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Settling in to a New Life in Italy

Settling in to a New Life in Italy

Making the decision to transplant ourselves to Italy was easy. Making the move to Italy itself was painless. Making ourselves at home was smooth and immediate.

Making a living…well, that’s another beast. I’m not going to lie to you—working in Italy can be difficult. But it’s more than worth it.

We have a feeling of belonging that we’ve not known anywhere else, extraordinarily generous neighbors, and a whole village to greet us with a friendly buongiorno when we go for our morning caffè. From our balcony we enjoy the view of jagged mountain peaks, emerald pastures, and an enormous turquoise sky. There are sheep bells and church bells instead of horns and sirens.

This village is special, not for its art or architectural wonders—though it’s a cute town—but because of the people who live here and the traditions they maintain.

In 2006, my husband Bryan and I decided we wanted a change—a different lifestyle in a different locale. We loved our life in New Mexico, but during our many trips to Italy we started to imagine what it would be like to live there. I have Italian heritage and always felt drawn to the Old World.

After much debate we realized we didn’t want to put off the “living” part of making a living. So we sold the house and ditched our steady jobs. About six months later we were settled into a relaxed routine in the elegant city of Ascoli Piceno in the Le Marche region of central Italy.

From there we explored neighboring regions, made friends and carved out a niche for ourselves. I researched my family history and made a trip to where my grandmother’s parents were from—Basilicata—the region we live in now.

Tucked into the Apennines in southern Italy, Basilicata is almost entirely encircled by its neighboring regions except for two short stretches of coastline. In one incredible day, I walked the streets of my ancestors and then discovered to my amazement that I still have relatives in that town.

Bryan and I were both captivated by the hospitality we found in these time-worn towns clinging to their hilltops, maintaining their traditions through the centuries.

We started to look for ways to earn an income. Since we couldn’t break through the bureaucracy for a coveted work permit…

Editor’s note: In the current issue of International Living magazine, Valerie reveals the eight ways she and Bryan are now earning an income despite Italian red tape. When you subscribe here  you can get instant online access to Valerie’s article…and ever other subscriber-only article published in the last 10 years.

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