I am approaching one month living in Italy and it has been wonderful so far. I wrote a post about the complications with the first steps to get my residency permit and I had a comment from a family member asking me if it was worth all of the issues to get here so I felt it’s only fair that I talk about that.
The people in the cities and towns have been wonderful. I go into my favorite bakery most mornings and get a cappuccino and a pastry like many of the locals. They graciously put up with my bad pronouncing and always try to help me. I will say something in what I think is Italian and they will say yes, then repeat what I was trying to say correctly.
They say if you try to speak a little Italian (even poorly) that it goes a long way. I have found that to be absolutely true. When I tell them I am trying to learn the language and to please put up with me, it goes even further. They truly appreciate that you are trying to learn their language and they want to help and see you succeed. Many Italians in the larger cities speak multiple languages and many speak English. Certaldo is not one of those places. It feels authentic and that includes most of the residents not being able to speak English, which is part of the reason I picked it. It’s more of a struggle for me but I will get further with the language by being surrounded by Italian speakers rather than seeking out English-speaking people. At least that’s my hope.
There is a wonderful lady that lives in San Gimignano whom I refer to as my guardian angel. She took me on as her project and was going to do everything possible to get me settled here months before I arrived. This is a person I had never met or spoken to before. She spent a ton of time calling offices and investigating what I needed to do. She gave up her time to take me to get my tax ID (codice fiscale). She set up an appointment to ask about the process of citizenship through heritage (jure sanguinis). She called the province where I would have to submit the paperwork for citizenship asking more questions. She took me to her bank and translated so I could set up a bank account here. Through all this she’s asked nothing in return. The list goes on and on. She is truly a wonderful person. I can happily say while she is at the absolute top of the “nice list”, helpfulness is not unusual here. In fact, it’s everywhere.
I will share my absolute favorite moment so far. One morning I made coffee and walked outside to see a man spreading nets on the ground under the olive trees and then he began beating the trees with a stick to knock the olives out of the trees. You can’t buy a moment like that…
So yes, it is absolutely worth it.