Category Archives: Life

Vacation, Driving School and Financial Crisis

I am not going to make the usual apology for not posting since August.  Yes I have spent a lot of time in front of the computer, but working or studying for the Italian Driver’s License.

September we spent 9 days in Neustift im Stuaital, Austria at a guesthouse, Gasthof Schallerhof.  I highly recommend the place.  Tuesday nights they have utensil-free dinner, yes you read correctly.  You are served your dinner, which you have the pleasure of eating with your hands.


After returning from Austria I started studying to get the Italian Driver’s License since Italy is one of many countries that does not convert a North American license into the local one.  I had to obtain a medical certificate from my family doctor, results of a vision exam from my optometrist, a letter from my neurologist since I have epilepsy stating that I am under medical care and I am fully capable of driving plus a medical certificate from the provincial health.  This is all before being able to start “driving school”.  Once enrolled in the driving school a person has six months to take the theory exam.  There are forty questions, in Italian, French or German, all of which are true/false and you are allowed a maximum of four errors in order to pass.  My first attempt at the exam – six errors.  Second time, seven.  I was doing well at home, averaging two errors but when I went to the provincial department of motor vehicles, I panicked and failed.  Price of taking the theory exam, 150 euros ($195), each time.   In addition to the 200 euros ($261)to attend driving school theory lessons.  Now that the six months has passed I have to do all of the documentation over again.  Once I do pass the theory exam, next step will be the actual driving lessons, with a manual transmission.  Lessons are 13 euros ($17) for every half hour, with a minimum, by law, of six hours.  Then another 150 euros to take the driving exam.  At the moment studying for the theory/driver’s license in general is on hold since I am concentrating on working as much as possible.  Explanation is to follow.


Italy is still feeling the financial crisis and it seems, for at least the immediate future, no relief in sight.  We (my husband and I) had been lucky and really didn’t “feel” the crisis, business for both of us seemed to be going ok or well.  That was until the end of November.  Thanks to poor financial management on the part of my husband’s boss my husband has not been paid since the end of November, like other employees of the company and also creditors.  His boss is in severe financial problems, both personally and professionally speaking.  Thankfully since I am taking a break from studying for the Italian driver’s license I am able to work more hours teaching English.  I am doing quite well, for me the financial crisis has actually helped me.  Many people are needing to learn or improve their English because either they are looking for a job or if they do have a job they want to make sure they keep the job.  I do have some students that are even looking abroad since they are unable to find a job in Italy.



FINALLY a new post!

Wow it has been over two years since I’ve written anything on this blog.  I have not posted anything because I felt I had nothing interesting to post.  Life had become routine and we had not gone anywhere.

Without writing a 500-page novel, after returning from the States in June 2010 after the death of my mother, we fell back into a “routine” where we basically “existed” and both the husband and I had been stuck there ever since.  My husband’s back started to increasingly give him more and more problems and ended up bed ridden.  I continued on with my English lessons and taking care of my husband.  August of last year we spent ten days along Lake Lugano where one of my husband’s cousins has a house along the lake.

January 2012 we spent a weekend in Oltrepò Pavese  Italy.  Oltrepò Pavese is an area in the northwestern corner of the region of Lombardy.  Oltrepò is famous in this area for their wines.  Beautiful area, just some of the roads at night made me a bit nervous!  Considering we were in the mountains, in winter.  There were some parts of the road there was no guard rail so nothing between you and the raven below, ice/snow covered road and in total darkness.  Easily understandable why one would be nervous, no?  The other half understood when we went back in April, we took a little road trip on the same road during the day and in better weather conditions obviously.  It sunk in why….

April 2012 my purse was stolen from my car on my weekly trip to the supermarket.  I had loaded up my car, taken the shopping cart back, put my purse on the driver’s side seat, and closed the door for a moment.  A car with two men stopped and asked for directions, where these men were from I do not know, but from their accents and complexions not from Italy. I gave them directions and they were off.  I got into my car, pulled out and looked down, no purse!  Went back to the supermarket, tore my car apart, nothing.  Went into the supermarket, nothing.  Checked by the shopping carts, nothing.  At least I still had the car key and my cell phone.  But everything else, gone.  Wallet, my South Dakota driver’s license, credit cards from here and the States, house keys, Italian Identification Card, Italian health card, cash.  I had put my husband’s wedding ring in my wallet for safe keeping because it had become too tight due to he gaining some weight.  The ring is now gone as well.  At least my passports I had left at home that day.

Thankfully my husband was home at the time so the apartment was open.  But just in case we changed the locks since my house keys were in my purse along with my identification, which lists my address.  By the time all was said and done, took over a month to get all missing documents replaced, mainly my Italian documents.  My driver’s license I have a temporary paper license valid for one year until I can get back to South Dakota to have a permanent replacement.   The Italian bureaucracy was crazy, as always.  I have come to expect that here.

So if you decide to move and live here and have to report your wallet/purse stolen and need to replace your Italian documents, the procedure is as follows:

  • File a police report (denuncia in Italian) with the local police or Carabinieri. If you had any credit cards in your wallet, try to track down the credit card numbers; the police WILL ask for this and if you don’t have them they will not take the report.  They’ll tell you to come back once you have the credit card numbers.  Without this police report you are unable to get a replacement I.D. , health card or permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) or passports.
  • Visit your local town hall (comune) with two photos and the ORIGINAL police report.  The comune will NOT accept a photocopy of the police report.  The new Italian Identification cards are now valid for ten years expiring on your birthday.
  • Italian health office is your next stop (or even before the comune) to replace your Italian health card and fiscal code card, which are now conveniently one card.  The health office, like the comune, asks for the original copy of the police report (denuncia)
  • To replace your permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) you will have to visit your local Questura (police station) with of course the original police report in hand to find out what the procedure is.

Father and Son in Alleyway in Bobbio, Italy

This summer, just busy working and trying to stay busy working.  At the end of August we’re planning on spending a week in Austria.  A much needed and well-deserved vacation away.  I’ve only been to Austria once, for supper after watching a football (soccer) match in Liechtenstein.  So I am really looking forward to going and also because my husband will be able to relax which he needs at the moment.

The photos are of when we went to Oltrepò Pavese, will post more sometime this week.


My husband’s parents left on Sunday for the Greek island of Crete and will be there for three weeks on vacation. So we have the honor of house sitting while they are gone. Therefore my posts will be more irregular than before due to the fact I am using a small Acer Aspire One netbook. It’s not my wonderful iMac, but at least is a computer and I am able to keep connected. I am seriously thinking of bringing over my iMac. We shall see.

In June I will be heading to the United States for two weeks. I am flying into Denver, spending the night then the next day renting a car from Boulder and driving to Sioux Falls. I need to renew my driver’s license and also see my mom and friends. I haven’t been back to Sioux Falls since my father passed away in September 2005 so it is time to go back and visit. I am planning on staying in Sioux Falls about ten days, drive back to Colorado and spend about 3-4 days in the Boulder area since I have never visited Colorado.

When I fly back to Italy I have a ten hourish layover in Philadelphia, so I plan on going to the center city and do some sight seeing. I am planning on visiting the Liberty Bell, maybe Christ Church.

Earthquake in Italy

Just to let everyone know my computer technician and I are okay. If you haven’t heard the news, a earthquake hit near the city of L’Aquila this morning. At this point in time there are at least 150 dead and another 1,500 injured, 100,000 homeless. The earthquake measured in at 6.3.

According to an article on CNN, there was also another earthquake near Bologna last night. Again, we felt nothing here in our area, thankfully.

Great News for Riace Italy

A couple of days ago I mentioned about wishing there were more stories out there that were positive. First thanks to everyone who commented with their own personal good news! Second, today I stumbled upon an article posted on an Italian news website in English.

Immigration has been a hot topic for awhile now here in Italy, like many places around the word, especially in today’s global economic crisis. There is a lot of hostility felt towards immigrants, for example those that are coming from Romania and other Eastern European countries. Some people feel that the wave of immigration, whether legal or illegal, has caused an increase in crime. Whether this is true I do not know. I honestly think that the media is concentrating too much on the crimes committed by foreigners therefore making it seem as if the crime rate in Italy has increased.

There is a positive side to this though, immigration. There is a small seaside town in Calabria, Riace, which is located in southern Italy, that seems to be going against the norm in regards to hostile feelings towards immigrants. Thanks to immigrants, Riace is still on the map.

The Calabrian regional government is funding a project to help immigrants by providing housing, training and jobs. Thanks to the project, several crafts workshops have opened in Riace, helping preserve ancient craft traditions. Workshops specializing in for example glass, pottery and fabric.

Riace’s population has steadly diminished over the years. People fleeing in search of work. So these new residents of Riace are helping save this little village of about 400 people from a possible extinction.

This project has been so sucessful that the regional government of Calabria is now working on a law that could help place new life into towns that are fading away throughout the south.

Go Riace and Calabria! May you set an outstanding example for Italy, the world and humanity!

Good News

Have you read or heard any positive news stories recently? It seems all we are bombarded with from the various media sources are negative stores. Whether the stories are about war, the economic situation, crime etc. Of course hearing such negativity constantly on a 24/7 basis is enough to bring anyone down, maybe even to the point of depression.

Let’s put a stop to this! Please share your good stories!

New iMac 20"

I am obviously back online, with my new beautiful iMac 20″. My personal computer technician brought my new baby iMac home Thursday night and was pretty much done installing and transferring everything by Friday evening. He’s such a doll! Don’t know what I’d do without him. He is such a good computer technician, I am not saying that just because he’s my husband. My desktop photo is a photo outside of Death Valley California that I took on last year’s trip to the United States.
My new 20″ iMac is an incentive to quit smoking as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. In January when I first mentioned about trying to cut down on smoking and getting my new iMac, I was able to cut down to ten cigarettes a day. Then I fell off the bandwagon and was back up to a pack a day. Over the last few days, each day I have been smoking less and less. Today so far I have only smoked 6 cigarettes and it hasn’t been so bad.