Arm-in-Arm is part of the Italian Culture

arm-in-arm, Italywise

Walking arm-in-arm is part of the Italian culture ©2017 Jed Smith

Italians are passionate and affectionate

I think I can safely draw this conclusion after living in Italy for several years and observing the interactions amongst Italians. The photo above prompts me to pause and pay tribute to the visible bonds communicated by walking arm-in-arm. I’d also be remiss in not speaking to the greeting (and parting) of the kiss on both cheeks.

This photo makes me smile. There’s no question of the sisterhood of this fine ladies. And if you think this is only a sweet custom between women, and older people, think again. You’ll see people of all genders and ages walking arm-in-arm – families and friends alike.

Americans sometimes are a little put off by this.

Clarification of the above statement – not put off by observing this custom, but finding themselves in situations with new Italian friends and not knowing exactly what to do.

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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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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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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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Venice’s Anice Stellato Delivers an Amazing Culinary Experience

Anice Stellato

Prepare yourself for a special dining experience

Finding a worthy culinary experience in Venice isn’t so easy.

Why? Unfortunately, the bulk of restaurants in Venice are heavily focused on two things – tourists, and turning a profit. In my opinion and experience, dining well can be more of a challenge in Venice than in other Italian cities, for this very reason. And, this is why I consider having discovered Anice Stellato, many years ago, a gift from heaven.

Unfortunately, most visitors to Venice aren’t willing to venture too far off the well-worn thoroughfares, where experiences like Anice Stellato await. Instead, people find themselves

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Say Please in Italian – Know When and How!

Saying Please In Italian, Italywise

 

When you say Please in Italian, properly, it will open doors and make your experience here go more smoothly. If you’ve been studying how to speak Italian, or if you’re just getting started, it’s easy to zoom past this one and pat yourself on the back for getting it right.

“Please” can be a tiny bit complicated…

It’s not always just “per favore” or “per piacere” tacked onto a request. So, I believe it’s a good idea to delve into this topic more deeply. And, who better to explain the subtleties of this than Manu, of ItalyMadeEasy.com. I admit, until I watched the video below, I realized I was making mistakes that were

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