Friday, August 14, 2015

Calabria: an expat returns home, part time



As part of my Interviews with Expats in Italy series
Cherrye Moore
is sharing her expat life in Italy and the USA


I met Cherrye Moore on line via her newsletter and web site for My Bella Vita.     Southern Italy does not often receive the same attention as other tourist dense parts of Italy and I found her descriptions of the towns, villages and seaside of Calabria engaging.  

From online posts about life in Calabria, renovating a home to a BnB Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast, travel tips and Calabrian destinations an entire travel service company has emerged.  More personal updates, recipes and facts about life in Calabria are  posted on the subscription site, Questo Mese in Italia, a complementary newsletter, be sure to subscribe.


My Bella Vita Travel offers culinary experiences, yoga retreats and heritage
tours in Calabria.    This year travel events are September small group heritage tour, Calabria Yoga Retreat and Calabrian Table Tour.   Details and dates are on her web page.   Cherrye describes
My Bella Vita Travel as  " Our company, My Bella Vita Travel, specializes in custom vacations and heritage travel to Calabria and southern Italy."

Contact information:    http://mybellavita.com    cherrye@mybellavita.com 

Photos courtesy of Franco Muia

Our online interview:
 How long have you been an Expat in Italy?

I lived full-time in Calabria for nine years and recently relocated (at least) part-time back to Texas.
I loved living in Calabria. My husband is from there and my son was born there and it very much feels like home to me.
Our long-term "family plan" always included us splitting our time between southern Italy and southeast Texas so this recent "move" was part of the bigger plan.


Prior to becoming an expat did you live in Italy for any length of time?

 No! I had spent time as an expat just outside of Paris, which is where I met my husband, and I thought I knew what being an expat was all about. :-)
Talk about culture shock!  

 What made you decide to no longer be a visitor but to be a resident in Italy?

My husband and I met while we were both working for Disneyland Paris and living in France.
We had "the talk" a few months into our long-distance relationship and we knew that someone would have to make the move.
I have always loved adventure and liked the idea of living in southern Italy but always knew that one day I'd want to go home (to Texas).
I grew up in a big Catholic family - I'm one of 26 first cousins - and I wouldn't trade that crazy family dynamic for anything.
So, I knew one day I'd want to move back to Texas. Now, we are in a position that I never dreamed would be possible.
We kept our home in Calabria and recently bought a home in southeast Texas. I'm so very blessed!

 Any reason you wish to share, for selecting the city/town you live in?

It's funny how sometimes life chooses you. I moved to Italy "for a boy." :-)
And that boy happened to live in Catanzaro, the capital city of Calabria.
But, I gotta be honest. The first several months were tough. Unlike more tourist-friendly towns, there is little English spoken in Catanzaro. Everything still closes in the middle of the day. We hang out our clothes to dry... .
It's a very different way of life than I was accustomed to in Texas.
But slowly things started to change for me. I started making connections, learning the language, adapting to the differences and I wouldn't change it for anything.
There is nowhere else in Italy I'd want to live.

 Did you speak Italian before you moved to Italy?

Very, very little. Ok. Let's say no.
I remember though when I started feeling comfortable in Italian.
I had gone to a shop down the road from our house and I felt ... light. Confident.
I couldn't really place the feeling until I realized that I was feeling relief. Peace.
I knew I'd be able to communicate with someone if they approached me without getting flustered or embarrassed.
I held my chin a little higher and smiled as I walked.
Then, I remembered I'd gone to the store to buy Q-Tips. And I didn't know how to say that in Italian... . 

What is or was the most difficult part(s) of expat life?   Be free to list anything from on dishwasher to the amount of time errands take….etc

Difficult?? Hmmm..., bureaucracy.
Everything taking longer than you think it should.
Not being able to make a dr. appointment on the phone but having to go in person to make the appointment, then going in person to pay (in advance), then going again for the appointment.
Then, again to pick up the results. It was so tedious.
Also, I found it much harder to make friends with non-expats in Calabria.
Many of the Italians I know have had their same friends since childhood so there isn't a lot of "room" for new friends.
Then, people get busy - have jobs, have kids and family and it's harder to make a connection with people who are new.

The most rewarding parts of expat life?

I love being able to fully experience a new culture. You can read about it, learn about it and get insight while you are on vacation but living in a country exposes you to so much more. You see the good, the bad and the ugly and at least for me, I love it anyway. I have always said there are different kinds of expats. Those who know their expat life is short-term, those who make permanent moves and have their families as an expat, those who are students, moms, dads, short-term employees, etc. All of these personal elements affect our experience and each of those is rewarding and unique in different ways.

My first expat experience was 15 years ago when I lived outside of Paris. I was young and never expected to have a family or live in France any longer than I did.
That experience was fabulous but it was much different from my next expat experience, which was southern Italy.
In Italy, I got married, had in-laws, gave birth to my son, built a home - all normal real-life experiences but it wasn't like being on vacation every day. (in comparison to my experience in Paris, for example)

Do you have dual citizenship with Italy?

Not yet, but I'm eligible. It's on my list. :-)

To stay long term in Italy, what documentation is needed? 

I'm not sure, I think it varies depending on what you are planning to do in the country.
I was married to an Italian so this process was different from expats who are seeking citizenship based on their heritage, people who are there for work, etc.

Do you plan to remain in Italy long term?

That's a harder question than it initially seems. As I mentioned, we have bought a home in Texas and are planning to split our time but we also kept our house in Italy.
We have strong ties there and I don't ever see us breaking those or not wanting to spend a considerable amount of time in Italy.
We want our son to feel Calabrese, to know his family and the culture and the language so yes, I think a part of us will be there forever.
I love Italy and I miss it every day that I'm not there but I also love being an American.
I love being close to my family in Texas and having our son in close contact with his family in the states.
Maybe that's the best part of being an expat. Being able to have it all - to have the best of both worlds.
At least that's what I'm hoping.
Photos courtesy of Franco Muia


About

My Bella Vita Travel, LLC was created by Cherrye Moore, an American travel writer who has lived in southern Italy since 2006.
The company specializes in custom vacations and ancestry tours to Calabria and regions throughout southern Italy.
My Bella Vita Travel is registered as an LLC in the state of Texas and all business, banking and legal processing is conducted in the US.
You can join Cherrye for the Calabrian Table Tour, an 8-day cooking, food, wine and culture tour of Calabria held 2-3 times a year



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