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How 8 Months In Italy Can Change A Person’s Life Forever

Michelle Dale - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today, I’ll begin my 3 day Journey from Italy to the island of Crete, in Greece. There won’t be my usual Tuesday post next week, but I’ll be back asap. I will likely record as much as I can so I can do a similar post outlining my journey like the one I did from Spain to Italy. It has been several months since I arrived in Italy from Spain back at the end of July 2011. So I thought is would be nice to share with you what will I take away from my time here… A lot actually, below are the highlights and discoveries I made while living here in Italy.

I fulfilled a dream.

As if living in Italy was not a dream in itself, it also ticked another box on my bucket list. The apartment we are staying I rented for one particular reason. When I saw the view from the images, I was moved. Just from the photo – so I could have only imagined what I would feel, working every day looking out onto that view. I wanted to experience it – and it’s been amazing.

I picked this particular view because it was all-encompassing and this is what was on my bucket list – to live with a view like this. For a start you can see the sea to the left, the beautiful blue Adriatic ocean. Then all around in front of the horizon are fields and fields, and in the summer, they are colourful with yellow flowers and grapevines, then to the right, in the distance, are large majestic mountains covered in snow all year round… It was my dream, to look upon a view like this every day, and see it while I was working in my online business, with my kids with me. I did it, I lived it.

EUREKA I can COOK!! Real Food!

This is by far the biggest take-away I will have from my time here. Cooking – I mean real cooking where you do everything from scratch, is I have to say far less romantic than I imagined it would be, especially handling raw, whole chickens… but still, it’s one of the most gratifying ‘hobbies’ I now have, and I love it. Trying new things and actually making healthy food with wonderful fresh ingredients, and having my kids eat it (albeit often reluctantly, especially if anything in the colour green appears) – it’s one of the most wonderful things ever, it’s awesome!

We eat much better here than we ever have before, I make everything from the raw ingredients I find at the market, and it’s just divine, to the point where I have difficulty stomaching any kind of processed or pre-packaged food at all anymore. I even make my kids favourites like chicken nuggets and chips from scratch (not very Italian I know, but at least they are eating real chicken), to entire roast dinners, healthy vegetarian food and apple pies! I had my basics down and then found I could pretty much turn my hand to any recipe I find, and I have a lot of those now on my Paprika App for iPad (so no cook books) – I am like a cooking machine, my Nan would be so proud of me.

I can drink way too much wine.

I mentioned cooking before, and no Italian kitchen or chef is complete without a glass of wine in hand, and they sell wine in such vast quantities here that you could end up drinking litres of the stuff without realising it! I will need to decrease the amount of wine I drink when I get to Crete (well, I’ll give it my best effort at least) but seriously – wine here is like drinking water, and they sell it in bigger bottles than they sell water in!

The worst winter in over 100 years.

When we arrived in Spain, they were having the worst rain they had ever seen since the 70′s, I am wondering if I am a jinx, because this year, the Italian region we were in, had the worst snow in over a hundred years. Go figure. So we were basically trapped inside for over 20 days, with my husband (bless him) going out to the local shop – which might I add did a roaring trade during this time, to get our basics we needed to get by on. I have never lived in snow like that before, not even in the worst winters in England. It was an experience.

Italians can eat…. oh boy they can eat.

Okay – so I was here on the UK Mother’s Day this year, and we went to a local restaurant which is pretty famous for its food. Yes, I am onto food again!! It’s a huge part of the Italian “experience” and culture.

So the image above is not from the whole meal – that’s a picture of “one” course (for 4 adults, kids eat free) – the *starter* actually – the bit that’s supposed to prepare you for the meal, in what was five (yes 5) courses! The food just keeps on coming, bread, cheese, sausages, salami, ham, deep fried breaded custard (yes it was a starter, and it was actual custard), stuffed olives, tripe, beans, beef, palenta, aubergines, several different kinds of pasta, salad, barbecued meat (again several different kinds) I could go on, there was more, and of course, amazing deserts – plural. It was the most food I have ever seen in one restaurant sitting in my life.

I discovered myself.

Maybe this is the second biggest take-away, in that I made discoveries about myself here that I have never found anywhere else. I can’t explain too well, and it’s personal I guess, but I have become more confident about the decisions and direction I am making in my business, I am more focussed, I am more organised in my head and I am more ready for the next phase of my life and my business than I was before I came here. I am just overall more ready, and more settled within myself. Maybe it’s Italy that had that effect on me, maybe it’s checking another big goal off my bucket list that did it, maybe it’s the fact I discovered skills I never knew existed in me – or maybe, it’s because I am 8 months older than when I came here. It could also be a combination of these things.

The One Thing I will Not Miss.

The bells…. The bells… everyday, from 6.30am the bells from the Italian hilltop town church went off. I woke up like clockwork, it’s an architecturally beautiful alarm clock than you can never stop! Ever… and in turn, when I woke up, so did the rest of the household. These bells would ring for what seemed like ages…. I won’t be missing the bells in the morning… nope, most definitely not.

So there you have it. Italy is not somewhere I would live in the long-term, I am still searching for a place I can call home again. It’s far better to day dream of a place like this and let it rest in my mind as a life-changing memory.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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