Then and Now: How My Italy Adventure has Evolved

My Photo Remake in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
2009 (left) and 2014 (right).

Today marks my 800th day in Italy and I can nearly believe that this one decision in my life has brought me this far! It’s incredible to think how the small things in life can have such a big impact. In all honesty, my Italy adventure began long before I even stepped foot in Italy, before I could even imagine a life here.

I was recently skimming back through some of my old posts and I had the pleasure of reading my very first post for Italy Project 365 written on June 14th, 2011, just after I graduated from college. I remember at that time feeling so lost. With a 4-year degree in Accounting, headed straight into graduate school, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing…but what was it?

Looking back, I realize that thing was passion. Starting my Italy Project blog was my way of  keeping aflame my passion for Italy. For as long as I can remember I loved Italy. My grandmother would tell me stories about her Sicilian parents and what it was like growing up Italian. I would sit there for hours, looking through authentic Italian recipes, trying to understand what it was like to eat real Italian food, an unfathomable subject for anyone living in American at that time.

(Speaking of authentic Italian food, to celebrate my 800th day in Italy, I’m offering 50% off my recipe book, Inside the Italian Kitchen. { Click here to preview and purchase for $9.99 $4.99 } Celebration offer ends Tuesday October 21st, 2014.)

All throughout my days at Providence College I took Italian language and culture courses, participated in my school’s Italian Club (Circolo Italiano), and even worked at Scialo’s Italian Bakery on Federal Hill. Anything that was Italian, I loved. I read every book related to Italy, watched every Italian film and often skimmed through Italy travel guidebooks and articles, dreaming of one day travelling to Italy.

Fortunately, that day came in August 2009 when I set flight for Florence Italy. Like most American college students these days, I had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad, which basically meant taking a semester off to travel and occasionally attend courses, half of which were considered “electives” – courses that you take “just for fun”. I took Beginner Painting, Italian, World Religion and a cooking class (Ok, so perhaps it wasn’t the most productive semester of my life, but after spending my entire summer with my nose in an Intermediate Accounting textbook, hunched over my PC as I crunched through depreciation tables in Excel, I think I deserved a little break).

And just like all the other Florence study abroad students, I fell in love with Florence and cried on the plane ride home, pleading with my future self to return one day.

ponte_vecchio_florenceBut unlike most Florence study abroad students,  I did something different later on in life. I came back. Why? How? Well I think in part I was lucky – I was fortunate to have the financial support I needed to start, fortunate enough to find a teaching job, fortunate enough to obtain the right documents I needed to legally live and work in Italy.

The other part I suppose is sheer craziness. I was crazy enough to peservere through a lot of things that most sane people would scoff at and say “it’s not worth it!”. I did a lot of irrational things: I harassed an English school until they gave me a job (no really, I contacted them every week even after they told me they had no opportunities for me, until finally one day, they offered me a job). For a short period of time, I spent more money than I earned on enrolling in a school so that I could have an Italian visa. There were a few months when I considered marrying an Italian for dual citizenship (upon receiving this as a piece of advice from an Italian lawyer). Not to mention that fact that I left plenty of good job opportunities in the U.S. for a meager teaching salary in Italy.

None of it makes much sense to my friends and family, who continually ask me when I’m going to come home. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and chalk it all up to love, not with a man – but with a country.

And here I am, 800 days later living my dream (which is very different from living a dream life, may I remind you, as living here is no easy task!). It’s a nice little reminder that no dream is ever too big.

In Bologna 2009 (left) and 2014 (right)

How much longer will I stay in Italy? I’m not sure, but for now I’m enjoying the ride :)

To celebrate my 800th day, I’m giving away my recipe book, Inside the Italian Kitchen, at a 50% discount price! { SUPPORT THIS PROJECT & BUY A COPY } The celebration offer expires Tuesday, October 21st, 2014.

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