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Here we are at the beginning of a new year with our announcement about our “Perfect Town.” As most of you know, we were extremely blessed in 2019 by living one year throughout Italy after finally obtaining our Italian citizenship at the end of 2018. This one-year adventure was a gift Gary and I gave each other. An experience of a lifetime. A journey we will never forget. If you missed our last post, you might want to take a peek A Year in Review.
Since 2010, we have explored 81 cities and towns throughout Italy. This past year, we were trying to narrow down our “perfect town,” in Italy; one we would like to possibly settle down. Throughout the year, we would get emails and texts from our Facebook followers and subscribers to this blog trying to figure out and guess which town might be our choice.
When we speak with ex-pats, each person loves their town they have settled. And of course, they should. We have tried this year to visit some of them, which included the lovely town of Chiavari, in which our Facebook friend, Marilyn lives. Even though Gary and I visited this sea town in Liguria during the winter, it was indeed beautiful. Gary and I miss the sea so who’s to say this lovely town couldn’t be a contender too? Find out more about this town by visiting her blog, Take Me Home Italy I guess my point is, that there are beautiful towns all over Italy and even though we’ve explored 81 of them, there are plenty more out there. Instead of finding the “perfect town,” we might be looking for the “perfect price.” I think you know what I mean.
Our “Perfect Town” in Italy
OUR TOP FIVE CONTENDERS:
(in no particular order)
- We have a few contenders in this location of Italy. The first perfect town would be the medieval hill town of Arezzo. We both found this town beautiful and charming. The amount of green space in this town is incredible. The people we met here including store owners and staff in several restaurants couldn’t have been nicer and more friendly. Participating in the Giostra del Saracino was a highlight and this medieval event takes place twice a year. Four districts or neighborhoods participate in this event. Getting around by train was easy and it is located in the easternmost part of Tuscany. Not as inexpensive to live in as Conversano, this town holds a special place in our hearts. Although a hill town, bicycles are ridden mainly in the flatter area of the town. As much as we love the area up by the Duomo, it is quite a hike up the hill. We would definitely get our exercise in this town if chosen!
- In western Tuscany, you will find the medieval town of Lucca. This town is bicycle-friendly and the historic center is famous for the Renaissance-era city wall that surrounds it. You can bicycle, walk or jog up on the wall and there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the countryside. The Tyrrhenian Sea is not too far away which leaves the western coast of Italy easily accessible from this beautiful town. The one drawback to Lucca is that it currently hosts the Comics and Games event every year. We just happened to catch the tail end of the event and were happy when the town returned to normal from all the tents, vendors, and gated-off parts of the historic center. We have pretty much decided that we will fly home to Arizona for the winter as Italian Snowbirds; and since this event occurs in November, we should miss it if Lucca is our chosen town.
3. Another newly discovered region for us is also a contender for our Italian home. We fell in love with the small hill town of Spello. You may have heard of this small town by the annual event it holds, Infiorate di Spello where carpets of flower art are created throughout the streets in one day. This town is all about flowers and they even have contests each year for the best street, balcony, and display. Close to the train line, it is a town that stole both our hearts during several visits. Umbria is centrally located in Italy and it would be a convenient base to live and still travel and explore more of Italy. We are currently looking for an apartment to rent here in 2020.
4. Five minutes from Spello on the train is the town of Foligno. This town is a bit larger than Spello and has its own charm. The one thing this town has going for it is that it is flat. Bicycles are easily ridden throughout the town where this would be most difficult in Spello. Foligno has a twice-year medieval tournament called the Giostra della Quintana which is similar to the event in Arezzo. There are 10 districts that compete in this event. Although we were not present during this event, there were several events held in this town during our monthly stay. Foligno seems to do quite a bit for its residents. Foligno is probably a bit less expensive than Spello and a good contender.
5. It turns out that finding this “perfect town” proved to be more difficult than we thought it was going to be. A new region we discovered was Puglia on this trip and we have to say we both fell in love with Conversano and the surrounding towns. The charming towns we explored include Martina Franca, Monopoli, Alberobello, and Polignano a Mare. Conversano is located near the “heel” of the boot and is close to the Adriatic Sea. Of course, there are many more towns to visit in this region and we will return to do so in the future.
The food, especially the seafood, bread, and wine was fantastic. The only drawback to Puglia with regards to traveling is that it takes quite a bit of time to travel by train (our preferred method of travel in Italy) to any of the large cities. Bari, which is a main city and destination for traveling further north in Italy is an hour away from Conversano using the local line. Rome is about 5 hours from Conversano, and Florence is about 6.5 hours. If “true retirement” is in our future, Conversano would be a contender. Perhaps Puglia in general.
Itria Valley or The Murge Region of Puglia
Gary and I have fallen in love with the Trulli homes located in Alberobello and in the Itria Valley of Puglia. They are found throughout this area of Puglia and we have actually looked at a few for sale. Our post on these amazing homes, if you missed it, will show you why we love these Unique Trulli Homes
I know we are not going to make some people happy by not announcing one particular town. Each town in Italy has its own charm, its own vibe. They are all contenders if the price were right. We have realized though that a year was too long to be away from our young grandchildren. We missed so much and while they are still small, we have come to the conclusion that we will live half a year in each country.
Make 2020 the year you learn a new language. I’m working on it myself!
More Exciting News
We are working on several new projects that have kept us busy this past year traveling through Italy. One we will have to hold off on announcing until the project is a bit further along. But I will say that my hope of sharing more of our 2019 journey through Italy will come true.
Other projects entail a coffee table book of the beautiful door photos I have taken throughout the years. I never knew so many people had the same obsession as I do! Also, after many requests, we will have several eBooks coming about specific towns we have visited to make planning an upcoming trip easier for you.
Our 2020 Wish
We love hearing from you in blog comments and emails. Please keep communicating as we enjoy helping you with your travel plans or even with dual citizenship questions and concerns.
We wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year and as we did this past year, get to meet more of our subscribers in person. We truly love meeting people and making new friends. Love and peace to you and your family!
YasminJanuary 2, 2020 at 10:11 am
Buongiorno Ilene and Gary, our children studied Italian in the summers during college in Urbino. Two of our 3 children decided to live in Italy once they graduated college. On visiting our son in Urbino, 2012, we would take the train to Pesaro, I knew I wanted to live here! We bought our house 4 1/2 years ago. It is 10 minute from the center of Pesaro. We are located in Parco San Bartolo. We bought a 150 year old farmhouse and are just finishing renovations inside, knocking down a wall to be able to get to the bedrooms upstairs (instead of going outside into the portico) to new bathrooms and kitchen and laundry room ( baffling the italians) because to them it should be another bedroom. Outside removed all the old stucco, new windows with screens and sills and replaced rotted beams above the windows. We added air conditioning last year and painted everything according to color the commune allowed. Installed all new radiators and two zones for heat. We learned many lessons along the way and had to learn to speak and read Italian. I’m glad we were naive and really didn’t know how hard it is to get carpenters, plumbers and electricians. Whatever the estimate is- triple that by the time they are finished! Buona Feste!
imodicaJanuary 2, 2020 at 4:46 pm
How amazing your journey of renovating a home! Sounds amazing. As much as we would love to do that- I am still pulled by Centro Storico in medieval towns. But, you never know. Perhaps we can meet one day. We love Aperol spritz too, as well as Prosecco! Thank you so much for your comment!
YasminJanuary 5, 2020 at 10:40 am
It’s A Beautiful Life starring Roberto Benigni was filmed in Arezzo
imodicaJanuary 5, 2020 at 3:46 pm
I don’t think we have ever seen it. We will have to rent it; thank you!
Belinda SelbyJanuary 2, 2020 at 11:48 am
Thanks for that great write up. Happy to say I also loved SPELLO and Lucca and will stay 3 nights in Arezzo in April. Any special tips on Arezzo, such as local places to eat off the main area away from the other tourists ?. Anything special not to miss? I’m doing a private day tour with a driver of surrounding areas, was planning to train to Cortona (unless u have better suggestion) and then one day exploring Arezzo. You thoughts would be most appreciated. Hopefully our paths will cross one day in Italy. Happy 2020. Warm wishes, Belinda from Sydney
imodicaJanuary 2, 2020 at 4:43 pm
Hi Belinda! We have one on the blog in Piazza Grande. It is a bit on the expensive side but an amazing family and food. The other we love is Trattoria Il Saraceno on Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 6. Great place for pizza and really, we ate there a few times and loved everything. That will be be on the blog soon. A bit behind on a few things. Right across the street from this restaurant is a little fruit and vegetable shop, Lucciana’s if you need anything. Love Lucciana and Valerio! If you haven’t been to Assisi, it is a stone’s through on the train. We loved Montefalco and a great town if you like wine. Please email us so I can send you more information if you’d like and would love to find out when you’re going! Happy New Year to you both too and thank you for the comment!
BarbJanuary 2, 2020 at 6:14 pm
Exciting news. Decisions are exciting for sure. Happy to see Lucca made the list. Still hoping while I am still there early May we get to meet up somewhere. My current plan is to leave from Firenze airport 5/8 FYI so please keep that in mind while making plans.
imodicaJanuary 3, 2020 at 10:42 am
Thank you, Barb for the comment! You know somehow-someway we will get together in Italy again this year! Thank you for your continued support of our journey. You and Tom are very special to us!!
Bernice ClarkJanuary 2, 2020 at 1:43 pm
Great news for both of you! We are leaving for Switzerland on April 25, 2020 and I will be working my way into Italy after our 2 week stay in Switzerland. I will be staying solo in Spello from May 10 to May 12. If you are there, I would love to meet up for a Cappuccino or glass of wine.
imodicaJanuary 2, 2020 at 4:32 pm
Thank you Bernie for your comment! We are looking for a place in Umbria – hopefully Spello too for our 6-month stay. That would be awesome–together in the same town! We we LOVE to meet up for wine, coffee, whatever!
Gary FrancisJanuary 5, 2020 at 11:13 pm
Can’t argue with any of your choices, but we all know the full list would be extensive.
We first went to Arezzo in May and loved it, as well the countryside around the city.