Ready To Take the Plunge and Hit Reset?

If you’re moving to Italy you’d best be prepared to hit reset.

Why do I say this? Because, in my experience, many people can be so swept along by the romantic notions of living in Italy that they end up being blindsided by an avalanche of change. Other people are purposely steering into major change and are itching to hit reset. Either way, life is going to change significantly.

I recently returned from a trip to the States. It has been almost five years since I jumped off the cliff and left my American life in the rearview mirror. I don’t know if the amount of personal transformation I’ve been through just now is hitting the tipping point, but on this particular trip I was homesick for Italy and I didn’t have the least bit of nostalgia for my former surroundings (exempting, of course, my close friends). I felt like a tourist in my country of birth. And, when I returned to Italy and stepped off the plane, I breathed a sigh of relaxation. I was home, truly home.

This is my wish for all of you who embark upon the journey of moving to Italy, to embrace Italy fully and eventually feel in your bones that she is home.


First, ask yourself “Do I really want this much change?”

Conversely, “Am I really ready, mentally and emotionally, for this kind of life change?”

I’m purposefully being provocative here. I firmly believe this question must be given great attention, without a rush to a quick answer.

Many people embark upon big life changes while telling themselves that they want  to break out of their conditioning and their pasts. Then, they find themselves reading from the same script while having only changed the scenery and costumes.

Some people move to Italy and end up mostly surrounding themselves and communing with English-speaking expats. It’s understandable to want to want to don a cloak of familiarity. But, such a scenario runs the risk of being the equivalent of hunkering down in a gated community that keeps real immersion in the culture at arm’s length. This is when people miss out, in my opinion.

Other people hit the skids and run for the exits after a year or two of trying to surmount their frustrations dealing with the often tedious Italian bureaucracy (best to make peace with this well ahead of time!). Add to that the challenges of getting an adult brain to learn Italian at a level that doesn’t leave you speaking at the equivalent of someone in elementary school and the sum can be just too much.

Oh, and the dreaded Italian driver’s license process. I hear from people who spend copious amounts of energy trying to find a workaround. Believe me, when I was going through the process I experienced a lot of internal kicking and screaming at the unfairness of it all, not to mention the seeming impossibility of the task. When it became a game, a challenge to help build my Italian vocabulary, the clouds parted and I found a path through. And, the sense of accomplishment on the other side was enormous. (Be sure to read about my Italian driver’s license adventures).

Test the waters and spend more than a vacation in Italy.

While an extended stay won’t give you the full the sense of what it will feel like to have uprooted your life and committed to a dramatically different one, it will give the magic fairy dust of a vacation mindset a chance to lift and the sense of daily living to emerge. If you have the luxury to commit a couple of months, that is ideal. It can help you imagine your life in Italy. And, if you can also spend a good chunk of time in the less desirous months (think hard winter), that will also be useful knowledge. You may end up deciding that a winter getaway for a month or two might be a good strategy if you reside in Italy full-time. If you’re planning on living in a tranquil, remote location, just know the potential for feeling isolated in winter months can be high.

So, if you’re really ready to shake things up, be passionate when you hit reset and let the games begin!

This post is not meant to dissuade people from making the move to Italy nor is it meant to intimidate people in regards to all the hard work involved in making the change and fully immersing themselves in this wonderful culture. I think I can safely say that I’m a success story. I also can say that the experience continues to change me in ways I had never imagined.

When I was willing to drop the script of how Jed’s Italy adventure would manifest, well, that’s when things got really interesting. When I became more relaxed and playful about what showed up in my path, I was much happier. I’m learning to trust that life will take care of me and that I don’t have to depend on my over-controlling mind. In fact, the latter just keeps me on a short leash and limits the possibilities of what can be.

Prepare to see yourself in a whole new light.

When you invite a change of this magnitude, and when you do it without just “rearranging the furniture” you’ll be challenging a lifetime of conditioning. You’ll more readily expose things that may have been unconscious. For example, I didn’t realize how stubbornly attached I had been to my professional identity. That didn’t fall away easily, and my struggle was wanting to immediately re-package and re-label myself. Then I realized I could be much looser and open-handed about who I am. That has been incredibly freeing.

And, prepare to discover new colors on your palette.

As an artist, I love speaking in metaphors pertaining to art. I’ve chosen this closing image to say that, when you hit reset, whether it is a move to Italy or another monumental change, new “colors” start showing up on your palette as you paint your life anew. Your life, as it transitions, will almost assuredly hit some rough patches as the old is exposed and the things that no longer serve you began falling away. But have faith, even though hitting reset starts with some uncomfortable housecleaning, it makes way for bright, new possibilities to emerge.


Jed Smith Photography

Colorful possibilites.










By |2019-01-19T21:07:34+01:00February 28th, 2018|Living in Italy, Personal musings|10 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Debra February 28, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Hey Jed

    I swear it’s like you’ve looked into my heart and head with regards to moving to Sulmona. You’re able to express my thoughts more beautifully than I ever could. I cried like I was leaving family after just a two week visit last year. Going back this year and plan on a three month stay next summer. Looking forward to the challenges and even more those enormous rewards. Thanks for making sure my head isn’t always in the clouds, but I believe my heart already belongs to Italy.

    • Jed February 28, 2018 at 11:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Debra, you help confirm my experiences and my deep passion for living in Italy. Thank you!

  2. Kevin February 28, 2018 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Because I tend to analyze everything to every possible conclusion I’ve worried that such a move could prove too difficult to endure. My wife and I have spoken about the possibility of feeling isolated…one of her biggest fears….just contagious enough that I now often worry about it myself. And, what hair I have left on my head seems to want to jump off and run from just the one ordeal of obtaining an Italian Driver’s License…never mind the other horrifying bureaucratic quagmires that lay in wait! Your photo is very rich in metaphor and beautifully captures the subject at hand. A true artist!

    • Jed February 28, 2018 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      Kevin, I have a feeling you’d surprise yourself, and in a good way!

  3. Susan Pohl February 28, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Really, beautiful Jed and mirrors much of my own adjustment. I also recently returned from the US and was very happy to be home, here, in Italy.

    • Jed February 28, 2018 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Susan. Always great to hear from you.

  4. Chip Meeks February 28, 2018 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Ha! Another great relatable read! Thanks. Having experienced some of the worst that some countries had to offer, prior to arriving here, l have to admit, I had a different mindset in relating to the differences and requirements of an ex-pat in Europe. Have a great week!

    • Jed February 28, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Chip! Life abroad as an expat is quite an education process.

  5. Tammy February 28, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I always love reading about your experiences. This one was especially useful for me, and I love that you are living a dream that I plan to live one day. Keep taking in everything that Italy has to offer, even with its nuances, the balance in Italy seems to be a lot more balanced than what we have here in the States. Viaggio a Milano domani, solo per 5 giorni ma mi da l’opportunità avere un po’d’Italia nella sangue :o). Ritorno a Venezia in Agosto per due settimane…..mi piacerebbe vedervi. I’ll stay in touch. Un’abbraccio

    • Jed February 28, 2018 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      Have a great trip to Milan! We hope to see you in Venice when you come in August. Bacioni!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to use this website you consent to our cookie usage and privacy policy. Ok