I’m not sure if I should begin this post by saying “I’m back” or “I’m home” so I will simply say “sono arrivata a Lucca” (I have arrived in Lucca). I’m always excited to be back here, but this arrival comes with a big question. The question is this - Do I want to make Lucca my home base for the foreseeable future or should I just stay a part-timer?
I’ve been tossing this question around in my mind for a few years. Now, for the the first time, it could be more than a daydream. A number of things make it possible now - I’m retired, except for a small contract at my former University, work I can do long distance. While I have strong ties to the United States, I have few actual day-to-day responsibilities. More importantly, I just sold my home in the USA; freedom from a mortgage there equals the financial resources to rent a year-round apartment here. Lastly, I have all but one final document needed to apply for Italian citizenship and that document is expected any day now. Even if that document is delayed, I could apply for a one year visa once I have a contract for a rental home here. So, back to the question, is this what I want?
My first few days here have certainly motivated me to stay. A trip up into the hills outside of Lucca for dinner with friends was a great way to spend part of my first full day here. One of the joys of living here is discovering out-of-the-way spots with fabulous views and authentic local foods, in this case the Osteria Il Botteghino, near Ciciana, pictured below. That the friends who brought me to this tasty spot have recently moved to this part of Italy only adds encouragement!
The next day included a trip to the Italian version of Home Depot for a few things needed for my current apartment. And really, what says “I live here” more than a morning at the local hardware store?
Catching up over coffee with another friend, a part-time Lucca resident, was more inspiration.
Today I took a long walk along le mura (the wall surrounding the old city center), sipped an iced coffee in a favorite piazza, and received warm greetings from locals I have come to know. Now, I’m spending a quiet afternoon sitting on my patio and writing. Life here suits me. The pace is just right.
There are of course the “buts”. But I will miss my children and grandchildren (this is the biggest issue for me). But I will miss my friends back home (true), But life in Italy, while wonderful, also has it’s challenges (there are certainly fewer conveniences here, not to mention no window screens!). But I’m still not fluent in Italian ( a work in progress). But, but, but.
And yet - if I’m ever going to do this, then now is the time. My children support me in this (a blessing) and I’m not getting any younger. So, I will begin to search for a year round rental apartment (affittare - to rent - my new favorite Italian word) and over the next several weeks I will live with the idea of staying here to see how it feels. If it feels right, I’ll base myself here for the next year or two. Just thinking of all the things to discover and write about in that time is exciting. I will also plan visits back to New Mexico and, hopefully, visits to Italy by my family. As for my friends - well, they will have a friend to visit in Italy, how bad could that be?
If I decide that living here full time is not right, or I can’t find an affordable apartment, then I’ll continue to split my time between Lucca and the USA, renting short term apartments here for each visit. Either way, I don’t think I can lose! post by JMB
A classic view of Lucca