Three Years Living in Italy!

Jackie DeGiorgio Living in Italy Romesick & Loving It
Castello Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s dome. Snapped this in Rome, my first day living in Italy three years ago!

Well, I have hit a living in Italy milestone: three years ago today my plane touched down in Fiumicino and I officially became an expat! It’s wild to think I’ve been living in Italy for three years.  There was a time when the very thought of calling Italy home at all seemed like it would always remain a pipe dream, so at times, I still have to pinch myself as a reminder that living in Italy is real life!  Whenever someone asks me if I believe I’ve been living in Italy for as long as I have, I always respond that some days feel like I’ve been here forever while other days, it doesn’t feel very long at all. I don’t know how to describe it, but I just feel a sense of belonging. As difficult as Italy can be at times, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Well except, maybe, for Paris. 😉

When I returned from my four-week Italian adventure in 2012–which ended four years ago yesterday, actually–I landed in JFK and promised myself that I was going to spend what little personal time I had  figuring out how to get to Italy permanently. One year and one day later exactly, I was on the 10.20pm Alitalia flight 611 out of JFK and on my way to Rome. The 2012 trip changed my life and I swear if I hadn’t hadn’t traveled during those exact days and had not been in those very places at those very times and met the people whom I had in those precise moments, I swear I wouldn’t be here right now. I am forever grateful to all of you.

Getting myself to Rome was a dream come true. I do miss the Eternal City and my adoration for it knows no bounds, but there was always just something about Milan. From the first time I was here, I wanted to shout from the rooftops: “Milan, where have you been all my life?”  I don’t know how to describe it exactly and as crazy as this sounds, I believe Milan chose me. It just felt like the place where I always should have been and where I should be. During the past year-and-a-half, Milan started appearing on everyone’s radars and seeing visitors and/or newbies love Milan as much as I do brings a smile to my face. It’s funny to hear them express the revelation that is Milan…I can relate to exactly how they feel.

Call me wicked, but I must admit, there’s a teeny, tiny part of me that loves that the Milan revelation happened to me in January 2012, way before Milan started attracting attention for Expo 2015. In the last four years, Milan has changed remarkably and I’m pleased that I got to see some of it early on. Of course I would never gloat out loud, but there’s a tiny voice inside me that always proudly chants, “I knew it first! I knew it first!” As to everyone who had the revelation before me? Not gonna lie…I will always remain infinitely jealous of them.

I get asked all the time if I would ever return home to live. When I first moved here, I would say hell no. Now, when I look back on the last three years, my sentiments have changed just a tad and I’m not 100% opposed to the idea. The thing is that I have completely changed my life for the better. Since moving here, I feel like I actually “live” instead of just “exist.” I have learned so much and have done things I never thought I could do, and am so proud of what I have accomplished. I would only move back home if it was a move forward by which I continue to “live”, taking everything with me that I  have learned and accomplished to advance myself, not to go backwards and regress to my former “existence.”

This isn’t a foreshadowing of any kind and no, I’m not tired of Italy nor am I trying to hint at anything! Right now, I’m here indefinitely and I hope to be here for a very long time yet….these are just simply the circumstances for which I would consider a permanent return to the U.S. (Or a move anywhere else, such as Paris, for that matter.)

2015 was a marvel in some ways and brutally challenging in others…so difficult in fact that at times I just wanted to give up and go home. I of course never would have as I’m not a quitter, but the fact that I was feeling as such was very upsetting in and of itself. But I persevered and am still here. Yay!

You may know that I love me some bullet points, so here’s a list of some reflections/high points from the last three years and some wishes for the upcoming one(s). Avanti, avanti, avanti!

  • I know I had previously stated that I wouldn’t be changing the name of my blog because Romesick is a state of mind. While I still believe in the Romesick state of mind, changes in both the blog name and look are afoot. Hang tight. 😉
  • I love the neighborhood I reside in; it’s one of those neighborhoods that if you’re in Milan for a night or two, it’s not necessary to visit but it’s delightful for living. I have everything I need a few footsteps from my front door, nearby public transportation–including a stop on the new M5 metro line–and a conveniently close proximity to Chinatown. Plus, I can run in Parco Sempione!
  • I’m dying to move into a completely, unfurnished blank slate. I do like my apartment, but the more settled I become, the more I yearn for a space that is as completely my own as possible. My apartment came partially furnished, which was great for me at the time, but there are just a few things I’d do differently…especially the kitchen. Plus, I need a dishwasher. I think I pass  as much time in front of the kitchen sink as I do behind my computer screen.
  • I want the aforementioned blank slate to be in a typical “milano vecchio” building from the early 1900s, one by which you enter in a vast courtyard and you’re surrounded by ringhierelike this. I have no immediate plans to relocate again, but am keeping an eye out for any listings that might fit the bill. I would actually love, love, love to buy this apartment. It’s in my neck of the woods and everything I’m looking for (I know the building…it’s got a grand arched entrance, courtyard and ringhiere). Buying is currently out of the question which kind of breaks my heart, but I’m hoping for some similar digs on the rental front (eventually).
  • I’m a Sky TV subscriber which–among its many perks–has permitted me to keep up with Game of Thrones! I had previously mentioned how I need to step up my Italian TV game and while yes, I do try to watch a few shows like MasterChef and The X Factor (the Italian versions, obviously!) for the benefits of improving my Italian, but if I happen to catch an episode of Sex & the City, Modern Family or Friends, I just have to watch it…in the original language of course. The caveat, though, is that it’s not usually a single episode unless you caught the tail end of the show’s streak…you can easily get sucked in to watching at least four.
  • I am the proud owner of a Le Creuset round Dutch oven but am still highly coveting a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. Something tells me that 2016’s the year. However, also on the Le Creuset front, I’m pining for an oval shaped Dutch oven, skillet and griddle for pancakes! Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps.
  • I get blowouts so frequently that I hardly even wash my own hair anymore, a blessing in the winter because it’s too cold to air dry and I loath having to clean up all the hair I lost in the drying process.
  • I still run as regularly as possible (weather permitting).
  • I have yet to find soup dumplings in Milan. I live super close to Chinatown and have my eyes peeled all the time, but still nothing. 🙁
  • The fact that Esselunga sells Hass avocados just tickles me pink.
  • On the professional front, things are going well. I’m keeping busy and I can’t complain! I’m so grateful to anyone and everyone who has presented me with professional opportunities here and I can’t thank them enough.
  • I’m also grateful to all of the friends here who have been supportive of me. I couldn’t have survived here without their support and warmth.
  • Sauce Milan is coming along…some exciting changes are afoot for the site as well, so stay tuned.
  • I get frustrated multiple times daily with the Wifi situation in this country.  I experience the Wifi doldrums at least three time daily despite the fact that I use a top-notch service provider in a major city. And I swear, it’s not just in my head. The Local posted this article that mentions how “the average broadband speed in Italy is 11.6 Mbps, which compares unfavourably with neighbouring countries such as France (45 Mbps) and Spain (35.8 Mbps).” At least three times a day, it just stops working for a few minutes, I get these “No Internet Connection” messages and then little locks pop up all along my Apple mail mailboxes, prohibiting me from using it. It lasts for a few minutes before going back to normal, but it’s highly frustrating and incredibly distracting, especially when I’m getting my work groove on.
  • Having Europe at my fingertips never gets old. It never ceases to amaze me that I can arrive in Paris sans jet lag.
  • Lastly, my Italian! I haven’t posted a rumination on my language learning in quite some time. I’m loathe to admit that I’m not 100% fluent yet, but am so much better than I was even three months ago. I’ll get there one day! I haven’t given up hope (yet).
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