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!
My 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The holiday trim and lights already are being prepped and strung across the ancient city streets of Italy. Mountains of panettone (Italian holiday sweet bread) dominate the supermarkets. Christmas and New Year’s are quickly approaching, and the exchange of Italian holiday greetings is ramping up.
Let’s talk about the most often-used Italian holiday greetings…
Why? Because, for most of my life I’ve tried to master and control my experience. Trusting life and knowing how to relax into the unknown were things I gave good lip service, but knew little about in reality.
LIfe continues to heap lesson-upon-lesson in this regard. In response to experiences asking me to “let go”, I’ve usually answered by whining. That is, until I’ve remembered that life has a tendency to repeatedly serve up lessons that can vastly improve life. They aren’t meant to make life miserable. For me, ignoring the lesson “relax into the unknown” is what resulted in pain, unhappiness, and exhaustion.
Moving to Italy requires an enormous amount of thinking, planning and doing.
I realize how fortunate I am now that I’m clearly on the other side of all that up-front stuff. You know, getting the elective residency visa, closing up “shop” (job and home) and getting my permesso di soggiorno and residency. The list goes on. I share this because, if you’re about to do the same, or are in the process, you’ll understand how easy it can be to get stuck in high gear. And when it comes finally to downshifting, you may find yourself mired in hypervigilance.
Don’t assume anything, especially when it comes to language.
Quid pro quo has been my most recent lesson in this regard. No, it doesn’t translate in Italy as “a favor for a favor” or when “an item or a service has been traded in return for something of value” as defined by Wikipedia. I was shocked to learn that the phrase always has been translated as “a disagreement” or “a misunderstanding”. Wow, talk about Latin taking two very different paths.
My Italian family and friends have set me straight on Quid pro quo.
And, with quite a bit of incredulity and passion, I might add. There was plenty of both on my part as well. I studied Latin in high school for two years, and I asked how the literal interpretation of “this for that” could be interpreted as a disagreement.
I am continually amazed at how art is my most powerful teacher, cleverly bypassing my bossy thinking mind and presenting me with important “aha” moments. This week, my art reached out and spoke to me about the importance of embracing my shadow. Sound ominous? Read on.
This morning, as I sat down to write, I had absolutely no idea what to write about.
Often times I have topics and ideas queueing up for attention. Not so today. It was another one of those “Crap, my creative tank is empty” moments when my orderly and linear right brain seeks to convince me I have to hunker down and mentally muscle my way through meeting a self-imposed deadline. Thankfully, I believe that big, fat lie less and less. So, I went to my photography vaults and started cruising through images to see if something would speak to me. You know, like going fishing and seeing if anything will bite. Today I got more than a nibble.
After all, it’s JUST fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar, right? That was my superior attitude until I remembered I had been a devotee of Krispy Kreme growing up. And vacations in New Orleans taught me to swoon at the first bite of a beignet. So who was I to pass judgment on yet another incarnation of fried dough? Italians adore this treat, and visitors easily become converts.
Also called fritole, these pastries originated as Venetian doughnuts. Traditionally they were served during Carnevale, but now you can find them all over Italy year-round, especially at local festivals, in all shapes and sizes––particularly the large “disk” incarnation pictured above. We even found a frittelle truck in the parking lot of Obi (an Italian equivalent of Home Depot). The basic preparation is fried, yeast-risen dough that is sprinkled with powdered sugar. But, more elaborate additions are found, such as raisins and pine nuts, and pastry cream fillings.
How can Italians eat so many sweets like frittelle?
This week’s post is going to be short, and a break from the two previous posts dealing with the very un-glamorous, but necessary, topics related to driving in Italy and car ownership.
Shall we talk about the nuns?
When I’m out and about with my camera and have my longer lens, so I can work more furtively, I go into high-alert when I spot members of the sisterhood. If you saw me at work you’d think I’d spotted George Clooney or Angelina Jolie. Yes, I chase the nuns with my camera like I’m a member of the paparazzi.
I love it when I see the nuns smiling and cutting loose a bit. Take for instance these animated sisters enjoying the festivities at the annual Barcolana, a huge sailing regatta in Trieste, Italy. These girls are happy to be part of the fun. Their faces and body language say it all. I’d say the ringleader of this group is the sister on the left. You almost expect her to start jumping up and down with excitement.
Your revisione details must be affixed to your original libretto (registration)
This post isn’t going to be glamorous. It’s not going to transport you to romantic visions of being in Italy. It is, however, an important practical note for when you own a car in Italy.
What is the revisione?
It’s a scheduled inspection of your car to confirm all systems are functioning properly. It’s not so different from the inspections required in the States. But be forewarned, this is a pretty extensive check of your car and not one that you do last minute by driving up for speedy twenty-minute service. No, this isn’t normally an expedited process. In other words, be prepared to leave your car for several hours. And call well ahead of time to schedule your appointment.
More and more, this arm of the Italian police is doing random stops and checking documents.
It finally happened to me––a random roadside check by the Carabinieri.
And thank goodness my driver’s license and car documents were in order. For months I’d be cruising past the Carabinieri random checks. Would they choose me and put out the dreaded red paddle in my path, signaling me to pull over for their inquiry? I’d passed so many of these stops in the last few months, without getting pulled over, that I knew I was well outside the law of averages and my time would soon come.
It’s crazy how my heart would race, passing these stops, even though I knew I had absolutely nothing to fear. And, just a few days ago, when the Carabinieri did indeed motion for me to pull over, I was nervous. Why? Well, it was my first time going through this type of check and actually, I was driving a loaner car from the car dealership while my revisione/inspection (more about that in next week’s post) was being done on my car. Would the loaner car’s libretto (car registration) be in order? Was the insurance up to date?
I was ready for some spaciousness…or so I thought.
Our long-awaited trip to the tranquil island of Folegandros, Greece, finally had arrived. This would be easy. A quick (and inexpensive) Volotea flight from Venice to Santorini, and then an hour by fast boat to Folegandros. We’d arrive, unplug, and fall into complete bliss while staring out into the vast expanse of the Aegean.
Yep, I had it all planned out. And then, like a drug addict who couldn’t really own up to his addictions, I was hit with the pain of withdrawal from constant doing and thinking. Talk about feeling slapped sideways.
A valuable wake-up call.
Consequently, during our first full day in this glorious island paradise, I was about to jump out of my skin. My personal throttle was stuck in high gear. And my mind was tackling a mess of thoughts at a velocity and ferocity that would leave Pac Man in the dust.
And then it hit me…I’d been filling up my life and distracting myself with constant busyness. When it came time to sit still, I didn’t know how. Well, not at the level being offered to me on this breathtaking island.
“Wherever You Go, There You Are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Crap, I was busted. What was I to do? Jump into planning or doing something to distract myself? Run from being still and avoid inviting the uncertainty of spaciousness into my life?