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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: From Puglia to Tuscany

PART 77: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.


We live in Italy in the Spring and back again in the Fall.


Step 1: The road from living in Puglia to establishing a new life in Tuscany is happening organically, and we would like to trace some of these steps with you.


Step 2: Evolving Friendships



Although we imagined that Puglia would be our Italian home for life, we were open to what the experience of living in Italy would reveal. And during our second year, it revealed a lot.


We chose Puglia as our home primarily because of our local friendships. We decided to build on those relationships we had already established from previous visits.


These friendships have been and still are one of the most rewarding aspects of living (part-time) in Italy. We realized a few things about our local friendships during our second year in Puglia.


Most of our Puglian friends were busy during the summer of our second year. Some had travel plans, others worked in the north, and others had demanding jobs. So, we saw very little of some of our friends during our second summer in Puglia, which made us reflect on our commitment to Puglia.


We spoke with our friends about these changes and realized that maintaining and growing friendships is not dependent on geography; whether we live in the same area as a friend does not define friendship.


We also realized that we could not come to Puglia and expect friends to stop their lives and rally around the Californians; it was up to us to organize our days around what was important to us.


This process and reflection have led us to a more mature experience of friendship and freed us from feeling that if we left Puglia, we would lose our friends. Not true.


Step 3: What is the point?


Once we clarified the friendship issue, we felt more free to examine our motives.


Why were we in Italy?


It is a significant expense and challenging to balance all the moving parts. Are we here to hang out in Europe without purpose other than wanting to live in another culture?


During year two, we began to ask ourselves: what is the point? What are we looking for here?


Step 4: Beaches, mountains, culture, travel


Being from California, we are used to beach life, so Puglia seemed like a great fit. Some of our local friends call Salento the "California of Italy." It has a similar laid-back feel and intense beach culture during the summer. The culture is also very open-minded, gay-friendly, and inquisitive.


Since neither my partner nor I are interested in laying on a beach for hours, we found ourselves seeking out cultural, physical, or travel activities in Puglia rather than accompanying our friends to the beach. We sought places to hike, gyms to train in, historical sites to visit, and other European cities to fly to.


Having been to many, if not all, cultural sites within two hours of our base in Puglia at least five or six times, we began to feel ready for something new.


Because of our backgrounds, my partner and I are drawn more to the mountains than beaches; we like the challenge of a long hike, discovering a rarely seen panorama, or winter sports associated with mountains.


One of the reasons that we chose to live in Italy was to use our place as a base to explore more of Europe. We lived in Puglia near the Brindisi airport and about two hours from Bari, and we took advantage of this by taking a few European trips. But, since we were in the extreme south of Italy, exploring other places by car was challenging. Would somewhere more central hit our target of using our place in Italy as a base?


Step 5: Where in Tuscany?


We had a lot of questions that rose to the surface during our second year in Puglia; perhaps this made us more open to finally listening to one of our local friends, who had been urging us for years: "Go to Monte Amiata in Tuscany. It is affordable, and you will love it."


Though my partner had always been drawn to Tuscany, I had dismissed it, always replying, "We can't afford it." It was true that we could not afford to live in Florence or Siena or the Val d'Orcia. "There is more to Tuscany than those places, and yet you can be near all of them!" our local friend said.


So, after finally hearing his words, we booked a flight to Pisa, rented a car and AirBnB for four days, and ended up in the towns in the Monte Amiata region of Tuscany.


What we found was:

  • More opportunities for an active lifestyle (hiking, mountain biking, winter sports, gyms, etc).

  • More cultural sites to visit in the immediate area (Florence, Assisi, Siena, Pienza, etc).

  • A more central location in Italy to use our place as a base.


We were surprised to hear ourselves say: this is the place we want to be.


Step 6: Budget questions


Due to California obligations, we would need to live in two places, which constrains our budget. We have student loans, a mortgage, and all the other expenses; we could only make this work if it fits our budget.


We found that the Monte Amiata area of Tuscany is more affordable than other parts, and we found housing that cost less than a house in Nardo' that we had considered buying.


So, we are taking the step that feels natural, not forced.


I will share more as we learn through our experience.


Insights.


Taking one step at a time, rather than having it all figured out at the beginning, is working for us as we establish our life in Italy. Moving from Puglia to Tuscany isn't something we could have imagined a year ago. Still, circumstances and experiences revealed the logic of such a move, and the doors opened almost by themselves.


More next time.


Now on sale for $2.99: My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CRKMKPWF?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_X2WRQ3PTG2ZDD7AVF6GH


And also, on Amazon Italy:


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