Moving to Italy: One Year In

Ok, after month number 8 of blogging every month, things were thrown up in the air for a bit with a few trips to the UK (one for work, one for fun) and a trip to Luxembourg (fun). Then another trip to the UK for an important person’s birthday. Then another trip to the UK for Yestival, the big annual festival of The YesTribe. So it’s all been a bit hectic in an utterly lovely way. But it does mean that I haven’t done an update in ages.

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                             Yestival

So Friday 2nd November was my one year anniversary in Italy. One year ago on Friday, I said yes to a completely new and unknown adventure – moving alone to a country I had wanted to live in but where I had to start entirely from the beginning. I left behind the people and life I had known in London (which was awesome, by the way) and went to somewhere where I had no guarantees about anything. I didn’t have a job, a bank account, a friendship group, anything. But bit by bit, things came together. I found a job I love after only ten days. The road to a bank account was slower and still not really resolved, but it’s workable now…ish. As for a friendship group, I spent the first two months wondering why anyone would want to be friends with a girl who can hardly say anything (I was having my struggles with the language at the time). In time (one month after my conclusion that I would never have any friends here), I started an Italian branch of The YesTribe, which went from strength to strength, especially when the summer kicked off and we spend long days climbing in the mountains around Liguria or stand-up paddleboarding in the sea or riding our bikes along the coast roads or walking on one of the many trails in this area or camping under the stars.

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It has all been far more than I could have expected before I moved here. I would never have imagined it could all go so well. And perhaps because I had been through the process of upheaving my life and it had been successful, I decided to do it again.

Three days ago, on November 1st, I moved into a new apartment in a little village in the mountains above Genova. It started as a tiny seed of an idea and as everything fell into place, I followed my gut and took the leap. This leap has been interesting in many ways. No-one here speaks English, not really. The chef at the restaurant managed to tell me what his favourite music is in English, but really there is only Italian spoken here. I am the only native English speaker for miles around. And I love it. I’m now good enough with my Italian that I was able to look around the apartment and agree on the terms of the contract in Italian. I am good enough to have arrived at the restaurant, asking to eat dinner, and been put on a table with three locals as there was no other space for me, and to have spent the whole evening chewing the fat with relative strangers who had become my friends by the end of the evening.

I am not, however, good enough at Italian to have electricity or lighting at my new place! Thankfully, not a lot relies on it, as I have a gas cylinder for cooking and a wood burner for heat. And thankfully, I love pretending I’m in history so pottering around carrying candles is not a problem for me. I actually kind of love it.

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And people are kind in the mountains. Goodness me, are they kind! The three people I sat with yesterday evening all knew about my lack of electricity. In fact, the whole village seems to know about it. Given that this village consists of 1 butcher, 1 cafe/bar, 1 restaurant, 1 newsagent, 1 mini-market and 1 focacceria (and a post office open on Monday and Friday mornings only), the news about the newcomer in town has spread like wildfire, made more interesting by the fact she wanders around her apartment by candlelight! One man at dinner yesterday lives opposite me and so got an extension lead and brought electricity to me through my front door so I could heat the water for a warm shower! Another local lady got together with some others and made me a little care package containing food they had made, some tomatoes, a warm fluffy blanket for the cold nights, a really nice waterproof coat that will be perfect for cycling, crockery for my kitchen as I don’t have much, teatowels, oven gloves and a tablecloth. All the things I needed to get set up here. Can I reiterate that I have been in this village for three days?!

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                            My view 

Another awesome thing that happened is that on Friday evening, I had been down to Genova (I cycled, which is so easy, as it’s entirely downhill!) but came back by bus as it was raining in the evening. The next morning, I realised I didn’t have my purse. Hoping against hope, I cycled to a village called Torriglia, which is the last stop for the bus I took. I asked the men standing there if they knew whether a purse had been handed in. There was nothing. They discussed who might have been the driver for that bus, called everyone they could think of, said they thought it had been found, then said it hadn’t, then advised I go to the police and report it stolen. I was dejectedly cycling away, wondering what on earth I would be able to do without it. It had had everything in it. Everything. Without my bank cards, I wouldn’t even be able to get any cash to see me over while I waited for new ones to arrive. Nothing.

Then I got a phone call. The driver of that bus had found it! He wasn’t working but he would drive to Torriglia to bring it to me! O, the relief! I ran to get some thank-you-chocolates and left them with the guys who had spent so long calling around trying to find the purse, and cycled back to my village. Thank goodness for good people, hey? Thank goodness for good people.

Aside from the people, my heart is happy in the mountains. It was also very happy next to the sea, don’t get me wrong. But there is something lovely about the endless rolling green hills that puts a smile on my face and makes me want to go and get my shoes and hands dirty trying to climb over the next peak, and the next, and the next…

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A good friend once said to me, in wonderment, “Every time you leap, you manage to land ok.”

And I replied, “It’s because I’m not afraid to leap, that the landing goes well.”

And it is true. By not having overly strong emotional attachments to particular places, I am able to focus on exciting things in the future, without dwelling on the wonderful places that are no longer my home. My home has been many different places and I have mostly always been ok. Therefore, I have an understanding that, for me, my emotional wellbeing is not reliant on places. Yes, being in places I love makes me feel fantastic and contributes hugely to my enjoyment of life. But they are not the foundation of it. Moving up to this village was done on a whim, essentially, an idea I had only a couple of weeks ago. I did it because I wanted to. Nothing else. Although I absolutely love the apartment that I have lived in for the past year, I knew that I could leave it and find a new place to love. And once I had unpacked here in the mountains and put up some pictures of my nephew, I knew I was home.

Here’s to the next adventure!

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