My guest this week is an American with Italian roots, and he’s no lightweight in the writing department. For example:- He was named Washington Journalism Teacher of the Year in 1986, Distinguished Adviser in 1996 and Vocational Teacher of the Year in 2000. He supervised student newspapers, yearbooks and literary magazines that earned more than one hundred state and national awards. He also writes a popular blog, Living (with) Abroad in Tuscany, and is a speaker and author on the topics of Italian living and genealogy. He graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in editorial journalism and Western Washington University with an MA in education.
I’ll hide here quietly in the corner while Paul tells us more.
I never meant to be an illegal alien, but I couldn’t help myself. I grew up in America proud of my Italian heritage, and I had always thought that living in Italy for a year would give me a greater appreciation for what my grandparents had left behind in order to give their children a chance for a better life. However, I had tried unsuccessfully for several years to find conventional employment in Italy, so when I received a job offer with cash payments, no visa requirements and no work permit, I jumped on it like a man who had just downed a quadruple espresso. Never mind that I spoke little Italian and would have to haul my wife and two reluctant teenage daughters with me. I had to indulge this compulsion.
Actually, my wife needed no persuasion. She not only carried her own load but also stood behind me, pushing when I felt hesitant. The daughters were not so eager, believing that high school years are the best times of one’s life, and I’d be forcing them to miss a precious one-fourth of this paradise. They begged us to let them stay behind with friends, but we knew better. Were we right? We had little idea, but we’d soon find out. And I could tell you how the story ended, but that would spoil the suspense.
After our year abroad, Lucy and I continued to travel to Italy regularly for short trips, and when I retired from teaching in 2010, we started going to Italy for three months every year. It was then that I started an online blog about our experiences.
All of this led to the publishing of a memoir this year, ‟An American Family in Italy: Living la dolce vita without permission.
Through a series of follow-up visits, I gradually undertook the challenge of trying to understand both modern Italy and the old country of my ancestors. With little formal training in the methods of genealogy and a slowly developing knowledge of Italian, I stumbled my way into discovering my family’s roots back to the 13th century. My struggles to obtain my permesso di soggiorno, codice fiscale and Italian citizenship and passport provide amusing examples of the best and worst ways to work with the Italian bureaucracy.
Now we live in Italy about four months a year and in America the rest of the time. We have homes in both places, and it works out just perfectly. We usually live in Italy in late winter and early spring, and then again for about a month in the fall.
This takes advantage of the moderate weather in Italy during these seasons, and then the beautiful summers of the Pacific Northwest.
Our immediate family is in the States, and that’s a strong draw to be there for the greater part of the year, and especially during the winter holidays. After a few months in one country, we start yearning for the other again, so going back and forth leaves us always with something fun to look forward to.
In October of 2015, I became the proud owner of a home in Tuscany, in the city where my grandparents met and were married.
Thank you, Paul, I know a lot of readers love learning about people moving to live in different countries and I’m sure your story will be of great interest to them. Thank you for being my guest this week the second person to fall in love with Italy and move there.
Until next time, take care.