Living in Italy has meant starting a new life. Even the best of changes, ones that we initiate with great enthusiasm and with a thirst for adventure, can challenge long-held conditioning and behaviors. In my experience, this isn’t a process that can be controlled, and the bends in the road can’t be anticipated with accuracy. More and more I gravitate to the image of life as a big river, and I am learning to let go and let the it take me. Everyone’s experience is different, but perhaps some of my musings will resonate with you on your journey of change.

Exploring the Rich Potential of Spaciousness

Spaciousness, Folegandros

A Sea of Possibilities © 2017 Jed Smith

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?

Then I remembered something

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Bolzano – A Dramatic Change in Scenery and Culture

Bolzano

Bolzano is a city rich in pastels

We decided on a day trip to Bolzano to cool off if the protective embrace of the Dolomites

The three-plus hour journey from Treviso was well worth it. But let me assure you, on this particular August day the heat almost did us in. When we arrived in Bolzano it was around 100 degrees. The heat wave in Europe has been such a scorcher it appropriately has been called ‘Lucifer’. Upon returning home, it took me a full day to recover and bring my body back to a normal temperature.

We enjoyed a lovely day there however, thanks to a strategy of drinking lots of water, chasing shaded areas, and ducking into to shops with robust air conditioning.

Okay, with the heat factor out of the way, let me share what I’ve learned and experienced (thus far) about Bolzano.

A fusion of Italian and Austrian cultures

Bolzano is part of the autonomous Trentino province of Italy. It’s in the area called the Alto Adige, meaning “above the Adige river”.

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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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The Running Madonna – “La Madonna che scappa”

Running Madonna, Italywise

The big moment

The Running Madonna, The Madonna Who Runs, and The Runaway Madonna – this Easter event goes by several names.

This is a spectacular event, and one of the biggest events in Italy. It’s been acted out for centuries in Sulmona, a medieval city in Abruzzo. If you get the chance, I strongly urge you to experience The Running of the Madonna in person. You’ll find yourself swept along in the weekend’s highly charged emotional events, which all lead up to a singular, breathtaking moment in Piazza Garibaldi.

Book your travel and accommodations early for the Running of the Madonna!

My precious friends Novelia and Peppe (also residents and superb ambassadors of Sulmona) started enticing me to block out time on my calendar, and book accommodations, well over a year ago. Even securing a room at a B&B almost eight months prior to the event before was a challenge. I almost didn’t get a place.

So what exactly is The Running of the Madonna all about?

Much attention is given to the pivotal moment on Easter Sunday when the Madonna races across Piazza Girabaldi,

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Don’t Over Think It!

Over think, ItalyWise

This statue is me, on far too many occasions. Lost in my head, and not present enough to my amazing surroundings. This is what happens when I over think.

Recently I attended a special exhibition at the Ca’ Pesaro gallery in Venice to see a fascinating exhibition called Chanel, The Woman Who Reads. The museum has an incredible permanent collection, and the actual structure is a spectacular piece of architecture. On this particular day, I rounded the corner to see this giant Rodin sculpture – The Thinker. I snapped a photo, as a reminder to not over think my life.

A person can, far too easily, get stuck in thinking and planning one’s life…

True confessions here. I’m so guilty of this. When I was a mere child I began to rely, quite heavily, on thinking and analyzing as a way to control the world around me. Thankfully, the last several years have been wresting this conditioning from my life, but I keep reminding myself of the dangers and tendency towards spending too much time in my head.

Why am I choosing the write about his subject? I’ve been receiving a large number of inquiries into the vast number of logistics a person has to navigate in building a life in Italy – from applying for an Italian visa, to getting the permesso di soggiorno, to getting health care, etc. It’s a lot of stuff. Period. So much, in fact,

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Learning Italian? Manu is the #1 YouTube Resource!

Italy Made Easy

Manu explains how you can make the most of his incredible online resources.

This week I close out my interview with Manu of Italy Made Easy and the last interview question. If you’re intent on learning Italian I urge you to take advantage of his engaging teaching style.

Italy Made Easy has over 22,000 subscribers on YouTube

Yes, the public has spoken, with a huge thumbs up for Manu. After only watching a few of his videos I was hooked, and jumped into his large following. The more I’ve experienced his teaching style, the more I’m convinced he’s the best Italian language resource online. My spouse, who is Italian (Milanese), and a very tough critic,

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Speak Italian When You’re in Italy – It Opens Doors!!!

Italy Made Easy, ItalyWise

Invaluable advice on the importance of speaking Italian in Italy

After listening to this week’s interview segment with Manu of Italy Made Easy you’ll understand just why it is important to speak Italian when you are in Italy. In the style that has earned him accolades for being such a great teacher, Manu helps you see this from the perspective of Italians encountering foreigners visiting their country.

When you speak Italian in Italy, your experiences will expand!

My personal experience testifies to this again and again. So, taking the time to build a basic proficiency in Italian will pay off handsomely. Once Italians get to know you, they can be incredibly warm and generous, and you can find yourselves being invited into experiences that normally wouldn’t be available to you. Manu shares a wonderful story

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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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Three Magical Days in Budapest

Danube, Budapest

Cruising along the Danube in Budapest, Hungary.

Getting to Budapest from Italy is a piece of cake.

Our recent trip to Budapest is just one example of just how easy, and inexpensive it is to hop around Europe. Even better, since we live just north of Venice, we’re that much closer. The Venice airport continues to expand, and it offers multiple options for getting to destinations such as Budapest. We took easyJet for 60 euro a piece. That’s roundtrip, including one checked bag for the two of us (you don’t need much for three days). The flight there, from Venice, is a mere fifty minutes from takeoff to landing. Not bad, wouldn’t you say?

Get thee to Budapest before the old world charm is overrun with tourism.

I strongly urge you to make a beeline for Budapest. We all know what happens when a destination is “discovered”, don’t we?

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Bologna is One of Italy’s Finest Treasures

Bologna, Italywise

Elegant arches.

I’ve been making all sorts of wonderful new friends here in Italy. And one, Chris Cutler, is a delightful woman I met through my contacts (thanks to our mutual friend Novelia Giannantonio) in Sulmona, Abruzzo. Chris has been leading tours in Sulmona, but she also leads tours in Bologna. She is passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about both places. We first developed a relationship via email, and then I had

Bologna, Italywise

Chris Cutler knows Bologna like the back of her hand.

the good fortune to spend a day with her in Bologna, and to be shown around and given great insight into this wonderful city – one that is rich in history, architecture, art, education AND food! I’m amazed, and saddened, that so many people overlook Bologna when planning their Italian itineraries.

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