When my husband and I decided to move to Italy, we knew we loved the lifestyle and the Italian culture. We just hadn’t realised how affordable life here could be. Since we don’t live in a touristy area or an art city like Rome, daily life here—in the southern region of Basilicata—is surprisingly inexpensive.
Life in Italy…three words: La dolce vita. The Italians know how to enjoy life. In fact, they’re famous for it. My husband and I live in Basilicata, a hidden gem tucked into the ankle of “the boot,” speckled with verdant valleys, deep forests, rolling hills and alpine peaks.
With so much to see in Italy, many travellers 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…
My husband had to yank the steering wheel and stop the car to avoid a crash. The snake-like road that we were driving along gave such a dramatic view of Pitigliano that we couldn't help but pull over and gape. The enchanting stone village on its high bluff just begs to be admired.
In 2006, my husband, Bryan, and I decided we wanted a different lifestyle in a different locale. Italy had long been a favourite holiday spot and with each visit we imagined what it would be like to live there. We’d return home after a visit longing for the piazzas where people gathered just for the joy of being together; the leisurely meals prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients; the cascading flower boxes outside centuries-old windows. Real cappuccino.
Rome is undeniably alluring with its historical monuments, jaw-dropping artwork, trendy restaurants and cultural events. But living in the city is expensive and sometimes just not desirable for those who prefer the rhythm of small town life. Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. There are some beautiful towns where you can enjoy a laidback lifestyle while still being able to reach the centre of Italy’s capital city Rome in just an hour.
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 neighbourhood.