Sunday, April 17, 2005


I’ve had four emails this week concerning my blog. There are several interesting and similar things about these emails:

First, they’ve all been from people I’ve never met, not even on the message boards, although they all mentioned that they learned about my blog through either the ExPats or the SlowTravel message boards.

Secondly they all told me that the reason they enjoyed the blog was because it enabled them to live their dream vicariously through us. The decline of the dollar has made retirement, not to mention an international move, damn near impossible for many of these people.

The third, and really the most interesting thing about all these emails has to be that they all mentioned Ternana’s, our favorite pizzeria in Marsciano. Two of the writers invited us to share a Ternana’s pizza with them when they’re here on vacation…an offer we’re only too happy to accept.

The amazing thing to me is the number of people who follow this blog. Even more amazing is when they take the time and trouble to contact me personally to let me know that the blog has been helpful, or maybe just entertaining. I’m quite flattered….thank you!

Since we began this odyssey, we’ve developed a network of friends through the SlowTrav and ExPats sites. Some of these friends are people we’ve never met. We only “know” them through the message boards, but have come to value their knowledge and their advice.

We’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of our message board friends at various get togethers that have been held in Italy. These get togethers are arranged on the message boards, when someone will ask who will be in a given city on a given day. We’ve met other expats as well as travelers who love Italy as much as we do.
We’ve also contacted, or been contacted by expats who have read our blog our seen our comments on the message boards. Jill and Larry contacted us just before they moved to Italy for a year. They had read the blog, which answered many of their questions, and they wanted to meet us in person. The four of us became good friends during their year in Italy, and we’re all anxiously hoping they’ll find a way to return.

Judith, in Citta di Castello has been a wonderful source of all kinds of information ever since we began thinking about our move. Cristina, who runs the ExPats site, is an American married to an Italian and has lived here for eight or nine years. Her down to earth and in-depth information has been invaluable, not just on the message board, but also on a one to one basis. We now consider both Judith and Cristina friends.

Through the message boards we also met Shae and Art, a couple about our age, and we’re disappointed that we live so far from one another. We met for lunch at the halfway point between our houses, and hope to get together again soon.

We recently met Terry and Isabella through the ExPats message board. They have an apartment in Todi and hope to spend more time here in the future. We also met Marguerite, who was here searching for a vacation home for her family. Then purely by accident, we met Paul and Patty in the grocery store. They’re an expat couple who own a home here and have just taken a year off to live in Italy. In one of those strange twists, Marguerite knew Paul and Patty when they all lived in Jakarta!

Last summer we met a British couple, Adrian and Hazel, who live part time in England and part time in Ospedaletto. A few months later, Adrian and Hazel introduced us to another British expat who lives with her husband in Marsciano. When she found out that we were Art and Barbara, and that we lived in San Venanzo, she said “Oh, I know you! I read your blog all the time!”
We’re anxiously awaiting our first meeting with Bob and Rosemary, another message board couple who have just made the move to Perugia. Patricia, also from the message board, has just made her move to a borgo just outside of Cortona. Joanna, another ST alumnus, makes her move to southern Tuscany later this month, and Jack and Suzy will arrive in September for a year in a rental apartment not far from us.

This summer we’ll meet Paul and Mer, who’ve followed our blog from the start, and who will be here for the summer. We’re disappointed that we’ll miss Donna and her family…they’ll be here while we’re in the states. Last year we weren’t able to meet with Karen and her family while they were here, but because they live in Louisville, we were able to get together when we were in the states! When we return to Louisville next week, we’ll get together with Michele, yet another person who contacted us via the message board. She lived and worked in Rome for many years, and has now settled in Louisville.

I guess what this all boils down to is that the world is getting smaller by the day! I realize that the message board brings people with common interests together, but some of the connections we’ve made have been rather convoluted. For example, nearly a year after our first meeting, we’ve finally gotten to know Belinda and Giacomo. They’re having their garden designed by Jonathan, whose book I’m reading because Jill and Larry gave it to me before they moved. Jonathan turns out to be a neighbor of Cristina, who runs the ExPats site, and will now be contributing to the gardening section of the Expats message board!

While we don’t surround ourselves with expats, it’s nice to have friends who “get” us…who understand the American way of life firsthand, not just from what they’ve seen in movies and sitcoms. It’s amazing how relaxing it is to have an entire conversation in English. Often, having a conversation in Italian requires so much concentration that it’s downright exhausting! And as an added bonus, all of these people love Italy as much as we do.

We would never want to live in an isolated expat-only community. We know that such places exist, and apparently some people like the security blanket
that such communities offer. In our opinion, the appeal of Italy is living WITH the Italians and LIKE the Italians. We don’t find the afternoon closings a source of irritation. We accept that many of the smaller shops don’t take credit cards. We love the roadside stands filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. We love taking our five liter jug to the local cantina to be filled with red wine for less than €10. But, occasionally, it’s nice to meet with fellow Americans to share information and a common language. Through the blog and the message boards we’ve been able to do that.

We hope we can continue to meet, help, and even inspire other expats. We also welcome the opportunity to meet with people who are here on vacation. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, let’s meet at Ternana’s!


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