This past weekend I had my first book signing at the Chapters in Woodbridge which is the epicenter of the Italian community here in Toronto.  I had such a fabulous time with a lot of people stopping by to take a look at my book, have a conversation and even buy a few copies for either themselves or a loved one.

I found myself answering a similar question “why Italy?”  My response was that it felt like Italy chose me rather than the other way around.  As per the introduction from my book “she’s a bewitching mistress full of eclectic charm, beauty, culture and irrepressbile warmth”.  There’s just something about Italy that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Perhaps it’s the “la dolce vita (the sweet life) mentality that permeates almost every aspect of Italian life.

All I know is that when I step off the plane and take my first breath it feels like I’ve come home.  It truly is inextricable!

And I’ve found somewhat difficult to explain this phenomenon to people who meet me for the very first time, especially Italians who look at me and say but your Australian and Canadian so why Italy…  Why indeed?

I still remember my very first visit to Italy back in 1985 during my year traveling around the world and the feel of the air even then was tantalizing.

One of my oldest and fondest memories was when I was on the train traveling between Florence to Rome, it was late in the afternoon and the train was winding its way down a long valley, and in the center of the valley was a couple of hilltop towns in the distance, and between the train and the villages the farmers were burning cuttings from their trees.  The image of the sunlight reflecting off those wisps of smoke as they slowly curled upwards into the setting evening sky is something that, to this day is etched perfectly into my psyche.

Another was the way the pasta tasted, and still does to this day.  It’s not like the pasta you get in North America, or Australia, nope there is something different about it, more aromatic, a different taste and texture.

Now, admittedly I may be bias…  Okay I am!  However, then I’m just one of the many thousands of Italophile’s around the world, that like me, are totally enamored with everything Italian and seemingly can’t get enough.

So this past few months I’ve been thinking and dreaming about spending more time in Italy once Sam is at University, which is only a short 16 months from now…  Considering how fast the past 7 years has gone it literally will be like the blink of an eye.

I subscribe to ITALY magazine (check it out!) and they have a fabulous section simply called “Buy Property” for which I have just started browsing, nothing serious mind you but definitely checking out the most affordable coupled with the areas that have drawn me in for one reason or another.   Just my luck Tuscany and Lombardy (Lake Como) are the two most expensive provinces in Italy in which to find a house.  I mean you need serious money in these locations , and often well in excess of €1,000,000 to find even a modest house.

Clearly I, along with many of the Italophiles around the world are willing to pay handsomely for a little slice of heaven in these two top notch locations, but lets be clear its well and truly outside my price range!  😉

However, all is not lost and there are three areas of Italy that I would also recommend looking (for those of you interested like me) that I believe will be the next big areas to live…

1. Puglia  This region stretches along the Adriatic coast at the heel of the Italian “boot” and is blessed with picturesque white washed walled towns perched overlooking turquoise colored oceans with temperate sea breezes year round.  It is also blessed with the town of Lecce, which has often been referred to as the “Florence of the south”.  This area has been fought over and colonized by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and everyone in between for the better part of 3500 years and so has a rich and colorful history.  Definitely not to be missed on a visit to Italy, but also worth thinking about an possible investment!  Next up is…

2. Abruzzo  This region lies further north from Puglia and is situated across the Apennines mountain range from Rome, midway along Italy on the Adriatic coast.  This part of Italy is known for its natural beauty, and is home to three national parks, one regional park, and 38 protected nature reserves.  Yes, there is still lots of room for the quaint  villages and hilltop towns that are in desperate need of new residents.  In fact, you may have seen on Social Media lots of small Italian towns are looking to lure new residents by offering houses for as little as one Euro (and yes, there are specific conditions), but worth a follow up if you’re so inclined.  This beautiful and quiet region is just the place to truly relax and settle into the la dolce vita lifestyle!  🙂

And finally, last but not least…

3.  Marche  This mountainous region is situated along the east coast and is sandwiched between Tuscany to the West, Umbria to the southwest, the Principality of San Marino to the north and Abruzzo to the direct south.  Lying along the Adriatic coast it is festooned with small, and sometimes seemingly inaccessible hilltop villages.  Given the location and proximity to Tuscany it is one of the hidden gems and likely the next big area for foreign investment.  Marche is world renowned for its fine leather shoe making…and c’mon who doesn’t love hand made Italian shoes!!!

That being said, it is a bit of a conundrum in that the question that keeps circling in my mind is “do I really want a single place to always feel obligated to come and stay or do I continue renting and the freedom that comes with that?”

The romantic part of me wants to buy an old place that requires restoration and over time make it my own, but the more pragmatic and adventurous me wants to continue renting so I can go on discovering new and cool places.  I can always make wherever I am renting my home base from which to continue my quest to explore Italy…

Clearly I still have time to decide but I can already feel the magnetic pull of Italy drawing me in…

Who knows maybe this will turn itself into a second coffee table book with the remaining areas that I didn’t cover in my first book.  Wouldn’t that be a great excuse to spend more time there in the future?  Although do I need a reason to go to Italy…not so much!

Until next time – ciao!