Four weeks to go!

29 Sep
29 September 2016. Four weeks from today we fly out of Roma, headed back to Portland. This was not an easy decision and throughout the next few weeks I will share some of our departure activities as well as thoughts on separating from Italy. It’s been four-and-a-half lovely years, which have passed like a nanosecond!
The path that brought us to Italy was accidental at best.
  • 2008 – Ric got his first passport in 40 years and said, “Let’s go to Europe.” I had been begging to go for years. All he ever wanted to do was go to Hawaii. He thought Europe was just full of old stuff. I said, “The U.K., France, or Italy: You pick and I’ll plan the trip.” So Italy is his fault.
  • March 2009 – I started Italian courses at Portland Community College. One night each week. Let me tell you, it was not enough.

    Atop Basilica San Marco, October 2010, where we fell in love with Italy.

    Atop Basilica San Marco, October 2010, where we fell in love with Italy.

  • October 2010 – We took a three-week trip to Italy. On Day 4, Ric famously said (while sitting in the sun in Venice drinking wine), “This is fabulous. We have to come back.”
  • We started joking about moving to Italy. If a job came up in Europe, should I try for it? Could we afford it? They’d never pick me, would they?
  • I applied for positions in Copenhagen and London and was rejected. In September 2011, I applied for Rome, never believing I’d be selected for such a big demotion.

    At Pompeii, December 2011.

    At Pompeii, December 2011.

  • December 2011 – We took a one-month trip to Italy. Yup, still loved it! On Morning 3, I woke up to an email from my boss asking “Did you want to move to Rome?” He had no idea I had applied.
  • After a winter and spring spent moving the entire organization to a newly constructed building I would never work in, in May 2012 Ric retired and we hauled the two cats to Rome. I accepted a 50% cut in pay and went from executive to secretary. I never looked back.
Libby and Janie, ready to fly to Rome, 2012!

Libby and Janie, ready to fly to Rome, 2012!

For three years we (Ric qualified for a part-time job in security) had the pleasure of working in the American Embassy in Rome. What a dream! I served with some very smart and committed people (I did in Portland, too) and had the privilege to learn how an embassy works, to meet people from many government agencies, and to make Italian friends. We went to the Marine Corps Ball and receptions at the Ambassador’s villa. We lived in a lovely apartment provided by the embassy that had no English-speaking tenants. THAT helped my Italian improve!
Settled in Rome, attending the Marine Corps Ball.

Settled in Rome, attending the Marine Corps Ball.

We loved the convenience of travel from Rome and took full advantage of any time off to see more of Italy and start to experience more of Europe. We could hop on a train and go anywhere!
At the end of my tour-of-duty, we were not ready to return to the U.S. The notion of work-as-we-knew-it was anathema. I was eligible to retire. Why not?
The 18-months since we retired have been a completely different adventure and one we would not trade for anything. My Italian is quite passable now as there are few people (mostly just Ric) that I can speak to in English. We have learned how things do and do not work without the loving embrace of the American Embassy. We have found medical services that are extraordinary and very personalized. We discovered that Poste Italiane is pretty dependable but very expensive. I ragazzi at the Via Sicilia office are particularly nice.
Here we are with our portiere, Pellegrino, who has been a friend and a blessing.

Here we are with our portiere, Pellegrino, who has been a friend and a blessing.

But it is time to go back to the U.S. It is time to re-establish a household of our own (we’ve been subletting a furnished place). We have experienced some of the frustrations Italians have with their own country and bureaucracy and while the U.S. is not perfect, things really do work quite well there. In the U.S., you can return items when you change your mind or they don’t fit and they will refund to your credit card. Not in Italy! In the U.S., you can turn on the heat in October if it is cold. Not in Italy!
Today we went to disconnect our cable and Internet service. They require 60 days notice so we have to pay through November even though we will turn in the equipment on the 27th of October. Can you imagine? Two months notice to disconnect a service? 
In the U.S., we can depend on certain services and we know how to argue when something does not work well. I’ve gotten better are standing up to service providers in Italian, but it is a strain to have to argue over everything since arguing is a national sport.
Allora, we will always come back annually to Italy as travelers for as long as we are able. Despite my sarcasm, we have a fondness for the people and the culture, but to travel here is far different than to live here. And we would never give up our passports. Never.
Stay tuned as the departure adventure unfolds. I know Janie is excited.

33 Responses to “Four weeks to go!”

  1. Sandra Panici October 5, 2016 at 23:03 #

    I did return luggage to La Rinascente in Florence, exchanged it for a smaller size, and the 10 Euro difference became store credit, they did not return it directly to me even tho I asked for it, said they couldn’t do that.

    I wonder if the heat in October is a landlord thing? When I was in the mountains in Amaseno (Frosinone, Lazio), the landlady offered to turn the heat on many times, but I declined because I loved the cold October nights, I covered up with a heavy blanket and shuttered the windows! So it wasn’t the provider since she could turn the heat on for me if i wanted!

    When i got my TIM cellphone, the store on the upper level of Termini said I had to give 30 days notice for termination. I went back to the store when i was ready to terminate and they offered to terminate my service after i left because they couldn’t reach the company while i was in the store! Thank God they did this for me, i would not have managed this nonresponse well on my own! In this case I had a buffer, an intermediary, is that possible to get with other service providers?


    • GoodDayRome October 6, 2016 at 06:41 #

      You are right: La Rinascente has a more liberal policy than the little stores, but notice, no cash refund and no credit card refund!

      The heating issue is a national law and also a condo board thing. The law varies from region to region, and for private homes it is probably not enforced/enforceable. Even high-end hotels are supposed to adhere, but I think there must be a workaround as we’ve always found them to be manageable in the ‘tween seasons. The condos (all of Rome is condos) adhere to the law and the boards often vote to be even more conservative. I think Rome’s law states they cannot heat until Nov 15 or later, and the condo board in our building voted to keep the heat off until early December. The U.S. Embassy even give’s space heaters to Americans in Embassy-rented apartments to assist during this period when he can get quite chilly but there is no possibility of heat. Also, the law states they need to hold the heat to 20 degrees, but in these old buildings the heat accumulates and we find it hard to keep the place below 24, so we are often opening windows periodically.

      TIM is pretty good. We’ve had them for years. We are able to cancel our renewable pre-paid account easily enough. It’s the cable/internet that is sticky with 60 days notice!


      • Sandra October 6, 2016 at 14:40 #

        And when the heat comes on it’s skimpy, like the 2 star hotel on the north side of Termini that allowed heat for a few hours mid-day in November and then nothing for 22 hours, or the hotel outside Napoli with a tiny bathroom-sized radiator, its output dwarfed even more in the December night chill.

        I’ve been gifted with this magic mountain coat i bought some years ago on the Adriatic for 99 Euro! I’ll never buy another coat in the US! This coat was unaware of Chicago’s polar vortex, it’s always with me, no matter how the heat is rationed here, there, anywhere, I’m good!


        • GoodDayRome October 6, 2016 at 16:33 #

          We actually have very robust heat when it is on, but they do turn it off for a few hours in the afternoon. Because who would need heat at 14:30 on a rainy, cold day?


  2. mvaden1948 October 3, 2016 at 20:10 #

    I am so going to miss your reports! But you will be closer.
    Please do let me know if you come up to the Seattle area.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome October 4, 2016 at 06:46 #

      Thanks, Michelle. I am trying to decide what to do going forward with the blog. Probably a new effort, but I will keep GDR “alive” for future travel blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathy October 3, 2016 at 04:08 #

    I loved reading your story of living in Italy for a few years. That is my dream! Thanks for your wonderful travel advice on the Rick Steves’ Travel Forum.


  4. apollard September 30, 2016 at 17:22 #

    What a dream story you have lived out and an amazing chapter to your lives. I will miss your blogging about daily life in the bel paese.


    • GoodDayRome October 1, 2016 at 06:02 #

      Thanks, Andrea. I will blog about something, I think, so I hope you will follow along. And like you, we will always come back.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Suvi September 30, 2016 at 07:19 #

    Sounds like such a great adventure you have had! All the best for the move back home. It may be that you will notice that you have changed a lot in these years. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome September 30, 2016 at 15:03 #

      Thanks, Suvi! It is possible we have changed more than the U.S. has. I have no doubt we will have moments of panic and regret.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cynthia Thompson September 30, 2016 at 03:47 #

    Best wishes on your return to Portland. We definitely had culture shock when we returned after three years in Australia. I can’t believe we have been back a year and 3 months. It goes so fast! I look forward to hearing more about all that you are doing there to “close up shop.” There was almost as much we had to do on the way back as going there: sell the car with steering wheel on wrong side, cancel services, tidy up Australian taxes and superannuation (401K equivalents), sell or give away all the electrical appliances, negotiate for a shipping container, clean like mad so we could get back our bond (rent deposit equivalent)…..oh, I could go on and on. Are you going to have to do all these things? Take care and hope to see you around in Portland!

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome September 30, 2016 at 15:06 #

      Ah, Cynthia, our move is much simpler except for the cat. We never had a car here and sent home some stuff courtesy of the U.S. government when I retired. We have no furniture of our own, so will be starting like newlyweds. We paid the final two months rent in advance so while cash was tied up, we had no outflow for August and Sept. As you know, international shipping is crazy expensive so we are shipping only the minimal amount. I’ll write more as the month goes by!


  7. Nigel September 29, 2016 at 22:11 #

    Feeling the separation. Wishing the three of you well. Remembering the first photos of the two nervous cats when they first arrived. Missing you.

    I hope (and Carol does) that everything falls into place when you get home and you love it to bits.

    We’ll be watching the re-entry. Like when they came back from the moon. Oh, you’re too young to remember that ;-}

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome September 30, 2016 at 15:09 #

      Dear Nige & Carol, you are too sweet! I know we will have moments of wondering what we were thinking…as we did when we first came to Italy. But one’s home country does call. We will be back, though, to visit!

      I remember the moonshots well, BTW!


  8. Marcia September 29, 2016 at 20:15 #

    With all of your hiking around Europe, you look so fit and healthy in your photos! Everything you’ve done and experienced over 4.5 years has totally enhanced your lives. We travel a lot but have done nothing like what you’ve both accomplished. Wow. We are totally impressed and in awe of you🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome September 30, 2016 at 15:11 #

      Hoping to maintain the walking lifestyle! And to travel frequently and at length. Maybe we’ll need a cat sitter in Oregon and you can some there. 🙂


  9. Sarah Campbell September 29, 2016 at 19:29 #

    I love your decisions and have enjoyed reading about your adventures. It is also my dream to live in Italy for a few months; I am 55, so I have a while to go. Good luck in settling back in the USA, and happy travels.


  10. Christine September 29, 2016 at 18:52 #

    It’s difficult to imagine what the two of you (and Janie) are feeling. Very mixed I suppose. Reading your blog has been a real treat, and I’ll miss it. Wish you and Ric well and happy travels!


    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:15 #

      Thanks Christine! Hoping to transform the blog. We will continue to travel and write…maybe under a new name? Then re-entry will be it’s own topic so maybe a new blog. We shall see!


  11. Jean Claude Paris September 29, 2016 at 18:35 #

    Dear Lorella and Ricardo,

    What a beautiful story and a wise decision no matter what the price was. Any good decision has a price, we know that fact.

    Throughout the years and from our first encounter as students in our mutual Italian classes we noticed “your” personal transformation to Citizens of the World; when you love a country, its culture, history and language you become one of them and you became “almost Italians.

    What an attitude to state that you will return every year and we hope to expose you to its neighbor and close sister country: France. The South is very similar, after all we were occupied for four centuries by the Romans and we kept their legacy, modified language, monuments and legal system in great shape.

    With admiration and sincere friendship
    Frenchly yours
    Jean Claude


    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:17 #

      Caro JC, We look forward to seeing more of lovely France. My next language must be French. At least I need to learn how to pronounce it! We’ve tossed around the idea of a month in Paris. Followed by a week in Rome, of course!


      • Jean Claude Paris September 29, 2016 at 19:26 #

        FANTASTIQUE..we say; you see , so close from FANTASTICO!

        Liked by 1 person

        • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:38 #

          I have to say, I find I can read a lot of French due to my Italian. Now as to pronunciation, I will need lots of help!


  12. Maarja September 29, 2016 at 18:22 #

    We are looking forward to seeing you in Portland! Speaking from experience…you will probably have a case of “withdrawal” which might surprise you…I’m ready with a glass of wine if you need it!
    I loved seeing the passage of time in your blog.


    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:18 #

      Thank you dear Maarja! I know we will miss Italy when we are gone. We already do on some level, but really need to be in our own country again. This is not a place to grow old. Miss our friends and family! Looking forward to many glasses of wine in the years to come!


  13. Grier September 29, 2016 at 17:40 #

    Reading about your life in Italy and your travels has been an absolute delight! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and marvelous photos. Grier


    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:18 #

      Greir, You are so kind! Thank you! I plan to keep on writing about something so stay tuned!


  14. Rick Horton September 29, 2016 at 17:16 #

    Sad to hear this chapter of your fairy tale is drawing to a close but “yay!” for all of us in Portland who’ve missed you. Thanks for the wonderful insight into Italian life and culture. We look forward to seeing you back in Stumptown!


    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:19 #

      Thanks Rick! We will see you soon and remain available as travel consultants. 🙂


  15. graciamc September 29, 2016 at 16:27 #

    What an adventure you have had – a gift of time to really know another place. I’m sure it’s bittersweet to leave.


    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:20 #

      It is bittersweet. Walking down the street today I felt a wave of nostalgia for this place and we haven’t even left yet! But we love Portland nad the PNW, too. Hope to see you when we return. Let us know where your travels are taking you.


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