From the moment we arrived in Camogli, however, all teasing ceased. What a glorious place to visit.

After walking down many stairs and along the sea, we found the perfect restaurant for lunch, The Miramare. We sat above the sunbathers, enjoyed prosecco and a wonderful local dish of pansoti, pasta stuffed with greens, covered with a creamy, walnut sauce and loads of Parmesano Reggiano.

Another frill of living in Italy—the best food anywhere and varied by region.

The structures and people along the shore, again, were beautiful.

What a view at the beach of the lovely sea and the ancient construction. And laundry drying in the sun.

Locals resting in the shade after their main meal, some with gelato.

Towering above it all is Castel Dragone, Dragon Castle, a medieval stone structure, hanging over the edge at a highpoint along the sea.

I love this stuff.

And I love finding wonderful architecture everywhere I look.

The only drawback in all this peace and beauty was walking back up to the train station to leave.

But there was beauty all along the walk.

The laundry adds a bit of frill to the colorful façade.

Flowers cascade from another colorful home’s balcony.

We visited an artist’s gallery and each bought something. Each year an artist does a special piece for a celebration in Camogli. I purchased his gorgeous poster to hang in my bedroom.

You can check this and more out at Or go to Camogli and walk toward the water. It will be on the left.

The frills of nearby beauty, food, wine, seaside I really appreciate. This is the blessing of living here, in Liguria, and, frankly, almost anywhere in Italy.

I try not to give too much energy to those little frustrations that come with living in Italy. Every country does things differently. There are plenty of frustrating things in the USA. But I was used to those. Here, it is all new, all strange. I do not often understand the logic behind the way things function. And some days I hate the expression, piano, piano, which means softly, softly, or little by little, or patience.

When I arrived on 11 January, I immediately began obtaining needed paperwork for being Italian and having identification. I came with my passport but needed my codice fiscale, carta identita, e tessera sanitaria (an Italian social security type number, an identity card with address, and a medical card which also has your codice fiscale on it). I had to go to three different places on different days to get these things. I needed to find a photo place for my picture on the carta identita and I had to be interviewed by the police to prove the address I gave was my home address.  That took over 3 weeks and I needed to return for the carta identita a month later, after my Italian classes. Piano, piano. Hello!

I had problems getting an Italian telefonino, cell phone. I needed an Italian bank account to get it. So, I picked the bank 2 doors down and that is now my bank. I had to fill out an hour’s worth of paperwork and they needed my phone number, my Italian phone number. While they copied the signed paperwork, I went back 2 doors away and got my new phone number. Then went back to the bank.  Oh, did I mention all this had to be done before the 3-hour lunch break at 1pm. I did it. Hooray!

Unfortunately, I thought that my phone would work as a hot-spot for internet. I was certain that is what the salesman said—we spoke in Italian mostly and a little English.  Guess what? Didn’t work. I had asked for unlimited or flat as they say. He said YES. But the answer was No.

I returned to order full wi-fi with a modem. I thought it would be easy. Piano, piano. I ordered it. I would get an email to confirm my order. They would send me a text next. Then they would call for an appointment to install the line (and I thought the modem too). This is all done in Italian. It would take 2 to 3 weeks!  OK. This is Italy. I surrender.

One month later I received a text saying they cancelled my order. WHAT? Apparently, I missed their calls. I only show missing one call ever on this phone. But they cancelled it all. After talking with another salesperson and having an Italian friend help me, and 3 phone calls later over the course of a week, I discovered that I was being put on the bottom of the list for installation of the line. The modem would be shipped separately. Ok, I am now frustrated. But I had no power. I had to wait. Last week I got a call saying I had to come back to the office to confirm I still wanted the package. I walked over there and confirmed. PIANO, PIANO!

On May 29th, my line was put in. Now I just await the modem delivery. After two months or more, what are a few more days? PIANO, PIANO!

Then, when the frustration of my Type A, American side starts to take over, I remember the sea just a short walk away.

I recall the sea bird in this photo flying away from a developing waterspout I watched form last week. I must be like the bird and leave the frustration behind to enjoy the gift of living in Italy. I live here. I love it here. I cannot allow those small things to affect me. Life is too short and too good.

Travel in Italy is much simpler than living here. Let me know when you want to make the jump and visit here. You will love it. Your hotel Wi Fi will work and you won’t need to get an Italian phone. See you soon, I hope! Ci vediamo presto, spero di si!

Ciao for now!

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