I read a lot of blogs written by others that have gone before us and expat forums searching for information to guide us along the way, hopefully, smoothly. And maybe avoid as many bumps in the road as possible. A common refrain from everything I’ve read is LEARN THE LANGUAGE! So many people have pointed out how much easier it is to make the transition when you can communicate with the locals. Hence, the reason we are the proud owners, and users, of Rosetta Stone Italian!
A question I see posed by those who are in the early stages like we are is how do you decide where you want to settle? How does one “pick their town?” The choices are overwhelming. Every town is adorable! The only really meaningful bit of guidance that I’ve run across is, if you don’t have a car, then find a place large enough to have access to mass transit. Brilliant idea! That makes perfect sense. At the same time, we don’t want to live in a big city and/or a tourist destination. My mom lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The population there is about 66,000. That’s plenty big enough for us, so that number marks our “top end.” We want a place big enough to offer a variety of restaurants, bars and shops, but not so big the town becomes impersonal.
I’ve also noticed several people have mentioned the terrain – as in, living in a hilly town and having to walk those hills can get old, especially, as we grow older. Another good point.
Keeping these things in mind, there are still a ton of towns within these parameters to choose from. So we’ve eliminated everything north of Florence has being cost prohibitive as well as a bit too cold for our blood.
I stumbled upon a website touting the medieval villages of Abruzzo. I suddenly had an epiphany! Why not research towns that fall into our already established criteria to narrow down the numbers even more!? Read about a town, see what it has to offer as far as history, museums, festivals, food. We LOVE history! The Man minored in ancient history in college. Ok, I realize that there really isn’t such a thing as a new town in Italy, but some places just have more history, more historical significance, more lore, than others. Meh…maybe I’m splitting hairs. But, hell, it only has to make sense to us.
In the end, all the expat forums recommend renting a place in a town of your choosing, test it out for a bit, and, if it isn’t ticking all your boxes, move to another town on your list and test that out. That’s definitely the plan for us. We just need to narrow our list down to about a dozen and go from there…
So far, the ones that have made our list are:
Penne, Pescara, Abruzzo
Capestrano, L’Aquila, Abruzzo
Pratola Peligna, L’Aquila, Abruzzo
Sulmona, L’Aquila, Abruzzo
Ascoli Piceno, Ascoli Piceno, Marche
Tune in later and we’ll see just how well the “scientific approach” works out.