The idea of running away to Italy started out like many ideas millions of people have every day. Part day dream, part obsession, I have longed to spend half of the year in Italy and the other half in California where I was born and raised.
The magnetic pull of Italy comes to me by birth. Both of my maternal grandparents were Italian and spoke the language fluently. Though I never understood a word, as a child I would sit and listen to the old people talking, and think even then that the conversation sounded more like music than words. I now understand as an adult that all those vowels at the end of the words help infuse the language with that melodic sound. It’s a beautiful language, but at the moment I digress…..
It happened to me like it does to many others - one day I woke up at the other end of my life, with grown kids, retired from the corporate life, working part-time at a nonprofit, wondering what the rest of my life was going to present to me when it dawned on me. If I wanted life to “present” something to me it was going to be a very long wait, and I didn'thave that many good years left! I needed to go out and make life happen.
Slightly over a year ago I decided that I would casually search the Internet to see what the housing market was like in Italy. I searched in all the places I’d visited on previous trips, and quickly realized that I could not afford anything in any of the places most people have heard about – Tuscany, Umbria, anything at all along the Mediterranean, nothing near Venice, and so on. It was disheartening, but I wasn’t willing to give up quite yet.
Flash forward to October of 2010 and my husband of 39 years and I are on a plane headed for Italy to hunt for houses. We have several in mind, they seem affordable, we have booked a week at a lovely little B&B and we are headed to the Abruzzo region of Italy, along the Adriatic side. To say I was excited would be a colossal understatement.
The “Readers Digest” version of why we didn’t buy the house I fell in love with is that once back in the good old US of A, arranging the finances was more of a challenge than either of us anticipated, and involved us going through probate court for property inherited by my brother and sister and I, the challenges of getting financing in a down economy, and the heart-breaking realization that even if you sold everything you owned and emptied your savings, it was not going to work. My even thinking about tapping our 401K just about landed me in divorce court. Reality set in and I spiraled into a rather nasty funk – OK – so maybe it was a depression. I was not easy to be around for awhile.
It was almost a year later while talking to a Board member at work that another idea surfaced. I was sort of pissing and moaning about my tremendous disappointment with not getting the house, when the Board member casually said “why don’t you just go over whenever you want and as often as you are able, and just rent a place on those occasions?” What? Why didn't I think of that???? This gigantic light bulb went off in my head and I could have kissed him! Of course I could do that (rent, not kiss him). Not only could I do it, I could do it for a lot less than buying, and not have the taxes and upkeep associated with ownership.
Now I was on a mission!
So it is here that you find me, 49 days from departure. It was admittedly a tough sell for my husband who would not be joining me. I mean really – someone has to stay home and take care of things, feed the dog and take care of the house and the 26 acres that surround it. And there was the reality that he had a business to run and it’s hard to do that when you are 6,000 miles from that business. However, once I convinced him that this trip was all about me and that it had nothing to do with him or my wanting to get away from him, he decided to stop fighting the idea and gave in to my obsession. I think he was secretly thinking that this was a cheaper alternative to buying and that maybe I'd get this idea, this obsession out of my system. I secretly wonder what I will do if I don't want to come back.....