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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: Puglia: Living vs. visiting

PART 68: 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.

Step 1: How is living in Italy different from visiting as a tourist? Even though we are in Puglia for half the year (following the 90/180 rule), our experiences living and visiting are pretty different.

Step 2: Visiting as a tourist.

Before taking the step to live in Italy, we visited many times as tourists. Sometimes, the motivation was to experience the history and culture of this incredible country and other times; it was to spend time with our local friends. In both cases, we were in Italy for a limited time with a lot on our to-do/see lists.

Some factors that characterize our experience in visiting an area as a tourist include:

  • Pre-planning. Deciding on which sites and people to visit so we could make the most of our days in the country.

  • Pre-booking. As our plans solidify, we pre-book our lodging as far as possible in advance to get the best places for the best prices—little room for spontaneity.

  • Organizing our day. Since traveling to Europe is costly, and one never knows when or if one might return to a city or area, our days as tourists tend to be full. We bookmark a quiet dinner or a few hours at a beach with essential places to see or things to experience.

  • Eating. When we visit an area as tourists, we want to experience the food without worrying about whether it is healthy. We dive in and EAT.

  • Leisure time. On vacation, I don't want to be productive; I want to relax and sightsee without other concerns.

  • Amazement. When we travel, we often feel a sense of amazement; everything we see is new, and some of the beauty, whether natural, like the Dolomites, or man-made, like the David, feels overwhelmingly wonderful.

Step 3: Living in Italy.

We are learning along the way, so we are not experts. But we are in our second year in Puglia (rather than just visiting for a few days), and the differences are starting to emerge.

  • Pre-planning, pre-booking, and organizing. We have become more relaxed while living in Puglia and no longer feel the push to pre-plan, pre-book, or pre-organize everything. When we travel out of our area, sure, we pre-book and plan, but in Puglia, we have become more open to spontaneity, especially since our local friends are very spontaneous. Plus, we realize that we don't have to fit many activities into one day but enjoy what is in front of us.

  • Healthy routines. When I travel for a few weeks, I usually neglect some healthy routines, like a proper diet and regular gym workouts. Taking a break from routine can be positive since one should experience new places and situations. But some bad habits crept in after we had lived in Puglia for some months; at a certain point, I realized that my breakfast consisted of a coffee and cornetto, lunch of a plate of pasta, and dinner of a slice of pizza. I knew that my long-term health required me to develop healthy routines in Puglia. I switched directions and took some time to reorganize my daily eating habits (I even wrote it down) and my gym training and other regular physical activities (hiking, etc.).

  • Being productive. In California, I committed to writing daily, either to work on my new novel or a blog; since I retired from teaching, I usually devote 2-4 hours on weekdays to working on a writing piece. I take a break from writing while on vacation, but living in Puglia inspires me to capture some of our experiences or to imagine others. I don't write while on vacation, but while living in Puglia, I decided that I want to be productive but on a lighter schedule. Committing to an hour of writing on weekdays in the afternoon (after riposo) works for me and helps make the day not only fulfilling but also purposeful.

  • Priorities. Living in Puglia is reshuffling our priorities, and we are finding that relationships have become more central. We still enjoy the cultural-historical sites, visiting new cities, and enjoying incredible panoramas. But we have also found that building on our friendships, as well as making new friends, has emerged as a priority.

  • Travel amazement. Our amazement as we gaze at the 1000-year design on the cathedral floor in Otranto, the beautiful trulli in Alberobello, or the historical center in Bari hasn't changed. As we look out over the water at the setting sun in Santa Caterina, we still marvel at how lucky we are.

  • Making every day special. We want to make the most of being in Puglia without being rigid about our schedule or healthy habits. We started taking several half-day field trips every week to explore our area and see what we could discover.

Insights: Results. Visiting an area as a tourist or living there has different dynamics, and we are adjusting to this change. Prioritizing relationships, developing healthy habits, and making every day unique are some of the ways that we are transitioning from visiting to living in Puglia.

More next time.

My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US:

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12 nov. 2023
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Thanks for the article and the blog. I just found it recently and will have to go back to learn more. I just bought your boook as well and have started reading it today. I am enjoying it so far. I had no idea about St. Nicholas's bones...

Mark Tedesco
Mark Tedesco
12 nov. 2023
En réponse à

Thank you so much. During my research for the book, it was amazing to discover what an interesting and cool person that Nicholas was!

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