|A view of the terrace on Borgo degli Albizi|
Next, I tried house-sitting, which also had its benefits. For two years I spent several months during the spring in Zagarolo, a small village southeast of Rome. There was a large house and a huge yard, with fruit, nut and olive trees, located in the countryside, surrounded by vineyards. I had the use of a car, since the house was miles from town, and the company of eight cats. I had easy access to visit Rome via a 30-minute train ride.
|The house in Zagarolo|
The owner of the house also had specific rules that compromised my comfort: for instance, I was not allowed to open the shutters in the front room of the house when the sun was shining in, and it was the only place where direct sun came in for a few hours in the morning. (She didn't want the paint to fade.) So guess what? It was cold in the house much of the time I was there: I'm talking 60-64 degrees F. There was no heat, since the owner used a wood stove and had closed the chimney up before she left town. Being cold in Italy seemed to be a recurring theme for me.
And last year, the house-sitting situation became a liability for me when the owner returned six weeks early from her travels, and we had to share the house, or trade off being in the house at the same time. It ended up being stressful and costly for me, and put me off the idea of house-sitting again.
|Outside the city wall: exploring the unknown|
It hasn't been easy to get to this point, and I don't always share the struggles that go along with this choice. I live simply and I spend little on material goods. I often work long hours when I'm home, and short hours when I travel to be able to afford my adventures. I'm willing to live with the hassles, uncertainty and anxiety that go along with traveling and living on my own in a foreign country. I'm 63 and I don't have a pension waiting for me in the future, so I'll be working at least until I'm 70, all for the sake of being able to spend more time in Italy. This is my choice. So, while it's true that I'm fortunate in many ways, I wouldn't attribute my situation to luck. For those who want to come to Italy, here's a suggestion: plan a trip, buy a ticket, and go! If you really want to do it, most people can find a way. And if you don't travel, realize that it's your choice (perhaps with good reason) not to: it's not because you're unlucky. Make your own dreams come true: Italy awaits you!
|My bed in San Niccolo: this one is just right!|