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Living in Italia

I chose to take a big leap and moved to Italia -- just me and my terrific dog, Jake. It is not a simple thing -- nothing like "Under the Tuscan Sun". You must obtain a visa in order to be in the country for more than 90 days out of 365. And the police stop people all the time to check your documents.

I was fortunate to receive a long term stay visa D -- no working, no student visa. If you are under 50 the Italians frown on granting you a visa unless you can prove that you have more than enough financial reserves in order to protect Italian jobs. Orvieto was my choice for a home base and it was perfect. I rented an apartment on line and arrived without knowing a soul, didn't speak the language (but I did speak Spanish and passable French) and had really no clue what to expect. There is a lot of beauracratic red tape (you must visit 5 different government offices and none are open on the same day so if you start out of order you will be wasting a lot of time).

The 18 months in Italia were amazing. I never felt unsafe (well, except once when I took a wrong turn in the bad neighborhoods in Napoli), and because I had a cute dog with me, I never felt alone. Italians (and many Europeans) have their priorities and their values straight. Family first. Not money. Not a new car or a bigger house. I was invited countless times to join strangers for Sunday lunch. They were not strangers for long!

I highly recommend the experience and I'm looking forward to formally retiring in Italia -- much more affordable there than in the States. Their health care is excellent, the cost of housing and other essentials is far less than the US, and the food/wine/surroundings are superb! I highly recommend having a car -- being able to jump in the car and head out to explore the backroads was a big part of why I loved my experience so much.

If you have questions, let me know. Orvieto is a wonderful place to live and is very centrally located. I could have lunch on the Mediterranean (an hour and 15 away), or visit Florence or Rome (about an hour and a half away), and it was about 4 hours to get to Lake Como or Sirolo (on the Adriatic -- spectacular place).

Ciao!
Caterina e Jake

Posted by
4783 posts

Caterina!

Welcome back!

Many of us have been wondering how your move to Italy worked out?

I loved Orvieto and would love to live in Italia, but only if I didn’t have family here!

I’d love to read about your many adventures. Please let me know if you plan to write a report, a book, or a blog.

How’s Jake?

Ciao!

Posted by
13213 posts

Thanks for the report, Caterina. We are not able to move to Italy due to grandchildren we would miss too much, but we like to go for a month now and then. Orvieto is on my list as a base for a month visit, and thanks to you I will move it to the top. We do have friends there, and it seems centrally located. We don’t need to visit Rome again but would love to see more of the area.

Posted by
5151 posts

Thanks, Caterina. Sigh. If we weren't bound up with a family situation... (elderly parents, one of whom is ill.) I could see living in Italy, even for part of the year. So post your adventures here, and let us live vicariously through you. Buona fortuna!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi, Caterina - I, too, am dreaming of spending some significant time in Italy, at least 6 months. Can you tell me what you did about a car? Was planning to attend an Italian language school as part of the experience - how did you get along without Italian at first?

Loved reading about you and Jake!

Grazie!

Posted by
2150 posts

Wow! Love reading your report and will dream about following suit someday. Hope you write more soon.
Orvieto is a neat town, my RS 17 day Best of Italy tour spent 2 nights at a resort just outside the town. Admired the beautiful cathedral and explored the Etruscan Museum, very enjoyable day.

Posted by
681 posts

Sounds absolutely wonderful. Can't wait to read more about your adventures.

Posted by
104 posts

Audrey, there is a unique program through France for Americans and Canadians to rent a brand new French car for a minimum of 30 days and maximum of 6 months (if you are traveling with a family member they can rent for the second 6 months and you keep trading the contract for as long as you like). The cost is very reasonable, especially if you pick up and drop in France. I chose a four door large Peugeot sedan which comfortably sat 4 tall Americans and all their luggage. The rental provides bumper to bumper coverage including personal medical. And a BRAND NEW CAR!! A little known extra benefit — the license plates are registered to France. No tickets. Zero. That saved me 100’s in parking tickets when I was new to the color coded parking system!

Once my 6 month lease ended I bought a used Alfa Romeo turbo diesel wagon (station wagons are very popular in Europe). I hated saying goodbye to that Alfa. But you cannot take a used car to the states unless it is more than 25 years old or has been through all of the safety crash tests.

In order to buy a car you must have your Codice Fiscal as well as your resident card. Things change so be sure to research all things automobile before you leave. If you are staying more than 90 days you must obtain a visa.

I chose the Italian health care plan over the policy offered by US companies. Very reasonable. And great care! I did purchase an emergency air ambulance policy but would not do that again. The hospital outside Orvieto is first class and if it’s a serious trauma they will air evacuate to Rome.

Once you have all your documents take photos. You will need your Codice to buy anything more than groceries. And to buy a car you must have many more documents including Italian auto insurance. The French lease program takes care of all that and you prepay so there are no surprises!
Have a wonderful time and please keep posting!!

Posted by
21 posts

Hello Caterina and congratulations for making your dream come true!
I'm in the process of doing the same; I want to spend 1 year in France at the end of next year.
I may not be as young as you, or have your budget, but I'm determined to make it work.

Besides being a long time dream of mine, it is a also challenge in many ways, but something I want to do before age or other circumstances become an obstacle.

I do have a question for you, if you don't mind.
Traveling alone as a woman I guess requires to be a little more cautious, and I think I'm prepared in that sense, but of all the "fears or uncertainties" that may cross my mind about this adventure, there is the one of feeling lonely. Your dog seems to have kept you company; I don't have a dog and not planning on getting one.
I am not a very social person, but have realized that reaching out to meet up groups and getting involved in other activities could be the way to avoid this.
Any advice?

Thank you
Sylvia

Posted by
1934 posts

Caterina, I went back and read your previous posts after reading this one. What a wonderful adventure! I am sure you will be an inspiration to others to just “do it”!

Posted by
826 posts

Hi There,

The big difference is that you will be a resident and not a tourist and so in Europe you have a right to medical care through the national system. So before buying any package check out your rights and obligations in the country you intend to set up house in.

As an example here in Switzerland all residents must joint the Swiss system. On the other hand all Swiss health insurance must cover pre existing conditions from day one - no waiting period.

Posted by
1164 posts

This was a terrific read!
Many of us dream of spending more than just a few weeks at a time in Europe, so any detailed information you care to share will be most appreciated.
Thanks!

Posted by
1549 posts

I remember reading some of your previous posts. My husband and I are now retired and living in Verbania, Italy. We just received our Permesso di Soggiorno cards this week. What were some of your favorite pkaces to visit in Italy? And we too are traveling with our Chocolate lab Barley.