Category Archives: Trips

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.




Yes I admit I have neglected this blog. My original intention “years ago” when I started this blog was to blog about my life here in Italy as an Expat originally from the midwest of the United States. Well, after over seven and a half years of living in Italy, I’m still here and I feel that there is not much to blog about anymore. No I am not totally abandoning this blog, but posts will not be very frequent. I’ve already done the posts about my ordeals of obtaining my permit to stay and eventual Italian citizenship. Bureaucratic nightmares that I do not wish to relive. One thing that I haven’t mentioned and I am thankful that I obtained Italian citizenship when I did is that shortly after I officially become an Italian citizen the Italian post office has taken over trying to help the Questure (police) in handling the paperwork for the permit to stays. This has turned into a bureaucratic mess and have heard there is a backlog of literally thousands of applications and people receiving expired permit to stays.

Last Sunday we did have a little “outing”, the first time in a long while. We visited a small village called Morimondo which is about 20 kilometers (roughly 12 miles) southwest of Milan. There is a nice abbey that dates back to 1182.

How to Pick Where to Travel in Europe

There are many wonderful, and very diverse, places to visit in Europe and it’s often difficult to decide where to travel. There are also many transportation options ranging from European River Cruises to inland bus tours so it’s helpful to first decide what mode of transportation would be right for you based on where you want to go. For example, if the Greek Isles are a must-see, then an ocean cruise is your best bet; however, if you prefer major cosmopolitan cities, train travel might be a better choice. Another factor in determining your European itinerary is the type of trip you want to take. If you want romance, then France is an obvious choice; if you are looking for history, Italy has fascinating ancient ruins; and if you want to focus on music, perhaps Austria should be on your list. Once you have determined what you want to see and how you are going to travel, it’s easier to pick your destinations.
For many, London is the perfect gateway to the rest of Europe. London is a cosmopolitan city but with amazing history and there is a lot to see, from the Tower of London (where the crown jewels of the royal family are kept) to the London Eye, the modern Ferris wheel that rises 100 meters above the city, providing an extraordinary view. You can visit the graves of British rulers and great writers like Elizabeth I and Geoffrey Chaucer in historical Westminster Abbey but you can also see the latest Broadway play in London’s theater district.
From London, you can easily travel to anyplace on the continent via plane, train or boat. Paris is often on people’s list of places they want to visit in Europe and the Chunnel takes travelers under the English Channel and into the heart of the city. Besides the Louvre, where you can see the Mona Lisa, The Musee D’Orsay houses a collection of famous classic impressionist paintings. You can see many of the famous sights of Paris while cruising along the Seine including the Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral of Notre Dame…and if you take this tour at night, you will see why Paris is often called the most romantic city in the world!
In addition to London and Paris, many people count Rome as a must-see city in Europe. No other city in the world compares with Rome. St. Peter’s Cathedral in Vatican City is the center of Catholicism; inside its walls, are masterpieces like Michelangelo’s painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Also, you can see the ruins of the ancient Roman civilization; the Coliseum in particular is an astounding remnant of the classic Roman age and the juxtaposition of its ruins with the modern city that is thriving around them is fascinating.
Just these three cities alone would make an amazing European trip and there are so many more cities, towns and villages to see. History, romance, music, art, architecture…no matter what you are looking for, you are sure to find it in Europe!

San Mamete, Italy

Just got back last night from spending the weekend in San Mamete, Italy.  San Mamete is along Lake Lugano, bordering Italy and Switzerland.  The weekend before we spent the weekend in the Black Forest and also in San Gallen Switzerland, had lunch in Austria.  Sorry but no photos from that weekend :(.

Now if I could find a job, specifically in North America, preferably in Canada, combining my customer service skills (12 years worth) and love/passion for travel I would be in seventh heaven.  I have experience traveling in Europe, I am able to speak Italian (even impersonate the accent from the Ticino area in Switzerland but the dialect is a different story).   True I have no experience in the travel/hospitality industry but I am a fast learner and I am a firm believer in continuing education.  Learning does not stop once one has graduated from school.  Life is school and every day is a learning experience.  I thrive on change, welcoming change with open arms.  I am a people person and get along well with others yet at the same time I can work independently well with little or no supervision.  I have 12 years of customer service experience and I am a firm believer/doer of excellent customer service.

I have been teaching English privately for over six years now.  I have built up on my own my student base, starting out with a couple of students to now averaging 20 hours a week.  I have had to be a creative thinker, in the sense of how to attract new students and also a creative thinker in the sense of planning lessons for my individual students for whom I tailor their lessons.  Each student has different needs and different ways of learning and I cater to their needs.

For my current resume/curriculum Vitae, please contact me using the contact form in this post.  Thanks!

Sioux Falls, Boulder and Philadelphia photos

Here are more photos of my latest trip to the United States.  Included are some photos of my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and also my little tour around the Boulder Colorado area.

While in the States I stayed only a total of 3 days out of 14 in a hotel/motel.  In Sioux Falls I stayed with a friend and while in Boulder I stayed with a couple of gals that I had met on CouchSurfing website.  They were very cordial and kind.  If you enjoy traveling, meeting new people and also saving some cash, would highly suggest the site.

If you couldn’t guess from the photos, I REALLY enjoyed visiting the Boulder Colorado area.  This was my first time there and for sure not the last.  Yes it was very difficult to leave, if I would have left with job offers in hand for both my computer technician husband and myself………

Trip to the United States June 2009

I made it back safe and sound from the United States last Thursday after spending two glorious weeks there.  Going over was pretty uneventful, flying from Milan Malpensa – Philadelphia – Denver.  By the time I arrived in Denver and lay my head down for some much needed sleep I had been up for roughly 26 hours, talk about a long day.  The next day I was up at the crack of dawn, on the motel shuttle back to the airport, then on a bus to Boulder to pick up my rental car.  I rented a car in Boulder due to being cheaper compared to renting at the Denver airport.  Plus I also wanted to avoid driving in Denver traffic.

Spent two days driving back to my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  In all honesty I enjoyed the drive, minus the cloudy/rainy weather.  The traffic is so different between the two areas.  In two weeks time I put on over 2,700 miles on my rental car.  Thankfully I had unlimited mileage.

One week was spent in Sioux Falls visiting friends and family and also renewing my South Dakota driver’s license.  Then was off to Boulder Colorado.  Arrived in Louisville Colorado late Friday night then spent four days in the Boulder area.  This was my first time visiting Colorado and for sure will not be my last time.  Visited the Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrian area in Boulder, drove a 55-mile scenic byway from Estes Park down to Central Park, wow.  No words can truly describe the stunning beauty that I seen nor can any of the photos below do the area justice.

On the way back to Italy I had a ten hour layover in Philadelphia so I took the train to downtown for a couple of hours.  I would have spent more time, but I had been up for about 24 hours and was utterly exhausted and could not truly enjoy my visit to Philadelphia.  Maybe next time, but I think that Philadelphia is not my type of city.  To me is a place to visit for a short time, but not as a destination.


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.