My Dream Comes True
During the past few months I have gone many times to the south of Rome to look for land with the opportunity to build a house. My dream was to buy a small farm. Most farms here have several tens of thousands of square miles. Too large for me. You see many olive groves. However, I would like to plant not only olive trees, but also orange, tangerine, lemon and fig trees, a few palm trees, and some vegetables. Last week I found a farm with 9,000 square miles. Unfortunately, the existing buildings have to be demolished, because I want to build a modern house. One field is empty and on the second are several olive trees, two fig trees, an apple and a pear tree.
It looks that I will become a South Italian farmer as I have dreamed it. I will not work hard. There are companies, which are commissioned to prepare a field for the planting and also to make the plantings. They come with a tractor and the necessary machines. I will sit in the garden, take a trip to one of the villages nearby, go to the sea, or to Rome.
Taken from the balcony of my hotel room – hotel and restaurant Colle di Maggio
For Your Dream You Have to Leave Your Comfort Zone
If you fulfill yourself a great wish and realize your dream, you have to leave your comfort zone.
There will be moments that will not be easy. I know that if you fulfill yourself a great wish and realize your dream, you have to leave your comfort zone. If you move to another country, you have to adapt your lifestyle to the conditions of the country of your choice. It can take many months before you can move to your new house. You have to be prepared for this. So you will have to leave your comfort zone several times until you live in your dream.
Between my old and new home are various climatic zones. Here in the South of Italy is Mediterranean climate. During summer it is only a little hotter than in Central Europe and not very cold in winter. I watch how people are dressed here and have made a few changes of my wardrobe.
Most of the restaurants have an open fire in which meat, fish and pizza are prepared. Only if you sit near the open fireplace, you can feel some warmth from it. When it is cold in winter, people keep their down jackets until the fire in the fireplace and the people warm the room. Many of the private houses use solar energy with sun collectors on the roof and so the houses are well heated in the winter.
Adapt on the Customs of the New Homeland
For me the language, the food, the opening hours of shops, offices and restaurants are different than I am used to. To have an appointment at a lawyer at seven p.m. is strange for me.
Shops and offices are closed between one and four o’clock in the afternoon and are open until eight o’clock in the evening, even on Saturday and in some cities also on Sunday. Many shops and offices are closed on Monday. In every city there is at least one supermarket, which is open 24 hours seven days a week.
There are specialty stores which are often in side streets. Some offer only cheese made in the neighborhood, others only sausages and air dried ham made in the area. You can buy bread made in a open stone oven and you can watch your bread being made. They offer pizza bread with tomatoes or cheese. You can choose thick or very thin pizza bread. You would go to the vineyards to buy wine and at another farmer really fresh eggs.
There are many restaurants and bars.. They are usually family enterprises. The mother or an aunt are cooking, the children are the waiters, the grandmother watches that anything works out fine, the father stands at the fireplace and writes the bills. Tell the waiter or waitress what you want. If possible you will get it. In a bar you drink coffee, juices, water and a drink in the evening. They all offer sandwiches and some warm food for lunch. .I will write about food in Rome in a later article on this blog.
I had to become used to the opening hours of restaurants. But that was not easy. In Austria there is dinner between 6 and 8 pm. In restaurants, the kitchen is closed at 10pm. In southern Italy the first guests arrive after eight o’clock and the last at nine thirty. The food is served from eight o’clock until the last guest has his dessert, coffee and liqueur. Italians have one or two appetizers, a main course, dessert, and coffee. The coffee is short and strong.
If I mention liqueurs, I should prepare anyone who comes to the south of Rome that some liqueurs are house made and can have an alcohol content of up to 95%. Only drink a liqueur at the end of your dinner if you live nearby and do not drive anymore. If you are caught drunk driving, you are put into jail overnight or longer. The son of an acquaintance in Vienna has caused an accident in the North of Italy. He was not alcoholized. He was sentenced to one year of house arrest in Italy. He had to rent a room for this year and had to pay someone to go shopping for him.
Back to opening times. I was surprised when I learned that concerts begin after dinner. So at about ten o’clock. You do not get home before midnight. When it comes to opening and closing hours, you have to leave your comfort zone. Well, I had too.
I Have to Change My Lifestyle
When I move here, I have to change my lifestyle. I have to get used to the conditions of my new home country.
As far as food is concerned, I will not miss anything. On the contrary, the selection of food is very rich. Most fruits and vegetables are cultivated in the surrounding area. All types of meat are offered. Fish comes from the sea, which is a few kilometers away. The wines of the region have a high quality.
In every town within a few kilometers, there is a weekly open farmers market where the farmers offer their products. In every town is a fish market, which is open from early morning until noon. Of course the area around the fish market stinks, which I as an Austrian am not used to.
I have already described that I have to make some changes of my clothing and my usual eating times. With the different eating times I really leave my comfort zone.
It is easy to get used to the friendliness of the people in the south of Rome. One can see that I am not Italian and I guess that this is the reason that they are extra friendly. I have not had a bad experience with an Italian during all my visits. Some people are way too helpful, which I am not used to.
I was prepared by my friends before my first trip to Rome that the Italian bureaucracy could almost kill me. For example, a building permit takes three months to more than one year. Law enforcement is very strict.
There will certainly be some more changes in my lifestyle. I do not want to think about what will change if I become a part-time farmer. Most of my life I was sitting too much and this will change.
Italians Have Style
In Italy you find style in every area of life. Italian fashion design is exceptional. Architecture, especially interior design is beautiful. Also Italian cars have great designs.
There is no restaurant in Italy without freshly laundered and ironed tablecloth and matching napkins. The food has several courses. The service is professional, even if it is the children of the host who serve.
People on the street are dressed elegantly. No one wears shorts in town. Men who work in offices wear suits and long sleeved shirts even during hot summer days. Women wear elegant dresses. Younger women can be seen in long fashionable dresses or blue jeans and T-shirts. Most Southern Italians are fashionably and neatly dressed.
Italians have style that you do not find anywhere else in the world.
Many Love Rome and Southern Italy
I often meet Germans and Austrians who live either in Rome or near the city of Rome. They all say they never want to leave. They talk about the stress in Germany or America, which does not seem to exist here. I see that many people work very hard. Some work in a shop and later in a restaurant. Here the attitude to life and work is different. While working, Southern Italians do not look at the clock. If it takes longer, one might say: “I am tired,” but nobody scolds about the work. The friendly face is also not put off in fatigue before the eyes of others.
The length of the lunch break differs greatly from that in Central or Northern Europe. The lunch break in Germany and Austria is only one hour. During this time they quickly eat. But there is not enough time to rest. Italians have enough time for lunch and have sufficient time to rest. They go back to work at four o’clock in the afternoon, rested and freshly showered. This is why they are not stressed. And this increases the quality of life.
Italians have enough time for lunch and dinner. They celebrate both each day. This kind of lifestyle prevents stress and is good for your health. The quality of the food is higher than in the north of Europe. Italians hardly eat industrially produced food. Most of the food is from the region. This is not possible in Central and Northern Europe. The climate does not allow the cultivation of a wide range of vegetables and fruits. In the north of Europe they eat too many potatoes. This makes overweight and does not provide enough nutrients. In Italy you choose the main-dish and the side-dish. In northern European countries the side-dish is served on the plate of the main-dish and is mostly potatoes, French fries, rice or dumplings. These are heavy calories without much nutrients. In Italy potatoes are also offered as a side-dish, but a mixed salad or short steamed vegetables are usually chosen and served on a different plate as the main-dish. Salads and vegetables have little calories and a lot of nutrients. In the spring, Austrians and Germans eat vegetables from the Mediterranean area and in winter citrus fruits that thrive in the south of Europe. Here they are planted near the house. This means, no long transport routes. Vegetables and fruits come fresh from the garden on the table.
The photo was taken at Colle di Maggio – hotel and restaurant
Shortly before, the hotelier and viticulturist, where I am living, showed me a white onion which was bigger than a large grapefruit. He got it from a field a few steps from the restaurant. There he cultivates a large selection of vegetables, which are freshly harvested for the restaurant. In a year I will also have my own vegetables a few steps from the house, just before I eat it.
Photo taken at Colle di Maggio – hotel and restaurant
Difference Between Living in Asia and Southern Europe
1 The distance
If you are young and work independently, it can be really nice to live in Asia. This can be Thailand, Indonesia or India. I have lived in Southern California for seven years. I have made the experience with great differences of the time zones. Between Los Angeles and my hometown it was nine hours. My body has reacted to the time difference with chills. I was twenty years younger, and I was wondering how I will feel if I’m much older. When I suddenly had to go home, it took me at least three days to get home. Flight booking, which was not always possible immediately. A shuttle to the airport. I flew from Los Angeles to Zurich, Rome or Vienna. There have been many hours wait till the connection flight to the south of Austria. In winter there were problems with the flight, so I had to go by train.
From Rome I drive home in eight to nine hours, including several stops. And there is no time difference and therefore no chills that are lasting several days. This is a pleasant difference.
2 Higher quality of life without compromising
The quality of life compared to Germany and Austria is high in Italy. Italy with more than 60 million inhabitants offers more quality of life than in northern countries of Europe. You get everything you are accustomed to. You do not miss anything, as it is the case with Asia with certain things. Italy is part of the European Union. Asia is far away and different.
Going to Italy is a win. I assume that this is also true in Spain. However Spain is too far away from Northern Europe by car. Of course you have to expect that not everything will work like in Germany or Austria. But that is rare.
3 The beaches and surfing
Young people may say that the beaches of Italy are not so good for surfing. If that is right, then you will be happy in other parts of the world. As you get older, it’s nice to have a high lifestyle and the warmth of the South of Europe.
The culture is different in Asia. Those who wish to enjoy European culture will not miss anything in Rome. The city of Rome offers everything in cultural life even more than in Germany or Austria. Rome, the eternal city has a several thousand-years-old history and countless sights. Many hundred thousand foreigners live in Rome. And it is the most visited city in the world. As a non-Italian you are not alone in the city of Rome.
I live 50 kilometers south of the southern city limits of Rome, but still in the metropolis of Rome. Here there are not many foreigners. This has its advantages, because the people are particularly nice. By train I am in half an hour in Rome and the sea is only 20 kilometers away. A few kilometers away is a national park and a little further are mountains.
Friendly – Accommodating – Helpful
I had a lawyer in another community. I thought to have an attorney in the same city of my project would be better. The acquaintances called a lawyer and made an appointment. I should come immediately, he said. Eight kilometers drive and a few minutes walk. I did not find the address of that lawyer. So I said to a man in the street, “I’m looking for an attorney here in this street.” The man said, “I am an attorney. What is it about?” I: “He has to make an offer for a piece of land and he has to check it.” He said: “I can look at it.” He opened a large medieval gate, went to the first floor and into a large room with paintings from the Middle Ages and heavy antique furniture. I felt that I was in the right place.
He looked at the documents in my tablet PC and got immediately active. A little later I learned that he is one of the best lawyers in the city. Speak to a good lawyer in Germany or Austria on the street. He will certainly not work immediately for you.
Another day I spoke with a pretty lady. She said she was working for the city administration. She gave me her phone number and said, “If I can help.” I’ll definitely soon contact her.
South Italians are incredibly friendly, accommodating and helpful .
Still, I do not own my small farm, A geometer has to measure it and my attorney wants to make sure that I can realize my project there. But I am already living in the middle of my dream. It is a life where I feel very comfortable. I am much happier here than I was in Austria or in other cities where I have lived. The decision to move to the south of Italy was good. In later posts I will write more about my life here.
Oleanders are very high in Southern Italy
Photo taken at Colle di Maggio
Soon I will be writing more about Southern Italy and about my life here.