American Living in Italy & Italian Bureaucracy
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.
Living through your videos, stories and pictures has been one of my favorite things this summer! Your hikes and little gems that you show me makes me want see it and feel it all for myself. The smells, the people, the knowledge I could encounter fills my spirits to an exciting point. After all this ‘Covid in America’ nonsense is over, my outlook on the future is grand with tons of traveling in it! Maybe, one day, I’ll make it over the ocean to see your beautiful new country. Love that you share your life with us all! Thank you 😊
Candie I’m so happy to be able to share this journey with you. There will be an America after COVID and a time when travel becomes more normal again. Till then I figure sharing where we are, what we see, feel and experience is as close as we can all get to travel for a while. I’ll always be up for showing you around Europe anytime you can make it over!
Wow! Congratulations on all you’ve achieved! That is so much! I love that you’re really embracing Italian culture, loving the hikes and the great outdoors! I’ve been here 8 years and I still feel that I speak like a kid! 🙈🙈🙈
I am beginning to think the best Italian lessons for new citizens like myself would be to learn from 10 year olds! Any advice for the first year for new expats?
Wine helps! 😉
Wine, so much wine! Nailed it!
Keep on with it all darling
Chuck’s IPad Air
Doing my best! Thank you for always supporting and cheering me on. Love you
Sounds like you are settling in nicely and slaying the dragon of bureaucracy is a great hurdle crossed! Stay well.
Thank you! It’s certainly the biggest hurdle. Being married to an Italian who grew up in Italy has been the saving grace for bureaucracy!
I’m happy for you that your pain is manageable and congratulations on your citizenship! I know what you mean about wishing you could get your loved ones out of the US! Some people just don’t get it that the US is the worst abusive relationship there is and people say things to me about leaving that are very hurtful
I’m sorry you’ve gotten rude comments. The lack of willingness to take a pause and think before you speaks seems to be a bit of a lost art.
I know, and I have expat friends who have said the same thing. It’s like polarization is extending to excluding expats too
Like a rear view mirror you have to keep going on your own path. Everything, every hurtful comment will look smaller when it’s behind you. If that doesn’t work the people saying things will certainly look smaller in the same mirror when you’re on the road to happiness!
Thank you! I appreciate that! This is exactly why I hang out more with other expats and third culture kids! 🙂
Me too! Two of my best friends and I used to work in NYC in big media for a decade. We all burned out and went nomadic for a while. To this day there feel like the few people who understand everything I’m going through and judgement is reserved at all times.
I know what you mean! I’m helping a friend who is new to the expat life and people here in the US have really been nasty to her about her preparing to move to Germany