10 In General Info


About Us

This blog is our way of sharing our journey and hopefully, in the process, help others when traveling. Here you will find information about places to visit along with tips for traveling. We have also included our favorite restaurants and places to stay in many of the cities we have visited, just in case you happen to be visiting.

We met in New York while working for the same company. Gary has two amazing children and we have two daughters together. We have a blended family that means the world to us and have a total of nine beautiful grandchildren who all live in Arizona! We have been married for almost 39 years and have remained best friends.

In anticipation of our citizenship, we sold our home back in January 2016, along with most of our possessions. We downsized so much that everything we own fits into four large green Rubbermaid tubs! It’s funny how much stuff you accumulate and how much you don’t need.



Passion & Obsession

We both love to cook so occasionally we will share a recipe we think you might enjoy. Food is a passion of ours along with wine. When we go to a restaurant in Italy, we always ask for “Mezzo litro, vino della casa rosso,” which means half-liter house red wine.

Ilene’s obsession is with the wooden doors throughout Italy. From time to time, you will find posts just on these charming architectural pieces of art in towns we visit. When photographing a door, I often think of why the color was chosen, the style, details, and accents?


Dual Citizenship

It has been a true journey through mounds of paperwork and a great deal of time (did I mention money too?) Our initial application at the Los Angeles Italian Consulate was in November 2015 where we provided documents with translations, apostilles, etc. After a period of time with no communication, we received an email that we had to amend birth certificates as the consulate required names to be exact all across all our documents. Gary’s father’s name was “Americanized” on his birth certificate which didn’t exactly match the name on his father’s birth certificate. (There is more about this in our posts on Dual Citizenship.) The citizenship process is not easy and if you are interested in obtaining yours; perhaps we can help guide you, answer some questions, or point you in the right direction. Please feel free to email us ouritalianjourney@gmail.com.

Italian Citizenship – Finally!

On September 11, 2018, Gary was notified that he is an Italian citizen through JS (Jure Sanguinis – bloodline.) Finally, no more documents to provide or amend! I was able to get my citizenship through Gary (JM – marriage) as we were married before 1983. We received our passports and are currently on our one-year journey! It took us nine days short of three years to obtain.




We’d love it if you would share our blog with a friend or family member that loves Italy or will be traveling there soon.


More About Us…

Our First Two Trips While Waiting for Citizenship:

First 90-Day Trip

We were in Parma, Italy spending 90-days on our US passports waiting for that email. That was August-October 2016. We traveled in northern Italy by train discovering small towns we had not visited before. We enjoyed the sights of Verona, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, Rimini, San Marino, and Venice. Read more First 90-Day Trip

Second 90-Day Trip

We returned from this trip and went back to Italy February-April 2017, again for 90-days. We started out in Bari (for one day) and wound up in Florence for the entire trip. This was such an amazing adventure as we were at the center of everything. A 2-minute walk to the Ponte Vecchio and down the block from Piazza della Signoria with the Palazzo Vecchio. Please check out all the posts on the towns and events we got to experience this trip such as Montalcino, Lucca, Siena, and the wine region of Chianti!  You can read more Second 90-Day Trip


Be sure to follow us on social media to enjoy our photos!

Hope you share your stories with us and keep up with ours!





Gary & Ilene on the streets of Florence, Italy, ouritalianjourney.com

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  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Hi there I’m so thrilled to have stumbled across your blog. My husband and I will be travelling to Italy for the 8th time this summer…you may want to call us Italy junkies. I’m addicted to Italy and everything it offers. We too have the dream (yours now is a reality) to semi retire in Italy. Finding the right location will be the challenge. I look forward to reading up on your experiences and get some tips in our planning process. We’re a few years away before we spend several months in Italy but I know it will take considerable time to make those plans. Take care!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2015 at 5:15 am

    We are so happy you found us! Wow… 8 visits to Italy? That is fantastic! We understand about your addiction to this culture, food, architecture, etc. and feel the same way. This upcoming year is going to be a true adventure. We plan to do lots of little excursions from our “home base” to explore all the non tourist parts of Italy and get to know Italy on our terms.

    Also this first year will determine whether we can live being separated from our 4 children and 7 (soon to be 8) grandchildren and; will Skype be enough contact to sustain us until we return to Phoenix, AZ for a yearly visit.

    Please keep us posted on your journey and any assistance or guidance we can provide would be our pleasure. That is another reason for our blog. Thank you Lisa!!

  • Reply
    Nick Ruggiero
    January 23, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    You have a wonderful story… I’m totally jealous, in a good way. My wife and I may follow in your footsteps one day.

    • Reply
      January 25, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Nick, we have friends that think we are a bit off the wall for selling everything and traveling but we are enjoying every moment. Please stay in touch as I would love to hear your story one day! Thank you for your comment! Best to you both!!!

  • Reply
    Harmony, Momma To Go
    September 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I love Italy too! (In addition to living in NY). I went to Northern Italy this past spring to celebrate a big birthday. Milan, Verona, Lecco and parts of Switzerland. Hoping to finally bring my kids along next summer. I followed you on FB to keep up with your posts!

    Here are all my Italy posts: http://www.mommatogo.com/tag/italy/

    • Reply
      September 12, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Harmony! LOVE your blog. Just subscribed and liked on FB. I can’t wait to take a closer look. Thanks for your great comment!!

  • Reply
    April 24, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Ciao! Just read your story on “Instant Italy” and we have many similarities. We took our first trip to Italy in 2009 (for our 50th birthday celebrations) for 2 weeks. Our itinerary included the first-timers’ trifecta – Rome, Tuscany (including Florence) and Venice. I’m also an executive assistant, and while we are not yet retired, we plan to be in a year or two. Since 2009 we have been back another 5 times to Italy – sometimes revisiting places we loved and other times discovering new places to love. We’ve explored other European countries – France, Spain, Belgium, Ireland – but we are hooked on Italy. In our first year of retirement we plan to rent our house and alternate spending 3 months in Italy with 3 months in the US (to keep up with the kids and grandkids), and we’ll see what happens after that. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

    • Reply
      April 24, 2019 at 9:08 am

      We really have quite a few similarities! How exciting! Unlike both of you, we have yet to explore other European countries but it is on our list of things to do. Like you, we are just hooked on Italy. It does have something to do with the connection of family and citizenship, but it is more than just that. Please keep in touch and let us know how your plans progress! You can keep up with our adventure on social media (and we would like to reciprocate if you have any social media accounts too!) Thank you for your comment. So happy you found us!!

    • Reply
      Beatriz Lopez
      September 3, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      Hi Teri,
      I just read your post and I too fell in love with Italy last year when I went for a 2 week vacation and did the same trifecta but included a a few days in Sicily (Cefalu) to visit where my boyfriend’s grandparents were married. I too plan to go to Italy the first year of retirement and rent a house for 3 months to explore more regions as I wish to retire there for at least 1-2 years. In all of my research thus far, it sounds like a daunting task to go through lots of paperwork and waiting to apply for an elective residency visa. I have at least 10 years before retirement so I have time to get well informed. Would love to hear how your plan for the first 3 month stay goes and would appreciate any suggestions. Ciao ! 🙂

      • Reply
        September 4, 2019 at 2:21 am

        Hello Beatriz – I hope you meant this comment for Our Italian Journey; our names are Ilene and Gary. I am a bit confused about the name and about asking about how our first 3-month stay goes. We are here in Italy for one-year and already past the 9-month mark. So I don’t really know how to answer your question. Please let me know if it was meant for someone else. Though, we hope you stay and join our journey, Beatriz!

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