“Ever since I was young I’ve always loved ancient Italian history and ruins. In fact, I was so drawn to Italian history that I remember seeking out Roman ruins on a trip to England,” says expat Cathy Powell.
It’s only fitting, then, that Cathy eventually moved to Tuscania, a small town with deep Etruscan roots in the Lazio region of Italy. Rich in ancient history, full of medieval architecture, and encircled by thick stone walls, Tuscania seems a throwback to another time. “It’s really unspoilt,” says Cathy. “I think the locals are happy that it doesn’t get overrun with tourists.”
Cathy’s introduction to Tuscania happened by chance. In 1999 she was spending a year in England when she decided to make a short trip to Italy. While on a Tuscan walking tour, she fell in love with Manuel, the British-born, Italian guide leading the group. Six months later, they married.
Starting out, the pair lived in Tuscania, where Manuel had spent most of his childhood. Later they moved to Rome and then headed to Australia for several years. But after their second child was born, they heard Italy calling again.
“My husband reminisced about when he was growing up in Tuscania; he wanted our children to have a similar upbringing—a relaxed one, where they were free to roam.” In Italy, she adds, children are welcomed wherever they go, and most Italians aren’t worried about letting them wander about.
But it wasn’t just the idea of a more laid-back existence for their kids that made life in Europe seem so appealing. To Cathy, broadening her family’s horizons and experience by immersing them in Italian culture seemed an irresistible adventure. And so, in 2006, the family moved back to Tuscania.
Today Cathy and her family live in Capodimonte, just nine miles from Tuscania. Their house, which they bought for $272,800 has over 1,800 square feet of living space, one-and-a-quarter acres of land, and views of the blue waters of Lake Bolsena, a vast crater lake formed by a now-extinct volcano.
As she had hoped, the move has been enormously rewarding. She and her children have learned Italian, become integrated into the local community, and made close friends. “It hasn’t always been easy,” she says, “but my family and I have gained so much from this move.”
She also says that, since moving abroad, she’s become less materialistic. The experience of building a new life for herself in a foreign community has made it clear to her that friends, family, and the experiences they’ve shared are more valuable than anything money could buy. “I’ve heard a lot of expats say that,” she says. “Moving overseas can really change your opinions on life and what’s important.”
Editor’s note: To learn more about expat opportunities in Italy, Spain, France, Germany and England, see the current special “Europe” edition of International Living magazine. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can become one here and get instant access to this issue.