Benvenuto! If living in Italy is your dream, I’d love to be a resource.

I created Italywise.com to share my journey of living in Italy as an American Expat. For me, moving to Italy required great preparation and diligence, as did navigating the many legalities of becoming an Italian resident. I depended heavily on the advice and experience of others who had already made the journey, so I know the value of resources that can help you build a plan to execute your dream of living in Italy!

Jed Smith, ItalywiseMy story has multiple parts, and so I have organized this blog accordingly. Some people mistakenly assume, by leaving life in the U.S., I effectively entered retirement. I have an allergic reaction to that word, because I am hungry to learn and do. And, living in Italy affords me the opportunity embrace and develop ALL of my interests. Being an artist and writer is hard-coded into my DNA, so I can’t tell my full-story without sharing my creative journeys as well.

I hope you’ll find ItalyWise intuitive and easy (don’t hesitate to contact me with feedback).

Enjoy the journey!

Jed

Living in Italy

I’ve endeavored to provide valuable information and tips on not only moving to Italy, but thoughts on navigating the requirements and legalities of becoming a resident here.  You’ll find tips for buying a house (fairly easy) and buying a car (not so easy), tips for navigating the permesso di soggiorno and residency process, and a host of other necessities of daily life in Italy.

I write about the Italian culture, and hopefully I can alert you to potential mis-steps when assuming the “American Way” applies everywhere.

Things to Do in Italy

While the practicalities of being an Italian resident still occupy a good part of my time, I’m not concentrating on exploring Italy and writing about and photography the gems of my discoveries. Hopefully I’ll share some perspectives that will lead you off the well-worn path.

Starting a New Life

I would be remiss if I told the story of my “new” life in Italy, without sharing the emotional and psychological journey that accompanies starting a new life. I’m learning more about myself, and how life flows.

Art & Photography

While I worked for many years as a creative director, I’ve always nurtured my identity as a fine artist, photographer and writer. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing my visual expression as a complement to my written accounts of living in Italy.

 

 

A Colorful Dove, with Great Fanfare, Launches Carnevale in Venice

 

carnevale, Italywise

Il lancio della colombina – the launch of the dove kicks off Carnevale 2017

Man, was I lucky this year (2017) to have a front row seat for the official kick-off of Carnevale in Venice. Life keeps offering up these incredible opportunities. This time it came in the form of a pass into the “inner circle” at the heart of the official Carnevale launch, Sunday, February 19. But, let’s first back up to the adventure of arriving in Venice and making our way to Piazza San Marco.

If you’re brave (or crazy) enough to put yourself in the midst of the spectacle of Carnevale’s first official day, be prepared to go early and patiently navigate the crowds.

This is no small matter. If you don’t like crowds or cramped spaces, I’d advise you to stay home and watch the events on TV. I’m not a fan of crowds, but being six-two, at least my head is above most of the crowd. As long as I can breathe I can vanquish my anxieties of tight spaces.

Carnevale, Italywise

Patiently waiting a security check on the way to Piazza San Marco

The big event, Il lancio della colombina (also called The Flight of the Angel), was scheduled for noon. We arrived at the Santa Lucia train station at nine-thirty, and promptly made our way to the vaporetto stop, where we queued for at least half an hour. Four vaporetti later, and we were on board. The journey to the San Marco stop took at least forty-five minutes. Our progress was impeded when the boat was halted to make way for a regatta with a police escort.

I was ready to hop off and make a beeline to the center of the piazza. But, oh no, we came to a virtual standstill at a small bridge heading over

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Learning Italian? Manu Says Focus on These Three Things!

If you’re like me, your adult brain can be intimidated at the prospect of learning Italian. Once you start putting your toe in the water, it can feel overwhelming, and you wish you could go back to that time in your childhood when your brain was ripe for tackling a new language. But, as an adult, you still can prevail. It just takes the right teacher, and the right focus.

Manu, of Italy Made Easy, is the teacher who will make learning Italian a joy.

His engaging and well-crafted teaching style will keep you going. He’s patient, and you won’t despair under his tutelage. Manu is a master of guiding you through a curriculum that is logical. He teaches you how to tackle the fundamentals, and then build from there.

In this week’s featured video Manu offers excellent advice on where to concentrate your efforts.

When learning Italian, so many things can vie for your attention. You can find yourself saying “Where do I start?” I urge you to watch this video and follow Manu’s advice. I was particularly happy to hear Manu emphasize learning and understanding the grammar. While I learned a great deal from Rosetta Stone, it didn’t teach me the grammar. It’s not enough for me to be “passable” when speaking Italian. I want to have the ability to be more expressive and poetic.

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Layers of Solitude

 

photography, Italywise

Layers of Solitude – Jed Smith © 2017

I’m enamored with the emotion and scenes of solitude. When my mother, who was also my life-long art teacher, began exposing me to the bountiful world of artistic expression, I found myself drawn to the likes of Edgard Degas and Edward Hopper, and their depictions of people steeped in solitude. Think The Absinthe Drinker by Degas, and Nighthawks by Hopper.

I love solitude.

Yes, at my core, I am an introvert. A psychological test I took years ago confirmed this. BUT, it also confirmed that I was just left of center on the scale. This means I also have important extroversion needs. Yes, I love being with friends, family and small groups of people. It feeds my soul. As for the introvert part, I now recognize having the balance of significant alone time is crucial to my overall sense of well being. I think of it as important time to pause, reflect, and process all that I’ve taken in when I’m with other people.

Perhaps, by sharing this photo, I’m also taking you behind the curtain and helping you to understand what makes this artist tick. Maybe I’m also sharing this to prompt you to ask similar questions about

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Manu Shares Advice for Learning and Speaking Italian!

If hope you’ve been following my in-depth interview with Manu Venditti of Italy Made Easy. Manu generously gave of his invaluable time to answer what I consider to be very important questions regarding learning Italian. In this post Manu eloquently provides advice for students want to learn Italian.

Manu addresses so many of the components necessary to “sticking with it” and mastering the language.

Manu Venditti

Manu – the master of Italy Made Easy

I sure wish I had come across Italy Made Easy years ago. I think I would be much further along. He addresses expectations and possible hurdles. Believe me, you won’t want to skip over this. I’m all about expectations and thoughtful planning!

Don’t launch your efforts of speaking Italian only to lose steam when you move beyond the basics!

Italy Made Easy, and Manu’s teaching style joyfully will carry you along. I’ve never experienced an Italian teacher who is so kind, funny, gentle and humble. I feel like he’s pulling for me. That’s the kind of teacher who gets the best results.

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Preparing for the Diversity of Italian Bureaucracy

questura, Italywise

The office of the immigration police.

If you’re planning on moving to Italy you’ll be dealing with bureaucratic processes that are significantly different from your home country – especially if you’re coming from the States. So, at a basic level, I believe it’s important to wrap one’s head around this and prepare accordingly. I’ve found many Italian newbies are caught unawares by the added layer of complexity and confusion of Italian bureaucracy in the different provinces.

Before bringing my life to Italy, I understood the country was only recently unified (1871). I anticipated language (dialect) and cultural differences by region, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the diversity of Italian bureaucracy. Thankfully everything worked out, but I certainly would have tackled this differently if I had it to do all over again.

Many bureaucratic requirements are consistent nationwide, but how they are administered can vary considerably.

I urge you not to zoom past this fact of Italian life and decide to “wing it” when you get here. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for frustration, and kicking yourself for not having done an additional layer of research about the region in which you intend to reside.

For instance, if you thrive within a bureaucratic process that is more buttoned up and predictable, you may want to consider

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Manu, My Favorite Online Italian Teacher, Is Passionate about Teaching

speaking Italian, ItalyWise

Get to know Manu of Italy Made Easy

Today’s post is a second of several special installments about a powerful resource for learning Italian – Manu Venditti, the best online Italian teacher I’ve come across. And, I’m a pretty tough critic of teaching styles, so I hope you’ll follow my recommendation and get to know Manu.

Manu’s Italy Made Easy is loaded with free lessons

If you’re like me, you like to “kick the tires” if at all possible when choosing a teacher of any sort. Oh, how I wish I’d been able to sample some of the professors I had in college through a resource like YouTube, or the internet in general (I guess I’m dating myself, huh?). But back in those “dark ages” nothing like that existed, and I only had word of mouth, or personal recommendations to go on.

Once you sample Manu’s online Italian lessons, you’ll be hooked.

And, this is a very good thing. There’s nothing worse than the dread that often comes with learning and studying with a boring teacher. With Manu, you can’t help

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Meet Manu – the Best Online Italian Teacher You’ll Find!

ItalyMadeEasy.com

Meet Manu of ItalyMadeEasy.com

For several months now I’ve been following the wonderful resources of ItalyMadeEasy.com. Manu, the founder and online Italian teacher is, by far, the best, and most engaging Italian language instructor that I’ve come across. A primary goal of ItalyWise.com has been to point people to be best information and resources to assist them in making the transition to living in Italy. I’d like to think of myself as someone who helps curate the best of the best when it comes to all things Italian.

Why do I love Manu’s style of teaching? Primarily for the following two reasons (though there are many more):

Manu is a native speaker.

While Manu has an excellent command of English, his first (and native) language is Italian. I strongly believe that this is essential to REALLY learning and understanding the many subtleties of speaking Italian. This will make you more successful in becoming part of the Italian culture.

He’s fun and engaging. This man LOVES teaching Italian.

I am the son of a gifted art teacher. My mom was widely recognized for her ability to ignite a love of art in her students. Manu, in my opinion, is equally gifted. You will never be bored under his tutelage.

Meet Manu in a series of YouTube videos specially done for ItalyWise.com

Manu and I are like-minded in emphasizing the importance of speaking Italian for anyone who wants to move to Italy. And, we’re not just talking about basic greetings and saying thank you.

This man has so much knowledge to share that I’ve decided to devote a series of upcoming posts to these videos. Six interview questions will help you understand why he is the best online Italian teacher on the planet! Manu will tell you a little about himself, and introduce the six interview questions that will be featured in the upcoming posts.

Be sure to take advantage of all the resources Manu has to offer for learning Italian!

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Faces of the Venice Fish Market

Octopus, Italywise

Piovra – © Jed Smith 2017


Last Thursday we packed a small overnight bag, and took the twenty-five minute train ride from Treviso to Venice’s Santa Lucia train station. We’d found a great last minute deal at the Palazzetto Madonna, a fairly new four-star hotel in San Polo.  We found it on hotels.com, our new favorite source for accommodations worldwide. I’d been wanting, for several weeks, to give myself a photo assignment at Venice’s fish market, called La Pescheria di Rialto since it’s at the northwest corner of the Rialto bridge.

Faces richly etched with character abound at the Venice fish market.

As I write this, I realize what an understatement it is. I hit the jackpot of photo opps. I hope you’ll agree as you see just four of my favorite images taken during this recent excursion.

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The Ins and Outs of Italian Residency

Italian residency, ItalyWise

The carta di identitá.

Okay, I’m letting you know up front that this isn’t going to be a glamorous or creative post. But, it IS highly practical, so if you’re serious about living in Italy for more than ninety (90) days, you’d better be prepared to address what is involved in getting your Italian residency permit, and your Italian residency card.

Permits for Italian residency – The Permesso di Soggiorno.

People who’ve come to Italy with the visa allowing a year’s stay (for an elective residency visa), are required, for stays over ninety (90) days, to make application for a permit to stay, or a permesso di soggiorno (read my post about it here). The process is pretty straightforward, and already you’ll have pulled much of the required documentation for the process of getting your Italian visa (read my post about the visa process, but check with your Italian consulate for the latest checklist).

Depending on where you live in Italy, the residency permit processing times are vastly different. In Perugia, permesso di soggiorno elective residency permits have been taking up to six months. Other places turn around the permits in just weeks. So, research what to expect in your area and plan accordingly.

Read more about residency permits requirements (including renewal guidelines) here from the Polizia di Stato.

Getting your Carta di Identitá – Your Italian Residency Card

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It’s Simply a Matter of Perspective

Wrought-iron railings adorn the bridges of Venice and provide unique views of the canals.

Wrought-iron railings adorn the bridges of Venice and provide unique views of the canals.

I’m in heaven when I’m meandering through the confusing and mysterious streets, alleyways, and canals in Venice. I can’t imagine ever tiring of the discoveries every one of my journeys there yields – especially when I change my perspective. The world transforms.

Early on in life, when I was a mere teenager beginning to plumb the depths of creative possibilities, my dear artist mother began teaching me about the power of perspective. With me, and with her other students I always marveled out how she could coax, so adeptly, a person from a rigid way of seeing things to a different perspective. Suddenly the world would take on new life. And, well before a camera became my regular companion, Momma Liz taught me how to use my hands to create a makeshift viewfinder. I’m fortunate this was part of my early training, because it has stayed with me ever since.

I’ve chosen the photo above because, for me it demonstrates a completely different vantage point – one that came about by moving from my usual perspective and being willing to reposition myself. Often times this means getting out of my comfort zone – literally and figuratively.

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