Interview with AlisonK in Northern Lazio
Date of Interview: August 30, 2006
Area of Italy you live in?
Northern Lazio, province of Viterbo
Let us know a little about yourself?
Married and retired early with a son aged 19.
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
When I came to Italy in 1979 during for a Junior Year Abroad program I was smitten. When it came time to leave the US, I wanted to come back, and I managed to convince my British husband that it was close enough to the UK to allow him to visit there often.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
I contacted the San Francisco consulate about a Visa and was getting ready to do that whole process when they suggested that as the wife of a UK citizen I didn't need a visa. My husband got his PdS and then I easily got mine. Of course it took 9 months for it to come through, but 'LOOK MA! " No Visa!
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
Confusion with the Consulate and lack of meaningful communication from them was an initial problem. In the end we took all of our documents to the Questura in Viterbo, untranslated, and they were quite capable of dealing with them. We're also very lucky to have had a few friends here who helped us out in various ways.
How long have you been here?
We bought our apartment in July 2002, and I've been living here full-time since September 2004
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
Many: finding a gym that opens early in the morning has been a real problem! :-0 Dealing with life in a smaller town (15,000), making friends locally, dealing with local bureacracy (ENEL, ICI), getting to know local transportation facilities, getting used to having just half a day to get things done - I'm a morning person so afternoon store hours and late dinners are not for me and never will be.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
That having a partner less skilled in terms of speaking Italian would be a challenge. That you need to throw that romantic notion about life here right out the window or face serious disillusionment! That you will be lonely and that will be thousands of places you'll want to visit but you can't because you're waiting for ther Telecom guy or standing in line at the Post Office.
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
You'll accomplish far less here in a day than you will in many other cultures, and you need to be satisfied with slow progress. Do not expect to make many friends among Italian women. It takes bravery not to fall into the trap of thinking only about how you look and dress, and a sense of humor to deal with the stares you get for not doing so.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
I keep thinking of wonderful business ideas that *ought* to work here, but are probably doomed to failure because I find the Italians very resistant to new ideas and not very accepting of quirkiness. Also, the obstacles to having a business here that is a success are enormous. Several social things I've tried to organize have been a bust because the people invited have failed to show up.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
Well, I'll never be very patient or learn not to bitch about how late the gym opens, but I have become more aware of the need to be efficient in the face of a system that makes it practically impossible. I stare more brazenly, since everyone around me does too. My Italian has improved. I rely much more on my computer to be connected to people I care about, and I appreciate my American female friends more and miss them. Finally, I've lost some of my romantic notions, but I still have those wonderful memories!
Do you think that you will stay forever?
Don't know. I'd never have predicted ten years ago that I'd manage to get back here, so who can say? Maybe if I can find a good dentist!
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
Hobbies? Maybe a question about what classes a person could teach. For example, if there were someone on the board who could (and were willing to) teach me to play bridge or knit, I'd love to know that.