July was a hell of a month, wasn’t it? As my third month living in Italy, my emotions are still a tumultuous mix. Fear, frustration, joy, and satisfaction all play a hand tucking me in at night and waking me up in the morning. Fear because America is not doing “great.” I’d love nothing more than to fly all my friends and family to Italy until America gets its shit together. I’m fearful that unless masks stop being politicized in America, Europe will not let that happen.
Finding a way to pull my head out of a world I cannot control, meant physically focusing on the part of the world I’m in. For most of July that was mostly Bardonecchia, Italy. A small gem of an outdoorsy town in the Italian Alps. Hiking daily in the Italian Alps has helped me shed pounds and self-limiting stories along the way. Eleven pounds down I no longer fit in the Cicciona weight class and my chronic pain is starting to feel manageable again.
American Living in Italy & Italian Bureaucracy
Hiking the Italian Alps broke the COVID-19 numbness spell I’ve been under. The joy of living in Italy is now real. I freakin’ live here! The church bells of Italy wake me in the morning. My watch is always in a drawer. Two-hour hikes feel more like a habit than an indulgence. For the first time in my life, I have time to focus on what’s most important.
In July, I continued to make progress on some critically important aspects of moving to Italy. Learning the language, deciding where to live, and tackling bureaucracy. I’m happy to report daily Italian lessons, though they are self-directed are helping. I now sound like a six-year Italian instead of a five-year-old. Countless times in our first two months I’ve wondered how expats who do not speak Italian make it in Italy. Simply put, you have to speak Italian to live in Italy because only about 30% of Italians speak English.
Slaying Italian Bureaucracy
Without being married to an Italian, I have no idea how I would have tackled Italian bureaucracy. Thanks to Paolo’s organization, persistence, research, emails, and phone calls all of which were in Italian, I:
- Gained Italian citizenship
- Moved my residency to Italy
- Took a Repatriation Flight to move to Italy during COVID-19
- Attained my Codice Fiscale (financial code which functions like a Social Security number, tax code, and health insurance number all in one.)
- Attained my Tessera Sanitaria (healthcare) card and began receiving medical care in Italy
Plus, in July Paolo made sure I got my Carta Di Identita (Italian ID card) and an International Driving Permit as well. The last two steps on our Most Important Things To Do After Moving to Italy Checklist! Look out Italy, this American has a driving permit and she’s not afraid to use it. Okay, okay, honestly that’s not true. The last time I drove a stick shift was 1992. I’m petrified of the Italian driver’s license test which can only be taken in Italian while driving a stick! That chapter of moving to Italy comes later and it’s sure to be an adventure.
Back to the good news. In July (spoiler alert) Paolo and I decided where to live in Italy! Before I drop that gem, there’s one more feeling I have yet to cover and that’s just a smidge of frustration.
Just as Paolo and I made our minds up on where to live, Italy goes on holiday. Italy completely shuts down in August. This means nothing is going to happen until September! Nothing! Talk about frustration. I’m 44, I want a doggone place to call home already!
You would think after the Italian economy completely shut down for two full months due to COVID Italians would be ready to get back to work, but no! Nothing gets in the way of Italy’s summer holiday.
It’s frustrating, but I kinda love it too. In Italy downtime is not questioned, not even in the face of a worldwide pandemic of a strained economy. Long live la dolce vita! A slower pace of life is why so many people dream of moving to Italy. Now that I’m here, I might take August off like an Italian, right? Pretty sure this is the cultural difference between Italy and America that I’m most excited about. Even if it does delay finally having a home.
The first week of August, Paolo and I will be taking his parents to see the Veneto wine region which will be new for all of us. While Italy boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, we hope wine country will be a bit safer in light of COVID. You can bet we’ll be masking up!
For now my friends, you get to wait with me. Once we select our architect I’ll share more about where we will be living in Italy and why we chose the location we have. All I’ll say for now is that while we didn’t take the 1€ route, we have stayed true to our financial goals. There will be no mortgage forcing us to give up our hard-earned financial freedom or freedom of time.
Having the freedom of time since moving to Italy has enabled me to let go of busywork, procrastination, and excuses. In July, I’ve made progress on the goals that matter the most in life. This progress has given me a very real sense of satisfaction. I look forward to sharing what comes next and hope you’ll join me! I’d also love to hear what you’d do if you had more free time.