Our Italian Adventure: Insights: Year 2 in Puglia
PART 53: 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 Puglia in the summer and then back again in the winter.
We are beginning our second year of living in Puglia. What are some insights we have gleaned after a year? How is living here for a second year different from our first?
Moving to Puglia last summer fulfilled about six years of dreaming, research, and planning. After losing some close friends who were too young to die, we realized that life is short and it is better to start to fulfill the dream as soon as I could retire early as a teacher.
When we arrived in Puglia, we wanted to take full advantage of being in Europe by planning daily "field trips" in our area, long driving trips (Amalfi coast, Dolomites), and some international trips, including Budapest. History and culture are coming to life through our travels so far, and we feel privileged to be in a place where an international life is easy.
Our priorities began shifting during our first year as we realized that relationships matter most.
Our local friends became like family, and meeting expats on parallel paths, seeking a bigger life is fascinating. Between building new and old bonds and exploring interesting cultures and areas, our horizons are growing, and our life, too, feels bigger and more fulfilling.
We just began Year 2 in Puglia, and rather than jumping in the car to see the cathedral floor in Otranto, or the beautiful coast and town of Polignano, we started our stay by running over to the mall once and the grocery store thrice. Feeling settled became a priority.
We have a sense of stability now, and the urgency to see and do as much as we can because time is short has given way to a sense of calm, knowing there is time for more travel and new experiences, but it doesn't have to be today.
The focus is on taking care of the practical steps of daily living.
Getting supplies for the house
Joining a new gym
Beginning a healthy eating and exercise routine
Our morning coffee
Another focus is on tweaking our experience in Puglia to help our experience here grow. Some decisions we have made in year 2 include: we will start coming in the Fall and Spring rather than the Summer and Winter. In this way we will take advantage of milder weather and better rates and ease of travel. Another decision we have made is to investigate purchasing a home at some point. The third decision is to plan our local and international trips, using Puglia as a base, months in advance; we have found that, with the tourist industry in full swing, it is challenging to travel on last minute whims.
Next week we will probably start going on our local field trips, but all in good time.
Our friendship bonds are still strong, but we realize that our local friends also have their own lives; their lives don't stop because the "Californiani" have arrived. Going from the role of visitor to resident means that we are responsible for planning our days in fulfilling ways, enjoying time with our local friends when we can, and engaging in meaningful activities when they cannot.
This summer, we have planned road trips and a long weekend in Vienna as we continue to take advantage of the privilege of living in Italy. Friends are also visiting, and we are so grateful to share our life and show them some of the places we love.
Local friendships are becoming more settled, and our sense of responsibility for planning our days is increasing.
As stated above, we will plan to be in Puglia in the Spring and Fall, we will be open to new housing possibilities (renting/purchasing) and will take more advantage of using Puglia as a base.
We are unsure what will come next, but we are comfortable with having an organic experience in Puglia as the next steps reveal themselves at the right moment.
We are beginning year 2 in Puglia with the realization that, as visitors, we often tried to fit many experiences into a limited number of days. Now that we have established a life here, the sense of urgency to see or do as much as possible is gone, and we are adapting more to the rhythm of life here:
Staying in the present moment.
Planning our activities rather than waiting for local friends to develop plans.
Spending time with friends while respecting their lives.
Gratitude for what we have.
More next time.
My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Puglia-Californians-Southern-Italy/dp/1913680649.
And also, on Amazon Italy: