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.
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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, 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.
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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.
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.
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.
It turns out finding this “perfect town” proved to be more difficult than we thought it was going to be. A new region we discovered was Puglia 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 were 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 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.
We are currently looking for a small condo in the Phoenix, Arizona area and very fortunate that all our children, hence grandchildren, are located all within about a 30-miles radius of each other. For now, Arizona will always be our home base, so a small condo seems to be the likely answer.
As of today, our plane tickets have us returning to Italy on April 30, 2020. We are currently looking to rent an apartment in Spello, Arezzo, and Foligno for six months. While in one location, we plan to keep our eyes open for small homes for sale. You never know when the possibility will present itself of finding a home that will fit our needs. We are open to all possibilities but still need its location to be along a major train route. Purchasing and owning a car in Italy will put the burden on Gary to take the Italian driver’s test which is a major undertaking, to say the least.
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 on 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’ve teamed up with a wonderful company that we highly recommend if you need assistance in the Italian dual citizenship process. They will help you answer questions you might have. You can find them on our sidebar of the main page or here:
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!