Last week I celebrated 7 years of living in Italy. So what do I have to show for it? Well, here are some of the good things/accomplishments:
- Learned to speak Italian pretty fluently - I'm saving the complex verb tenses and vocabulary for when my kids start to learn them in school.
- Got married twice (to the same person) - one courthouse wedding, and one church wedding - just to make sure I hit all the bases.
- Adopted 2 cats (one of which is sadly in the clouds now).
- Moved only once - a record for me as before moving to Italy I had moved 7 times between the years 1995-2005.
- Opened a restaurant (which I later sold - see below for probable reason).
- Popped out 2 kids (a girl and a boy).
- Started a successful tourism business.
- Got my Italian drivers' license, which involves memorizing a 342 page technical manual (in Italian) and understanding that you will fail if you don't open the car door with two hands (a gust of wind could blow the door open and humans are not strong enough to control a car door with one arm).
- Have traveled to 16 of the 20 regions in Italy.
But... life here in Italy isn't all about flitting around in the countryside and drinking wine... well, we do drink our fair share of wine, but lately it's to drown our sorrows.... Italy is crashing. Crashing hard. It is in probably one of its worst financial crises since the Fall of the Roman Empire. I've owned businesses in both the United States and Italy and I can tell you that it is much much much much harder to be an entrenpeneur here. The politics of this country manuveur against its citizens and residents in every way possible (especially those who are working to bring tourism (€€) to the region). The young people who are educated and have the potential to actually change something are all defecting to countries who embrace hardwork and ingenuity. And the people who are left feel as they are being dug deeper and deeper into a hole, and the current political system has no interest, or intention, of rescuing them.
But... for better or worse, I am choosing to stay and raise my family here. I have found a wonderful community of people who have become my family and my inspiration for this time and place of my life.
And literally, as I finish writing this post, on the eve of the Epiphany, or Befana, as it is know locally here in Italy, a woman dressed up as the Befana (an ugly old woman who passes in the night to bring either candy or coal to the children...) just knocked on our door and left 2 giant stockings full of candy for my kids. These are the little things that happen in my town, that in reality, are big things for me right now. The true sense of community and small town life (which is really what draws us all to Italy) is a flame that is still flickering... it just needs a few puffs of air to turn it back into a bright, roaring fire.