Moving To Italy: Seven Months In

Getting past the six month mark feels significant, somehow. Like I’m on the home straight to the even bigger landmark of a year. That I have survived thus far without any major mishaps is a good feeling. I was on the verge of a major mishap last week, however, while trying to put money into my account. The story goes something like this.

Day 1 – I take money to the bank to put into my newly-opened account. The lady there says that it is a bank which operates almost entirely online so doesn’t take money. But not to worry. I can deposit money into my account via a different bank, downstairs. I go downstairs. The lady there says I need to use the machine to do it. I go to the machine. The machine says no. The lady says yes. The machine says no again. The machine wins. I leave. (1.5 hours of waiting in queues.)

Day 2 – I try a different branch. ‘Yes, you can deposit money here,’ they say. ‘Do you have your passport and tax code? No? Bring it with you and we can put the money in for you.’ (20 mins of waiting in queues.)

Day 3 – Back to original branch with tax code and passport. I go to the desk. Lady says to use machine. I say machine won’t let me. She comes to do it with me. Machine says no again. Machine wins. Lady says she can’t do it. I go upstairs to the actual bank that I have the account with. ‘Can’t put money in,’ I say. ‘Is it your first time using the card?’ ‘Yes. It’s a new account.’ ‘For your first transaction, you need to withdraw money. You can’t deposit money for your first transaction.’ ‘Wait, what? How can I withdraw money, if there is nothing there to withdraw?’ ‘You need to go to the desk to put the money in.’ Back downstairs. Back to the desk. I tell the lady. She takes my passport and tax code and starts putting info into computer. 20 minutes later (no exaggeration), computer says no. Computer wins. I go upstairs to explain. ‘Yep, you just need the iban number,’ she says. ‘Ah, ok, thanks.’ I go back down with my iban number. Go to the desk, present my iban number. She is furious. ‘You can’t put money in, we already tried.’ ‘But I have my iban number now, I didn’t have it before.’ ‘Where do I put this number in? I can only use your account number, not this iban number. There is nowhere to put it.’ I go back upstairs. ‘There is nowhere to put the iban number,’ I tell her. ‘You put it in where it asks for the account number,’ she replies. I end the madness by going home, confused, frustrated and feeling hopeless. What is the point of a bank account if I can’t put money into it? (2.5 hours.)

To conclude the story, I called the helpline and they confirmed that no, with this account, it is not possible to deposit actual money into my actual account, only to transfer money from another bank account into mine.


In other news, however, I can now read books in Italian! Since I arrived in Italy, I’ve been going, with alarming regularity (multiple visits per day sometimes) to a huge bookshop in the centre. I try in vain to read the books that look interesting. I flip through the pages, sadly excluded from the magic worlds inside because of my linguistic constraints. On Monday, however, I didn’t realise that I had wandered into the teenage section and I picked up a book at random and the most amazing thing happened. I was able to read it and to understand it! 95% of what I read made sense to me! What a revelation! So I started reading and one hour later I was still standing there, transfixed, not only by the wonder of being able to read in a second language but also by the story itself. I was able to read fast enough for the action to move at a pace which was actually exciting. I was on the verge of being late to meet someone for coffee so I bought it and raced off, my nose stuck inside the book the whole way.


At my next Italian lesson, I excitedly presented the book and told my teacher, “Posso leggere in Italiano adesso!” (I can read in Italian now) and that evening, I tried a little experiment. Instead of translating into English rapidly in my head while I read, I tried not translating at all. I just read and I left the words un-Englished in my brain and tried to see how it felt. And it felt fine. I still knew what was happening. It seems I am beginning the slow process away from constant translation and toward operating only in the second language when necessary.


Everything else is going well too. I went to the opera at the main theatre in town to see Lucia di Lammermoor. It was fabulous but slightly gutting that, just one day later, Andrea Bocelli was playing the male lead (how can one marry one’s potential husband if we’ve never even seen each other in the flesh?!). The weather is heating up which makes me feel a bit like my flesh might burn away from my bones and drop onto the ground in blobs while I walk (apparently July and August get even hotter). I still have a focaccia addiction that would rival any cocaine habit. And I am still receiving regular visitors from the UK, which means I get to constantly show off and boast about my adopted home, which is still completely fabulous.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Wonderful you are doing so well. I had some surgery in April and am, finally, about to get to drive and exercise and feel great again. Freedom at last!
    Reading in another language without translation sounds fabulous. My brain handles money, Math, Science, and Law of Attraction things, but doesn’t handle 2nd languages beyond recognizing what quite a few are and a few words and phrases of each.
    So glad for you!


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