La Dolce Vita Means “The Sweet Life...” and Life Gets no Sweeter Than in Sunny Italy
Italy has a staggering amount to offer travelers...and residents. Romantic cities. Timeless hill towns. Snowy mountains, idyllic islands, and a rivetingly beautiful coastline. Plus, outside the major cities, homes start at a mere $50,000—or less.
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- Population: 61,482,297
- Capital City: Rome
- Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
- Time Zone: GMT+1
- Language: Italian
- Country Code: 39
- Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea
Like so many from the U.S., when I daydream about traveling through Europe, I always imagine myself on a train: speeding quietly through the countryside, over the mountain passes, past charming, ancient towns, or along the shores of a massive glacial lake. Other forms of transportation—with their two-hour pre-flight check-ins, their bumpy, uncomfortable buses, and their too-close-for-comfort seating arrangements—always feel like a hassle.
The aroma of freshly-brewed cappuccino is an essential ingredient of the Italian morning. While this morning delicacy can be enjoyed anywhere in Italy, a quiet café in a small Umbrian town provides an opportunity to truly savor la dolce vita—the sweet life. Tucked away in the southwest corner of Umbria and exuding the same Italian charm of nearby Tuscan towns, Orvieto is a wonderful alternative to its more famous and sometimes overly pretentious neighbors.
Every day in my travel research I come across the terms “hidden gem,” “off the beaten path,” “unspoiled, authentic, undiscovered…” The Dordogne region of France is the only place I have been to date where it is actually true. Castles sit like crown jewels along the river banks. My family and I often found ourselves beating our own path through the oak forests toward the river bank.
Optimism and purpose, a low stress level, a natural diet and an active lifestyle…experts say those factors are three times as important as your genetic makeup when it comes to enjoying a long and healthy life. Luckily, it’s easy to embrace those elements when you’re living in a place where they come naturally. And they do in our top picks for the world’s healthiest places to live.
Pundits are divided on whether Spain’s property market will see further price falls. A huge overhang of unsold homes remains, but for the first time in seven years, sales in Málaga province showed an increase in 2013. Spain will always be a popular retirement destination for northern Europeans, and the number of U.S. citizens registered as living in Spain has increased, too.
In the summertime, socialites, celebrities, and tourists like to drop anchor in Portofino, Italy, to enjoy the picturesque coast of the Italian Riviera. One summer night, several years ago, I dropped half a month’s salary to stay at a posh resort, overlooking the harbor there…but ultimately got reimbursed for it. At home, I had a job working for a museum that didn’t pay well.
If you dream of life among rolling hills dotted with stone farmhouses and patchwork views of cultivated fields, sunflowers, olives groves, and grapevines, Le Marche is the place. There are no large cities; the biggest is Ancona, the regional capital, with about 100,000 people. Towns here are on a human scale, often small enough to get around on foot, by bike, or scooter. Most are large enough to have shops, restaurants, cultural attractions, and services, yet remain small enough to be personal and engaging.
Le Marche is a land of rolling hills topped with traditional stone farmhouses, honey-colored villages seemingly untouched since the Middle Ages, and farm-to-fork cuisine served up in rustic trattorias, where a meal will cost you as little as $7.
As I walk across the sunny piazza I think how easy it is to feel at home in Ascoli Piceno. I’m still blurry-eyed when I arrive at the coffee bar, but without my having to say a word, a frothy cappuccino is placed before me, followed by a cornetto filled with a dab of sweet almond paste. The barista, Giuliano, smiles broadly and then chats about the happenings in the neighborhood.
I’m sitting at a pastel green table on one of Italy’s most beautiful piazzas watching people parading to and fro for an evening stroll. Children scamper away from their parents, a group of elderly gents stand in the middle talking politics, and young couples, coiffed and stylish, stroll about greeting friends and meeting for drinks. The waiter arranges a glass of chilled wine and a plate of nibbles in front of me and I sigh contentedly.
Liz Carlson has raced sailboats in Italy, explored the Greek Islands by scooter…floated in the Dead Sea…ridden donkeys in Jordan…road tripped around Iceland…and slept in 15th-century Tuscan farmhouses. And that’s all in the past year alone.
In late March of this year, I was sitting at the dining table at a friend’s house in Glasgow, Scotland, where I was visiting for a couple of weeks after leaving Costa Rica and enjoying a short four-day stop-over in London.
Atlantic beach towns that take you back in time…a foodie’s paradise in Southeast Asia where dim sum stalls beckon…an arts-rich bohemian haven in South America full of cafés and concerts… All over the planet you’ll find hidden gems like these—spots that rarely, if ever, earn even a passing mention in the popular press. It’s not surprising. Almost no publications bother to keep outposts abroad anymore. The quality and scope of international news coverage—and our understanding of and empathy for the world—has suffered for it.
Make your way to the Italian city of Siena for Il Palio on July 2 and witness 10 bareback riders charge through the streets as part of an ancient religious tradition. The Corteo Storico pageant precedes the race and celebrations go on long after the winner has passed the post.
What’s not to love about cultural riches and cobbled charms? Throughout most of Europe, the property market remains in the doldrums, which means you can find bargains. From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean…from Ireland to Greece, there’s a tempting array of move-into properties that will leave you change from €100,000 ($137,000).
With so much to see in Italy, many travelers overlook the country’s beautiful gardens and lose out on a special experience as a result. For these are no ordinary, peaceful patches of green; they are often reflections of artistic expression with exotic designs and formal layouts. The best-known gardens are the elegant, noble estates of Villa d’Este near Rome, the Royal Palace of Caserta close to Naples, and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, but there are other—secret—gardens to explore…
It’s called the “Old World” for a reason, and despite two world wars and decades of development, history is evident in the architecture of Europe. You can stroll cobbled streets where lords and ladies once rushed to galas, climb castle steps in the footsteps of armored knights, and explore villages preserved for 500 years or more.
Spring is here, and in the markets plump porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, and long, elegant brown pears are giving way to figs and basil and zucchini flowers.
Arlene Gibbs was working on a movie in production when she realized she needed a life change. When the production company she worked for closed shortly afterwards she decided it was time to leave Hollywood. “Everything in L.A. was about ‘The Business’,” she said. “Everyone I interacted with at work…at the cafes…even at the gym…was involved in the movie industry.”
You’ve just weighed anchor on another night of bliss, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of your sailboat in the calm sea. Before you is a small cove lined by craggy cliffs. Clear blue waters end at a white-sand beach. You’ve had it all to yourself for the last week. It was supposed to be just an overnight stop. But it was so beautiful, you decided to stick around. After a quick dip, you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast on deck as you contemplate which island paradise you’ll go to next.
If you don’t hold a second passport yet, what’s stopping you? When you hold a second passport, a world of opportunities opens up to help you protect your finances, safeguard your privacy, and to grow your financial nest egg free from high taxes.
Whether it’s for a summer or a lifetime, Italy isn’t only for the wealthy. I first got hooked on la dolce vita when I was young and had very little cash to spare. But as I was in love with the vagabond lifestyle, relative impoverishment was no barrier to doing my own version of a Grand Tour.
Recently, I attended a conference in a college which was introduced by a seasoned media veteran. He acknowledged the advances in technology by describing the whiz-kid students in the audience as “natives of the digital world” while he described his own generation as “digital tourists.”
You have visions of rolling hills dotted with stone farmhouses, sunny piazzas and la dolce vita. A new life in Italy is alluring. That’s why I moved here eight years ago. But before you can start enjoying those sidewalk cafés and open-air markets, there are a few bureaucratic hurdles you’ll need to jump to live legally in Italy.
In the popular imagination, it’s the great capitals of Europe that get the most attention. Tourists flock to Paris, Rome, Madrid, and London for the big-city flair, museums, and monuments. It’s the thing to do. And granted, you should seize any opportunity to stroll the Champs-Élysées on a beautiful spring evening or explore London’s international cuisine and regal parks.
The place that Amy calls “World Headquarters” is a townhouse filled with beautiful objects gathered on her many travels. Wake Up! Your Overseas Life is Just Waiting for You She imports textiles and home décor. Her business was intentionally designed to include plenty of opportunities to feed her wanderlust—and her friends and business associates consider her one of the most creative people they know.
Sitting alongside the banks of the River Garonne in southwest France, the red-tile-roofed city of Toulouse hosts its annual Flamenco Festival from April 1 to 15, with local venues filled with music and dance throughout. Another marathon-length event to consider begins its 18-day run in Jaipur, India, on April 2.
Vacation rentals are a great way for an investor to create an income overseas but, unless they’re living next door, anyone who owns a vacation rental needs someone to manage it for them. Property management is a business you can start with absolutely no investment. You are simply trading your time and effort.
I pull back the curtains, feel the crisp refreshing air, and look out over the waterfront at the colorful buildings of this Art Nouveau town…excited about the “work” day ahead. I’m in picturesque Ålesund, Norway. This jewel-like coastal town is the gateway to Norway’s spectacular Geiranger Fjord making it the perfect base from which to explore the region—and that’s my job for the day.
Europe may be the second-smallest continent by land mass, but it’s extravagantly diverse in geography, climate, language, and culture. From the flamenco-dancing south of Spain to Rembrandt’s tulip-filled homeland, to the rugged cliffs of Italy’s Mediterranean coast, it’s equally rich with opportunity…for gracious travel…comfortable living…even for good-value investing.
Spring is here, and in the markets plump porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, and long, elegant brown pears are giving way to figs and basil and zucchini flowers. In the streets, young women glide along in five-inch heels, leather jackets, and American jeans, chic scarves draped carelessly at their necks. Along the river Arno, newlyweds stroll hand-in-hand in the warm sunshine.
We arrived at our rented villa just in time to see the sun slipping down toward the liquid-blue horizon. Perched on the terrace, we sipped rosé wine bought in a winery down the road and watched as nature splashed a rosy hue across the western sky. Fishermen returning with their catch left a silvery wake in the waning light. One hour in Cilento and we were smitten.
When Melissa Adams stepped out of the airport and into Amsterdam for the first time, it felt like coming home. “The minute my feet hit Damrak—the street leading from Central Station to Dam Square—I said ‘I’m moving here.’ Everything—from the city’s physical beauty to its tolerant vibe and rich history— entranced me.” But while Melissa’s experience of Amsterdam was love at first sight, she also wanted to be practical and make sure her passion had some staying power.
When I reflect upon my lifestyle since becoming a copywriter in 2001—after 20 years in banking in Australia—I know I made the right choice. I started in banking as a clerk at 16, and worked my way up to senior management positions. When I quit my job as a commercial lending manager after 15 years, I was so stressed out from working 80-plus hours a week on multi-million dollar loan applications.
Tom Vercillo is paid to know the best places to wine, dine, and sightsee in scores of cities in the countries lining the Mediterranean. Regularly sampling the region’s finest offerings is just one of many perks in a career that sees him cruising around the Med’s warm waters seven months a year, stopping at exotic new locations almost every day.
There are numerous ways to become an entrepreneur. If you’re Italian, you might be born to it. Just as homes stay in the same family for generations, Italian business-owners commonly pass their enterprises down to their children. If your family made wine, there’s a good chance that you’ll make wine. Even some Venetian gondoliers are following the career path of their fathers and grandfathers.
There is no time clock but you work 24-7… No cubicle but you must have a computer… Your commute occasionally takes 10 to 12 hours, and sometimes it takes days off your calendar. You must be fluent in hand gestures and you better have a strong stomach and a good memory.
In medieval Europe, keeping an eye out for and guarding against invasion—a frequent occurrence in those days—was no easy feat. But one of a nobleman’s greatest defensive weapons was a castle perched on a rocky hilltop near an important mountain pass. The location itself—surrounded by steep cliff—offered protection.
Tom Vercillo is paid to know the best places to wine, dine, and sightsee in the beautiful cities lining the Mediterranean…from Turkey to Italy and beyond. Regularly sampling the region’s finest offerings is just one of many perks in a career that sees him cruising around the Med’s warm waters seven months a year, stopping at exotic new locations almost every day.
Back when my husband and I started to have children, a dear friend began giving us beautiful Christmas village houses every year to collect and someday pass on to our children. Every year, as we unpacked the village, one building at a time, we would imagine what it would be like in a place like it. We would place the china characters carefully, connect the cobblestone paths, and talk about what the crunch of the snow sounded like on Christmas Eve. When it was set up perfectly, we would turn out the lights and the amber glow would pour from the windows and lanterns casting an ethereal radiance befitting the holiday season.