I’ve lived in Italy for almost 2 days. And I love it. We moved here for six months, partially because my husband is retired (I guess – he’s not working anymore and we now get a social security check) and partially because circumstances converged to make it the right thing to do to sell our house, and partially because we’ve always wanted to live in Italy. We’re old enough to know that there’s never a perfect time to do anything – if you wait until everything is perfectly in place to get married, you never will. If you wait until everything is perfectly in place to buy your first house or upgrade to a bigger house, you never will. If you wait until everything is perfectly in place to have children you never will. You get my drift here. So perfect or not, here we are and here we’ll stay for six months. How, why? Too complicated to get into and maybe a little too personal, but suffice it say that through a miraculous confluence of events, we made the leap. We sold our home of 21 years (the same home where we got married, gained two wonderful daughters, had four delightful grandchildren, lost our parents and more than a few friends) and gave away much of the detritus that collects over a lifetime and bought our tickets. Oh, to ease the blow a little, we sold our house to my husband’s youngest son, one of my two incredible step-sons, and his family. So it’s not gone, just with new caretakers. Our house, well, their house now, is 75 years old and has had its share of caretakers. Now it’s with a new generation with young adults and young children to breathe new life into its old rafters. It needs that. And we need Italy.
Besides the social security check, I am also working. My wonderful boss (thank you, Dan) agreed to let me do this crazy thing for six months and I agreed to continue working on projects. I’ll go from 40 hours a week to around 25. Technology is a wonderful thing when it allows us to have this kind of flexibility in our lives. Five years ago this probably wouldn’t have been possible. But here I am, connected where I need to be connected and living la dolce vita. Ain’t life grand?
Oh, I forgot to mention that we have our dog with us. Anyone out there who has a pet will know that it’s just not possible to leave for six months without taking your pet. It would be like leaving your frontal cortex behind. Getting her here was interesting. She’s small, so she could ride in the airplane cabin in a carrier. She HATES her carrier. But we stuffed her in it and gave her Xanax and hoped for the best. Let’s just say it wasn’t the worst, but it certainly wasn’t the best. She, we, and everyone on our flight were so glad when we got off that plane. But as I write this, with her snuggled up next to me, I know it was the right thing to do.
Where are we? We are in a small town in Tuscany called Anghiari. We’ve been here many times and have loved it since the very first time. In another life about 10 years ago, we had a retail store called Bella Italia and we imported Italian artisan products like ceramics, some food, and linens. Our linens were from Busatti, an eighth generation family business based in Anghiari. We had such a connection with the people we did business with that they became like family to us. Our business ultimately failed but our relationships thrived and we continued to keep in touch and visit with our friends. When this perfect storm of a life change occurred, we turned to our friends and asked for advice. We got more than advice. We got a fabulous 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment right in the city center. It was built in 1690, or at least that’s the date etched over the fireplace. It was the servant’s quarters to the palazzo next door, which is now a museum. It’s a pie-shaped wedge of an apartment that from the outside you have to really study to determine where it begins and ends. So many apartments carved out of these ancient buildings. No straight lines here – many twists and turns, uphills and downhills, that it’s difficult to keep your bearings. That, of course, is part of the attraction. After life in a relatively big American city for so long, it’s wonderful to be able to wind your way around this town and find the butcher, the cheese shop, the florist, the tobacco shop, the barber shop and the many, many restaurants that make this place so special. It’s all so innate, yet so exotic. And this adventure, by far the biggest one of my life, is just starting and I’m so wonderfully thankful that we were able to do this. I have to tell you that I struggled with this because it seems so self-serving – trotting off to Italy for six months. Who does that? Why do I deserve this? But through a combination of wise friends and my own new-found faith, I realized that the world depends on happiness and that from that happiness comes an energy that makes everything move forward. I’ve learned not to question why I get this unbelievable opportunity, but to take it and make it the best thing that’s ever happened to me and from that become a better partner, a better sister, a better friend, a better employee – a better person.