Where to live in Italy for 3 months?

Mar 25th, 2016, 06:34 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Just be absolutely sure it is 90 days and not three months.
fmpden is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 09:40 AM
  #22  
 
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Spending three months in one European town is a thing that is completely different from spending three days as a tourist.

I live in Europe and therefore my perspective is a bit different than that of an international traveller.

First remark. Some posters have recommended typical summer-trip destinations for tourists. I am afraid, in November, December and January these towns will be half-dead, with most of the restaurants and shops closed. So better choose a location with a life that is not entireley dependent on tourism.

Second remark. November, December and January is winter, even in Italy. Expect grey skies, rain, fog and rather short daylight hours. It is completely different from Italy in summer with blue skies, sunshine, flowers. Be prepared for a lot of indoor activities in this time of year.

Third remark. In the last years, the skiing season did not start before mid-January. Especially the Italian ski resorts, which are at the southern flanks of the Alps, start late.

Fourth remark. You "like to belong to a community". This is an illusion. Although the Italians are very friendly and open to foreigners (unlike the more reserved Spaniards and French), you will never belong to a community when you are staying for just three months. You may be able to chat with a waitress in a restaurant or with a shopkeeper occasionally, but this would not mean "belonging to a community". Be prepared to spend the most of your time alone and take a fully loaded ebook-reader with you.

Fifth remark. You wrote that you are newly widowed and that you want to spread your wings. I have three close friends who are in the same situation and I know how hard these times can be. Travelling might be a good idea to get inspiration and distraction, but spending three months alone in a town in a foreign country in the three darkest months of the year can be very depressing. I know what I am speaking about: Here in Europe, where winters are darker than in USA (a matter of latitude), winter is the depression season.

Sixth remark. When you stay in an Italian town in winter, have you thought about how to spend your days? Yes, you can walk through the Old Town, but after two weeks you will have seen every corner and every stone and it will get boring to walk the same paths again with an umbrella in your hand. You may go hiking, but the rainy season is not the ideal time for hiking. You said concerts, yes, but maybe once every two weeks or so and what will you do in the rest of your evenings?

Seventh remark. Now, if you are still determined to spend three weeks in Italy in wintertime, let's talk about places. As said, cancel the typical seasonal summer tourist destinations - they will be deserted.

Climatewise, I am afraid (and I speak from many business trips to Italy in winter) there is no place in Italy that is agreeable from November to January. Maybe a destination in a mountain valley (like Meran) might be even better than a destination in the south because you have the chance to go up the mountains and enjoy some real winter weather (which is better than lukewarm rain).

Otherwise, if you like hiking, select a place with nearby hiking opportunities in mountains, hills or vineyards. This means, most of Italy will fit your needs, except the huge Po Valley. The Dolomites (I mentioned Meran), Piemonte, Tuscany may fit your bill.

Also, do select a town which is not too small. Larger towns are more likely to have opportunities for English-speaking foreigners, like yoga classes. The most cosmopolitan cities in Italy are Rome (of course), Venice, Milano, Torino and Firenze (in this order). I know, you are starting to learn Italian, but do not expect wonders within half a year of learning a foreign language.
traveller1959 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 09:47 AM
  #23  
 
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Traveller, thanks for the great insight. We have thought many times of deserting our grey rainy days of winter for 3 months in Italy. Maybe the south of Spain...
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 09:58 AM
  #24  
 
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Traveller has nailed it, especially with regard to "belonging to a community." You won't, though you may feel you've broken a few barriers, but without the language, sorry, no matter what anyone tells you, you do not even begin to belong to a community. And as she says, it will take you years to begin to be fluent, though being onsite and being forced to do it speeds up the process. I love the fact that you have this dream, but it pays to be realistic.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 25th, 2016, 11:04 AM
  #25  
 
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Traveller 1959 has NOT nailed it apart from saying “Spending three months in one European town is a thing that is completely different from spending three days as a tourist.”

First of all he states that he lives in Europe. Yes, Dusseldorf in Germany, not Italy.

Let's look at his various comments.

“First remark. Some posters have recommended typical summer-trip destinations for tourists. I am afraid, in November, December and January these towns will be half-dead, with most of the restaurants and shops closed. So better choose a location with a life that is not entireley dependent on tourism.”

I note that posters have mentioned many towns and cities. Which of these are half dead in the winter months? What experience do you have? How about all the cultural events including opera which are for Italians rather than tourists?

“Second remark. November, December and January is winter, even in Italy. Expect grey skies, rain, fog and rather short daylight hours. It is completely different from Italy in summer with blue skies, sunshine, flowers. Be prepared for a lot of indoor activities in this time of year.”

The Lake regions have some of the best weather during the winter months in terms of lake of rain and clear skies. It may be cold but the air is crisp. No humidity as you will find in the Po valley.

“Third remark. In the last years, the skiing season did not start before mid-January. Especially the Italian ski resorts, which are at the southern flanks of the Alps, start late.”

Not exactly true. But selecting the right base one can travel to where the snow is.

“Fourth remark. You "like to belong to a community". This is an illusion. Although the Italians are very friendly and open to foreigners (unlike the more reserved Spaniards and French), you will never belong to a community when you are staying for just three months. You may be able to chat with a waitress in a restaurant or with a shopkeeper occasionally, but this would not mean "belonging to a community". Be prepared to spend the most of your time alone and take a fully loaded ebook-reader with you.”

This all depends upon your interests and culture. If your target is talking to waitresses then perhaps, dear traveller, I don't know what to say. But if your interests include art, opera, literature and culture in general then the opportunities are immense.

“Fifth remark. You wrote that you are newly widowed and that you want to spread your wings. I have three close friends who are in the same situation and I know how hard these times can be. Travelling might be a good idea to get inspiration and distraction, but spending three months alone in a town in a foreign country in the three darkest months of the year can be very depressing. I know what I am speaking about: Here in Europe, where winters are darker than in USA (a matter of latitude), winter is the depression season.”

Take some Prozac.

“Sixth remark. When you stay in an Italian town in winter, have you thought about how to spend your days? Yes, you can walk through the Old Town, but after two weeks you will have seen every corner and every stone and it will get boring to walk the same paths again with an umbrella in your hand. You may go hiking, but the rainy season is not the ideal time for hiking. You said concerts, yes, but maybe once every two weeks or so and what will you do in the rest of your evenings?”

A good choice of town allows you the choice of visiting other locations. Rainy season? Perhaps in Dusseldorf.

“Seventh remark. Now, if you are still determined to spend three weeks in Italy in wintertime, let's talk about places. As said, cancel the typical seasonal summer tourist destinations - they will be deserted.”

Which summer tourist destinations are you referring to?

“Climatewise, I am afraid (and I speak from many business trips to Italy in winter) there is no place in Italy that is agreeable from November to January. Maybe a destination in a mountain valley (like Meran) might be even better than a destination in the south because you have the chance to go up the mountains and enjoy some real winter weather (which is better than lukewarm rain).”

I think there are many places in northern Italy better than Dusseldorf in winter.

“The most cosmopolitan cities in Italy are Rome (of course), Venice, Milano, Torino and Firenze (in this order).”

This is an extremely subjective choice.
nochblad is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 11:40 AM
  #26  
 
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Vicky, just curious, but why haven't you considered travelling with your cat? Cats are allowed in the cabin.
KodakMoment is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 11:54 AM
  #27  
 
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My first ides was Vicenza. I visited it in the summer so not sure what it's like in the winter but I would imagine with lots going on culturally. Or Bologna?
I agree (as someone who did Italian at school and learnt Spanish as an adult) that knowing Spanish should make learning Italian easier. But re language and the suggestion of Meran. Meran/Merano is in Alto Adige/Südtirol and is bilingual, with German as well as Italian. So that's two communities!
lynda_berlin is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 12:00 PM
  #28  
 
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I would have to drug my cat to travel. A six hour plane ride would be her idea of hell..

juliejohn22, a friend in a similar situation spent late fall early winter in Lecce, Puglia last year and had a very good experience. She took intensive , I think immersion style, Italian classes while there which she felt was key to her experience .

She did find some contact with people who lived there, though many were expats , not all were. She found some interests in common through offerings at the university of the Salento located there.
jubilada is online now  
Mar 25th, 2016, 12:06 PM
  #29  
 
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Nice work, nochblad. You have a lot more patience than I have.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 01:22 PM
  #30  
 
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I'm chiming in only to support your idea. Absolutely no reason not to do this!!!

I do agree you likely are not going to be a "part of the local community" or certainly not within only 3 months without speaking the language. But that wouldn't stop me from giving it a try.

Yoga would give you a good way to make connections. Also you could look into volunteer work thru a school or church. The expat community will be easier to become a member of than the Italian village/town.

My experience is not in Italy but I've spend a lot of time in Mexico and hope to live part-time someday soon and these are my feelings from being there.
suze is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 01:37 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Your 90 day trip will be wonderful. Just a few thoughts.

1. Stick to the 90 day limit. If you over-stay there can be all sorts of problems - worst case scenario is deportation.

2. Ensure you have the best health insurance you can afford and ensure it has extra cover for things like skiing, hiking or even riding a motor bike (you never know!). As well, ensure it has the facility for a medi-vac home - this has happened to someone I know who had to be medically evacuated back to Singapore as they broke their leg skiing. Am sure this is already part of your plan but just throwing it out there.

3. Get in touch with some ex-pat forums and read about their experiences. Here is one example
https://www.internations.org/rome-expats
You may even like to meet up with some people this way.

4. Going to Mass is a good way to meet people. You don't have to be Catholic to attend Mass and people will be very welcoming. At my local church, when an English speaking visitor arrives we give them an order of the Mass in English and stay behind to have a chat to them afterward. Hopefully you'll find a village/town with a welcoming parish.

5. If you rent your apartment through VRBO or Air BnB see if the owner will negotiate a cheaper rate for a long stay. Being off-season I don't see why they wouldn't.

6. And for locations - Florence is small enough to have the charm you seek yet big enough to have good transport links and tons of things to see. There is also Cortona or Siena, or further south, Sorrento is lovely and doesn't shut up shop in winter. It is on an efficient train line and has loads of english speakers due to it being very much a tourist town - although off season it retains its charm.

7. Maybe spend some time taking on-site Italian classes or art classes?

Good on you. I hope your plans come to fruition.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 01:46 PM
  #32  
 
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Lecce was my thought too--not as much English as the northern towns, but a wonderful lively vibe. Perfect time, as can be so hot in summer, even into fall. And not too far from skiing in Sicily.

Just our opinion but we found Lake Coma in September to be a snore, I can't imagine being there in January...but then again, I've never been in January.
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 01:52 PM
  #33  
 
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I've been in Italy twice a going to Italy twice 6 weeks each trip. I agree with the comment that as south as you go the people is nicer. I would never forget how my kids and I were frown upon in Rapallo by these rich women from being foreigners, we were speaking Spanish. This made us laugh as my Nonna was originally from Rapallo's little neighbor town Zoagli. Also everything was more expensive.

After I got awfully sick with the swinne flu in our first trip after Rapallo, in Sorrento, people bent over backwards taking care of me at the hotel we were. So if I had to advice I will always suggest not to stay in the Liguria area, go south.
pookymimi is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 02:02 PM
  #34  
 
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Sundried, loved your play on words, very clever!!
schnauzer is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 02:07 PM
  #35  
 
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Juliejohn, I love your plans, well done and I hope it all works out for you. Are you locked into those months or could you be more flexible with dates perhaps? I've spent here months in Europe from Dec-feb and I did find it quite hard. So many 'things' are closed for the season and the nights draw in very quickly. I did go skiing during this time but those months would not be my preference if I did the excercise again.

Good luck with the planning, keep us up to date.
schnauzer is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 02:10 PM
  #36  
 
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You might consider staying in a town where language classes are offered and take a few weeks’ lessons to start. The classes are often not too expensive and they would give you the opportunity to meet fellow travelers or ex-pats with whom you might socialize as you get acquainted with the area. Often, there are students representing many nationalities, which would be as enriching as meeting the native Italians. And, at the right school, staff members are often very welcoming and can help you with the ins and outs of local culture.

I took a 2 week class in Lucca and met folks from Germany, Australia, Brazil. Switzerland and England. The teachers were great and we had the opportunity for in-town field trips to better know Lucca.

I also started my stay in the home of a local woman who rented rooms to students.

There are numerous schools across Italy and you might find one in the town to which you are headed.
mama_mia is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 02:34 PM
  #37  
 
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I have a suggestion for a town.

Senigallia is on the Adriatic coast. In one sense, it's a beach town, and there are plenty of foreign tourists (mostly English and German) in the summer. However, it's a lively town that definitely doesn't roll up the sidewalks in the winter. It has theatre, several adult schools, and all sorts of activities all year round. It has good shops, excellent restaurants, and fairly good transportation, including a train line with direct trains to Bologna and various cities on the Adriatic coast. It has fairly good connections to Rome, with a change of train. There is an airport nearby (in Ancona) with Alitalia and Lufthansa partner flights, Ryanair flights to London and Charleroi, and other budget airline flights. There are many beautiful hilltowns in the hinterland (including the one where I live). There are some expats in Senigallia, I think mostly German and English.

There are numerous opportunities for hiking, and even some clubs devoted to it. On an everyday basis, you can walk fairly long distances along the beach. You see lots of people doing this in the winter. The Sibilline mountains are about 50 km (30 miles) inland from the Adriatic coast. They're not terribly high but they have great hiking opportunities. I agree that skiing is not often possible until after December, almost anywhere in Italy. The season is said to begin on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but in fact it often begins later. There are ski clubs in nearly every town around here, and they put together skiing weekends; joining one would be another way to meet people. When skiing isn't possible, some of them also organize other excursions. There are also archaeology clubs, photography clubs, art appreciation clubs, and many others.

Le Marche is a very welcoming region, as I can attest. I have a great advantage, though, in that my husband has lived his whole life in my town, except when he was away at boarding school and university. However, I on my own found it fairly easy to make friends here. My husband says I'm not better known than he is, and it's true that I have more friends and acquaintances who are on "Ciao!" terms with me, but on "Buon giorno" terms with him.

I don't really agree that you'll have no trouble finding people who speak English. One of the advantages of a town that has at least a reasonable tourist industry is that there will be more English speakers there. In my town, I can count on one hand the number of people who speak a passable English, and I think they're all under 30. Even some of the English teachers in the middle school have been incapable of holding even a simple conversation in English. So learning Italian would be very important, unless you are willing to fit into an English-speaking ex-pat community.

I know a lot of people who have come here, bought old farmhouses (as in "Under a Tuscan Sun"), fixed them up, but returned after a few years to Germany. I'm sure the language barrier was part of what impeded their integration. Other issues were family obligations, and medical care. I've found the medical care to be excellent, but this may be another aspect of the language barrier.

Being single is actually probably an advantage for you. You will be forced to find your social life outside your home, and you will have a much greater incentive to master Italian.

The weather in the winter is rather unpredictable in most parts of Italy. In recent years, the spring has been rainier than the winter. However, a few weeks of intermittent rain in the months you'll be here are not out of the question.

In most areas, except for major cities, a car would be a great asset. You would have to lease or rent a car, though, unless you had an Italian residence permit. If you stay in an area that has good public transportation, you could get away with renting a car occasionally for excursions.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 04:03 PM
  #38  
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Join Date: Mar 2016
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thank you everyone for taking the time to help me. every comment is useful.
Let me clarify the reason for the months I have chosen:
I will be trekking in Nepal setting up medical clinics for 5 weeks right before ending late Oct. I decided to rent my home in San Diego and go somewhere else following that trip. I really am open; completely open to where. I just started with Italy.
I would love to take language classes where ever I land.
I do not have the illusion of fitting into a community in just 3 months, but am the type of person to get to know an area rather than traveling and sight seeing.
I think I will let go of skiing; too many clothes...
I love opera.
I know I must sound very naive. Thank you again.
juliejohn22 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 04:07 PM
  #39  
 
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As a single person who has lived a few different places (in the US) and traveled on my own a few times (only five) in Europe, I find cities a lot easier than smaller towns.

If I were doing what you are thinking of, I'd probably pick Paris, Florence, Venice, Amsterdam. For the ease of getting around, no need for a car, etc.

May or may not be a valid point of view from your perspective.

All the best, suze
suze is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 05:22 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Juliejohn, I don't think you sound naive. Anyone who has the smarts and heart to set up medical clinics in Nepal will figure Italy out. Good luck and keep us posted about your adventure.
mama_mia is offline  

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