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Advice on relocating to Italy?

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I am looking at relocating to Italy -- for lack of a better word, retiring there. I'm retired (disabled veteran) and and currently living in the Seattle area, and I have a stable and reasonably good pension that will follow me wherever I go. My brother lives in Pordenone and has his permanent residence as of two years ago, though I want to live in a city somewhere in the Veneto (Venice? Trieste? Verona?) rather than a small town, so I can live without a car, and where public transit is good.

My brother has offered to sponsor me over there. I have no intention of looking for work. The veterans administration will cover part of my medical while I am living overseas (they cover all service-related disabilities, which means I would only need medical insurance for emergencies). I've been working my way through the checklist of things needed for the visa application, but I do have some questions for someone who has been through a similar process.

I'm in my early 50s, single, no kids, but one small dog, and have been living away from my family since I was 17, so I'm not really going to feel the whole missing the family thing very much, though I will miss my social network in Seattle, as I've been living in the Pacific Northwest for close to 30 years now.

My brother is uncertain what to say in an invitation letter and has been rather slow about contacting the Questura, though he says he will happily put me up for the first few months until I find my own place to live.

My general needs aren't really that much - studio or one bedroom place, city culture, internet access from home, and being able to walk to the things I need like groceries, music, cafes, and a literary or arts scene. I'm working on learning Italian.

I'm uncertain how long the visa process for a residence visa is supposed to take once it's been filed with the consulate. I have seen "within 90 days" quoted but that seems a bit optimistic. And apparently the visa application process requires me to already have a plane ticket when I apply at the consulate? The nearest consulate to me is in San Francisco, and they have not been terribly responsive via email, but I don't find that terribly surprising.

Anyway, I'd love to hear from anyone who has gone through the process to retire to Italy without intending to work once they arrived. Your advice would be most welcome.

Thank you!

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