Friday, December 18, 2009

Buon Natale from Santa Domenica Talao

If you read some of my other posts here, you know that our Visa Application is currently at the consulate under review.  I’m having a much harder time not worrying about it than the last time (it expired before we were able to move).  I am sufficiently distracted at work but now that I am home for the weekend, I keep checking the USPS tracking to see if they have sent our visas in the mail yet (self-addressed Express Mail).  So far no luck---jeez they have had it for a whole day now!

It’s time to think about other things.  Since it's the Christmas season--this will be my Christmas post.  My only Christmas wish for myself is to have my Visa before New Years.  For the world, let's really try the Peace thing, OK?  We spent last Christmas in Santa Domenica Talao, so I thought I’d share some of those pictures to say Buon Natale to you:

The days began slowly in December with cloud pictures like these.  We drank our American camp coffee at our usual rising hour of 5 AM (not too many bars open yet) and fought with the gas fireplace that was refusing to warm the 2 foot thick walls very quickly.  If we were going freeze anyway, we took to the streets in the evening to catch the local Christmas Bazaar:

If you want to try a Calabrian Christmas where
you live-- check out My Bella Vita

Decorations are definitely sparser than in the US--Italians don't waste electricity.  I am surprised there was even this much in the way of lighting:


              BUON NATALE da DIANA e GUIDO!

Friday, December 11, 2009


We sold our farm in Oregon in order to prepare to move to Italy.
It is located in central Oregon and its name is Rainshadow after a weather phenomenon explained at this website:
Cascades Rainshadow Effect (It discusses the effect in Washington State, just north of us).
There was no dearth of weather interest there, it just didn’t rain much and thunderstorms were very rare.

Doug and I come from the Great Lakes States where thunderstorms are very prevalent.  We love them and missed them while we were living in Oregon.  We are the kind of people who want a weather station at the house and maybe a weather cam.  We should have been meteorologists.  We hoped we would have thunderstorms in Calabria but weren’t sure exactly what the weather patterns would be.

Well, we weren’t disappointed!  WOW!!  Rain and Storm it did!  This picture was taken from our front
door in Santa Domenica:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beaches in Southern Italy--Il Mare Tirreno

The weather has turned rather unseasonably cold here.  Ok, it’s December but it doesn’t usually get this cold so fast in Hood River. I felt totally comfortable in my winter coat, hat, and gloves---actually I could have used a scarf.  I have lived in cold climates all my life so I’m used to it, I can survive.  I have even split a cord or two of wood in my time.  Just to prove I’m not afraid of winter, here I am having a great time on cross-country skis in my silly fake fur comfy ski coat:

Regardless, I have always been a person who loves the sun and the water.  I’ve got the wrinkles to prove it.  We decided to move to Southern Italy in part for the climate, the sea, and the beaches.  There are a lot of warm places in the world with beaches,  I haven’t been to most of them.  I’m sure they are wonderful.  Cozumel, Mexico comes to mind, Hawaii and Florida come to mind. OK, that’s the sum total of ALL the places besides Italy where I have beached.  I’m a romantic and nothing beats the Mediterranean for a romantic.  First, a small Geography lesson.  According to the Italian Tourism website, Italy has 7,600 km of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean--the Ligurian Sea, the Sardinian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Sicilian Sea and the Ionian Sea in the south and the Adriatic Sea in the east. The beaches I have seen and enjoyed so far in Italy have all been on the Tyrrhenian Sea, (probably the hardest word to remember how to spell in the world--the Italian is easier Mare Tirreno) and are at or south of the Yellow marker shown below:

What follows are some beach scenes of Italy we have experienced so far.  I am so looking forward to many, many more:

The most southern beach that we experienced was south of Tropea--Capo Vaticano.  Folks come to scuba and snorkel here.

Next--going North up the Coast,
famously beautiful Tropea.  We also
took Italian lessons here.  That's another

This is me snokeling here (or it appears, relaxing either before or after snorkeling).  Just to prove I don't just look and take photos.  Actually, Doug takes most of the photos which is why you almost never see him in a picture.

Coming closer to home, Grand Hotel San Michele, Cetraro.  This lovely hotel has an awesome beach that is reached by an unreal elevator:

And, we end up at our home beaches below Santa Domenica Talao:

See you at the Beach!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Faith in the Universe--Moving to Italy from the USA

The Visa, Dog, Permesso, Carta d'identita, Drivers License, just to name a few of the visions dancing in my head when I really want 
to be thinking about what plants I'd like on my terrace. Before I go on, I'd like to say that I know our biggest audience so far are 
Brits...and you folks, believe me, have it easier when it comes to The Process. What follows would only translate perfectly for 
Americans, and I fear, for Americans from Oregon who are retiring with a pension
or are independently wealthy enough not to have to work while living in Italy.

Now why do I say that?  Well, for one thing I have read what others have needed to get their Visa for an Elective Residence from the Italian Consulate.  It appears that some consulates are easier to deal with than others.  We are assigned the one in San Francisco.  Apparently they are known for being helpful and friendly.
In addition, we can apply from Portland at our vice-counsel's office rather than having to make a trip to
the Golden Gate. So here is what we know about the first step in the process of moving to Italy permanently as a pensioners:

1) You need a Visa to enter, but that's just to enter. You do the rest in Italy. However you DO need the Visa for an Elective Residence.  
Here is the website where you begin your fun: 
List of Italian Consulates in US This is our list of documents we have included in our package.  
Be aware that they ask for more than they list on the Visa Application:
Finished but unsigned (you sign it at the consulate) Visa Application. Married? Still two applications (and fees).
Self-addressed pre-paid envelope from USPS Express Mail to return your passport with the Visa stamped therein. Cashier's Check for the FEE (103.50 right now--it changes with the value of the Euro so you have to check on the consulate web-page.)
Detailed financial statement letter from your bank or financial institution explaining your solvency and complete lack of need of work while in Italy.
An equally confident letter stating where you will live. We have the purchase papers for our Italian home as proof.
You could also include a letter from a friend or landlord stating that you have a home with them.  There is a special form for that.
An FBI background check. You get fingerprints forms at the local police station and send them to the FBI. They are good about getting back when you need it.  I have to edit this--we used the old background check to renew the visa because if we didn't have a record for 50 years, it seems unlikely we will become criminals in our old age---BUT we did reapply for the background check in case it's not acceptable and it seems to be taking the full 10 weeks regardless of our request for much for kindness and efficiency.
An official Itinerary for plane tickets showing when you are planning to enter--(what you get off of the website when you pay for tickets).
I also have copies of our health insurance cards and copies of our codice fiscale (but I have never been clear that we really need these).

We did manage to get a visa a year ago with this information. Unfortunately, it expired and you can't extend them. They must be redone 
AFTER they expire.

I don't like posts without photos--so the only photos that seem appropriate for this post are our passports photos:

I know this information will be of value for someone out there.  It took us an ungodly amount of time to compile for us.  Our appointment is December 16 so I can't tell you anymore until it happens (trusting in the Universe that it will). Update: the Visas arrived on January 12, 2010 to our great happiness and relief.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Santa Domenica Talao

Perhaps you, like me, dream of a far away place in Italy where you would like to be.  Since I can't be there for a couple months, I look at the pictures from our trips and feel closer.  I thought I'd share the photos from our adopted Italian hometown, Santa Domencia Talao, on the west coast of Calabria:

It started as a place on the map near both the Mountains and the Sea.  Santa Domenica is a short climb from the sea.

Santa Domenica Talao is perched above the sea just like many Italian hill towns.  Its location away from the hoards of Italian tourists who come to be near the sea would have been impressive enough.  The unbelievable views alone would have been enough for us...

But the real story is the people.  It's the folks who smiled at us Americani without making us feel like the stranieri that we are.  I didn't expect the hospitality we found there.

Here I am talking with some neighbors.  Doesn't it look natural?  Keep in mind that according to my next door neighbor "I have NO Italian".   I thought I had some!

                                   Our beloved next door neighbors Francesco and Giuseppina

    Elections Italian Style

    Around Every corner is another vignette, another picture of life lived Italian:

                              This is our roof

Below is our friends'
alimentari--one of at least 5 in town.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Last Thanksgiving Dinner

We usually spend Thanksgiving at a good friends home.  She loves to cook and is a great chef so she invites folks like us whose families live far away.  It generally looks like this:

Last Thanksgiving, that is November 2008, Doug went to Italy to meet our furniture.  It had a leisurely trip across the Atlantic but had the bad taste to land just when my family was due for T day.      

I spent a good part of the day (besides trying to remember how to cook the dinner) on-line with Doug. He arrived safely (after I tracked his plane across the Atlantic) at our house in Santa Domenica.  It was cold.   He couldn't keep the gas stove going.  He locked himself out late at night and was saved by the neighbors.  The next day the furniture came and it started to rain.  Did I mention the steps?  Some very intrepid Italian movers were carrying our American furniture down 58 steps to our house:

And this is how the house looked when we returned in December to move in for Christmas:

We had paid for unpacking but there was no way that Doug was going to mention this to the damp guys who were already late for their next job.  According to Doug, they were good enough sports.

This year we had to turn down my family for a "last" Thanksgiving before our move to Italy.  It was a hard decision.  I understand why they wouldn't want to come way out here again for a dinner cooked by a distracted and rusty cook.   So it's off to our friends house for the last one with them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moving our Dog Vince to Italy

It's a good thing my husband Doug is an honest man.  I was surfing the net looking for all I needed to know in order to take our dog Vince with us to Calabria via the airlines.  I just happened to find out that it would be far easier (due to the Americans with Disabilities Act) to get him a nice harness and ID tag and bring him on our plane as a "Service Dog".

Apparently, the airlines can't ask for verification that either you or your dog are "real".  Considering all the rules and regulations I read about bringing him as baggage (or Cargo--completely different and a completely different building in Rome) sounded downright simple and as easy as getting into my part--which I decided would be a highly nervous person who uses a service dog for its "calming" influence, or maybe just a victim of seizures.  You never know....

Well,  Doug (knowing that once I get an idea, I'm pretty determined) surprised me by not liking the plan based on personal integrity.  I would  have guessed more like fear of getting caught somehow.

So Ok, due to personal integrity issues,  I am abandoning my brilliant plan....I think.  Isn't this like saving a child?  He would be so scared in the, lots of dogs have done it.  See the dilemma?

What would you do (if, like me, you really thought you could pull it off?)

Does he look like he could do it?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Why Calabria

Good Morning.   I'm sitting here (NOT in Italy) half drowsy with my coffee wondering---since this thing doesn't come up in Google who the heck is out there and how would you find my new blog? Would you care about a couple of people in Oregon who decided to move to Italy for what is referred to in the US as "retirement". I like the Italian word better---I am a "pensionata"--it gets to the point, we have some money and don't need to go someplace (good or bad) every day to earn our living.

Well, that will be in February. In February, Doug--Guido in Italy, and Di will be taking the last in a series of steps to leave the country of our birth and live in a small town on the west coast of Italy. We have a casa in Calabria, the name of the region, Santa Domenica Talao, the name of the town.

Here is a short video that may answer your question as to "why Calabria?" (If you are back at "why Italy?", I don't think I can help you):Heart of Calabria

So... let us know if you are out there and tell us what you would like to learn about our move, our life, our destination.  One more link: Restoration of Casa Rita --This is a post showing the progress of the restoration of our casa (in case you are interested in that sort of thing) on a great expat forum.  You have to sign up to see the pictures, -- it's a great forum for learning about the area so might be worth it for you.

Our Favorite Beach--i Gabbiani near Praia a Mare

I'll probably post just once a week or so until we move.


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