how i ended up in italy, what i miss and when i’ll be leaving

Continuing on with answering questions, I’ve grouped together ones that address how I got to Italy, what I miss and whether I see myself moving back to the United States.

First, I’ll talk about how I got here for Sparky Duck of Philly Transplant, Chel of Chasing Contentment and Stefanie of Stefanie Says (who asked how I got to *this* village specifically).

I’ve written about my decision to move to Italy in You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello, and I’m not sure I can do better than that, so I’ll direct you there. The short answer to how ended up here is basically that I wanted to come, but I do hope you’ll read my more thought-out response by clicking on the above link.

How I ended up in this particular village is more fully addressed in House of Violets, which explores the many signs that I received from the universe telling me I was on the right path by moving here. As you might imagine from the post title, violets were involved.

Both of these posts, by the way, are some of my favorites that I’ve written, so please do check them out if you have some time.

Oh, and Chel also wanted to know where I grew up in the States. The answer is that I’m a proud coal cracker from the heart of the Anthracite Coal Region in Pennsylvania, which you can read more about at

Someday I’ll tell you all about cruisin’ Shamokin, working at Knoebels Amusement Resort (the K is *not* silent) and our own version of Friday Night Lights over some Vitamin Y if you like der butt.

And if you think I came halfway around the world and *didn’t* bring a few pieces of anthracite with me in a mini coal bucket, holy cripes, you’re crazy in the head!

Now, Thotlady and Paul of Crazy Like Whoa would like to know about missing the States. Thotlady wrote “I am sure you get homesick for family and familiarity. But do you β€˜deep down’ miss the states?” whereas Paul is looking for something more specific that I miss.

To put this in perspective, I’ve been living in Italy for nearly five years (my anniversary is at the end of August), but don’t hate me, Americans: I really don’t miss the States.

As Thotlady said, I definitely miss family and also friends and being able to spend physical time with the people I love (especially my niece and nephew) but there is nothing really intrinsic about life in those United States that I miss.

Perhaps a few years ago, I might’ve said something about the differences in bureaucracy, 24-hour stores, certain fast food, but really? Eh. Life is what you make of it no matter where you are, and I’m really, truly happy here. I don’t spend too much time thinking about “But in the US…” because it’s not helpful to anyone–least of all to me. I’m not saying Italy is perfect by any means (talk to me when I have to wait in line to pay a bill at the post office!) but I’ve learned to love my adopted country, wrinkles and all.

That said, you know what I do kind of miss, Paul, that falls outside the family and friends category?

Waking up on a gorgeous, sunny (humidity-free–it could happen!) Philadelphia weekend morning in my quaint (rented) row home that I *loved*, walking up to the corner for a *big* (maybe flavored) coffee and powdered (Tastykake) donuts and then going home and settling in to read a huge Inky from cover to cover. And then doing the crossword puzzle.

I also miss going to Phillies games. And walking around the Italian Market. And spending hours in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Borders.

So yes, there are *some* specific, uniquely USian experiences that I still do miss, or at least Philadelphian ones.

I suppose it’d also be nice to have the choice to flit to NYC, Boston or DC for the weekend as well, but Rome, Florence and Sicily aren’t shabby options either.

And finally, NYC/Caribbean Ragazza, herself a recent transplant to the Bel Paese, asked whether I see myself moving back at some point.

Only if dragged kicking and screaming to the plane, cara.

I know, mai dire mai (never say never) but I *can* say that I’m staying put for the foreseeable future. Italy definitely isn’t the place for everyone, but it certainly is for me. How do I know that? Cheesy though it may be, I feel it deep within my very core, and I’ve felt it from the first time I set foot in Calabria in 2002.

And I’m smart enough not to argue with my core.

Thanks for reading!

Be sure to come back next Monday for more answers to readers’ questions!

Have something you want answered? Ask in the comments!

34 Beans of Wisdom to “how i ended up in italy, what i miss and when i’ll be leaving”
  1. maria

    what is travel weather like at beginning of nov in calabia, also looking for small gifts for my many relatives and host any suggestions from america to bring thanks much

    I’ll answer this one right now for you Maria! The beginning of November is when the rainy season *could* begin (just so you’re aware of that) but it’s usually still quite nice to walk around during the days–60s perhaps? My best advice to bring layers because the weather at that time tends to be rather unpredictable and has been more so in the past few years from what I’m told.

    As for hostess gifts, if you can find things local to where you’re from in the States, Italians often like those. Not very exciting, but I’ve had rave reviews over dish towels and such for the kitchen–it is *hard* to buy for an older Italian woman!

    For plenty of ideas, there is a discussion at here with more internal links to more discussions. Buon viaggio!

  2. 07.29.2008

    Wohoo!! This is my favorite post of your to date πŸ™‚

    The “but in the US…” bug is a nasty one. Oh Gawd please don’t let it bite me…

    I feel the same way about so many points you touched on here, but you managed to say them gracefully.

    Roam2Rome’s last blog post..BlogHer Blues

    Glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚ It’s *so* easy to fall into the comparisons, and I still do it from time to time, but now more from an intellectual “Huh, well that’s interesting that we do x, y and then z whereas here they do y, x, b, m, r, a, p and hope to get to z.” Kidding! Sort of πŸ˜‰

  3. 07.29.2008

    I spent a month in Calabria in 1993 and had a blast (my best friend from high school’s family is in Reggio/Archi.)

    I loved Italy (went to Tuscany and up to Rome as well) and can understand completely you’ve found your happy place. πŸ˜‰ Now that I’m a photographer I’d love to go back and shoot with my new perspective.

    laurie’s last blog post..Marine layer

    Italy is certainly a playground for photographers…and the Calabrian landscape is extra-photogenic if you ask me πŸ˜‰

  4. Grazie cara for answering my question.

    I hear what you are saying regarding “but in the U.S….” I used to compare L.A. to NYC all the time which could be one reason I was miserable there.

    Since my move for whatever bizarre reason, I don’t do that here. Maybe because in the States I was comparing one big city to another but would never compare a small European country to the United States. They are completely different.

    How you feel about Calabria is how I feel about Rome. The minute I stepped foot on Roman soil I felt like a was home. Strange seeing how nobody in my family is Italian. ha.

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..The write stuff and John Slattery.

    I think there’s something much deeper than blood that ties us to places and people, so although it’s convenient that I had some Italian blood in me to help explain why I’m here, I don’t think it was necessary. Because if that were the case, why am I not drawn to Germany at all really?

    And the comparisons? You make a good point on the apples and oranges thing–I never compared Philly to my small town in PA because that would just be silly.

    And then perhaps if you have a certain level of satisfaction in a place, you’re even *less* tempted to compare. I can’t name a percentage of happiness needed, so to speak, but just as with anything (and anyone!)–if you’re looking for faults, you’re sure to find them because no place and no one is perfect.

  5. Gil

    You really have a positive outlook on life and I’m sure that it will take care of you for years to come! It is a pleasure to read what you write and the pictures aren’t too hard to take either.

    You know Gil, I don’t think I was always a positive person; I’m pretty sure Italy and being in the “right” place for me has helped that along…along with general maturity I suppose. Would be an interesting exploration for me, actually. Thanks πŸ™‚

  6. 07.29.2008

    I’m so enjoying your question and answer series of posts. By listening to our “core” we can save ourselves from so many mistakes; trouble is it is so easy to be swayed by what we think we *should* do and what other people think etc.

    Gill’s last blog post..37 Things Meme

    Ain’t that the truth Gill?! Glad you’re enjoying the Q and A πŸ™‚

  7. 07.29.2008

    My experience from impetus to settling down is entirely different from yours, but how I feel is very like. Managing the bureaucracy was my “in the US” moment, but once you get it, there seems no point in struggling. Everyone is in the same boat, sΓ¬?
    The experiences you miss are available in Italy, they just aren’t available in a Calabrian village! In Rome you can brunch, read the NY Times and shop an English language bookshop, and there is no shortage of Italian markets, either. Museums? They have a few. I can even come fairly close here, as long as I am willing to read the International Herald Tribune or wait until Monday fr the NY Times.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Got more zucchine? Sure you do!

    Actually the experiences I described, I can pretty much do here even in my village or nearby (coffee is smaller of course), but it’s not the *same,* and the experiences really couldn’t be created anywhere else but my little home in Philadelphia six years ago at that exact moment in that exact place. That’s what makes those memories so special to me!

    Sure I can go through the checklist of items and do them here, there, anywhere, but I can’t ever recreate the *feeling* because every place has a different feel intrinsically and I’m at a different stage in my life and the house will never be the same and the people will be different and and and….

    To be clear, I’m entirely OK with this because that’s memories are all about πŸ™‚ I can reminisce about my freshman year of college all I like, but I can’t go back to campus and relive it even though I could physically, technically do it, you know?

    Aaah…such warm fuzzies right now πŸ™‚

  8. 07.29.2008

    Very educational post. This doesn’t mean you’re an Eagles fan does it?

    running42k’s last blog post..My own travel tip tuesday

    Guilty as charged.

  9. 07.29.2008

    I can’t WAIT til I move back and we totally become BFFs.

    Hoagies, cheesesteaks and Tastykakes are pretty much the three things I miss most about America.

    Miss Expatria’s last blog post..How to Say it in Italian: Words of Love and Like

    Yes! When will you be escaping France? πŸ™‚

  10. 07.29.2008

    You look very cool in those sunglasses. πŸ™‚

    Musing’s last blog post..Say hello

    Hah, thanks. This is about as glam as I get πŸ˜‰

  11. 07.29.2008

    Great post!

    I can sometimes relate to the *in the US* bug. I go the other way alot….In Italy…in Europe…bla, bla, bla πŸ™‚

    I bet I can get rather annoying to my freinds and family at times!!

    And for the record- you look different in every picture I have seen of you on the ole blog. You might have work in the CIA if you ever needed it πŸ˜‰

    My MΓ©lange’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday – Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!

    Actually I have to say that most people that I’ve never met before (i.e., blog friends) look somewhat different to me in photos taken from different angles/with different coloring, etc.–many bloggers, though, don’t offer enough personal photos to even compare! I think this phenomenon is because we don’t have the memory of the real life living and breathing face to read into it and fill in the blanks that exist in photos. I can assure all the photos are of me and there’s no touching up but for color adjustments (or even make-up)!

  12. Vita

    My only real “in the US” thing was people (and probably also language — the two things that make me really feel connected). I know what you mean about that Saturday morning feeling in Philly and I know what Judith means about recreating it in a place like Rome. And, of course, so much of that can be done on the internet . . .

    But *for me* that Saturday morning feeling is also about what might happen later – dinner with a friend? A phone call from someone I haven’t talked to? My parents stopping by….

    I’d feel safe and happy in those Saturday morning moments cause I’d know that later I’d be connecting with my peeps. And somehow I could never achieve that in Italy. There was always a little anxiety, a little insecurity. I was an outsider. I’d be invited to dinner but couldn’t participate, wholly, in the conversation. Or I’d just spend a lot of time alone. Or just a lot of time smiling and nodding and not really connecting.

    Despite what a lot of people think about Italians – and I don’t mean this in a bad way, just true to my experience – when you’re living in a village and not traveling around – Italians keep to themselves. I mean, why should they take in every American “tourist” who has decided to make Italy their home?

    Just like anywhere else, you have to invest in a place, put in the time, and I found that so hard to do with the language barriers, cultural differences, and general “keep to yourself” attitude of the Italians where I lived.

    Not that I had a bad experience, but I know if I were to do it again, I’d have to live there years – get through those initial humps that can be really hard.

    Not that anyone asked, but I’m glad I got to articulate this here! πŸ™‚

    This is fabulous Vita; agreed on all parts. It’s been my experience, too, that many Italians keep to themselves–not that they’re not friendly because the vast majority that I’ve met are, but that next step, that next level of intimacy? That’s been hard to achieve for me as well.

    The language barrier is *huge* when you’re trying to make friends and become a part of things and in some ways, I feel silly now calling up P’s sister to do something because I didn’t from the beginning (NO she never offered either). I didn’t b/c of the language/being shy, but even now that I can speak freely, it’s still odd…just like it often is, though, even when you share a language and are making a new friend.

    It definitely takes quite a bit of effort, both with the language and with getting out there and talking to people, inviting them places, etc. and all that takes time. No, I can’t imagine it all happening in just a few months….

  13. Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake, cara, but if they ever did donuts I totally missed it. We’re having a sunny, humidity-free Baltimorning today, however, and I can tell you it’s as good as you remember.

    I tend not to do look back in regret, either: it may be temperamental, though I think I may be a core-listener as you are (I’m starting to be swayed by your choice of North Stars) and tend to find the right place to be. I spent 12 years in Hawai’i, and loved it, but wouldn’t go back for anything in the world. Likewise with San Diego… heck, right now, being on the road is the best place I’ve ever lived.

    You have to show me your coal when I come to visit. The look on P’s face when you brought THAT out must have been priceless…

    paul of crazy like whoa’s last blog post..Soaring

    Yeah I think the donuts came later on in the Tastykake phenomenon. I prefer the minis and they are just as good as any Kandy Kake or Coconut Junior ever was. YUM.

    P was amazed by my coal! You see, for those who don’t know, anthracite is “hard coal” and it’s mined only in a few places in the world–the stuff they have here is soft and brittle, of course, and just so very different. P was in awe of my anthracite πŸ™‚ It’s packed away now, but when I pull it out, I’ll take a photo of the bucket and everything.

  14. Joanne at frutto della passione

    Really good points. My first two years were really hard. I remember some pretty desperate crying sessions in my very tiny, very lonely room on one of Rome’s busiest and noisiest streets. Now this is home. I think that there are some things that I definitely miss, but the list is so long. Maybe that can be my homework when I’m back this summer.

    Joanne at frutto della passione’s last blog post..A treasure map?

    Hopefully those tear sessions are looong over Joanne. But summer homework? No!

  15. 07.29.2008

    When I was in Sicily at 18, I never wanted to go back to Canada!
    My Aunt said I would be bored in the winter! So back I went to work, get my heart broken,
    find love, get married, have a child and live the suburban life.
    I haven’t been back in 25 years! Yikes! It’s time…I have such an ache in my heart for it.
    Next year… I need a break, I need Fantasy Island…my Sicily…lol
    Your so lucky I envy and admire you! Ciao. You look bellissima in the glasses, do you have them
    on while selling formaggioooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh news alert, I found Buffalo Mozzarella down
    in the market for 7.49 cdn, is that good?

    lucy’s last blog post..Sarnia – My Beautiful Visit

    Geez I have no idea what a good price for mozzarella is where you are; if it’s tasty, I say it’s worth it!

    Twenty-five years?! You need to get back here girl!

  16. 07.29.2008

    ahhhhh, Vitamin Y! Impossible to get here in MA unless you want to drive a few hours to Albany NY or thereabouts! But…I have a case out on the porch, thanks to my friend Michelle, who ordered it online and had it delivered to my cousin’s house in NH (can’t mail alcohol to MA, if you can believe it). Thanks for the reminder to put a couple bottles in the fridge!

    Janet’s last blog post..temporary and permanent

    Lucky you! Have a Lager for me, OK?

  17. Wow Michelle – you are so lucky. I have yet to find my place….I have never felt like I fit in here in the States. Never, not once. I know it is a weird thing to say and I know that it may sound naive and stupid, but I just know at MY core that this is NOT the place for me – but I do the best I can until I am given the knowledge of where I am supposed to be. Right now this is where I am, and of course I find things that I love about where I am. That and my family obligations are what keeps me here. But in my heart I know this is not where I will end up.

    Thanks for sharing this part of your story, and sorry for being so sappy on your blog!

    JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen’s last blog post..Recipe: Mozzarella Stuffed Portabellas and Tomatoes au Gratin

    Aw Jenn, we love sap here! I don’t think anything you’ve written is naive or stupid…in fact, I completely understand what it’s like to not feel “right” where you are. I hope you find your place soon and can do something about it πŸ™‚

  18. 07.29.2008

    I love reading your blog. You did essentially what I should have done when I was 25…move to Italy. My transition would have been a bit smoother – my family is still there – aunts, uncles, nonna, cousins that I am close too. I had a place to live and everything. For some reason I was unable to take that step – leave everything behind – and just go. Sigh…now with a very American husband, a baby on the way the best I can hope for is visiting in the summer months…I definitely want my children to know this country and it’s magic. Hopefully when they are old enough they will have the courage that I lacked when I was younger and they will follow their heart without looking back!!!

    I have never been to Calabria…maybe next summer we will have take take little Simone…I have always wanted to visit the town of Paola which happens to be my name πŸ™‚ I hear it is quite beautiful.

    Italiamissima’s last blog post..Big Belly

    I haven’t been to Paola, but I’d definitely love to go there as well…home of San Francesco di Paola! Everyone’s path is different though, so it’s hard to look back and second guess decisions…I’m a firm believer that we are where we are meant to be at any given time. And look at the beautiful family you have now!

    Definitely let me know if you’ll be around my parts πŸ™‚

  19. 07.29.2008

    Ooh, I thought of another question…
    Do you anticipate utilizing your education in law in Italy, or in any way in the future. (This is, of course, assuming that you’re not secretly practicing at the town’s only attorney.)

    Geggie’s last blog post..Scene at the Rental Car Counter

    No secret practice, but I will answer this one shortly πŸ™‚ Thanks Geggie!

  20. 07.29.2008

    It is hard to tell people that you don’t miss your country of birth isn’t it! When I tell people I honestly do not miss Australia (minus the friends and family like you said) they think I am mad – they even get insulted!!! It is not that I hate Australia, it is a lovely place, but I have found another country (Italy) where I feel more happy and at home. Simple really.

    Leanne’s last blog post..My move to Italy – Part 2

    Well put Leanne πŸ™‚

  21. Carole D.

    Continuing on the same subject about Italians keeping to themselves or traveling there as an American tourist. Having lived in the US for 40 years, it feels odd to go visit my hometown as a tourist.
    Sure my relatives make me feel welcome, but I noticed when I visited the local jewelry store, the bank, the pharmacy and a travel agency that although I spoke the language they were communicating directly with the person I was with because they were from the hometown. I still think about it and it bothers me that they were talking over me and not to me.

    It’s as though, they don’t want to make a big deal because you’re an Americana, which they shouldn’t, but they could use a little more courtesy. I would hope it would be a little different if you’re living there.

    Michele, I admire your decision. I am torn between 2 worlds as I feel this pull to spend more time in Sicily.
    But, with a husband and 2 adult kids it’s a hard decision.

    I love that you’re showing more pictures of you and P. Bella coppia!

    There is a certain level of suspicion sometimes, and you read about it in a lot of stuff talking about the south; I definitely think it comes from centuries of being conquered and reconquered, and it’s just been passed down–especially in towns that aren’t particularly used to getting tourists. Now, though, it seems like just about every town in Calabria, Sicily, etc. is getting more popular…it’ll be interesting to see if/how the attitude changes.

    I hope you get back to Sicily for at least an extended visit soon, Carole πŸ™‚

    And thanks for the compliments…more photos coming!

  22. 07.29.2008

    I spent only a week traveling Italy last year and it was great. I hope to go back again. I don’t think I could live there though, that take a lot of courage.

    Peter Answers’s last blog post..Numerology – Your Future by Numbers

    Ah when your heart is here, not a whole lot of courage is necessary πŸ˜‰ Hope you’ll get back here soon!

  23. Imani

    Hey, Michelle! First noticed your new pic on Sunday. Sure, I know you don’t post on weekends, but that doesn’t stop me from checking in. VERY sophisticated pic and lovely. You don’t need makeup as Mother Nature (and your beautiful mom) gave you everything you need. Could you use a back up mom?

    Know exactly what you mean when you say you know that you belong in Italy. I was 13 when I went there for the first time…a little town of Falerna (also in Calabria). Knew it then, know it now, even if my trips are to Brescia (Lombardia) where my OH lives.

    I feel more at home there than I do here. Really!

    Peace, Michelle…and keep on blogging. Check in every day and love, love, love your blog!

    Ciao bella! So lovely to see you here πŸ™‚ I still haven’t been to Falerna but Cherrye (My Bella Vita) has been many times…hopefully you’ll get back to Calabria someday soon and let me know when you’re coming πŸ™‚

  24. 07.30.2008

    Now that was a beautiful post -diplomatic in your answers but honest too. I think I can relate to your feelings about Italy vs the good old USA -home is ultimately where the heart is -old, trite saying, but so darned true too. I think I feel pretty much about my home here in PA -having left here for a little over a year as a small child and returned, then left again at age 19, returned 8 years late and left two times after that for a year one time and four 4 months the last time. I loved the places I lived during those away times but I am perfectly happy being back in the olde homestead now which is where I really do want to spend the rest of my days. No, I wouldn’t turn my nose up if an opportunity came my way to travel – anyplace -just travel would be fine. But I would want to be sure to have it set that I can come back here, which is where I belong. Just as you have adjusted to life in Italy with style, grace and what the heck is the other word that comes at the end of that line? Ah heck, can’t think of it now, but you’ve got it kiddo. Yes, indeed!

    Jeni Hill Ertmer’s last blog post..High Finance

    Aw thanks Jeni! It’s true that the heart must be happy, and it’s a different spot for all of us. I think I’d be happy your old homestead too πŸ˜‰

  25. Diana

    Mai dire mai, but it is certainly hard to imagine, isn’t it. At some point, the colors of that life fade, and the reality in which we life here becomes not only the present, but the past and the future as well. I left in 1994. We spent the last two years in Philly, having returned from the west coast, and I had the pleasure of introducing my niece and nephew to the Italian market at the time (my niece adopted her vegetarian ways that day after seeing lambs, skinned, heads intact, hanging from a butcher’s window), and spent a good amount of time in New York as well where I had a microscopic apartment, courtesy of my employer. Then that all changed and we moved to Germany. It took years for me to feel the most remote bit comfortable there, but then, one day, it became my life, and my life moved on, and then we came to Italy. Now after almost five years here, this is home, and my thinking has changed in oh so many ways that I only really notice when someone who has the same passport as me says, yeah, but you miss the states, right? Well, well, I miss Saran Wrap baking soda the view of Manhattan from Route 80 being at graduations and other family events helping people I love when they are sick but miss the States? No, I really don’t, my life is full, my life is simple and I am here and that is where I should be.

    Your posts are wonderful, they often make me think, and I don’t comment enough.

    What you (perhaps) lack in quantity Diana, you more than make up for in quality. What a lovely comment and perfect expression of what I was trying to say. And I miss Saran Wrap too! And good aluminum foil….

  26. 07.30.2008

    I just smiled when I read the questions about missing the states. Anyone who has spent any time here would know that you are home. Your soul is home, where it should be, when it should be and there is no leaving. Why would you leave the place you truly belong to and in?

    I love the photo bella mia, you look like a sister to me (on the outside, of course you know we were separated at birth on the inside… hee hee…)

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..Cardinal Rules II

    Thank you dear Scarlett; your words are appreciated more than you know. And I’m glad you see the family resemblance πŸ˜‰

  27. I connected to so much of what you expressed. You do have a really positive attitude and it’s obvious you are aware of it which is so important because I think awareness and recognising what we need to put forward really makes a difference.

    Not unusual because you always get me thinking but this post really made me think about my own feelings and thoughts about living abroad and adapting a new country as your own.

    Life is certainly what you make of it, agreed. I love that you own the fact that you WANTED to come to Italy.

    I never really thought of “missing the states”, in a general sense, as separate from missing specific rituals or specific things. I sort of see the two as dependent on the other because those things that you miss, or reminisce about wouldn’t be the same, as you said, if you tried to recreate them. It’s just not the same. I think that’s what makes them so special. They are a part of the US in a way. I think of them more as a part of our culture. Doesn’t mean we don’t make new memories, find new things we love and adapt to different ways of life than what we were used to but when we miss those specifics I associate them with “missing the states” because they are exclusive, in their own way, to life in the states. Does that make sense? It’s the same for things that I experience here. It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint but there’s something that makes them truly “Australian” because I’m experiencing them here and they are rooted here in this culture.

    I guess I would still say I “miss the states” because I’m missing the specifics I associate with life in the US. What I miss most is family and friends of course and missing those family milestones and moments.

    I do still compare because I think it takes time to get away from being used to certain things being done a certain way. Not that I’m negative, I’m still processing things which is normal. There are also so many other areas which I’ve easily adapted and taken on and don’t do any comparisons but I think time and experience helps ease those ways of thinking.

    In the end, being in a positive place and being truly happy with yourself is really the key because no matter where we are geographically I believe that is the most useful tool we have.

    I could say so much more. It’s interesting how we can share our thoughts and experiences. It’s opened my eyes.

    Funny you mentioned Germany. I felt so a part of that culture when I lived there. A different time in my life. It all felt so right.
    I’m a huge *reminiscer* – if that’s even a word. Memories are a place I draw on for comfort.

    collette~all over the map’s last blog post..Me in a mosaic

    Collette, this is just lovely. I’m a reminiscer too…I used to even love hearing my grandparents reminisce, so I think I was hooked from the start….

    I agree with you that it’s not necessarily negative to compare things between places; it depends on the spirit with which it’s done, I’d say. Now, after being here five years, I can intellectually say to P, “Huh, that’s interesting b/c in America it works like this…” without getting upset or annoyed that it doesn’t work like this here. MOST of the time. Sometimes though it’s inevitable b/c frustration is frustration, and I do think it’s best expressed…although for me, I try to vent to my mom or others *not* here to keep the peace πŸ˜‰

    I hope you’ll continue to process with us and let us in your thoughts….

  28. 07.31.2008

    I loved these answers! And I’ve read your older posts, about how you came to be where you are, and I really do think that you are right…you were just “meant” to be there! πŸ˜‰

    By the way, I thought about you today, when I read in the local paper that they are opening a farmer’s market in my town on Saturdays, starting this week, till the end of summer. Something about the option to go buy fresh veggies for that evening’s meal made me think of your life in Italy. Funny, no?

    Karina’s last blog post..All The Boys – The Soulmate

    Hah! Very funny…now go get some veggies πŸ™‚

  29. 07.31.2008

    I found your blog a little while ago, and I enjoy reading your posts!

    In February or March next year I’ll be doing just what you did – packing up everything here in the US and moving to Vienna. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but it just feels right to pursue my future there! I spent 2 months last summer living in various parts of Austria, and 1 month in Moscow – and after being in Europe I knew I couldn’t spend the rest of my life in the States! It was quite refreshing to read this post, and the one about your reasoning to move to Italy – I can honestly relate to everything you said! I’m not scared, or nervous, just excited to move!

    Great blog! Keep up the great posts, and I think I’m going to be jealous of you for the next 6 months until I leave the US too!

    Ashira’s last blog post..Salzburg

    How exciting Ashira! Looking forward to following your travels πŸ™‚ So happy you’ve found me!

  30. 08.03.2008

    You miss fastfood in the US?! You can’t be serious?! You must tell me what kind! Surely Italy does the best fast food in the world, anyway? Panini! Aperitivi snacks! Pizza!

    Otherwise… :)… loved the post. People have been asking me the same thing for over 10 years now… don’t I miss Australia? Wouldn’t I rather live in Australia? Of course I adore Australia and think it’s one of the most beautiful countries on earth, but I have loved living in the UAE and love travelling the world. The more I travel the more I want to travel and experience other places, and I know Australia will always be there if I ever want to return. The USA will be for you, too, but somehow I don’t think you’ll return…

    laradunston’s last blog post..A Tale of Three Tastings in Rome

    Oh Lara, nothing can replace Chick-Fil-A in my heart…and pizza and panini do get rather tiring after a while; another thing is that they certainly aren’t as readily available (in smaller towns) as American fast food, which is absolutely everywhere and available pretty much around the clock πŸ˜‰

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with this; it’s always nice to hear others’ perspectives and answers to the same questions πŸ™‚

  31. 08.05.2008

    Thank you for your answers! I think that’s amazing. I’ve always thought that if something ever happened to my family (HEAVEN FORBID!!), I’d pack up and move to Italy, knowing nothing of the culture or the language. Isn’t that odd? Given that I’ve been blessed to keep them, I’ll keep hanging out here in Florida.

    I’m quite proud of you for following your heart. One of the things I’d wish for my daughter is for her to have the confidence and independence to do what she believes is best for her, regardless of what her daddy and I might think. (You know, once she’s old and stuff.)

    Chel’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday

    Thanks Chel, and I wish the same for your daughter as well πŸ™‚

  32. 08.09.2008

    It must be so nice to know where you belong at anything given time. I won’t say “I envy you”, since I don’t like that emotion–envy…it’s a wasted emotion if you ask me.

    I have lived so many places in my life and never felt like “this is it, this is where I belong”. Hopefully that is yet to come. Although I told my husband when we moved into our last house…”We are never moving again!”. As time goes by I am not sure that has the finality it once did.

    I have found in my life, that curve balls often get tossed my way and my choice tends to be overshadowed by those curve balls. I guess James Bond got it right…”never say never”.

    Good post, thanks for answering my question.

    Thotlady’s last blog post..8.08.08

    Thanks for sharing your experience Thotlady; we all have different paths to follow, and that’s what makes life (and reading about others’ lives) so interesting πŸ™‚

  33. Alex

    Stumbled over your site and started reading. Quite addicting. I will be moving to the Puglia Area in 2012, so many of your reasons in moving there are very similar to mine. But this is the best part. As I was reading your post on “How you ended up there” I caught the part about coal country PA. Being from PA, it kept me reading. Then when I saw Shamokin and Knoebels listed, my jaw bounced off the desk. I lived in Winfield, the othe rside of the river, had a company in the Reed Industrial Park in Elysburg, been in Shamokin too many times and Knoebels is my all time favorite “family park”. Small world. What you may or may not be aware of is Knoebels had one of its worst flooding events in its history. Much distruction. I now live in Florida, but your post brought me back. Love your site.

    michelle Reply:

    Hi Alex, thanks for coming by and for your kind words πŸ™‚ I did know about the flooding at Knoebel’s, indeed, although they rebounded pretty quickly as they were open after that; the Bloomsburg Fair grounds, though, were a horrible mess, and they cancelled the fair for the first time in its history. All my immediate and most of my extended family still live in the area, so I’m pretty much always up with the news πŸ™‚

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake