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
Bill and Carol Sansone are the envy of their friends. Acting on their passion for Italy they have gone back year after year to explore regions up and down the peninsula. Since 2005 they’ve taken six different destinations for a “test drive” in search of a future retirement home. “We’ve rented in Tuscany, Umbria, northern Lazio, Lake Como and Torino, settling into life in each locale, opting to walk or take public transit rather than drive…
You’ve made plans, set tentative dates…you’re almost ready to take off on your three- or six-month European tour…the next step is a roof over your head. But the short-term rentals offered online can be sickeningly expensive. Fully furnished and ready to go they may be, but with prices often multiples of those you’ll find on the ground, there are better ways to look.
Eleven years and dozens of countries after selling their California house to travel the world, Trish and Marvin Scott say they have never regretted their decision. “We look for places off the tourist track. We’ve set up households in 20 countries, and currently we are living in an old communistera apartment in St. Petersburg,” says 70-year-old Marvin.
It was New Year’s Eve 2012 and the view outside my window was perfect. In the darkness, I could just make out the rolling Italian hills, dotted with brick houses with terracotta rooftops. A lone bell tower rose from a small, ancient church into the sky. And as the bell tolled midnight, the sky lit up with fireworks from three different directions.
Not so long ago, only sailors, soldiers and the super wealthy got to see the world. But today, globetrotting isn’t just a job for mariners or the preserve of the jet set. You can cruise to Europe for up to 70% off standard prices if you know how… you can use a host of websites to organize low-cost, luxurious accommodation for a few months—enough time to try a place on for size—before moving on to the next…
You ain’t nothin but a hound dog…cryin’ all the time… Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit… And you ain’t no friend of mine… Elvis was in the house last night. Young Elvis. Dressed in a nicely tailored black suit with a white, open-collared shirt, he serenaded our VIP readers over cocktails in the 20th-floor penthouse here at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. As I wandered through the crowd yesterday evening, I was pleased to hear that—the occasional Elvis recollection aside—the conversations had turned to the details shared thus far about the world’s best retirement destinations.
Six weeks ago, I left my luxurious, sea-view condo in Costa Rica (my second home) to return to my first home—Malta, a Mediterranean island, surrounded by turquoise waters. Relaxing with a glass of champagne in First Class on the way over to London, I knew I was going to miss the long, sandy beaches, stunning sunsets each night after playing beach volleyball, and the amazing wildlife and postcard-perfect scenery.
If you’ve dreamed of traveling the world and getting paid to do so, try this… One of my favorite things is to lead creativity tours in Paris. Together, this group of avid travelers explore all kinds of off-the-beaten-path things that inspire us to be better writers and artists and to enjoy life more, once back home.
For thousands of years skiing was just a way to travel in winter, carry mail and goods to snowbound towns, or—believe it or not—charge into battle. Then in the mid-19th century the first races took place and before long enthusiastic amateurs had taken up the sport.
Mon ami, you painted a pretty picture of life in southern Italy. But something is lacking—the sophisticated delights of duck confit, sweet onion preserves, foie gras and garriguette strawberries. You Italians are obviously clueless about food.
France is nice, I guess. Lavender fields and a vast wine country surely hold a certain appeal. But it’s Italy that captures the heart and feels like home. My cousin bought a house in a lovely little village in southern France, but when she comes to Basilicata, Italy she feels a pang of regret. How could she not, with so much home-spun seduction enveloping anyone who sets foot in the region?
Mi dispiace, France. I’m sorry. It’s no contest. Even in your rainy-day Brittany region, you can’t come up with a two-story house that a buyer could move into for 18,000 euro ($24,000). We can. It’s not a doll’s house either—there’s 1,290 square feet of living space.
Tim, who handles our travel arrangements, discovered a way to get a deep discount on cruises early in his quest for budget-sensitive travel options—a method that could get you anywhere from one-third to 70% off the price of your cruise.
When I started doing this in 2007, I didn’t have a business in mind. It was more of a hobby. I practiced law during the day, and I was a bored with it. I wanted to do something different.
On the eastern side of Basilicata is the region’s most famous and fascinating city, Matera. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is thought to be Europe’s oldest continually-inhabited town.
During the decade since I first published my popular Passport Book, now in its 10th edition, rarely have I seen so many countries at one time willing to trade official access for foreign cash.
For Leonie Whitton and David Westbuy, the biggest advantage of being in Puglia, at the heel of Italy, is access to fresh, delicious food.
Because the area has lost residents in the past half-century, there are lots of properties available, but you have to make an effort to find them. Most towns don’t have real estate agents. We found our little 300-year-old casa in the village of Trivigno thanks to the village’s former mayor. We paid just $32,000 for the habitable house with three separate stone-hewn cantinas, used to store firewood and wine.
I don’t blame them. Basilicata is possibly the least-known region in Italy. Located at the ankle of the boot, it cuddles up to Puglia, Calabria, and Campania and is the most sparsely-populated part of the country.
It wasn’t just love at first sight—it was love all the way. Every day in Italy’s Maremma region brought a new treasure town, a new delight, a new taste.
Walking the world and taking other people with me has given me an amazing lifestyle and a good part of my livelihood. When you live—or travel extensively—in a foreign country you get to know the places to go, the people to meet, and you make connections
Everybody has heard of Paris, Florence, Barcelona and the like. But then you have the rest of a vast continent—a treasure trove of time-worn towns and affable villages…secret islands and dramatic landscapes
When I tell people that I bought a house in Italy, the usual response is, “How fantastic!” When I tell them it’s located in Basilicata, they get a blank look and ask, “Where?”
A herd of goats files into the pasture below my patio. The flock leaps over the stream, threading its way through the field. They butt each other in exuberance as I savor my morning coffee and fresh rolls with creamy butter.
Dreaming of “La Dolce Vita” in beautiful Italy? If you decide to turn that dream into reality, the following tips may save you a lot of stress and a considerable sum of money.
It’s been just over a year since I let my lease expire, packed my bags, and took off around the world with my growing business and my small dog.
Few places on Earth ignite the romantic senses like Italy—it’s a country people dream of visiting, and once they do, they dream of returning. From the mouth-watering food, the exquisite wine and classic art, to the rolling hills of Tuscany, the glittering Mediterranean Sea and la dolce vita lifestyle, Italy is the stuff of dreams. While most visitors only fantasize about returning, some savvy expat food-lovers have found a viable way to make that dream a reality…
Few places on Earth ignite the romantic senses like Italy—it’s a country people dream of visiting, and once they do, they dream of returning. From the mouthwatering food, the exquisite wine and classic art, to the rolling hills of Tuscany, the glittering Mediterranean Sea and la dolce vita lifestyle, Italy is the stuff of dreams. In spite of the challenging economic climate, Italy is a place where you can follow your passions and turn a love of Italian food into a business by teaching others how to cook it.
Moments after my daughter and I arrived at Santa Lucia train station in Venice, we were headed down the Grand Canal. After soaking up all that beauty, she turned to me and said, “You know how you imagine a place and then you get there and it’s smaller than you expected it to be?
There’s a lot more to Italy’s underworld than old re-runs of The Godfather. This country is rich in a real underworld: caverns, grottoes and underground cities. Here are three of my favorite places for subterranean history and natural splendor.
The Israeli city of Tel Aviv begins its three-day Taste of the City festival on May 1. Fine-dining establishments serve free portions and chefs line the streets offering local delicacies like malabi—a creamy pudding flavored with rose water. Saint Lucia Jazz is the most anticipated musical event in the Caribbean calendar and runs from the start of the month until May 12.
If you’re in love with classic Europe and its history, romance and culture, take heart: Spain, Italy and France aren’t only for the vacationer who saves for months just to visit. Each one of these three countries has numerous small towns and villages that lie under the radar—places with enticingly affordable properties to rent or buy
Rome is packed with art, but while most visitors queue to visit the Borghese Gallery or the Vatican museums, there are spectacular collections you can have all to yourself. The grand palaces of Rome’s noble families were built—and decorated—during the Renaissance.
Most people have to work for a living. And only a fortunate few get out of bed each day excited to go to the office. It’s sad how many Americans are unhappy with their job. In fact, I used to be one of them. Then everything changed in one day. Thanks to America’s Great Recession, I was called into HR and terminated. Immediately. “Stop what you’re doing and pack your things,” I was told.
About a year ago, we sold our home and began a new chapter in our lives in northern Italy. We rented an elegant two-bedroom apartment one block from our favorite lake, Maggiore, for just under $1,000 per month. Verbania, Italy, where we live, is home to about 31,000 people. It sits on the western shore at the southern end of the long lake, which snakes up into Switzerland. An esplanade skirts the lakefront, with cafes and bars galore.
Each summer, my husband and I perch ourselves on the house’s upper terrace and gaze out at the valley below. Shimmering there in the heat is Florence. It thrills us that beneath the haze lies a trove of Renaissance treasures: Michelangelo’s David… Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome… Botticelli’s Venus, standing tall and tranquil on her scalloped sea shell. In just 20 minutes we can be down there…
As the day begins and the sun turns the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to gold, my husband Dave and I take a leisurely stroll. With our little dog Magic, we walk along the lake front to our favorite café, where for $4 we enjoy steaming cappuccinos and fresh buttery croissants. Our dog is welcome everywhere here, in cafés and restaurants, on buses, ferries, and trains.
Forty years ago, long before Under the Tuscan Sun was a twinkle in Frances Mayes’ eye, my parents-in-law bought a 14th-century stone house on a woodsy Tuscan hillside just outside the city of Florence. The foundation of the house dates back to the Roman period and the jagged bits of stone wall found on the lower terrace, underlining a stretch of silver-hued olive trees, is Etruscan.
When American Diana Strinati Baur and her husband, Michael Baur, started dreaming of living in Italy and owning a bed and breakfast, postcard-perfect images of la dolce vita and easy-going hospitality filled their heads and fueled their plans. “Fantasy is important,” says Diana. “Unless there is fantasy there will never be a reality. But there’s a time to let the fantasy go. It’s important to reckon with reality when doing a project like ours.”