Moving to Italy: So Close, but So Far
As some of you know, I spent a month in Italy not long ago. And if you’ve been following along for awhile, you’ll also know that I spent six weeks in Italy last Spring. Nearly every time I get my hands on an airplane ticket it’s got “Italy” as the destination. Since I’m the author of BootsnAll’s Italy travel guide I’d imagine that’s not terribly surprising. And since each time I’m in Italy it’s good for the site, it only makes sense for me to spend as much time as possible there. But unless you know me personally you may not know the other reason I keep going back.
I’m hoping one day to stay.
I’ve had dreams of living in Italy for some time now, and on just about every visit over the last year or so I’ve done something to move the process along toward obtaining an official permit from the Italian government that’ll allow me to stay as long as I like without fear of deportation. (I know, on some level, that the country’s new anti-immigration laws aren’t aimed at me, but I’m paranoid enough to believe I’d be the one American they’d make an example of. So I’m doing what I need to do above-board.)
At any rate, it’s not a quick thing to get an Italian permit to stay, which has meant not only multiple trips to Italy but also to San Francisco (where the Italian consulate is for Oregon). Airfare to Italy from Portland isn’t cheap, and even though I stayed in apartments during my last couple of trips rather than an expensive hotel, living in a euro economy on a dollar salary hasn’t been easy on the bank account, either.
But there is no pause button on this process. The clock started ticking when I was granted my visa, and there’s no turning back now. Even though – and it hurts to even type this – I probably won’t be moving to Italy anytime soon.
See, I’ve got one more trip to make – which will happen in late August – to formally apply for my permit before the deadline (which, in typical Italian fashion, is fairly arbitrarily assigned). This trip will be a relatively short one, mainly for financial reasons, and at this point it looks like I’ll be in Milan for the whole time. (No day-trips to Venice, as much as I love it there, and no attempts to fall in love with Rome on this next itinerary. Not even an excuse to use the Amsterdam travel guide during a 3-hour layover at Schiphol, for pete’s sake. This August trip is all expat business.)
But after that – after I have the piece of paper that says I submitted the application when I was supposed to, the one that (assuming the government says yes) allows me to stay in Italy as long as I want forever and ever amen – I’m not sure when I’ll be going back.
Living in Italy – especially Milan, where I’ve been planning to start my expat life – can be expensive, especially when the world economy continues to fumble around and the euro-to-dollar exchange rate is still more favorable to Europeans than Americans. And the truth is that, right now, I simply can’t afford the move. Once I have my permit, it will mean that as soon as I can afford it, I’ll be ready. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. (If you’ve ever tried to do anything involving Italian bureaucracy, you’ll know what I mean. What’s the Italian word for “oy vey?”)
It’s still a little sad for me to think about not having a trip to Italy on the horizon to look forward to after next month, but the remainder of 2009 is doing a pretty good job of distracting me with other trips. I’m excited to be connecting with all the travel writers who are gathering at the TBEX conference in Chicago after BlogHer in a couple of weeks. I’ll be taking a road trip with my mother into the far reaches of northern British Columbia at the beginning of August. I’m making my usual trek to central Pennsylvania to visit the in-laws over the holidays. And it looks like I’ll be squeezing a work trip to Las Vegas in there as well (as much as I really am not a Vegas fan, I’m thinking I’ll need to peruse the pages of our Las Vegas travel guide to try to make the best of it anyway!).
In short, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy, and I’m certain there will be trips to Italy in my future – one of them on a one-way ticket. It’s just that being so close to realizing the dream, and yet still having it feel so far away, is a little agonizing right now.