Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it’s still a beautiful world. Be happy. Strive to be free”–thank you, Max Ehrmann

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it’s still a beautiful world. Be happy, strive to be free.”

I have always remembered this saying ever since a good friend wrote it in my high school yearbook my junior year (are you there, Carol?). I fully believe this, too. It reminds me of the words of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who was murdered in a concentration camp and whose diary was turned into a best-selling book and hit movie. In one of her last postings, she wrote, “Despite everything, I really believe that people are good at heart”. Continue reading

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Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“…that’s got me down so low”–thank you, Linda Ronstadt

I’ve been home for three days. Never even crossed my mind to write anything. I’m not sure why. A friend of mine back home asked me to write something “soon” so they can see what’s going on.

I’m not sure if it’s the let down after a trip or just the frustration that has set in from realizing that this “experiment” won’t work out. But, I’ve been down. Other than going out for a caffe’ and to have my favorite spaghetti, I have not been out of my apartment much. I’ve gone to my two tutoring classes and my chiropractor. But I have no desire to do anything else. No grocery shopping. No travel to local towns. No walks on the beach. No weightlifting.

I have slept. A LOT. Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“You say it’s your birthday!”–thank you, Beatles

Today is my 56th birthday. The first thought that comes to mind is…how did I get this old? I don’t feel old. I’m in pretty darn good shape. Where did the years go? I have to say that it was my forties that went by the fastest. The fifties are flying by even faster. I have a fear that each successive decade will move even more rapidly. A good friend of mind, (you there, Geno?) told me over twenty years ago that time moves more quickly as we get older because, relative to our age, a year isn’t as long. I thought that was very prescient.

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Anyway, enough of the hand-wringing. Today is my birthday! And I’m spending it in Cefalu’, a quaint resort city about an hour by train from Palermo in Sicily.

Yesterday had been spent kinda laid back. I had been charging through Palermo at warp speed and needed a break. So, I slept in and took Palermo more slowly. Just walked through neighborhoods and along the waterfront. Like I always say, the best way to discover is to do so without an agenda.  Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–Palermo, DAY 2

My first full day in Palermo saw me traipsing all through town. Before I woke up, in my sleep, I could hear the rain pounding outside. I hoped, even in my slumber, that the rain gods would get it out of their system so I wouldn’t be drenched.

TEATRO MASSIMO

Teatro Massimo at night

After I woke up and got dressed, I went down to the hotel cafe for the continental breakfast. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. The scrambled eggs and bacon were ice cold and the milk was warm. The cappuccinos were decent, though.

I showered, brushed and flossed and ran my hands through my ever-growing mane. Hmm, the waves help make the unkempt look work. Is this the way authors wear their hair? No matter. I  I walked outside. The rain became intermittent throughout the day and actual blue sky sitings occurred on occasion. Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–Palermo, DAY 1

Well, I made it to Palermo. And I made it unscathingly. Considering my past travel experiences, arriving in Palermo, even though it’s quite near, is nothing short of extraordinary. No planes crashed, there were no deaths, and I arrived with all my appendages intact. Although, I forgot to pack extra shirts. Tacky American that I am, I will probably just purchase some glittery Lenny Kravitz t-shirts at an outdoor kiosk somewhere.

I had to get up early this morning (7:00 a.m. is early for me these days) to make the 8:10 a.m. bus to Fiumicino Airport in Rome. The day before I had had a long, comatose nap that made it hard to sleep. I sat up in bed last night reading Roots to get inspiration for my next book before realizing it was nearing 2:30 a.m. I needed to get to sleep somehow despite my earlier nap and a twenty ounce Coke at dinner. Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy, “You’re makin’ me dizzy, my head is spinnin'”–thank you, Tommy Roe

In the continuing saga of my mobile phone service, I have decided to dump Vodafone. I am serious when I saw that this is, without a doubt, the most disgraceful company I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. I know I tend to speak in hyperbole, but in this case, I am understating the situation. Why? Because there are no superlatives to describe these shysters. They make Comcast look like Mary Poppins.

The other day, I had to pay another $25 to get my phone (300 minutes) and texting service (300 messages) working again. Prior to this, I had purchased about 500 minutes of talk time and 500 text messages. I make about two calls (literally) per month. I send about thirty text messages and most are on Whatsapp. Nevertheless, like clockwork, phone and texting ended and I was told I needed to “re-charge”. Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“There’s a new kid in town”–thank you, Eagles

So today turned into a  bust. After that grueling 32 mile bike ride, I was dead on my feet. I took a nap and still slept like a rock when I went to bed that night. Was it the three pounds of spaghetti and vino bianco locale? Who knows? I do remember feeling as I woke up that I was too weak to move.

Because of this, I didn’t visit Colonella. I didn’t do a whole lot of anything. Bought groceries. Did laundry. Whoopee. The life of a king.

Yes, the mundanities of life must be attended to even in Italia. Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter”–thank you, Don Henley

I re-read a posting from early November. I also looked back at some photos from a year ago. Isn’t it amazing how much can change in such a short time?

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Last year in January I had just returned from spending the holidays in Italy, Paris and Amsterdam. At the time, I had no idea I’d end up moving to Italy later in the year. By early November of last year I was preparing for my relocation. When I re-read my postings, I was immediately catapulted back to January and early November and my mindset at the time.

When November arrived, I was filled with excitement. And just a bit of concern due to the unknown. Now, in only two months of living in Italy, I have already become acclimated to the point where I have a good life and feel completely comfortable. Nothing feels strange. I have my routine. I’ve got a tutor. I’m starting to travel around the area. I’ve got a trip to Sicily scheduled for my birthday and I’ve got my visits to Lviv, Ukraine and Krakow, Poland arranged to research my next book.  Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“Footloose”–thank you, Kenny Loggins

I have to admit that I’m filling somewhat with trepidation in planning and executing all these trips. Sicily, Krakow, Lviv. They all require organization extraordinaire. Now, everyone knows how organized and anal retentive I am. However, sometimes I wonder if I’m starting to lose my faculties. These trips are starting to intimidate me.

Even though I’ve traveled around the U.S., all throughout Europe, and have even been to Dubai, I find myself more and more unnerved about travel. There’s a reason for this. Let’s look at recent history.

Continue reading

Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“Vacation’s all I ever wanted…”–thank you, Go-Go’s

Life here in Italy is becoming more and more normal. My cousin, Sergio, was here for part of the weekend to sign final papers for the sale of his apartment in my building. He was very happy to hear how I’m settling in. I’ve still got my favorite cafe and bar and I have a grocery store that I patronize all the time. I now have my tutor scheduled and I’ve started lifting weights. I take walks and bike rides along the beach. I’m getting a routine down.

I’ve decided I’m going to spend my birthday (January 26) in Sicily. I’ve been wanting to go somewhere and Sicily is very inexpensive. I’ve purchased my flight (only $117 round trip!) and reserved a hotel for four nights. One catch–I have to fly out of Rome which means a 3 hour bus ride from here (and back). Oh well. Flying out of the nearest airport, Ancona, would cost $468.  Continue reading