Wednesday, March 02, 2005


In two weeks our good friends Jill and Larry will return to the United States after having spent the last year in Italy. As hard as it will be for us to see them go, I know leaving will be even harder for them.

Living in Italy has been their dream, first individually, then as a couple, for the past several years. Although Larry is in his early 40’s and Jill has just turned 40 (sorry guys!) they were fortunate enough to be able to take a year off from work, and even more fortunate to have the resources to fund this adventure.

As anyone who has lived in Italy can tell you, knowing the right people is everything. Jill and Larry are from Seattle, which happens to be a sister city to Perugia. Because of their involvement in this program, they had made some friends and gotten some names before they left the states. These friends and connections would help them over the initial hurdles of living in Italy.

They were able to get a rental contract proving that they had a place to live in Italy once they arrived. They were also able to use their contacts to speed along the initial paperwork required for foreigners living in Italy. Just like us, they quickly found out how valuable their Italian friends could be when it came time to find another place to live, buy a car, or learn the language.

During this past year Jill and Larry have hosted dozens of visitors. Had they been able to charge the going bed and breakfast rates for all these guests, they would have been able to extend their stay indefinitely!

They’ve also attended numerous festivals and local events. Their neighbors seem to have adopted them, and when they weren’t invited to dinner, they were supplied with plenty of garden fresh fruits and vegetables. They’ve had the honor of attending family gatherings including a day long wedding celebration. They helped pick the olives from the trees of their landlord. As with us, every person, every event, has created a life long memory.

They’ve also traveled around Italy and Europe quite a bit. They’ve driven north to Switzerland and visited Austria and Germany. They’ve been to Ireland twice. Their plan to visit every region of Italy during their year was changed by the adventure of everyday life. Sometimes just sitting at home, enjoying the fire, a book, and the beautiful Italian countryside is pleasure enough.

We were lucky enough to make contact with Jill and Larry even before they arrived in Italy. They had seen our blog and were able to benefit from some of our experiences. Jill contacted me by email and we arranged to meet once they were settled.

Although most Americans who move to Italy probably have many things in common, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll hit it off personally. Additionally, distance can make friendship difficult at times. We’ve met several couples we’d like to get to know better, but we’re so far apart that we’ve had to settle for the occasional lunch and frequent emails.

Luckily for us, Jill and Larry weren’t too far away, and because our blog had been helpful to them, they were more than willing to brave the distance for our initial meeting. Once the four of us got to know one another, we found out that we really liked each other! Jill and I are both detail people, while Larry and Art tend to be the idea people. This balance worked well, especially since each of us had someone else to commiserate with!

It’s somehow comforting to know that there’s another American couple nearby. Sometimes it’s nice to speak English…to be able to express yourself on a level above that of a slightly retarded five year old, which is how we usually feel when speaking Italian. It was also nice to be able to understand everything the other person was saying, and to have the same cultural background. There are so many THINGS… ideas, concepts, history….that we as Americans share without even being aware of them. Spending a day with Jill and Larry was like taking a vacation….the stress was gone.

And now they’re leaving. I guess it’s selfish of me to be upset when they’re the ones who have to leave, but…..they WILL be missed. Although they plan to return to Italy in the future, maybe even for another year, that probably won’t happen for a while. In the meantime, we know that we’re the lucky ones because we get to stay in Italy, but we’ll definitely be a little sadder…both for them AND for us. Good friends are hard to find, no matter where you live, and when they leave, there’s always something missing.

Jill and Larry, thanks for being our friends. We enjoyed our time with you…and, most importantly….Hurry back!


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