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Two Years in Italy… and Saying Goodbye

In October 2017 we moved to Bologna. It wasn’t an easy process. We had to empty our cozy apartment in Seattle, and pack everything we owned into a few suitcases. We gave away pots and pans, rain boots, baby stuff, even our mattress (man I loved that mattress). We flew to Bologna with only a month booked at an AirBNB, no apartment, and no real idea how life would go. We did this with a dog and a 15-month old baby. Looking back I am kind of impressed at our ambition.

On the plane to Italy

We didn’t know how long we would stay in Italy. Our journey was purposely open-ended. The standard lease in this country is 4 years, and we confidently signed it, just thrilled we had actually found a place to live that wasn’t super tiny or weird.

Well we didn’t make it to four years after all. It turns out we’re leaving after two. Two really solid years of adventure, absurdly good food and growth of all kinds (physical, mental, personal, career, waistlines).

It’s time to go back to the US

A lot of people are probably pretty surprised to hear this. It took us by surprise too. But hey, we’re impulsive people and once we make a decision, we see it through.

You see, we got an offer that was too good to turn down. A chance to stay at my inlaws new vacation home in Florida. It’s pretty pink, with a pool, and the cost of living is much, much lower than what we’re currently experiencing in Italy. It’s a chance to reprioritize, to save up money, and then in a couple years, to launch our next big adventure: home ownership (the where part? TBD).

Living in the United States again was always part of the plan (at least my plan). Bologna, as beautiful as it is, never felt like my forever home. I don’t think I have it in me to be a permanent expat. I like Mexican food too much. While these aren’t the easiest times to be an American, in or out of the country, that’s what I am at heart, and I knew it was only a matter of time before we would return.

I didn’t expect that return would be so soon, or that it would be to Central Florida of all places, but life is full of surprises.

I think it will be really good though. I’ll have better work hours, Marcella will benefit from going to school in English, plus there is that whole skipping winter thing that sounds pretty great.

We’re Leaving in Less Than a Month

This all happened very fast. We made the decision, with the idea of heading back in February or March. We would take our already-planned trip home for Christmas, then come back and start wrapping up our life here. Maybe we’d even squeeze in one more trip before heading back.

An exhaustive ticket search quickly led us to conclude that the most economical option was in fact to just… not come back from our December trip.

Sooo that’s what is happening! We’ll fly back to the US on December 13th, spend Christmastime visiting various family, then Mike will come back to Italy to fetch Leo and close up shop, while Marcella and I hang out in Arlington for a few more days. We’ll all come back together in Florida in mid-January.

There’s a lot to do: we have to pack up all the things we own (thankfully less stuff than when we lived in Seattle). We have to give away our pressure cooker, toddler toys, and our mattress (and I really do like this mattress). We have to get Leo his shots, unenroll Marcella from school, and all sorts of other fun moving stuff.

That hardly leaves time to wrap my head around what’s happening.

Reflecting on Two Crucial Years

I’ve been vacillating between excitement (a clothes dryer! Chipotle!) and sadness (no more porticoes, no more gelato) on an hourly basis. I’m extremely sad to be leaving, but I’m also… I don’t know, hopeful?

Mike and I both turned 35 in October, right before we celebrated our two year anniversary in Italy, just days before we made the decision to leave. It all feels very significant: the ending of one era, the beginning of something new.

I’m really still trying to process the whole experience. In the past two years, my baby became a kid. Mike and I both underwent major career changes. It hasn’t always been easy living here, but it’s always been interesting.

And we traveled, oh did we travel.

Our first Christmas in Ferrara
Carnivale in Malta
A visit to the Barba homeland with my Mom
Venice
This little girl turned 2!
a summer escape to Abruzzo with friends
A detour to Mexico
I hosted my first Thanksgiving
A freezing Christmas market trip to Austria
best friends in Morocco
Carnevale fun
Seville
daycare graduation
pizza festival!
3rd birthday party
Greece

I admit that I’m greedy. There is a lot of stuff I would have liked to accomplish during our time in Italy that I didn’t. So much of Italy and Europe that I wanted to see and adventures I wanted to have. I never made it to Southern Italy, or back to Eastern Europe. We didn’t get to visit our friends in London, or Portugal.

But I have to remind myself: really we’ve been so fortunate- to have this chance to live in Italy at all.

And the adventure isn’t over. We’ll find it wherever we go, wherever we end up living. Because adventure isn’t an address. It’s a state of mind.

4 Comments

  1. Candice on November 15, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    Aw man, wish I had a chance to visit you guys while you lived there. But home ownership is SO much fun, I promise!!

  2. Scott on November 16, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    All the best to you guys in your new adventure! Two years is probably about right … leave while you still (hopefully) love it so you will always look back fondly.

  3. Caroline Eubanks on November 17, 2019 at 2:41 am

    Let me know if yall come through Atlanta!

  4. Aunt Margaret on November 21, 2019 at 6:24 am

    Beautifully written Steph. See you at Christmas, and maybe Florida where Sebastian also lives.

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