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Finally here for my year long stay!!

The journey to receive a Long Term Stay Visa for a year in Italy, finding a place to live, shutting down my life in the US, deciding what to ship for a full year, getting my beloved dog's pet passport paperwork and finally the travel to get here ..... What a journey!!

Jake and I are in Paris for 3 nights before our flight to Rome. With all the issues with international flights into Rome I decided to fly nonstop from DFW to CDG and enjoy a few nights in my (so far) favorite city. The journey was so easy. Partly because I truly splurged.

This is a Life Sabbatical following many stressful events in my life over the past 5 years. I sold my house. Sold most of my furnishings. My car. I am taking a lump sum of cash to fund this year. I'm not going frugal. I'm making decisions based on a list of dreams. There have been travel dreams in my head for as long as I remember.

Jake and I are staying at the Four Seasons in Paris. I was more nervous about navigating CDG with my dog, carry on and three over stuffed suitcases than any other part of this journey. Who knew how the Four Seasons could cut through it all? There was an agent to greet me as soon as I entered the terminal. She took my carry on bags and handed me a chilled bottle of Evian and asked me to follow her. She held up her badge and walked me straight to the front of Immigration. I presented my passport, he checked my visa, stamped my passport and welcomed me. And Jake. At baggage claim she whisked my bags into a cart, waved her badge and took us straight to a customs agent who asked to see my paperwork for Jake. After a quick review of each page he stamped the last page and gave Jake a good head/ear rubbing before bidding us farewell.

I had arranged for a car and driver and the Four Seasons agent called while we were in Customs. He had the car at the curb and whisked the bags into the trunk.

Since we landed at 0730 the rush hour traffic was horrendous. He asked me if he could take a route that avoided the highway. I've never enjoyed a ride into Paris so much!!! He took us through parks and explained the Louis Vuiton Foundation before pointing it's extraordinary architecture out. We continued through tree lines boulevards and he stopped so Jake could take a walk and "do his business" after a ten hour flight and 3 hours before/after.

Upon arrival at the hotel there was an assistant manager waiting at the curb to greet us. With a dog cookie for Jake and a Mimosa for me.

This hotel has been on my "ultimate dream list" for over 30 years. I can only say it has far exceeded my wildest dreams.

We were upgraded to a gorgeous suite. Spans half the entire floor with wraparound balconies. A dog bed and bowls awaited Jake. Bowls of flowers, a basket of pastries and juices for me and a bottle of champagne iced and ready.

I realize most on this site do not splurge at this level. I would just say that there are once in a lifetime moments. My arrival for my year in Italy could not have been more extraordinary and special.

Jake and I fly to Rome on Monday and will be greeted by our landlord's son who will deliver us to our new home in Orvieto!!!

My blog is coming soon!!

For anyone who dreams of living in Italy for a year and seeing all of Europe - it is possible!! On any budget!!! Just do your homework to be granted the long term stay visa. Not an easy thing to accomplish unless you have every aspect in order.
Will be back with my blog address soon.

I cannot thank you all for your help in getting me here!
Roberto - you have been amazing!! As have many others!
I now know so much about the logistics for an American to live a fantastic dream! Did you know of the WWII loophole for lease/buy back of French Peugout autos? Amazing deal!!
Back soon after I arrive in Orvieto and complete the steps for being a residenzia!!!!

Posted by
752 posts

WooHoo! I love your beautiful story. Happy to know that you and Jake are getting the Royal treatment. What a Fabulous start for you both. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by
4539 posts

Hi Txgirl,

Congratulations! What an amazing start to your new life in Europe!

I'm looking forward to reading about your journey on your blog.

Enjoy Paris!

Posted by
11613 posts

Good for you, and Jake! Live the dream!

Posted by
11736 posts

Great report. I want to be YOU!!!

I have this funny picture of you sprawled out on a posh bed with Jake, surrounded by room service goodies and looking for all the world like Home-Alone Kevin at the Plaza. HA!

Anxiously awaiting the next chapter… :O)

Posted by
247 posts

So happy to hear you've had a wonderful start to your trip. Wishing you many more fantastic days ahead. I've really enjoyed reading about your adventure!

Posted by
672 posts

You're living my dream! So looking forward to your blog.

Posted by
362 posts

I agree with Kathy.............I WANT TO BE YOU!!!!!!!!!! Please let us know how to access the blog when it's up and running.

Posted by
70 posts

Looking forward to reading your blog as well.

Posted by
1861 posts

I'm so happy to read about this wonderful start to your fabulous year long journey. You and Jake have worked hard to get to this point, done all the "right" things and you have earned and deserve all the pampering you can get. You are living your dream; not everyone can make that happen for themselves. Like others, I am excited to read your blog when you are ready to post. Well done, txgirl620.

Posted by
95 posts

You are living my dream! We have our first trip booked for April 2016. I can't wait. I look forward to reading about your experiences.

Posted by
597 posts

Congratulations on going for your dream! That is so inspiring! Can't wait to read about your journey!

Posted by
244 posts

So happy to hear you two made it to Paris. What a dream come true! After a difficult year (my husband's health scare), I was treated to a trip of a life time with my sisters and cousin. It was the most exciting trip to Paris with the girls! The entire trip was healing, joyful, and gratitude filled! Tears of joy at every turn. Wishing you the best. Can't wait to read your blog!

Posted by
792 posts

I'm curios about a WWII loophole about a lease. AutoEuope already has a great Peugeot lease program for extended stays. I have one.

Posted by
708 posts

WooHoo! So glad your grand adventure has begun! Enjoy it all! And get that blog up soon!

Posted by
767 posts

I am so happy for you and excited to read about your adventures (and of course, Jake's adventures).

Posted by
18 posts

I believe I responded to another question you asked about this blog, and this makes me even more excited to read it! This sounds like a wonderful beginning for a wonderful adventure!

Posted by
127 posts

How wonderful that you are living your dream. I hope that you have a blog that we can all read.

Posted by
104 posts

Jake and I have arrived in Orvieto!! It is very hot as the heat wave hitting most of Europe has daytime highs close to 100!

We loved the fields and fields of huge sunflowers, vineyards and olive orchards as me neared Orvieto on the Autostrada. The ancient monasteries and walled cities perched up on hilltops are amazing. Orvieto is simply beautiful!

Not sure about actually parking a car in the courtyard. Might be a very interesting learning process.

My hosts/landlord family welcomed me with a fantastic assortment of italian wines, cheeses, meats and sweets. Taking me to a family friend's ristorante and then it's time to unpack!

Tomorrow Jake and I do all the necessary checking in. Polizia, Vetenarian and then learn our way to the market and back. For now the narrow cobblestone streets look pretty similar. I'm sure we will learn the landmarks. Or get to know neighbors to point us in the right direction.

I'm working on the set up for our blog. We will take you along with us as we continue our adventure!!!
Jake and Catherine

Posted by
1861 posts

Sounds like all is on track and your dream continues...........I know you will enjoy Orvieto. I was there on a tour just a few days ago and it was hot then, too! The sunflowers were just beginning to flower. Lovely town, even lovelier people. Is Jake enjoying his adventure?

Posted by
4357 posts

THIS Texas Girl is!

I thought the whole experience right up to the mimosa was fabulous enough ;-) Note to self...

I've sent you a PM to get your blog address when you're ready to give it out. For now, just relax and enjoy being THERE!

[ I bet Jake really appreciated the driver allowing him to 'rest' ;-) ]

Posted by
100 posts

Catherine, thanks for sharing your adventure! I can't wait to continue to read about all that you and Jake are up to. Enjoy la dolce vita!

Posted by
1023 posts

lol - I was almost at the end of your description when it dawned on me that Jake is your dog and not your husband. "gave Jake a good head/ear rubbing" made me suspicious and "Jake could take a walk and "do his business"" convinced me.

If you go to Venice you might enjoy this - unfortunately not very up-to-date - blog: Some of the old posts are truly funny IMO

Posted by
104 posts

First 100 days in Italy! High points:
The wonderful people. Has not been lonesome experience at all!!!!

Tenor that came to beautiful villa hotel outside Venice to sing just for me and Jake. Owner of Villa Franceschi is a truly gracious man and I highly recommend this Relais & Chateau hotel in Mira. Venice is 20 minutes away by car. Hotel is simply wonderful with huge park

The countryside is breathtaking.

Fell in love with Lake Como! Arrives to stay 3 nights. Stayed a month!! There are no crushing throngs of tourists as in Venice, Rome (the WORST) or Florence The charming villages around the lake are prettier than Burano, Cinque Terre and provide wonderful restaurants and history lessons!

Orvieto is a beautiful place. We take an evening stroll and greet our neighbors, especially the dogs and owners. The town of Civita at sunset was incredible. The hike up well worth it.

I can even understand a lot of Italian if spoken slowly and clearly. And everyone has been able to communicate with hand gestures and broken English/Italian. I'm now hooked on used shops. Some have garage sale junk. Others antiques mixed with junk.

Food and wine. What else is there to say??? Have learned a lot of new culinary skills. Octopus is my new favorite! Making fresh pasta is really easy!!! So is fresh tomato sauce.

I do miss Mexican food and going to movies.

Only place I won't return - Parma. Antiques exhibition was fun but Parma only place I've felt uneasy.

Gave up on blog. Way too time consuming. If you would like my periodic photos with comments via Smilebox send me a PM with a email address or tell me if you'd like to follow via FB. Jake loves Italy and has learned enough of the language to pick up on food orders.

Thanks to all for your advice and help! I am certain I will be back to ask more questions! Catherine

Posted by
31077 posts


It's great to hear that you're doing so well although not surprising, as after all, you're in Italy!

Hopefully you'll have time to post periodic updates here (I don't "do" Facebok so wouldn't have access to that).

Posted by
694 posts

Sounds wonderful. All of it. Wishing you & Jake a lovely year in Europe! And I would like to follow your adventures on FB please. Thanks!

Posted by
560 posts

I was just thinking about you the other day and how you and Jake are doing. So glad you posted. It sounds wonderful. Keep those posts coming!

Posted by
1446 posts

Love reading about your adventure & would love to see your pics & follow your journey on FB. How can we look you up on FB?