Ah, Florence, Tuscany, Italy. Does the idea of chucking it all and moving to Italy intrigue you? Many friends and acquaintances have expressed envy or horror in equal doses when discussing what I have done. What is it really like to do it and how close is the reality to the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun?”
Um, well…no one ever seems to remember the pitfalls Diane Lane encountered in the film. I was well versed enough (thanks to the input of a number of friends who had lived here previously) that I traveled here four times before and took a lot of time planning what I needed to do. The romantic vision of Tuscany is accurate in the scenery and the food, wine and fashion. But books such as “Too Much Tuscan Sun” and “The New Italians” give a realistic balance to the view that all is rosy and perfect in Tuscany.
What are some of the positives and negatives involved in relocating to a new country, learning a new language and embracing a new lifestyle? It is definitely not something for someone who is not self-reliant and extremely patient. Unfortunately, I have self-reliance in abundance but patience is a virtue I have never acquired. Considering I have a “permanent partial disability” that has put some serious limits on my physical capabilities you would think I would have become more patient…but ADD overrides even ruptured spinal disks. I want to live in Italy and I want to do it NOW.
* Tuscany really is that beautiful. Those lush green hills of picture postcard fame are actually like that. There is no great photographer needed.
* Food and wine are fantastic here. The quality versus price of virtually all imbibable substances is astounding.
* Art in Florence is to bumper stickers in LA.
* Architecture is stunning here. A hotel in Florence, a villa in the surrounding hills, a convent or a restaurant near the Mediterranean are all gorgeous.
* A more natural style and pace of life are the norm here. Legislation caps the workweek at a 66 hour max, but typical is 35 to 40 unless you own your own business and six weeks of vacation is standard.
* The sense of history is stunning…especially to someone who was born and raised in areas where the only buildings more than 100 years old were the Spanish Missions.
* Bureaucracy here is unbelievable. Visas, banking, contracts, notarizations etc. are a nightmare and the chances of this changing=snowball in Dante’s Inferno.
* Expenses are high. The almighty dollar is not. The exchange rate, coupled with the terminally high expenses that are typical for Florence specifically and Italy in general, make for an unhappy face when looking at bank statements.
* The acceptance of American and other foreign women here is not universal by any means. Many, but not all, Italian women view foreigners as competition and many men, but not all, have ulterior motives.
Things I love:
* No one looks askance at you when you have a glass of wine at lunch
* I can smoke a cigarette after dinner at my outdoor table and without being told that I am polluting myself and everyone around me.
* I can roll my Rs.
* The speaking with my hands that was so strange in California is normal here.
* I can and do walk virtually everywhere
So how close is the reality to the movie? The residual superstitiousness was accurate. The thunderstorm was accurate. The ease of buying a house versus a vehicle was accurate. Uncured/unbrined olives really will make your face do that. What they didn’t show: visas, codice fiscale, permisso di soggiorno, transportation strikes and a six week wait for an internet connection.
But as Miss Carol Flores would say, “It had to be [great]…I mean heck…SHE’S IN ITALY FOR CHRIST SAKE!! 😛 😀 Heehee…