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10 Things I'm Grateful for This Year as a New Expat in Italy

Before we close out the year and I start thinking about New Year's Resolutions, I'd like to give gratitude for all the amazing experiences I had this year.

And ya'll, there were A LOT. Here are just a few.

1. Meeting Francesco

After years of being single post-divorce and hoping to find love again, I finally did. In Italy.

We met just before Easter. I was in a tour group in his town of Davoli. He was the tour guide. A few days later, we met again at Naca in Davoli, the magical procession with illuminated trees.

Neither one of us imagined that, nearly nine months later, we'd be ringing in the new year together.

We have our own hybrid language of English and Italian. We laugh constantly. Our relationship is the thing I am most grateful for this year.

2. Staying in Calabria

My perspective of Calabria has changed so much since the start of the year. Then, I felt adrift. I hadn't found my community, and I didn't feel like Calabria was my long-term home.

Since deciding to stay here, Calabria has opened up to me. I'm constantly discovering new things to do and meeting people. (So. Many. People!) Calabria may lack some of the conveniences of a big city, but it has my heart.

3. My Friends

In addition to being in a relationship with Fra, my friends are the thing that makes Calabria feel like home. Dora, my Calabrian Explorer, is always quick to dole out advice or invite me to explore nearby towns (that's why we're so good together running Go Go Calabria.)

Anna is ready to listen when I need someone to talk to, as well as the person to ask about Calabrian wine. Yavette, my American friend, was incredible in helping me get settled here. Lynn has been there for me since before I even moved. There are countless other people here who have made me truly feel accepted and loved.

4. Moving to Soverato

I think part of the disconnect for me earlier in the year was that I was living in Montepaone Lido, a smaller town 10 minutes away by car from Soverato.

But Soverato was where I wanted to be two years ago, and at the end of the summer, I finally arrived.

It has everything I need, and all within a 10-minute walk. Being friends with Dora and her husband Francesco is a bit like knowing royalty because everyone knows them and everyone treats me better for being their friend!

My apartment is absolutely perfect for me, with my balconies looking out to the sea and mountains. I'm a two-minute walk to the sea. And despite being told it's impossible to find a place to rent year-round, I managed it through my network.

5. Starting Go Go Calabria

As I began to fall deeper in love with Calabria, I thought it was a shame that so few foreign tourists come here. Yes, we get some French, German, and Russian visitors, and there are Italian-American and Italian-Canadian folks who come because they own property here.

Without many tour companies that speak fluent English, foreigners just don't come.

That's what inspired me to start Go Go Calabria with Dora. I see Calabria from an outsider's perspective. I know that visitors would love to help with the grape harvest, see how ricotta is made, or take a pasta class. And Dora, as I said, knows everyone, so she's creating unique Calabrian experiences that people can English!

6. The Ionian Sea

Right now, I'm not seeing the sea so much because it's been cold, windy, and/or rainy. But from March to November, I visit Her nearly daily.

The Ionian Sea is absolutely gorgeous. Crystal clear. No sharks! No pollution. And nothing beats watching the full moon rise over the sea.

7. My Community

I mentioned my friends, but I'm also grateful that I'm beginning to build a community. I'm a spiritual person, and I didn't imagine that I would find woo yogi-type people in a land filled with Catholics. But I'm learning that it doesn't have to be either spiritual or Catholic. It can sometimes be both.

I keep meeting people who GET it. Who understand how mindfulness and spirituality make the world a better place. Who I can talk to about tarot and yoga and winter solstice.

I'm also building community through monthly English happy hour events through Go Go Calabria. It's so fun to share my language and culture with people who haven't had much of a chance to speak English here.

8. Being an Expat Coach

This year I really went on a rollercoaster when it came to my coaching business, but I've finally found my rhythm as an expat coach.

I'm finding more and more independent women who, like me, are eager to start a new life in Italy. I love helping them work through that range of emotions that I myself have experienced in the expat process, as well as providing logistical tips.

9. Technology

I can't imagine moving abroad without video calls, internet, email, and WhatsApp. My son and I have weekly video calls, and my mom and I text more than we ever did when I was in the U.S. And of course, technology allows me to work remotely and share this blog with you all around the world!

10. My Willingness to Say Yes

Living in Italy has taught me so much, but my favorite lesson is: Say yes. Every time I do, I am delighted with what I experience and learn. By saying yes this year, I:

  • Ended up on a tour where I met my love

  • Learned to dance the Tarantella

  • Explored tiny villages I wouldn't have otherwise found

  • Worked as an extra in a movie!

  • Learned how to make Granny Squares for a public Christmas tree

Every day, I thank myself for being brave enough to move to Italy. While at the time it felt a bit like I had jumped out of a plane without a safety net, I now realize how much love and support was waiting for me here.

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3 комментария

Gina Elefante
Gina Elefante
29 дек. 2023 г.

Oh Su, you are living my dream life. I have been scouring the map of Italy and looking for my roots in Calabria. My time to arrive is inching closer as 2024 is MY year to move to Italy. I hope our paths will cross as your new business venture may help me navigate once I get there. I too am having trouble finding year-round rentals, but I'm determined.... I will keep looking. Hopefully when I come in March, I will find some prospects. In the meantime, thanks for your blog.... Happy New Year and arrivederci.

Su Guillory
Su Guillory
30 дек. 2023 г.
Ответ пользователю

Oh Gina, I'm so happy 2024 is THE year! As for rentals, my suggestion is rent something short-term first and then when you know people here, they'll help you. That's how I found my place. Absolutely keep me updated on where you are in March and maybe we can meet up! Buon Anno!


This story makes me happy! I am so glad that you found your home in Italy

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