Interview with Peter and Diane in Lunigiana
Name: Peter and Diane
Date of Interview: Oct. 9, 2006
Area of Italy you live in?
Lunigiana in Tuscany
Let us know a little about yourself?
We are married, retired US Government employees (since December 1996)
Why did you decide/have you decided to move to Italy?
For several years we dreamed of moving to Europe--Germany, France, or Italy, primarily. But we fell in love with Italy and started looking into the possibility of making a move from the US. The 2004 election results created the tipping point that pushed us to make the move as soon as possible.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
After several visits during which we purchased a house, we applied for extended stay visas through the Italian Consulate in Miami. We found the staff there to be extremely responsive and helpful as we started to gather all of the infomation needed to support our visa applications. After reading on this forum about the difficulties many people encountered in dealing with local Consulates, we were pleasantly surprised to find the Miami office so efficient and helpful. Fabio Miccolis, who is responsible for visas, got back to me within hours of every email I ever sent. With his help--and my compulsive need to cover all bases--we arrived in Miami with more than enough documentation to demonstrate that we had the financial resources, proper health insurance coverage, and adequate proof of housing to ensure that we could live in Italy without becoming a burden on the nation. We submitted our application in Miami on Monday and received our visas back in our hands by the following Wednesday. So we would recommend that anyone applying for a visa be very thorough in preparing his/her application. Providing more information than necessary is better than not having the required documents.
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
We had no problem obtaining our visas.
How long have you been here?
We arrived on June 14, 2006 and have been here for just about 4 months.
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
The primary obstacle we have had to deal with is the language. We took Italian lessons for several months before we left but there is nothing like being in a country to show you how inadequate those lessons are. In our area--Lunigiana--almost no one speaks English so we are totally immersed in learning Italian and our skills improve every day.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
How important learning the language really is, especially when you live outside of the cities where tourists are likely to be.
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
Inspite of the language problems--which we are overcoming with the help of our neighbors, all of whom are delighted to assist us learn how to speak Italian--we are constantly amazed by the warmth and generousity of the Italian people. Part of this is, we have been told, because we came here with an open mind and open heart and we have tried to become part of the community. People who come and expect to recreate their lives in the US or the UK will be disappointed. Those who come to live a different life will find a simple, more tranquil life but one filled with its own joys and irritations.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
We both have become more patient, more willing to accept things as just the way it is here in Italy. We understand that thing don't always happen in the speed with which we have become familiar. And, it doesn't really matter.
Do you think that you will stay forever?
Who knows what life will bring especially at our age, but right now we expect to live in Italy for the rest of our lives.
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
It might be interesting to see what kinds of great, if unexpected, experiences encountered. We certainly have had some and they have made such a difference in our lives here.
Can you think of anything that you would like seen added to this site?
Personally, I'd like to see what interesting/amazing/funny experiences other people have. We have been invited to several village get togethers where our neighbors share food and wine and then spend the evening singing the old songs that many of them learned from their parents and grandparents. We didn't expect this and have been delighted to been included.
Thank you and the other forum members for sharing their insights and experiences. We spent more than a year preparing for this move and the forum provided us with a great deal of information and assistance. It is important for people considering such a momentous move to see how others have dealt with the experience.