5 Reasons I Could Live in Europe (Redux)

“I’m glad I still have the ability to tour in  Europe. I do love it.”

~ James Taylor

While we’d been to Europe a few times while Mike was still working, we were really just tourists—in one day and out 10-to-14 days later. After Mike retired, we went in search of my grandparents’ birthplace in Italy. We found it and spent most of the rest of that month, we traveled the country, still tourists. We went back a few times more over a three-year period, and even though we spent six-to-nine weeks each time, I still looked at everything through the glazed eyes of a tourist.

It was after we’d spent about nine weeks between France and Italy in 2013 that I made mental lists of why I could or couldn’t live in Europe, and I shared my reasons on an old blog. As I am a few days from leaving for Italy, I thought I would share those two posts on this blog. At some point during my journey, I’ll re-think it all and update.

June 2013

Palermo

 

I admit it.  I’ve been a little down in the dumps lately because we are home.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love being in my own house and having the conveniences that spoil us, but I miss being in Europe, especially Italy.  Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about how it would be to live there for an extended period of time.  (I’m talking more than the two months we were there recently.)  Mental-list maker that I am, I developed the reasons I could — and couldn’t — move to Italy on a somewhat semi-permanent basis. In no particular order, here are five that came to mind immediately. 

DOGS

Ofelia, the boss at Pane e Panelle

Europeans love dogs.  I know some of you are probably thinking, “Is she nuts? Because Europeans like dogs she could live in Europe?”  Hello, those of you thinking that.  If you know me at all, you know I am nuts about dogs and that would be a most important factor for me.

“May I take a photo of your dog?” I often ask the canine’s biped companion.

“She has more pictures of the dogs than she does of me,” my husband tells the owners.  I roll my eyes and shake my head.  “She does,” he continues. 
Dogs are so intuitive and, except for that Brittany Spaniel that nipped me in Spoleto, very friendly and open.  They’re also an opening to talk to their humans.  “What a cute dog,” I usually say to the owner.  “May I pet him/her?”  Having done his/her job, the canine ambassador enjoys a few pats on the head, and the human conversation can turn from dogs to anything else since both humans relax.  

The only negative I see in Europe is the same as the one over here:  People do not pick up after their dogs.  That, of course, is not the dog’s fault.

The Outdoor Cafes

Yes. Yes. I made fun of the French eating and drinking outside when it was freezing and/or raining, but I love cafes.  I’ll take the cozy, warm ones in inclement weather, and the bright, outdoorsy ones in warm weather. Truth be told, we sat outside a few times when the weather was a bit cooler than I can normally stand, but most of the cafes had heaters, so our coffee didn’t freeze before we finished it.

Mornings at the bar

“Do you want to go get coffee?” Mike asked me the other night.  

“Where?”  There are four Starbucks within about a mile of our house, and I love Starbucks.  However, while they all offer outdoor seating, they lack that certain ambiance of which I’m speaking.  (Note:  Interestingly, the Starbucks we saw in Paris did not have outdoor seating.  Go figure.)

“One of your two offices,” he answered me.  Smart man.  The two places of which he spoke are a few miles from the house and very close to each other, and they are a little more “European” than the others. 

Off we went to Sambalatte.  It’s not Cafe Ovidio or Boulangerie St. Antoine or Caffe degli Artisti, but it will stand in for me while we’re here.

The Trains

Cefalù station

I love train travel.  I know we have Amtrak in the US, but it’s never taken off the way trains in other countries have.  Of course, the US is so much larger than individual European countries, but we found it so  nice to hop on the train and let them “drive” us all over: Paris to Avignon to Torino to Spoleto to Sulmona to Bologna.  Of course, we also trained it to other towns near where we were staying.

“But how much did it cost you to go places?” one of my friends asked recently.

“It depended on distance,” I told her, “but, for example, Spoleto to Assisi was about 3 euro.  Spoleto to Sulmona was 20 euro.”  A car would have been much more expensive, and we’d have to find parking spaces, gas, and the rental agencies (not an easy thing to do).

I’m excitedly waiting for the high-speed railway that will connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  Officials keep saying they’re going to build it by XXXX.  Of course, when we lived here in the 90s, officials said the railway would be operational by 2005.  
As I said, I’m excitedly waiting….

The Markets

Fresh fruit. Fresh vegetables. Fresh cheese.  Fresh Porchetta.  Fresh Bread.  Fresh flowers.
La Boqueria
Vegetables at La Boqueria
Need I say more?
 

Home

474008_3352770696586_1081145556_o
Pettorano sul Gizio, Abruzzo
The first time I saw my grandmother’s village, I felt connected.  The life there is not a life I really know because it is so different than what we live in the States.  That said, it is a life with which I think I’m comfortable.  Would I have felt that way 20 years ago?  10 years ago?  I have no idea, but today is what’s important.
 
I’ve probably said this before, but I was never fond of history when I was in school.  Seeing historic buildings in person, however, I have a completely different view.  Seeing buildings and structures that are centuries old amazes me.  It reminds me of the time I took European exchange students to Old Town San Diego.  They weren’t impressed, and they could tell it hurt my feelings.
 
“Chris,” one of the Norwegian girls said to me, “you have to remember that this is not old to us.  We call my church the “new” church in town, and it’s 400 years old.”
 
I finally understand what she meant.
Snapseed
Le Due Torre, Bologna
Any of you have any thoughts on if you could or couldn’t live abroad?

 

Next time I’ll give you five reasons why I couldn’t live abroad permanently.

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