I've been holding this under my hat but I'm ready to share...
I AM MOVING TO ITALY THIS YEAR!!
Yes, folks, this intrepid traveler is relocating to Calabria. Specifically Soverato, the charming town I discovered on my last trip.
This plan has been in the works for a few years, but now that I'm 8 MONTHS OUT it's starting to feel real. Also, the fact that I'm starting to give away my belongings and contact lawyers about the visa process makes it real.
How Did This Happen?
In the last few years of my marriage (which ended six years ago), my husband and I started toying with the idea of traveling the world, staying in a place for a few months at a time. For me, Italy was definitely on that list.
After my life completely changed (and after that breathtaking week I spent hiking the Dolomiti) I forged ahead with the plan, but realized there wasn't any other country I was as excited about as Italy. So why live out of a suitcase for a few years when I could go direct to the source of my supreme happiness?
My son, Max, graduates this year, and I'm planning to move shortly after we get him settled in his new home in Orlando. Yes, that's completely deliberate, because I know I am going to utterly fall apart moving into the Empty Nest phase of my life.
Moving to Italy feels like the next right step for me in my life. I've never made the decision about where I live. Ever. So, yes, this is a big move, but if you know me, it fits.
My Criteria for La Bella Vita
I spent a lot of time during the worst of COVID asking myself what I wanted in terms of where I lived in Italy. First and foremost, I wanted to live by the sea. I certainly can't afford to do so in San Diego, but in Italy, particularly down south in Calabria, you can live quite well for a fraction of our cost of living, and I can live directly on the sea if I want.
I wanted to downsize from the big city life. I also wanted to live within an hour (preferably less) of an airport. I spent months scouring maps and websites to identify the cities that fit my criteria.
In the end, Soverato wasn't even on my list. My new friend, Lilly, of Calabria Dreaming, suggested it. Given she barely knew me, I did not expect to be bowled over the way I was as I exited the train station upon arrival and walked down the peaceful, clean, charming main street.
All my lists went out the window. This was love at first sight.
But it's not just finding the city that's the perfect fit. I yearn for la bella vita, that certain something you can only find in Italy where no one's in a hurry, where people savor food that is wholesome and nurturing. Where the focus isn't on who can work the most hours but who can while away the most in a pleasant manner. It's a sharp departure from life as we know it here, but you know what? I'm ready for it.
Whenever I tell someone I'm moving to Italy, where I know virtually no one...all by myself...they tell me I'm brave. Sometimes I see the "yea, and a bit crazy" look in their eyes.
Leaving my friends and family here will be tough, but I've always been a bit of a wanderer. My feet are getting itchy to explore. And everyone has promised to visit me!
I am under no illusion that it will be all magic and pasta. I'm prepared for months of loneliness as I find my foothold in the community and in the language. I expect a few teary nights, drowning my homesickness in a ridiculously delicious and cheap bottle of red.
But I also look at the big picture. In a year, I will be so much more fluent in Italian. I will have made friends. Created a home. All the stress will be worthwhile. I truly am happiest when I'm in Italy.
I'll be heavily documenting my move (because there's a frustrating lack about information outlining specifically what to do to get a visa and residency out there, for example) and life in Italy. I am excited to explore more of Italy and beyond once I settle in. Join me for the adventure!