No, we’re not sure it’s a good idea, and yes we’re doing it anyway. If I had a Euro for every time an Italian has questioned us for wanting to leave the UK with our “Golden Pounds” (someone really said this…) to live in this country of high taxes, chaotic politics and somewhat confusing bureaucracy I’d nearly be able to afford to insure our new Italian car. What these people forget to mention though, or maybe don’t even notice is that despite its problems, Italy, and specifically the part we want to move to, has a remarkable amount going for it… for a start it has a proper climate, with hot summers and cold winters. It has proper mountains and half decent beaches. There are incredible cities but also beautiful little towns and villages. Then there’s the food and the wine.
But let’s not get carried away. I’ve never really bought in to the romanticised, Dolmio-adverted view of Italy. It’s not somewhere I’ve always wanted to live. I don’t dream of the dolce vita and eating ice cream under the stars while strolling along a promenade in pink chinos. So how have I ended up here?
This time last year, my wife and I were living in Bristol, in the UK, working every hour under the sun in jobs we didn’t really enjoy. I know this by no means makes us unique, but many of my friends have jobs they like, or at least they are on a career path towards a job that they will eventually be able to enjoy. Neither of us had that, largely because by our mid-thirties we have both still failed to work out what we want to be when we grow up.
Having realised all we were doing was making enough money to continue to go to work, we decided to do something about it. But what? We sat down and we talked. And reasoned. And talked some more. Desperately trying to come up with a plan, something we could do to make enough money to survive while giving us the freedom we craved. We talked about retraining, about getting new degrees, about moving to France, to Spain, to the US, even to Portugal, but none of it seemed right. Eventually, I think out of desperation, my half-Italian wife, who has a family home and lots of family members in Italy, suggested Italy.
Now this may have been tactical on her part. I suspect she was holding it back until all the awful plans had been exhausted before hitting me with it. Had she mentioned Italy earlier, maybe I would have just dismissed it. Instead, having trudged through so many dreadful, frankly unworkable ideas, when Italy finally came up it seemed perfect!