My Italy Move, Several Years Later

Italy Move, Italywise

My enduring metaphor for life…

Here I am, several years after pulling the trigger on my Italy move. And I’m damn glad I made the decision, even though it didn’t turn out exactly as I envisioned. It turned out even better than I’d imagined. In the process I’ve realized one over-arching piece of wisdom:

You’d best get out of your head, and your pre-conceived ideas about how things are supposed to be.

I didn’t realize just how imprisoned in my head I was when I landed in Italy. My left brain was hungrily involved in a mass of thinking and problem solving – so much, in fact, I mourn the fact that I wasn’t fully present for my first days as a resident in this extraordinary country.

I share this in hopes of preparing you, if you’re about to embark on a life as an expat in Italy, for the shifts in your being that have the potential to be of seismic proportions. It’s easy to be lost in the romantic notions of the beautiful life awaiting you after your Italy move. But, the reality is, if you’re anything like me, 

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An Unexpected Journey to Brighton

Brighton

Brighton Pavillion ©2017 Jed Smith

I’m just returning home, after an unexpected adventure. Mind you, initially I wanted to thrown an internal hissy fit, having been catapulted off the course of my well-laid plans and expectations. But, somehow (don’t ask how) something in me relaxed, and I ended up with a very nice, one-day diversion. And, I seized the opportunity as an unplanned photo assignment.

Here’s how my unexpected trip to Brighton unfolded…

Simone and I had been in London for a three-day mini vacation. What’s so awesome about living in northern Italy is the ease and economy of being able to hop around to other countries. My easyJet round trip ticket was less,than $100, and the flight a mere one-hour-forty-five minutes. London was great, especially the annual 2017 BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (my favorite museum in the world) and a jaw-dropping presentation of An American in Paris.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon when Simone headed off to two days of business while I took the train to Gatwick. I’ll try to make this short and as pain-free as possible. The skinny is there had been a runway “incident” involving an exploding tire. Tons of flights were cancelled, including mine. Here’s the fork in the road. Do I throw an adult temper tantrum (like many of my fellow passengers) or go with the flow?

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Becoming an Expat in Italy? The Devil is in the Details.

expat in Italy

Your documents are plentiful. Make sure they all match!

When you take the steps to becoming an expat in Italy you’ll soon learn that there is a good bit of bureaucracy, which requires standing in line, quite often, and developing advanced skills in patience. Italians take their paperwork and processes seriously, and if you’re American, like me, you may be scratching your head in wonderment at all involved in the simplest of tasks. You may find yourself just wanting to “get it done”, but I encourage you to slow down and make sure, when you are getting things like your permesso di soggiorno, your carta d’identità, your driver’s license, etc., all your personal information lines up. If not, your journey to becoming an expat in Italy may be a bit painful.

I’m writing this post to spare you, hopefully, some of the difficulty I’m now encountering

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A Canopy of Brilliance – A New Painting by Jed Smith

Jed Smith, Italywise

A Canopy of Brilliance, © 2017 Jed Smith

I love creating. I’m very fortunate that I am able to pour myself into writing, photography and painting. Italy is bringing out the best in me in this regard. After all, when I have creative genius staring at me at every turn (particularly in a city like Venice) I can’t help but feel the universe prodding me to “get going” and to “see what happens.”

A need for something spacious

Three-and-a-half months ago I sat staring at a large blank canvas.  Jed Smith, what do you want to paint? That’s what I asked myself, and I knew the answer wouldn’t come through intellectual reasoning. Something spacious. That was the answer.

The island of Folegandros, Greece, is just a short trip from Italy, and we vacationed there last year as part of a sibling reunion. A hasty photo I took, while hanging on the back of a speeding ATV, yielded the inspiration for this painting.

Now, this is probably more information that you care to hear,

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Sportoletti Cantina, in Umbria, Makes Amazing Wine

Sportoletti Cantina

Sportoletti excels at making beautifully rendered wines at great prices

Fair warning. I’m going to gush. But, for good reason. Just over eight years ago a bit of research and persistence turned up recommendations by other wine lovers to seek out the Sportoletti Cantina, which is south of Assisi, and just north of Spello. I had been making a list of wineries to visit in nearby Montefalco, home of the spectacular Sagrantino (a BIG wine that ages spectacularly), when I came across this one fellow’s article urging readers to visit Sportoletti. I’m one to follow advice to veer off the beaten path. Boy, am I glad I did.

Sportoletti Cantina has been around since the late seventies

The family started out, playing around with several varietals. Years later, they’d focused their efforts for five wines – two red, two whites, and a dessert wine. Yes, they wisely decided on perfecting fewer wines vs having a huge selection. Today, Sportoletti produces somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter-of-a-million bottles of wine. And, guess what? Many of them make their way to the United States. I hope, by the time you’ve watched my video about this winery 

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Italian Faces in the Saturday Market

 

Italian Faces

Fragole – © 2017 Jed Smith

The big Saturday markets will never cease to be a goldmine of opportunity for capturing the wealth of Italian faces

Recently, when visiting my dear friends Novelia and Peppe in Sulmona for the Easter festivities, I discovered the huge Saturday market held in the piazza. I had wandered out of my B&B (close by) with my camera to see if anything might catch my attention. Suffice it to say, I was snapping away almost immediately.

Italian Faces

Sisters – © 2017 Jed Smith

Italian markets are no laid-back affair

Wow, there’s serious life going on. The interactions. The commerce. The smiles.

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My House in Umbria…Heaven on Earth

 

House in Umbria

Dining al fresco – with a view that makes me keep pinching myself.

Welcome to my home away from home.

I’m a lucky man. When I made the journey from a life in the States to a permanent life in Italy, I purchased a house deep in the hills of Umbria, the rich, wild and earthy “green heart of Italy”. Talk about a respite from the noisy and busy pace of life in a larger metropolitan area!

If you’re looking for peace and tranquility, Umbria is an effective remedy.

Why do I call it “my home away from home”? Well, just over a year ago we moved north to Treviso, where we reside most of the time. Treviso is also pretty damn wonderful, but for different reasons. And, living in a city of over 80,000 people, it’s a contrast to the rural life in Umbria.

Just a week ago, we packed up the car (cats and all) and pointed our car south for the three-and-a-half-hour drive to our “country home”. We both needed to relax and “be still” before a very busy month ahead.

Take a virtual tour of my house in Umbria.

I’ve shared so much of my journey to building a life in Umbria. But, I realized I’ve never shared with you, my loyal followers,

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Meet Le Vecchie Guardie – The Old Guard

The Old Guard

Camaraderie. © 2017 Jed Smith

I love these faces. I love surreptitiously watching their interactions, and their steadfast camaraderie. The Old Guard, fondly referred to as “Le vecchie guardie” in Italy, is an integral thread, found woven everywhere in the fabric of Italian culture.

Watching The Old Guard can’t help but make you smile

At least that’s my reaction. If only I could eavesdrop on their conversations to round out the picture. Or, maybe it’s just as well (and more fun) to use my imagination, and focus on capturing the moments

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Is It Buono or Bello? Hmmmm….

Buono or Bello

Deciding when to use buono (good) and when to use bello (beautiful) isn’t so cut and dry.

Do you want to say something is good, beautiful, fine, or well done? Welcome to the world, and the question, of buono or bello. Then, add the word “bravo”, the other positive adjective in this family, and you’ll soon realize you don’t always make an even exchange of these words from English to Italian. Don’t worry, it’s not super complicated, and if you mess up, it’s not the type of mistake that will get you in trouble. But, if you don’t get it right, you’ll be broadcasting that you haven’t mastered some of the basics of speaking Italian. Until recently, I wasn’t getting it right on a consistent basis, which is why

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Viva gli Alpini! 2017 Party Time in Treviso!

Viva gli Alpini!, Treviso

Four days of happiness and revelry

 

Benvenuti to the 2017 Adunata Nazionale Alpini – the 2017 National Alpini Gathering

Just over a week ago, this HUGE national event wrapped up here in Treviso. It left me eager to join in the shouts of “Viva gli Alpini!” Each year, this massive gathering and celebration is held in a different city (next year it will be in Trento). I was forewarned that Treviso would be overrun with people. I laughed it off saying to myself, “Yeah, they’re just exaggerating.” Boy, was I wrong. In the video below,

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