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Sono qui, in Italia

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maradel
1/30/2019 11:34 EST

Well, after years of thinking, wishing, hoping, planning...sono qui in Italia.

There should be a happy exclamation point after that sentence, except that only 2 days in, I came down with the worst flu I have ever had. In fact, I haven't had the flu for several decades. Not because of vaccines, since I'm allergic to the flu vaccine. Who knows why I haven't gotten the flu.

Anyway, I got dramatically ill. Called the house call doc service (MedInAction) in Rome, Dottore showed up on a motorbike (I think you'd have to have a death wish to ride a motorbike in Rome at night), took a history or tried to since I was coughing up my lungs, listened to my chest, eyebrows lifted, took my temp, eyebrows went higher. Temp was 104F! Not good for someone who's a couple months away from 65 yrs old. Prescribed a bunch of meds, charged me 140E.

THEN, I had to get a taxi to take me to a farmacia that was open late. OMG I got so ripped off. I was so sick, I didn't care. Nearly puked in the cab. I should have. Would have served him right. Got my meds, finally hailed another cab, had barely enough euros to get back. What a nightmare.

That was several days ago. I'm somewhat better today, but OMG I can't end up in the hospital! I have 3 dogs, no permanent or even semi-permanent place to live, don't know anyone, can't speak Italian well enough to do more than order an espresso. How the hell would I find someone to care for my dogs?? I think I've dodged the bullet, but this has been a huge welcome to your new reality.

Another welcome to your new reality: I bought a SIM card for my second iPhone. Thought I was doing pretty good. Damn thing wouldn't work. I kept getting a long messaggio in Italiano veloce. What??! I finally figured out that the card the guy in the phone store handed me had a PIN number that I had to put in to lock the SIM card. Big sigh. I'm a technophile. I love gadgets. I've been playing with computers since they filled rooms. But in Italia, I'm probably a techno-novice. Partly because I can't read the damn instructions.

I have to pick up a car at Fiumicino on Friday. I hope I'm well enough to do that. I've barely managed to stumble outside to let my dogs go pee. But I have to be out of the B&B on Friday anyway, so I don't have much choice. Then I head to Todi to learn how to speak Italiano. I hope.

Welcome to your new reality! Any reassurances that this will get better are welcome!

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Sergios
1/30/2019 11:55 EST

Italians are convinced that colds and flus are due to being exposed to cold, damp weather. They don't take the precautions to avoid contact to prevent spreading the virus. Few get the flu shot. They are more concerned about mythical cervicale than actual viral diseases. So it's up to us to avoid getting sick by avoiding contact and washing hands often. At least you probably passed the virus onto to your cab driver. Welcome to Italy.

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codybrandy
1/30/2019 12:11 EST

Maradel...what a way to start...I hope you are better very soon...but that flu has hit up here in Liguria as well....I'm staying away from people...you might have picked up something on the plane...they are filthy places. Anyway, it will be 100x better once out of the big city (don't get me wrong I love Rome) and to Todi where you will meet people and that is the key: people who can help you settle and be there when you need them. Don't be afraid to ask...the smaller town Italians will be so thrilled to meet you and you must always have at least one dog on hand...they love pooches and will stop and talk and take out photos of their little people. We take ours everywhere and she is always welcome (ask 'Permesso?' when entering a place) Dog care is a bit tricky so it's not too soon to search out in case of emergencies...maybe your new vet. If and when you get on the health system you will be assigned a Dr. and he can come to you if needs be for free. My husband had a bad fall and the Dr. was there on a Sat. am within 10min and then he called the ambulance for us. So, buck up...your adventure begins. Get healthy and then get out there and meet folks in your new home. Keep in touch. Wish I were closer to help.

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maradel
1/30/2019 12:24 EST

Sergios, I'm almost certain I picked up the flu in the US, because the incubation period is about a week, but thanks for the heads up about Italians' views about viruses. I don't want to repeat this experience. I'm in the age group that dies from the flu.

Real adventures are never comfortable. I chose this knowing full well it was going to be a challenge. A week grace period would have been nice, though.
MaryAnne

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maradel
1/30/2019 14:20 EST

CodyBrandy, thank you for the kind thoughts!

Actually things started to go downhill in DENVER. My flight was delayed because of snow. My friends and I made it to Atlanta a half hour before our flight to Rome was scheduled to leave. We ran through the airport, with 3 pekingeses in a stroller. Talk about comical, but it didn't seem very funny at the time. We just barely made it. The carry on bags I had carefully packed with doggie comfort items were stowed all over the airplane, who knew where. My dogs didn't even have a chance to pee before we got on the plane!

I had one pee paper in my purse, for emergencies, and I would take the dogs, one at a time, back to the tiny, tiny (disgusting, filthy) bathroom, put the pee paper on the floor and say "go pee"! They looked at me as if to say "are you kidding?" They slept the whole 9 hrs, never peed, never made a sound. Best travelers ever!

The Rome airport was the opposite of Atlanta. Clean, not crowded, modern. No one asked for the dogs' papers. The customs guys were out to lunch :-). It seemed like everyone in the airport wanted to take a picture of the dogs in the stroller!

I'm anxious to get to Todi. I gave up big cities in the 90s. I'll come back to Rome later, when I'm up to it. My dogs will definitely help me fit in. They're irresistibly cute and they love people! The owner of the language school is an animal lover, so I think she'll get me connected to a good vet. And I'm a vet, so that's usually a good "in" with other vets.

My own healthcare will be another matter. I hope it doesn't take too long to get in the healthcare system, although I did buy a couple months of travel medical insurance. It's already paid for itself!

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thefountain
1/30/2019 15:48 EST

Congratulations on finally living in Italy. Well as far as your flu it made me remember when my mom was sick and dying in the hospital. I would go home and shower every other day since i stayed in the hospital around the clock . One day when i left the hospital to drive home my car just died. As I say there in tears, having to rush home and back to the hospital because I had no other family to stay with mom it hit me. No matter what we do, Where we are, Or our circumstances life still goes on. So i applaud you that you took care of what you needed to do to get better. All the best in your new life. I working on my dream to move. Sunshine

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HenryGiovanni
1/31/2019 08:16 EST

Hi MaryAnne,
I read your two posts. Sounds like too much stress, to me. Or, conversely, the release of all that stress. Your story reminds me of an old blues song, done by just about everyone who plays the blues, titled "Born under a bad sign", that says "if it weren't for bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all."

Glad you made it and are on the mend. Time to put it into the "weird things that happened" folder, to be pulled out only when you need a laugh.

Also glad your little buddies made it! Can't leave them behind.

Mind your drive up to Todi. Rule of traffic circles: anyone inside has the right of way; after that it's open season. Map your route in advance on google and keep your phone handy for when you get lost (you'll get lost). Take your time and be safe on the road.

Let us know how things go up in Todi. I hope it is all you dreamed it will be. And yes, it does get better. Just remember that whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right.
Cheers, and welcome to Italia, John.

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maradel
1/31/2019 11:17 EST

Hi John, and thank you for the philosophy! "Just remember that whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right." That's a keeper!!

I will get lost, I know. GPS is almost the best invention ever, except when takes you the wrong direction to the wrong place. Still better than paper maps. Believe it or not, there are traffic circles in Ft Collins, CO. They want so badly to be sophisticated! Few people know how to navigate them but it was probably good practice for the 'free for all' part!

I'm so ready to get over my stage fright about speaking Italian. I can say more than I think I can. But my brain freezes and the only words that appear are German, French, and Spanish. How does that happen?? I haven't had French since 3rd grade! I just need my whole anxiety level to ratchet down. This has been way too stressful.

I promised Jack (my little male peke) that I would find him liverwurst in Italy. Please tell me there's liverwurst in Italy! Am I going to have to drive to Germany to get him his fave treat??

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maradel
1/31/2019 11:35 EST

Fountain, Yes, I've learned that too. Life goes on. It challenges, pushes, pulls. We either get on with it or not, I guess.

I've learned to be assertive, bordering on aggressive, about my healthcare. Having a medical background helps. I treat myself like the patient: the differential diagnosis is..., the prognosis is..., the treatment options are... I'm not super impressed with MDs, and I irritate them. This is a new experience for me, though. I can't argue with doctors in Italian. Yet.

Keep looking forward and dreaming. That's how things happen.

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codybrandy
1/31/2019 12:21 EST

Well, you sound a bit more chipper...good! P.S. No liverwurst, no pastrami, no bagels eeeek! By the way if you are staying longer than a year...start thinking about your Italian license...go buy the book (c.26E) at any autoscuola...they are only in Italian and the test is only Italian...so you will have to translate with google trans and a dictionary and your language instructor...Buy the book to study traffic signs...many more than the US. It may take almost a full year to be ready for the test...you can take online timed practice tests...until you are making the passing score..more on that when you are ready. Rotaries are very common and the rules are strict: you can only get onto the rotary if there is no one coming...use your blinker to get on/off...go slowly. Rotaries are often where they have police spot checks. Drive safe tom...be well.

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bogart2
1/31/2019 13:33 EST

You can use this site to practice exams and get some direction on the overall information:
https://www.quizpatenteonline.it/3/quiz-patente-b

You will need to register with a school at some point as time behind the wheel with a school is mandatory.

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Ugo
1/31/2019 15:19 EST

Driving licence books , in english .. here

http://www.guidapatente.it/prodotto-142937/LIBRO-PATENTE-MANUALE-PATENTE-LINGUA-INGLESE.aspx


http://www.patente.it/ecom.dll/noAjax?idc=2422

https://essebitalia.it/prodotto/lesame-per-la-patente-di-guida-per-cittadini-stranieri-inglese/

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HenryGiovanni
2/1/2019 09:45 EST

Hi MaryAnne,
I only steal philosophies! I forget where that came from; maybe one of those motivational posters in someone else's office? Take whatever you can, wherever you find it, and use it to your own ends.

Another note on driving: the road signage in Italia is absolutely terrible. The little pointy-arrow street signs will have you going in circles. Ignore them. The very best signs are those that come before a traffic circle, pointing out the various directions from the circle. I have to count the streets before I exit the circle; once in, you're lost if you don't do that (or at least I'm lost if I don't do that!). Just forget those little signs inside the circle; they are as worthless as the street arrow-signs.

Stage fright? Just jump right in. You'll be fine before you know it. My bad Italian hasn't kept me from trying to say anything; sometimes I make up words that sound, at least to me, like they would work. Not sure if they do, but nobody's taken a swing at me yet! Most Italians seem to know the various accents, and yours will be obvious. I think they'll cut you some slack.

LIverwurst? I'm pretty sure I could find it up here. The entire Trentino-Alto Adige used to be Austrian until the end of WWI. There is still a large percentage of the Trentino-AA population that considers itself more Germanic than Italian, and you can find all that stuff up there. I'm in the Veneto, and I'm pretty sure I could find it somewhere close-at-hand were I to look. You might try a "LIDL" food store; they seem to have unusual food items for sale, and it seemed to me some large portion of those items were Germanic, but I didn't pay that much attention the only time I visited. I'm in Italy and so try to buy Italian. That said, I suspect the Italians have some sort of equivalent treat. Not sure on that either.
Cheers, John.

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maradel
2/3/2019 07:31 EST

Thank you everyone, again, for more info. OMG I've had a rotten couple of days, mainly because I have pneumonia and I'm stuck in this medieval town with no help. I thought the people at the school I'm enrolled in would help me get oriented, or at least help me find a doctor, but they all left for the weekend!

Here's an update on what's happened so far. This is what I wrote to a friend:

Todi, Day 1
Well, by the grace of some god—or maybe some demon—I managed to get my car, fit all my luggage in, figure out how to operate it and the GPS system, and get to the right road to get out of Rome. Turns out GPS isn’t too helpful when some of the roads don’t have signs, or the name of the road is sooo long, I wiz by before I can read the whole name and only a few seconds later, when the GPS lady is saying “recalculating”, realize that was my road. I took the scenic route around the airport (it isn’t scenic)—unintentionally—for at least a half an hour trying to get to the autostrade. The guy at the car rental place said “it’s easy, just take 3 right turns and you’ll be on the road leading to the highway. He forgot one left turn. Technically, I guess he was correct. I did have to take 3 right turns…

He also said “watch for the signs; don’t take the exit for Napoli; you want the exit for Firenze”. Ok, even I know that Napoli is sud and Firenze is nord and so is Todi. I was obviously so out of my depth, he was just trying to be helpful.

Actually from then on, it wasn’t too difficult, just stressful because it rained the whole time, I had no idea how fast I should drive (seems like everyone has warned me about cops), which lane I should be in, etc. There were cars going way slower and cars going way faster. Even though my 4 door Renault is spacious compared to most Italian cars, it’s tiny and my dogs were crammed in the back with the luggage and stroller. They were irritable, too. Mostly stressed and hungry. I haven’t been taking very good care of them, and Jack really misses his liverwurst. Apparently I’m going to have to go to GERMANY to get his fave treat, or learn how to make it myself. Italian sausage is wonderful, but it’s Italian, and I haven’t yet found a variety like liverwurst.

What google told me would be a 2 hr drive became almost a 4 hr drive. I did have to stop at one point to let the dogs pee and get my half teaspoon of coffee. I think that’s not going to work well for me. I don’t need a mug, but I do need more than a half tsp or I’ll be traveling with caffeine pills. I haven’t gotten the nerve yet to ask for café Americano. No matter what I try to say in Italiano, as soon as I open my mouth, everyone knows I’m American. I don’t want to make it even more obvious.

So, Tanya, the apartment person, had told me on the phone to meet her at the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione. Actually, I couldn’t understand a word she said. I thought she said something about colazione (breakfast), and I couldn’t figure out why she would be talking about having breakfast at 2 in the afternoon. So I emailed Valentina, the secretary at the school, and asked for some clarification. Woops.

Somehow, the GPS person got me through Todi to the right church, and I got my nerve up to call Tanya and let her know I was there. Somehow, again, we communicated that I was in a black Renault Duster and she would be coming in some kind of white car. We managed to meet! Then she drove, with me following, to a place to park close to the apartment. She spoke no English and my 20 words of Italian were way insufficient for the rest of the conversations we tried to have. She said something about I can park there for a few min, but after that I’ll get a ticket. She told me that she’d help me unload my bags and then I could go back to the church and park for free, take a bus back to the house. Sounded ok to me, except the execution of that plan was nearly a disaster.

First, Tanya attempted to show me the ins and outs of the apartment. Actually, you have to see this place to know what it's like. I have gone back in time 1000 years, at least, maybe 2000. Todi is shockingly ancient, beautiful and terrifying. Everything is old, old. Nothing is level. It’s all up and down. There are no straight roads or right angles and most roads are about 2 inches wider than my car. The ones that are a little wider have cars parked on both sides! But back to the apartment. It’s beautiful, modern and ancient at the same time. How do Italians do this?? There’s plumbing, electricity and gas in these ancient buildings. How do they even get this stuff down narrow cobblestone roads, through narrow doors? These people put Americans to shame with our huge, ugly, flimsy box-like houses that have no style whatsoever. Actually, we put ourselves to shame without anyone else’s help.

Note, that I was not happy when I arrived. I was feeling sick, hadn’t eaten all day, and was exhausted and stressed. Tanya pointed and said “the apartment is down there”. I looked and thought to myself I’m going to fall and break my neck with my 70 lb suitcases. She yanked one out of the car and trundled down the road with no effort. She’s a hefty woman, but I was embarrassed. I look like a stick figure next to her! I yanked my other suitcase out of the car, nearly falling over and teetered down the road, down the moss covered, wet steps, through the iron gate into the courtyard, up a bunch of steep steps and into the apartment, gasping for air and coughing my lungs up. I went back for more stuff and dogs.

Only pekingeses know how to tie knots in leashes when they’re walking as triplets. The sidewalk is one person wide, the dogs took up the whole sidewalk and then some. They looked like a circus. Everyone on that street knows I’ve arrived now. The dogs were so happy to be out of the car, stretch their stubby legs, new smells, new people to make friends with. Their tired stressed person was trying to keep them all going the same direction and NOT in the road. They finally got into the apartment. Then Tanya started her recitation of instructions, only part of which I understood, then she left. I felt like I was in shock.

I put off moving the car as long as I could. Partly because I really was exhausted and partly because I had no idea where the church was at that point. This place is a maze. I was right to be fearful. Tiny narrow streets that go around a corner and you’re in a dead end! No way to turn around! Trying to back uphill, around corners, with no clearance on either side, on top of a 4 level fusion in my neck and hips that dislocate if I twist the wrong way. Absolute nightmare! I was in tears, to put it mildly. I went down 2 one way (very narrow) streets the wrong way. The second time, a very kind Italian gentleman, coming the opposite way, told me I couldn’t do that! NO F*CKING KIDDING! I didn’t actually say that. He really was kind and he could speak English. He got me turned around in an impossibly tight place and pointed to the direction I had to go to get back to the main road leading anywhere but through another maze. It took me a few more tries to extricate myself from centro Todi hell. I was right to do this car rental that came with no deductible, full bumper to bumper insurance. Enough said about that.

I got to the church when it was almost dark, looked around, and saw nothing resembling a bus stop. I used google maps to walk home, trying not to cry so obviously and still coughing up my lungs. It took me about a half hour of walking in a windy rain and I walked right past the path leading to the courtyard at one point.

OMG! Did I say I was exhausted? Sick, hypoglycemic, weepy, pathetic. I had virtually no food, didn’t know where the store was, and I couldn’t think. I kept walking around the apartment saying “I have to put this sh*t away”, speaking of all my stuff piled in the middle of the floor. The dogs, at that point, were also pretty tired, stressed and hungry. Thankfully, I remembered that I had bought some kind of dog food resembling Ruby’s favorite (Cesar’s) and I had some baby food in jars. So I managed to feed them. I ate 2 Kind bars and some chocolate while they ate.

I finally had the wherewithal to open some cabinets and found some bags of pasta. Boiled some up, put some cheese on that I had brought from Rome and finally sat down and ate real food. Also I had gotten my computer revved up and was playing my David Russell album of classical guitar baroque pieces. That’s valium for the soul.

Todi, Day 2
I finally dragged myself out in the pouring rain about noon. I can go without food, but I can’t let my dogs go without food. Toilet paper is another thing I can’t do without.

I found the Supermercato. Google said 11 min walk. That was the walk TO the store, all downhill. I’m talking steep downhill. The way back was nightmarish. Heavy groceries, drenching downpour, steep uphill, wet cobblestone roads. I actually had to stop every few yards to cough and try to catch my breath. I thought I’d never get home, then all of a sudden I was there. I kept looking at this little street, thinking “that looks a lot like my street”. Pulled out my phone, and sure enough it was. I didn’t know how I got there. One foot in front of the other, I guess. Next time I’ll take my carry on suitcase with wheels so I can get the groceries home easier. I’ll buy a regular grocery cart when I can find one. The store in Rome had them for sale, but I didn’t see them here.

Todi, Day 3
I've been on antibiotics for a week, why am I still so sick? I almost got my nerve up to take the dogs for a walk, then started coughing my lungs up again. I have no idea how to get help here. What was I thinking, coming here alone? Actually I was thinking the school would provide some help if I needed it.

I don't know how to get mail, navigate the bus system, find a doctor, get groceries without having to scale Mt Everest on the way home. I'm normally not so helpless. I'm just sick and my brain isn't working.

Here is my friend's take on all of this:
"You are immersed in an archetypal journey. The first phase is the fool in the Tarot. Blindly stepping off the cliff. Without that naïveté no journey would ever begin. Phase II: illness, lack of resources, fear, pirates “The dark wood”. Phase III: A helpful comrade will appear. Usually a small animal or figure in fairy tales. Your job is to keep walking through the wood looking for the comrade. He/she/it will appear."

Interesting...I need to locate this comrade, Pronto!!

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codybrandy
2/3/2019 09:42 EST

OMG..I need a nap after your last message...well...it HAS to get better, it can't get worse! It's Sunday so just rest and get out tom...don't forget the stores and businesses will all close c. 12:30-3 or 4...depends on the store...unless you're in a big city lunchtime is sacrosanct. I've not seen Todi...but it does sound charming...if you wont be in this apt. for the duration at least you now know what to look for (parking and less slippery wobbly streets). In Italy never expect to get everything you want done in one trip...there will always be obstacles. You haven't experienced bureaucracy yet...that's a treat in itself...just smile, go slowly and as my first teacher said: Use Your Verbs. Keep looking for that 'comrade' she/he is out there...they will find you the more you look. Stai tranquillo... P.S. I guess French pate is closest to liverwurst...if you could find it. I go to UK 2x a year and stock up on 'ethnic' foods...who knew liverwurst would be considered exotic?? With a blender you could make a good chicken liver pate. Take care...

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HenryGiovanni
2/3/2019 12:31 EST

Hi MaryAnne,
Well. Look at the bright side: you've traded some minor inconveniences for the right to tell some great stories later. : )

And, no, I'm not poking fun at your predicament, but it truly outlines what I've said in the past about "torpedoes". Just when you decide to change your life, adverse things (torpedoes) start coming at you hard and heavy. This is designed to do one of two things: 1) make you give up, or 2) strengthen your resolve. Whatever you choose will be the right choice for you, but there is something to consider before making that decision.

Having made up one's mind, it is necessary to forge that decision in iron (or "cast-in-stone", or whatever). Look at this as your opportunity to do something about that decision you made, for all those good reasons, what now seems like so long ago. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

For those who never understood what that means, your post is an excellent example. Don't let the torpedoes turn you aside from your goal, the goal you strove for all those long months, with all the work and stress. Don't let them allow you to turn back to your former life. Remember that one? It's the life you left behind. It belongs in the past. Should you resolve to forge ahead, the torpedoes, or at least most of them, will stop coming at you.

So you are "stuck in a Medieval Town". My thoughts on that? Probably better than Denver. As Codybrandy says, in different words, "Life could be worse, but it's not." Instead of looking at all the things that went "wrong" (ie-"not according to plan"), try looking at what you just did. You moved (out of Denver) to Italy, according to your plan, survived Roma (according to your plan), made it to Todi (according to your plan. And got lost on the way, as I warned!), and are installed in your new apartment, according to your plan. Don't sweat the small stuff. The sickness will either go away or you will die, so there's not much to do there except take your medications. After that, the rest is easy.

Just don't let Feb get you down, because Spring in Italy is wonderful. And warm. And it's only a month or so away.

For those who might think that I don't still get lost, they would be wrong. I get lost all the time. Still. After a year here. Doesn't matter. Also like Codybrandy says, expect to make two or more trips to accomplish what you want to do. What else is on your plate that is so important that it can't wait another day? This is your life telling you to slow down, and that's it's OK to slow down now. Get in the slow lane and go slowly (but not too slowly!). Never mind that everyone else is going 100; that's why you left Denver, or at least that's one of the reasons why I left Southern CA, and I'm not just talking about driving. Americans work themselves to death and fret all the small stuff along the way. Give that life up.

I'm glad the walk to the supermercato wasn't uphill both ways like my walks to school, in the snow, without shoes, before dawn, back when I was a kid! : )

I'm glad your dogs are doing fine. I'll just say that you may discover that the "comrade" you seek in the woods is one, or all, of them. You may be unable to recognize it at this point. My cats give me great comfort, all the time. In fact, one was up here a few minutes ago trying to help me write this! Take care of them and they will bring peace to your soul. I suspect you already know that.

Because it's winter now, and because I can, I've started taking care of the birds outside, what I call my "little buddies". I put up a feeder, and strung up some "fat-balls" in the bushes around the yard. In the mornings, I can watch 20-30 birds all flitting about downstairs (we are on US "first floor"). It is both wonderful and peaceful. These are the things that animals (and birds) give to us if we only take the time to look.

I hope this helps. I have only words to give, but they are yours for the asking. You'll get the hang of it all sooner or later. For now, just enjoy each day as it comes. And there is always, ALWAYS, a silver lining; sometimes you have to look harder for it, but it is always there.
Cheers, John.

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HenryGiovanni
2/3/2019 13:01 EST

Hi Ugo,
The first and third links appear to be for the same book.

I've not seen the second link before, nor the book, and so make no comment.

I bought the book in the first and third links. All who want this book should be advised that a lot of the English-language type is in light-blue or red ink. At night (when I do a lot of my reading), under artificial lighting, those colors are unreadable. To my eyes. The eyes of others may be better. I seem to be always busy during the daytime. The colored type prevents me from making much use of it when I have the time to read.

Also, I purchased a copy that was supposed to be the 2018 version. It was the 2016 version. Your links show the 2013 version. Just noting it here.

Cheers, John.

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maradel
2/3/2019 16:15 EST

Believe it or not, I am finding something to smile about every day, or at least be awe inspired. The courtyard at the entrance of my apartment is surrounded by the high walls of the other old buildings. It has such a cloistered medieval feel. Today has been grey, drippy, but not really cold. Lush greenery everywhere, ivy, trees with leaves, all kinds of small green plants poking out of every nook and cranny. Pigeons up on the roof making pigeon noises. All the sounds are magnified. It's eery and other-worldly.

Denver, or worse, Ft Collins, have such a heavy dull reality to them. Dusty, monotone winters, like an old grainy black and white film. I loved living in Estes Park, at the entry to Rocky Mountain National Park. But that was Nature, the power and beauty of the mountains that I loved. Somehow, human beings managed to take that power and beauty and spirituality of nature and recreate it in the structures they built during medieval times.

There's a slowness to the creativity of nature that we humans had to learn to conform to before the industrial age, and that's infused in the buildings here.

I couldn't stand to return to the US. I pretty much made this a one way trip. Giving up is not on my agenda. The daemons can lob as many torpedoes at me as they want!

These little critters we invite into our lives--dogs, cats, birds, deer, etc--are there to help us stay out of our ego trips. My dogs haven't got a clue what's going on. They don't care. They're with me. They're getting fed, They just sleep when they don't know what's going on.

I finally took the circus out for a walk this afternoon. It rained, of course. But they were HAPPY. First walk since we got to Italy, believe it or not. I like to see the range of expressions on people's faces when they see the dogs. Pekes are probably rare in Italy, and they look kind of like ewoks!

I got some photos of the valley below Todi, with some kind of castle-like structure surrounded by terraces. A lazy river snakes its way through the valley. Old, old buildings in Todi crowd the edge of the hill overlooking the valley. Church in the background. Church bells ringing. Am I still on the same planet??

Maybe I'll sleep better tonight with those images in my head.

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thefountain
2/3/2019 19:50 EST

I am so happy for you. Keep smiling in wonder of your new home. This gets me excited about my move. Where i live people walk around so uptight with the need to fit or criticise others in instead of looking around in excitement of what the world will donate to making their lives enriched.
Have a spectacular day/afternoon and evening.

Sunshine

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HenryGiovanni
2/4/2019 16:10 EST

Hi MaryAnne,
Sounds like things are already going better for you. Once you've confirmed your decision (sounds like that's already done) then the torpedoes stop coming; it's just something to see if what you chose is what you really want. And now you've got some great stories to tell! For mere "minor inconveniences"! : ) Doesn't matter now.

Our condo is within the sound of the church bells. I grew up in a different America, where church bells went off regularly. Sounds like my youth, to me. I never realized how much I missed the sound until it became a part of my life again.

I came out of San Diego, which is arguably one of the oldest sections of what is now the US. The oldest buildings were the missions, at about 400 years. Most other "old" buildings were in the 100-yr range. It is merely a slow eye-blink compared to what I get to walk through every day here. And our move was also a one-way deal; There is no desire to return to CA. The kids can visit us here.

Sounds like your three Pekes are happy now. It's always good to hear.

Now is the time to look forward. Never look back unless you get so down that it seems you are stuck. Then look back (Denver???), but only long enough to see how far you've progressed.

Have fun in Todi, and keep us informed. We all want to hear stories with happy endings.
Cheers, John.

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maradel
2/5/2019 11:04 EST

Wow, all of a sudden I got acutely worse, to the point where I was having trouble breathing. I walked over to the school to ask how I could find a doctor in Todi. They said I could go down to the hospital to the "AFT" and they called to let them know I was coming.

There is a bus service, but I have no idea how it works. There was a bus sitting in Piazza del Popolo so I asked if he went to the hospital. I showed him on google maps on my phone. He pointed down the road and said 500 meters, indicating I should probably walk. Oh. Ok. I started out. About half way there he came by, stopped and picked me up. I guess it finally occurred to him that someone asking how to get to the hospital might be sick. He dropped me off at the door.

I went in. There are a lot of empty hallways with chairs, a lot of closed doors, no reception area. I wandered up and down the corridors, 1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor. I never saw anyone who looked like a medical person. I think I could have collapsed and died in one of those corridors and no one would have noticed. I finally went by a room with a slightly open door and a woman in front of a computer. I was coughing uncontrollably and feeling like I was going to faint. I said "ho bisogno di un dottore. Sto facendo problemi di respirazione" She said something I couldn't uderstand. I stood there blankly with my brain frozen. She sat there. I tried again. She kept saying something about AFT downstairs. Huh? She finally wrote AFT on a piece of paper and handed it to me. I stared at it. I have never felt so stupid and helpless.

I wandered back downstairs, up and down hallways. I finally noticed a closed door with AFT on a sign next to it. I sat down on a chair, wondering what to do. In a few min, someone came out and left the door open. There was some guy behind a desk reading a newspaper. A woman went in, obviously consulting him about something. It started to occur to me that the guy was a dottore. When she came out, I finally got my nerve up to go to the door. All I could say was "Parla Inglese?" He didn't, but he was the dottore! He said something about I must be the American woman the school called about. We tried to communicate for a few min, then he stuck a stethoscope on my back, listened to me try to breath. He didn't really need a stethoscope to hear the wheezing and rales in my chest. He finally looked at me and said "Bruto, bruto!" Yes, no kidding.

He had me call the school and I handed him the phone so he could talk to the secretary. He kept saying Auscolti, Auscolti and talking loud and fast. I had no idea what he was saying. He handed me the phone and Valentina told me I had to go to a private hospital in Perugia tomorrow for some radiographs. I was not allowed to drive myself, she would arrange a ride. The dottore and I said a few more things to one another, he wrote a script, saying something about this is the gold standard for viral pneumonia. He said Bruto a few more times, asked me for my documents so he could write up the official paper. I handed him my Italian passport. He was surprised, asked to talk to the school again. There was another conversation I couldn't understand, except for the words "cittadina italiana". He hung up. I tried to explain I wasn't in the system yet.

He handed me a piece of paper saying I owed something like 18E, but not to him, I have to pay the bank. I said ok, but I totally don't understand what I have to do with that piece of paper. He said something about go to Perugia, Bruto! Shook my hand, I thanked him and left in a daze.

I walked to where I had seen a farmacia, filled the Rx, then looked around for a bus. No bus. Started walking back. I ended up walking all the way back home, coughing my lungs up, and never saw a bus.

I really do not want to die here not even 2 weeks into my Italy adventure, but by the time I got home, I was starting to feel like I wouldn't care if I died. Except for my dogs.

Are all Italian hospitals so non-conducive to help? I'm confused. I've spent a lot of time in American hospitals, unfortunately. There are lots of medical people in evidence so you at least know you're in the right kind of venue. Except for all the people smoking right outside the main door, the Todi hospital was empty. Maybe Todi is just too small, and this was a govt hospital, so presumably it has to be there.

It is painfully obvious how helpless I am here. And scared. I don't know how to even ask for help, and the sicker I am, the less available my Italian is. I feel dazed and brain dead.

I hope someone in the hospital in Perugia speaks english. I'm probably not going to learn more Italian by tomorrow morning.

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lifelover
2/5/2019 11:46 EST

Good lord. Be very careful . Pneumonia is very dangerous and can follow any bad case of bronchitis that is not treated. You should not be walking outside anywhere and keep wrapped up, rested and hydrated. There was some celebrity who just passed recently ( young mother of 4) who didn’t see a doctor not knowing she had it ( thought it was just a bad cough) and just collapsed and died. Camphor rub and eucalyptus on your chest. Stay in bed and rest and take your meds. Hope you are well soon .

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rsetzer99
2/5/2019 13:46 EST

Pronto socorso is what you need. They will give exam and immediate treatment and if you need a more equipped hospital they will have you sent in an ambulance.

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maradel
2/6/2019 01:22 EST

Thank you to everyone helping me again!

I don't ignore medical problems--I know better. But I think it's just been very difficult for me to communicate the reality of my situation to people at the school. It took the dottore yelling into the phone yesterday before they finally realized that I am not just a whiny American with a head cold. I have other medical complications that don't normally interfere with my life but can become very serious when I'm sick, and it has been impossible for me to communicate any of that here. Heck, I have trouble communicating that to doctors in the US! I've learned to be very assertive, and doctors don't like that much.

I'm playing a tricky game here. I don't need to insult people unintentionally, but I don't understand the cultural norms. I know how far I can push in the US, but not here. I can use humor to soften my assertiveness in the US, but not here. I do not want to be an ugly American in Italy.

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codybrandy
2/6/2019 03:09 EST

Maradel, May I make one small suggestion? Ask for Taxi service in your area..most places do have them and this is the time to treat yourself with care. Thank heavens for your Italian teacher. Also my friend here has a phone app..she speaks in english and the phone translates...not just printed but actually speaks...would that be something you could put on your phone? Good luck today in Perugia. Take your meds and rest as much as you can once back in Todi. Don't be timid about asking for help...a neighbor? the landlord? Someone close might have a responsible teenager who could pick up some groceries or take a dog for a walk.

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rsetzer99
2/6/2019 03:45 EST

Yeah, now that I think about it. Google Translate has a conversation feature. We have used it on occasion if things got technical and needed to be sure everyone was on the same subject.

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katabiel
2/6/2019 03:58 EST

Have been following your story, Take heart, like all things worth having, we must sometimes prove we are up to the task. Have several early incidents to relate but in brief....Moved to remote village in Puglia. 18km from Lecce, due to a pickpocket in Rome no drivers license and could not take possession of leased car until DL was produced. Took train to Lecce (3 different changes) hired a cab then realized no internet in village. Went back to Lecce to use computer and very long story and 27 emails later had CA Drivers licence sent by DHL. 22 days without a car, no internet and no neighbors. Villa is in the campagna.
Lesson learned. 1st find local cab then ask everywhere- school perhaps? ask if anyone can provide car service (unofficial Uber)
long shot I know, but worked for me. Bonus_ driver was local celebrity because he knew the Americana. He recommended best places for local bread, meat and home made pasta. A Nona makes bread everyday and wonderful pasta in her kitchen and welcomed the extra euro. Also sourced local artisan cheese and
where to get my wine jug filled.
I am in Puglia waaaaay south, but feel free to pm and I will share other stories.

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codybrandy
2/6/2019 04:04 EST

Very good point Katabiel....sometimes in small towns "taxis" are just a person trying to make a little cash but are excellent sources of knowledge as well. Your story is the perfect example of small town Italians coming together to be a community. Heartwarming...stay strong Marabel.

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Janin
2/6/2019 04:05 EST

The Perugia hospital is very large, a good number of doctors speak English.
Nurses are friendly and look after patients well.
My mother and I received very good care there, top standard.
All the best
Janin
(Perugia province)

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elly8157
2/6/2019 04:58 EST

I use Microsoft Translator on ALl my devices. The app is just called Translator. It is soooo much better than Google. I reverse translate using the arrows at the bottom and it is very accurate. I sometimes need to change a word or two. It works great to copy translation and paste into an email or WhatsApp. I don’t rely on it because I want to try to communicate in Italian but learning the language takes TIME!! Everyone should try this app. It has the record features as well. Ciao

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maradel
2/11/2019 12:54 EST

Time for an update, maybe it's a bit past due. I'm still alive! Still sick, still coughing, incredibly tired, but I'm ok. I went to Professore/Dottore Todisco, a pulmonologist, on Friday. He looked at my radiographs, waved the piece of paper with the radiologist's diagnosis in the air, proclaiming "this is wrong!". "Some doctors look and don't see!" he said. HAHAHA! That has been my experience most of my life!

Anyway, I have some scary stuff going on in my chest. He changed my meds, wrote an order for a CT scan and some blood work, which I will get done and then go back for a follow up.

Going for my appointment was interesting. The GPS got me to the right place, but I didn't believe it! I kept looking around for something that looked like a medical clinic. Nothing in sight! In fact, I was in a rather well-to-do residential area. Every property had a big iron gate. Of course, turns out that Dr. T's clinic is in his home! That is very different compared to the US, but really kind of nice. He spent an hour and a half with me. He is very experienced and also very kind. And he speaks some English!

I don't know what this means, getting so sick so soon after arriving here. It means something and has some purpose. I gave up the belief that things happen by chance a long time ago. My life has been too strange for me to believe in chance. Something/someone moves us around, laughing at our ego idea that we have some control! Gods, fairies, aliens, the fates. Pick one or more than one. Nothing in my extensive academic education ever prepared me for life! Maybe someday I'll figure out what this is about.

On a more practical note, I will be starting Italian lessons next week--hopefully I will be feeling better by then. I will be doing pretty intensive work for a month, but after that I have to find somewhere else to live. It's actually pretty critical because I can't get my carta d'identita and register for healthcare until I have a lease for an apartment. But, where??

I"ve been corresponding with a very lovely woman, an expat in Umbria, who is strongly advising me to live where there are at least a few people who speak English and can help me figure things out. I agree! Maybe I should stay in Umbria, but I was kind of hoping to move north. Somewhere in the Piedmonte area, probably near Torino. I don't know much (anything) about that area, though, other than it's NORTH, It's a lot less hilly than here, transportation is easier and better, it likely has good healthcare, it's probably more expensive than Umbria.

Anyone know expats or otherwise friendly english speaking people up there? Are there other areas I should consider. It's very clear to me that I need to SETTLE DOWN for at least a year to recover, get my bearings, & get the bureaucracy stuff out of the way. I am clueless about what to do at this point, but I need to start planning now.

Any advice is welcome!

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thefountain
2/11/2019 18:18 EST

I pray you start healing quickly . Right now everyone where I live as this horrible cough, flu going into the lungs. You probably picked it up in America. An American doctor told me Naples has Good doctors and hospital.
Stay strong. Everything passes.
Sunshine

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Sergios
2/12/2019 01:43 EST

Many people have lung congestion and cough similar to asthma due to the prevalence of black mold in the living environment. Humid winters will cause the migration of moisture thru the masonry wall.

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codybrandy
2/12/2019 03:42 EST

Good Morning Maradel, Glad to hear you are getting the help you need. The poochies need you to feel better soon! Well, with the last question you asked you will get us all to tell you about our favorite areas...so here goes...I've been visiting Liguria area for 40 yrs and though I gave every other section north to south a try before deciding...imho...Liguria is the best. We live c. 20 min from the coast (5Terre) in a peaceful hill village...though like you walking is not as easy for me as when young and they are gentle rolling hills and easy to walk. We can get to the sea and shopping and hospitals and all government necessities within 20-30 minutes. But importantly the air is so fresh and clear we can on sunny days see the Carrara mountains 30+ miles away. Turin on the other hand, though historic has that awful industrial sprawl and is famous for the smog of the Po Valley. But you need to see for yourself the area that is best for you..mountains or seaside and of course depending on your finances. Weekend trips to different areas might be your best bet..in our town there are quite a few Air B&B for c. E45+/- a night. Lucca is another amazing area...to our south...my cousin has been there a year now and if you are interested I could ask her to write you a bit about her experiences. Well, hit the books and get started for your more healthy adventure to come...spring is just around the corner...message me if you need more info. Have a great day...we have brilliant sun today!

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rsetzer99
2/12/2019 03:47 EST

I tend to think the cough and weeze season is well exacerbated by the smoke. Between wood stoves and now the trimming of the olive trees, there is a haze across the land. Breathing in all those fine particles are not good for the lungs.

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traceyspada
2/12/2019 05:08 EST

I agree with cody brandy. Pass on Piedmont and especially around Turin. My brother in law lives there and although a beautiful city it has some of the worst smog in Europe. It is also full of grafiti and not as pleasant as it was a few years back. We used to live in Viareggio on the coast of Tuscany, but we loved Lucca and spent most of our time there. It is easy to walk everywhere, there's a train station and if you go on FB there's a group of expats on there. liveinlucca so there's expats in the area. You can be in the mountains and hills quickly and then a 20 minute ride on the train and you are by the beach, Pisa only 20 minutes, or one hour and in Florence where there's a huge amount of expats. Florence gets too crowded now and is expensive, but a fantastic city to visit. You want to find a place soon as it will be difficult for the summer. We were also in Liguria for Christmas which is beautiful and has lovely sea and clean air.

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maradel
2/13/2019 09:44 EST

Tracy & CodyBrandy, Thanks for the suggestions! I joined the LiveInLucca FB group. There's another one called Friends In Lucca that I joined also.

I'm pretty overwhelmed at this point. I didn't expect to feel so tired and run down just when I had planned to be getting out and exploring. I think I'm going to have to just rent a place so I know I have somewhere to go. Lucca looks like it might be a good place for me to start with, since there are many expats there.

It's very clear to me that until I can communicate better in Italian, I will need some help. In fact, I will need some help even if/when I'm fluent in Italian! Ever since I was a child, I've been a very independent person, figuring things out on my own and doing my own "thing". That's not going to work here, and frankly I'm sick of being so independent and rootless.

I definitely need a furnished apartment for now. I've been looking on the Casa.it website for places for rent, but I don't know if that's a good way to find an apartment. Any suggestions? CodyBrandy, I'd very much appreciate hearing from your cousin in Lucca!

By the way, I also appreciate everyone's suggestions about translation apps and driver license exam books. Bought one today. I have both google translate and Microsoft translate on my phones. They're better than nothing, and sometimes they're a lot better than nothing. But they both often serve up word salads, which are amusing or frustrating, depending on my mood! While they have improved my ability to speak and write Italian, they haven't helped me understand anyone else speaking Italian! That will get better, but right now it's extremely awkward!

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Umbertomar
2/13/2019 11:48 EST

You my be able to find some resources at your local church. Many of the priests speak English and sometimes know who is renting apartments, etc. and also those willing to help people in need of assistance for several reasons, including language skills.

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equitraveler
2/13/2019 13:46 EST

Glad to hear that you have found some good quality health care. Hope you heal soon.
We live in Piemonte, Provincia Alessandria in the spring and fall. Depending on where you go, some people or absolutely no one will speak English. For example, in our town of 700 the only folks who speak English are the Director of the Catina Sociale, the folks who own the hotel (but not the waiters in their restaurant), and a couple of guys from London who own a vacation home. The town to the north is a market town and very few people speak English, even in most of the restaurants. The town to the south of us gets lots of tourists because of the thermal waters so there are some English speakers. Likewise if you go to an area near Canelli or Alba you will find English speakers. In Torino, not speaking Italian is not a problem. However, it costs more to live in areas that draw tourists or are industrial hubs. Piemonte is a big Regione. There are mountains (south, west, north) and some parts are very hilly, particularly the Alto Monferrato and parts of Provincial Cuneo, but not only there. The tone and character also varies significantly across the Regione, with some areas more welcoming and others more insular. My experience with health care has been positive, but several Italian friends who have experienced the hospitals in Torino tell horror stories. And I read in the local paper that the hospital in a nearby town may close because of budget problems in the health care system. Next there is weather; summer is hot humid and buggy, while winter in cold, humid, snowy and often windy. As noted by someone else, there is a propensity for smog. That happens because the air pollution from Italy’s industrial north gets pushed up against the Alps and trapped. Also, many folks in rural areas still heat and cook with wood. So I suggest being cautious about Piemonte until your lungs are 100%.

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thefountain
2/13/2019 21:28 EST

Can someone confirm if what I read is correct. The article said that hospitals in Naples had ants crawling on patients. And hospitals below Rome aren't clean. You have to bring bedsheets, pillows, toilet paper and soap. Is this true? How could this be?

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Sergios
2/14/2019 02:36 EST

My wife spent two weeks in Cefalù hospital. In Sicily. They provided sheets and pillows. She had a clean semi private room with a sea view. It was not perfect. She developed a bed sore and I was not happy with their response and I had to go out and buy a sheepskin and air mattress, but other than that she received good care for absolutely no charge. That included a four hour surgery to repair her fractured femur.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 03:00 EST

Used several hospitals and clinics both private and state run, some newly built and some old buildings — all in Puglia, well south of Rome. What you dedcribe is NOT true. And the care I received across the board was excellent.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 03:11 EST

All bed sheets included. Just needed my own bath towel and toiletries.

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maradel
2/14/2019 03:47 EST

Just to add some perspective here about health care...

I have had 4 hip surgeons over the last 15 years or so, all supposedly "good"--I do my research--and SEVEN FAILED hip replacement/revision surgeries. Now, I may be somewhat unusual, but the failure rate for joint replacement surgeries is MUCH higher than doctors, medical associations, the media, and the US government want people to know. There is NO registry for tracking prosthetic device failures in the US--because then they would have to admit how bad it is. Italy has been tracking prosthetic device performance for many years so they know which ones to avoid using.

I have had 7 hip dislocations. I have to go to the ER to have the dislocation "reduced", ie, put back in place, every time. After #4 (in 2015), I demanded that the doctor reduce the dislocation with the aid of fluoroscopy, rather than blind (twisting and yanking). They refused--hospital "policy", I was told. I lay in the ER for hours in terrible pain. I finally gave up, was given anesthesia, the doc reduced the dislocation and I woke up with a paralyzed leg. The doc had damaged the nerve with his twisting and yanking. My leg was paralyzed for nearly 6 months, got gradually better but has never fully recovered. The "blame the patient" and "cover your ass dance" were bizarre, extreme, and infuriating. I had to demand to be admitted to the hospital (they were just going to send me home & I live alone) and they refused to allow a neurologist to evaluate me!!

After surgery #7, about a year ago, I lay in a pool of sweat for 2 days before the nurse finally changed the sheets on my bed. Care was horrendous. This was in Ft Collins, CO--University of Colorado Healthcare System.

Over the last several years, I have had to find new primary care doctors 5 times, mainly because they move or retire or drop out of insurance plans. There were no good primary care doctors accepting medicare patients. I finally had to go to a doc who accepted NO insurance at all, and pay out of pocket for everything. She was an excellent doctor, but it was an unsustainable situation for me. This is not unusual in the US. Many of the best doctors are dropping out of insurance plans because they can make more money and have none of the hassles of dealing with insurance companies.

I have many more horror stories of my experience with US health care, unfortunately. Not just my own, but my parents' and others' experiences. And I am a veterinarian with a PhD in Neuroscience, supposedly very capable of protecting myself (and my parents) against medical abuse. I shudder to think about what happens to less knowledgeable people. These stories don't get told publicly, by the way.

Ants crawling on people in hospitals seems pretty minor compared to some of my experiences with US "health care".

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maradel
2/14/2019 03:59 EST

Thanks, equitraveler, that's very helpful information! It's obviously a very different climate from the Colorado front range, at the base of the Rocky Mountains, where the down-slope winds tend to blow the humidity and pollution away. I guess the prevailing winds are more up-slope there. I've tried to watch some of that over the last couple of years, but not very closely.

The smoke in Todi has been pretty thick some days. Non mi piace!

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Shtinky
2/14/2019 06:40 EST

I live in Umbria where the healthcare is so-so. The farther south you go, the worse the healthcare system. I have first hand knowledge that you do need to bring most things you need to then hospitals in the south. Even here in Umbria you bring coffee cup, utensils, toilet paper towels, bowls for washing. If you need crutches someone in your family must buy and bring to you. You must provide your own water and someone to bring it to you. The nurses are too busy with medical things to help with everyday care. Here, they encourage family to spend the night on a cot to help with bed pans etc. Quite different than in the US for sure. But it cuts costs.

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maluza86
2/14/2019 07:47 EST

I am sorry but I have to disagree with you. This whole notion that healthcare in the South is sub-par is ridiculous.

I live in Puglia and both my daughter-in-laws have had babies in local hospitals and my grandson spent a week in a local hospital. Both provided excellent care and believe it or not had sheets, utensils, and they actually fed them!!! (Yes I am being sarcastic).

But what you said is not true for the hospitals here in Puglia. I have visited family members in Francavilla, Lecce, Ostuni, Brindisi and Martina-Franca. While they may not look great and not be pristine with amenities, the care was excellent. No ants, no bugs, and they provided water!

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whidden39
2/14/2019 08:16 EST

“First hand” as in you were a patient in a hospital in the south? Over the past three years I have had two unrelated serious surgeries in two different hospitals in Puglia. I considered going back to Boston (to one of its preeminent hospitals) for care, but determined it was unnecessary. Your stories do not match up to my experiences at all. I did witness a family member staying overnight in a cot, but that involved a parent wanting to provide assurance to a teenage son that had just become paralyzed without a known reason. The nursing staff were empathetic, attentive, and available to all patients. In fact every day a doctor visited me to observe and answer questions. That doesn’t happen any more even in Boston. Are you sure your info is firsthand and not ancient history? North vs South perceptions?

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thefountain
2/14/2019 08:52 EST

Thank all for responding. I don't know how to attach an article on this message. But if you want to read what I was talking about and see pictures you can Google are Naples italy hospital clean and you will see a woman in bed with blood and ants on her and you will see a bathroom with roaches. This is a concern. I am sure you understand my concern.

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Sergios
2/14/2019 09:07 EST

Why would you want to live in the city of Naples? It's a unique situation and place.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 09:39 EST

Thefountain: Who is the publisher of that article? I can't believe it's true. Italian hospitals may have old buildings sometimes, but they are fastidious about sanitary conditions. Your source is describing a mash unit.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 09:48 EST

I love Naples and the upscale neighborhoods of Vomero and Posillipo on top of two different hills overlooking the bay offer a lot of amenity. Great views, cool breezes, and lovely living options. Not for the uninitiated, there are families that keep their old apartments in very crowded and ancient streets off of Spacanopoli. These Italians have a close attachment to the old 'hood and are loyal to their rich experiences there over generations. Sofia Loren, with all her success, considered herself a Neapolitan (although she grew up just outside the city in impoverished Pozzuuoli) to the core and never turned her back on the thick dialect. To each his/her own, I guess.

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almare2
2/14/2019 09:55 EST

This is from La Repubblica, a reputable newspaper: https://napoli.repubblica.it/cronaca/2019/01/14/ news/ancora_formiche_in_ospedale_a_napoli_possibile_ la_chiusura_dei_reparti_e_il_trasferimetno_dei_ pazienti-216525217/

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whidden39
2/14/2019 09:59 EST

I did find the article. If it is truly reliable, I can't imagine why a patient remains in bed with those ants. Suffice it to say, I don't think you have to labor over this being a typical situation. Nonetheless, do your research to find the best medical facilities for your specific needs. I did and was very satisfied with my care on all levels. They sometimes do things differently than the US. That's to be expected.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 10:15 EST

OK, I might have some hesitation with Naples hospitals based on the stories. Somewhat like the horrors of Veterans hospitals in the US?

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miki184
2/14/2019 10:22 EST

Yes indeed there are ants and you DO have to bring things like soap, towels, and so on even in the Northern teaching hospitals (and yes i have 1st hand experience). Lucky you if you have someone to help you. I was unable to move and yet they put the food tray near my feet. The other patient in the room would feed me and no I am NOT being sarcastic! Take a look for yourself: https://www.repubblica.it/argomenti/malasanità

I should say that where I live I both trust and respect the Drs but that's not to say the care is perfect and you shouldn't lead people to believe that it is.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 10:53 EST

I guess I should consider myself lucky to be living in Puglia. If I had to experience these serious medical care deficiencies elsewhere in Italy, I'd be back in Boston for sure.

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Sergios
2/14/2019 12:46 EST

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which included all the lands from Campagna and south, was under the control of the Bourbons and it was the richest kingdom in Europe. The bank of Naples was the richest bank in Europe. When Italy was united under Garibaldi, since the new King of Italy was the king of Savoy, the bank of Naples was emptied and those funds were brought to Torino. The Mezzogiorno, those lands that were once the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, became impoverished and the once vibrant Naples fell into a communal depression that they have yet to recover from.
The Neapolitans developed a mindset in which laws were adaptable and the government is not your friend. The loss of the region's wealth contributed to the decay of the city and the rise of crime which continues to this day. Yes there are beautiful places and the food is spectacular and the people are friendly and funny and the city itself, if you could ignore the graffiti and the liter and excrement, is quite beautiful. A great place to visit, keeping both hands firmly on your wallet, but it's not a place that I would recommend living-in for a foreigner. My first memory is of the Vomero and I was one of those neapolitan cherubs that you still see today. The ones smoking cigarettes (I didn't) and planning mischief.
The "I don't give a $#!+" attitude of many neapolitans would produce conditions such as mentioned concerning the hospitals. Its very sad such a beautiful place has to suffer like this. And the Russian Roulette of Vesuvius and the Campi Flegrei, does not help the attitude problem.

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whidden39
2/14/2019 12:57 EST

Sergio’s, Enjoyed your background on the Two Sicilies. Seems to explain a lot about current day Napoli. I prefer to visit, but I love its brooding nature and the antiquities everywhere. Was in awe about what is underground as revealed by the organization Napoli Sottorranea. You touched in some of the other things that make the place special for me. I recommend it only for the seasoned traveler or those that return to Italy time and again seeking new experiences.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 14:39 EST

The article is on Voce di Napoli on Feb. 13 for hospital Pellegrino a Napoli. The other articles are on ansa.it Nov 12,2018 and Dec 18, 2018.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 14:42 EST

What makes it a unique situation and place?

Not looking in the city of Naples but in a small town. My dad lived outside of the city of Naples.

Any suggestions, comments, advice are appreciated.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 14:48 EST

Yes that part of the article I saw. Thank you.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 14:52 EST

Well that is interesting. My dad so loved where he lived but that was many years ago 1920's. Ashamed. But new york city is changed horribly also. Thanks Sergio.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 14:55 EST

Thank you whidden39. So many things to consider before taking the step to move. I have been thinking about the move for 2 years.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 15:01 EST

Miki184. So here is a question. If hospitals are so bad why live in Italy? Doesn't this scare you or anyone else?
This ways heavily on my decision to move? Any ideas.

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almare2
2/14/2019 15:41 EST

Some years ago, the father of a friend of mine was taken to the emergency room in the hospital in Avezzano (Abruzzo). He was something like 83 years old at the time. He was admitted and parked in a corner of a holding room with an oxygen mask on. He sat there for something like 10 hours. Once in a while the duty nurse would go over to him, pull the mask away from his face and ask, "Va bene?" Bit as he wasn't given any water, he was too parched to answer. Meanwhile my friend's wife was not allowed to enter that room and was waiting outside totally unaware of what was happening to the poor little old man father-in-law inside. That story certainly made me think twice about moving to Italy. Not that I can because I don't have the required fixed income. Also, the region of Abruzzo is closing hospital departments and hospitals right and left, so in the end I'm happy I decided to move back to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where the health care is good and there are support systems for single folks like me. I am not a big user of medical services, but certainly I think that's something to consider as one gets older, especially if one has no family support.

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miki184
2/14/2019 16:37 EST

What can I say? I've been here so long and life goes on so it gets hard to just pick up and leave.

Luckily I live in the north and the overall care here is good - in fact the beds are almost overtaken by Southerners coming up north for care.

There is of course always a positive to side to everything. As you probably already know, Italy is an amazing beautiful country. Plus it's so easy to travel around Europe from here. Great cheap flights and so many wonderful places and cultures to explore.

I'm not a US hater as many seem to be but it is pretty much the same old thing (same culture, language, food, etc and yes of course there are differences but not like the huge ones between Austria and Sicily!) everywhere you go in the States.

Anyway I think it's really important to know what you're getting into and not to see everything through rose colored glasses because you might get an unpleasant surprise.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 17:05 EST

Almare2. Thank you for writing. I am a cancer survivor and let's face it who knows what life brings. I do have family in Italy but health care is very important. Although I must say the hospital where I live killed my mom because they forgot to give her the meds plus other things that happened that contributed to her passing. I guess in the end when it is your time to go you go.
Alot to consider.

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thefountain
2/14/2019 17:07 EST

Thank you miki184.
I appreciate everyone contributing.
It helps open my eyes.

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foxwhite1
2/14/2019 17:10 EST

I am not making excuses for the situation at Bosco, however I can tell you that every one of you have eaten in Restaurants that are far far dirtier in the US as well as other countries. Ants, no matter how clean a place is will find a way to enter a building if there is an attraction such as glucose or some other sweet substance or even food. That does not excuse the hospital for the lack of immediate remediation. I was in a business in Miami for a number of years which serviced the kitchens of restaurants, hospitals and hotels and it made no difference how expensive or highly rated these restaurants were, there were quite a few that I would NEVER eat in after seeing their kitchens. The disturbing part was that many had passed health inspections. As for medical care in Italy my two experiences were nothing but positive.

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rsetzer99
2/15/2019 03:41 EST

There certainly seems to be a rush to judgement by a minority of people. On the counter side, just today I saw a headline on CNN "Nursing Home Patient Rotted to Death". So one may as well have serious considerations whether they should stay in the US. Another person pointed out how VA hospitals in the US can be dreadful with enormous wait times. Some hospitals in the US are in areas where it is rather unpleasant to live, and it is not uncommon to see stories about patients left on gurneys in the corridors. The fact of the matter is that overall Italy is typically given good ratings worldwide for competent health care. Pick up a few UK tabloids if you would like stories of dreadful care in their systems. Especially now that it is being used as point in the Brexit issue.

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maluza86
2/15/2019 04:15 EST

rsetzer99 you are absolutely correct. There is good and bad in every system, in every country.

However, living in Southern Italy, I just wanted to refute the sweeping generalizations someone made on this forum more than once that medical care in the Southern part of Italy is wholly inadequate. There was another post today how all the hospital beds in the North are full of patients from the South...ridiculous.

Such sweeping generalizations are not based on any facts and are not useful for those seeking medical care or information on the medical system.

The articles provided are very useful as they are specific to a hospital in a city.

As several who actually live in Puglia and other parts of Southern Italy have posted, they have received very good care, by extremely qualified doctors, many of whom speak English.

Is it perfect, no...but then again there are always horror stories everywhere.

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rsetzer99
2/15/2019 04:51 EST

Agreed. We are in the Chieti region. Atessa is our nearest Pronto Soccorso. If you need more than they can give you they take you via ambulance to either Lanciano or Chieti where there is a large teaching hospital. The facilities in Atessa have clearly seen better days, they are not putting the money into cosmetic upgrades but the the people were very nice and efficient at their jobs. I dare say I spent more time with a doctor than the five minutes and a script for antibiotics that always seemed to be the result in a US walk in clinic. I think alot of people anxiety comes from knowing it will be different than what they are used to, the fear that comes from a language barrier.

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Sergios
2/15/2019 05:12 EST

As I said, my wife fractured her femur last year. The fracture was around the spike that anchored her artificial hip. It was a complicated fracture. This past spring we returned to the USA for my sons wedding and we took the opportunity to see the doctor that replaced her hip. He was concerned about what was done in Italy and sent us to NYU medical in Manhattan for an opinion. We arrived at the appointed hour and spent two hours waiting. Then we were called in for an x-ray. After that we waited another hour to see the doctor for 3 minutes. Everything was fine. That is until I went to check out. There was a problem with our medicare registration and we had to pay out of pocket. The total bill came to $750. Plus $150 if we wanted the x-ray cd. Contrast that to a visit to a private specialist in Palermo. Forty-five minute wait, 15 minutes with the doctor, sent to get several x-rays, 15 more minutes with the doctor for a total bill of 150 Euro, with the x-ray in hand. And that's for a private doctor outside the healthcare system.

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miki184
2/15/2019 05:24 EST

Maluza66, I bet to differ with you about Southern patients flooding the Northern hospitals. I'm afraid it's true and once again I know first hand. When I was a patient I remember getting a kick out of the fact that I understood the local dialect words for certain items while those from outside the region had no idea of what they were - guess where they came from. I made great friendships with Calabrians and Sicilians during my stay.
I also worked in a major teaching hospital and had contact with hundreds of patients again from outside our region the most coming from - guess again...
I wouldn't say a thing if it weren't true. Naturally I'm happy to hear you had a good experience, for the most part I've had a good experience too but not everyone has. Watch the news and you will also learn how many 'case di cure' are under investigation for mistreating elderly patients. People need to be aware that they need to be aware everywhere - here and in the States. It may be more important here if you have a language barrier and if you are alone like some of us.

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almare2
2/15/2019 07:01 EST

I think that having a family member or close friend to advocate for you makes a difference anywhere in the world you are. When I went to the emergency room in Avezzano after being involved in a car crash in November 2017 (I wasn’t visibly injured but went to have X-rays done just in case), I waited with my friend (the driver in the car that was hit, also there for precautionary X-rays) in the waiting room for two or three hours and then was separated from her. I spent the next couple of hours being shunted from one room and doctor to another (and the X-ray machine was a laugh, looked like something out of the 1950s, with a big glass plate that had to be fitted into the machine, zhoop zhoop). A couple of times I had to wait in a hallway for half an hour with no idea where I was supposed to go next. There was no cell phone reception, so I couldn’t check with my friend as to where she was and what was happening to her. I felt very lonely! And very shook up after the accident, in which another car ran a stop sign and hit our car about a meter in front of me, meaning that a little farther back and I would have been dead or in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Then there was more sitting in the waiting room waiting for a consultation with two more doctors. And that was for a minor problem. I can’t imagine being admitted for a major problem there. And I speak Italian very well! Though am lacking in certain hospital-related vocabulary, which I had never needed before. At least in Wisconsin I have cousins who could speak up for me. All this wouldn’t have bothered me at a younger age, but now as I press 70 years old, it is becoming more important. Just my two cents’ worth,

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whidden39
2/15/2019 07:05 EST

Here's a specific, firsthand situation at Villa Lucia Hospital in Conversano, Puglia. Fantastic hospital, caring staff, state of the art facility, and comprehensive follow-up care for my achilles tendon operation. This is a private hospital but I was able to use my Sanitaria card to cover everything because my GP has a relationship with the hospital and the surgeon. The surgeon even traveled to my local GP's office for follow up care and physical therapy progress. All went well and I recovered as expected.

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foxwhite1
2/15/2019 07:14 EST

Everyone has a 'story' to tell about a good or bad experience they know about in a hospital, not only in Italy but the US.

This statement, "I beg to differ with you about Southern patients flooding the Northern hospitals" is simply an opinion. I could easily state that Canadiens, who supposedly have a good social medicine program 'flood' US hospitals as there are number of them who regularly visits hospital in the Florida where i currently live. What's that statement based on, but my experience, not any real statistics. Does that mean there are not good hospitals in Canada? Hardly! Lets look at some facts provided by the EU Commission on Health.

Amenable mortality - in Italy remains one of the lowest in EU countries, suggesting that the health care system is effective in treating people with life-threatening conditions.

Life expectancy - at birth in Italy is the second
highest among EU countries. At 82.7 years, life expectancy at birth in Italy is the second highest in the EU (after Spain) and two years longer than the EU average

Italy’s health care system provides universal coverage, largely free of charge at the point of service.

The health workforce grew steadily over the past decade. Figure 7 shows that the ratio of doctors to population (3.8 per 1000 population) is higher than the EU average (3.6).

The role of nurses is currently being strengthened in Italy, especially with regard to the management of chronic care patients and the introduction of nurse-led
professional groups in primary care.

Low amenable mortality rates suggest that the Italian health care system is generally effective
Mortality from conditions that are considered amenable to medical treatment can be used as a general measure of health care system performance7. The relatively low rates of amenable mortality in Italy suggest that the Italian health care system is effective in dealing with life-threatening conditions, such as ischaemic heart disease, stroke and breast, cervical and other treatable cancers, with relatively low mortality rates for both men and women (Figure 8). Moreover, amenable mortality rates trended downward over the past decade.

A strong acute care sector contributes to low death rates from cardiovascular diseases
Indicators of quality of care suggest a generally good performance of hospitals in saving the lives of people, although variations arise across regions and hospitals. Deaths following admission for acute myocardial infarction (AMI, the main form of ischaemic heart diseases) are the lowest among EU countries reporting these data, with only 7.6 deaths per 100 admissions in 2015 (Figure 9). This progress in reducing mortality reflects a range of factors, such as more timely transportation to hospital and more effective medical interventions. Similarly, mortality rates from stroke came down and were among the lowest in Europe in 2015.

Despite low screening rates, cancer survival is among the highest in the EU

Preventable mortality has been reduced through public health policies targeted at tackling risky behaviours
Death rates from many preventable causes of mortality have also reduced in Italy, due, at least partly, to public health policies aimed at reducing these risk factors.

The complete report is viewable at the link below. One will see that there are also challenges the Italian Healthcare systems faces, as do all nation's medical care, but overall, this report paints a positve picture, in my opinion of the state of Italian healtcare. But just as in the US, one needs to do their due diligence as well as being their own patient advocate. If a hospital or doctor has a bad reputation then by all means find another hospital or go to another doctor, if possible.

http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/355985/Health-Profile-Italy-Eng.pdf?ua=1

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almare2
2/15/2019 07:23 EST

foxwhite1, what you say is true, but in my case and also that of my friend’s father-in-law, the emergency room at the hospital in Avezzano was the only one available. No choice there. Also, I think the long life expectancy and so on are due more to lifestyle factors, eating habits, family support, and the like than to the medical care available. But we can agree to disagree! I still would rather be in a place where I have family support. I know a couple of the people who have been writing on this thread are also alone, so I just wanted to give my perspective on being so.

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whidden39
2/15/2019 07:25 EST

Another recent firsthand medical experience: Miulli Hopsital, Acquaviva delle Fonti, Puglia. State financed hospital, but run by the Vatican (the patient's religious affiliation is irrelevant and it's not staffed by nuns if that makes a difference). This hospital is also state-of-the-art and was built 12 years ago. It enjoys an excellent reputation in this region. If you are an expat you may get some extra attention -- at least that's how it felt to me. Everyone was very accommodating and welcoming and I got a little more help when they realized my Italian wasn't up to technical medical terms. I had a radical prostatectomy to address cancer in the organ. The surgeon specialized in robotic surgery which is the preferred method in the US. My surgeon also trains doctors in the procedure at hospitals all over Italy and Europe. My surgery went very well and my follow up indicated there is no cancer remaining in my body. I am confident that my care was as good as say, Mass General (where my brother had the same operation) or Beth Israel Hospital in my native Boston.

Go to the websites of the Miulli Hospital in Acquaviva delle Fonti or Villa Lucia in Conversano. These two facilities would compete well with any hospital in the north of Italy. Maluza86 is right; you can't make sweeping generalizations about care in the south.

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Sergios
2/15/2019 07:49 EST

To trivialize the discussion, Americans are not used to going to a supermarket and having to bag their own groceries. The same applies to hospitals.

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whidden39
2/15/2019 08:04 EST

Foxwhite: You mentioned success with ischaemic stroke in Italy. That was my first medical intervention soon after I arrived in Italy! This was a different experience form the other two hospitals I mentioned in other recent posts. I needed immediate care and no advance research was possible. I was taken to San Giacomo Hospital in Monopoli, Puglia. The contrast here was with the ancient bricks and mortar, which was unsettling at first. There was an excess of religious icons for this public facility (should I pose as a devout Catholic?) and 'inspirational' posters including the one that showed the medical stages of life with the senior stage showing someone in a wheelchair. LOL I shared a room with two others, an ancient fellow and a teenager. I was awakened each morning by the disinfectant brigade who were OCD about germs. Floors mopped every day too. That covers housekeeping matters. BUT, my care was excellent, Behind the scenes in the procedure and exam rooms, I was pleasantly impressed to witness modern equipment and cleanliness. I did go by ambulance to another hospital for one of the scans I needed. Doctors visited each morning, all protocols followed (I checked with my GP in Boston), attentive and friendly staff. They kept me for 10 days even though I only had some residual nerve damage. That was reassuring for my condition. I find that hospitals in Italy emphasize stabilization and observation before sending you home. That wouldn't happen in the US these days.

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whidden39
2/15/2019 08:10 EST

On another medical note, I only availed myself of a dentist in Italy in the past year. A good referral from my GP here whose brother is a dentist in the same building. Keep it in the family. I am so far happy with my care. Was impressed with the machine that encased by feet/shoes before I was to get near the dental chair. All very modern, very clean. Prices were surprisingly reasonable for full xrays and routine care.

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foxwhite1
2/15/2019 08:17 EST

I agree, family support is crucial, however the topic, or so i thought was the horrible state of Italian hospitals, and the preponderance of Southerns heading north for health care.

Lifestyle is definitely a factor but the report does point out the high incidence of survival, vis-à-vis other EU nations. I don't think we disagree. At the end of the day, we all take a chance when seeking critical healthcare. Even the best of hospitals or doctors get it wrong sometimes. Good luck to you....

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thefountain
2/15/2019 08:33 EST

Good point. Thank you.

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thefountain
2/15/2019 08:51 EST

Thank you all for sharing their experiences. It eases my mind after reading the articles about the problems in the hospitals in Italy.
Best of health to all of you and your families.

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almare2
2/15/2019 09:10 EST

I guess my point was that if I’m going to have a bad experience in hospital in any country, I would rather have it where I have backup. I was not thrilled with my experience as a patient or my observations as a visitor (another whole story) at the hospital in Avezzano. If you had seen the X-ray machine there, you would laugh! I’m glad everyone else has had positive experiences. :-)

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almare2
2/15/2019 15:00 EST

I guess also that what I wanted to say, for the benefit of the other singles with no Italian family on the thread, is that even if the hospital care is good, I wouldn't want to be admitted for a stay without some sort of backup. So I'm not really so sad about not meeting the financial requirements for the ER visa/pds for Italy. Also, my mental comparisons are not only with US hospitals but hospitals in Denmark (where I used to live and where I spoke the language very well) and Sweden (where I have friends), and I find the hospitals in both those countries to be much more modern and well equipped than those in Italy--or rather, I should say, in Avezzano. In addition, a number of surrounding hospitals and departments have recently been closed, and the hospital in Avezzano is very overburdened with patients, resulting in long waits for both emergency care and procedures, even for certain preventive exams. I do have a friend in Rome whose elderly mother had a stroke, and he said she got very prompt and good hospital care (at the Gemelli, I think), as well as good follow-up care. Of course his sister, her daughter, was with her most of the time, which helped with the mental stress. I guess the quality of care really depends on where in Italy you are, maybe not so much north/south as city/hinterlands. :-)

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almare2
2/15/2019 15:00 EST

I guess also that what I wanted to say, for the benefit of the other singles with no Italian family on the thread, is that even if the hospital care is good, I wouldn't want to be admitted for a stay without some sort of backup. So I'm not really so sad about not meeting the financial requirements for the ER visa/pds for Italy. Also, my mental comparisons are not only with US hospitals but hospitals in Denmark (where I used to live and where I spoke the language very well) and Sweden (where I have friends), and I find the hospitals in both those countries to be much more modern and well equipped than those in Italy--or rather, I should say, in Avezzano. In addition, a number of surrounding hospitals and departments have recently been closed, and the hospital in Avezzano is very overburdened with patients, resulting in long waits for both emergency care and procedures, even for certain preventive exams. I do have a friend in Rome whose elderly mother had a stroke, and he said she got very prompt and good hospital care (at the Gemelli, I think), as well as good follow-up care. Of course his sister, her daughter, was with her most of the time, which helped with the mental stress. I guess the quality of care really depends on where in Italy you are, maybe not so much north/south as city/hinterlands. :-)

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Shtinky
2/16/2019 06:12 EST

Actually backup when being admitted to the hospital here is crucial. The nurses provide medical care. Take blood, administer meds, take pulse, bring bedpan. But that’s ALL they do. They do not provide, or bring water. Or ice. Or a way to wash up. The hospital doesn’t provide or sell crutches, walkers etc. The hospital generally expect family members to be there for basic care and needs. I was in the hospital last year and my roommate’s husband spent every night on a cot with her. I also saw other people walking down the halls with their cots in the morning. It is expected. So if you come here with no family and no friends and you have to go in the hospital you are in trouble. You need to have friends, family, a network to help you. You can’t go it alone,

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miki184
2/16/2019 08:05 EST

Absolutely true! It happened to me. After being in the hospital for approximately 3 weeks or so I commented to a friend that I never had a wash (I was bedridden) and she laughed saying the nurses don't do that, your family does....oh ??! Single people be warned!

P.S.: I believe you can hire someone to help you. A friend told me I could find work doing that when I was unemployed. From what I understand however it will cost you a pretty penny.

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miki184
2/16/2019 08:05 EST

Absolutely true! It happened to me. After being in the hospital for approximately 3 weeks or so I commented to a friend that I never had a wash (I was bedridden) and she laughed saying the nurses don't do that, your family does....oh ??! Single people be warned!

P.S.: I believe you can hire someone to help you. A friend told me I could find work doing that when I was unemployed. From what I understand however it will cost you a pretty penny.

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almare2
2/16/2019 12:37 EST

miki184, so sorry that happened to you! Thanks to you and Shtinky for clarifying. That was my impression as a visitor to a patient in a hospital, but I didn't know the details. Worse than I'd thought, even!

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isabella7
2/17/2019 04:15 EST

I had surgery two weeks ago in Florence, with a 2 night hospital stay. Even though there were some positives (clean room, comfortable bed, toilet paper) I would say overall that my experience was negative and that it is giving me pause about the thought of growing old here and relying on the health care system. I agree with others that you can have good and bad medical care anywhere, I myself had a couple of bad experiences with doctors in the US and have had a very good experience here with a doctor in Bologna. But the lack of information provided to me was glaring (it wasn't a language barrier, my surgeon speaks fluent English) and as I continue in the healing process I'm thinking it's possible I may have to return to the US to have my previous doctor there examine me to see if "things look right" or to "fix" something that was not done correctly. Time will tell.

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Napol01
2/17/2019 04:33 EST

My husband & I purchased private health insurance with Allianz, we are also in the SSN. Would the quality of service be any different in a private hospital than at a public hospital or would it be the same. Has anyone been admitted to a private hospital with their own insurance plan and if so I would like to hear about your experience.
Like bagging your own groceries in a store in Italy is this something that is unheard or not part of their job description for nurses or staff of a hospital in Italy to assist one in bathing, keeping a patient hydrated all day with refilling the pitcher of water or changing the bed linens when needed?
Luckily, we have never been admitted to a hospital or have had to go to ER but want tp be prepared.

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whidden39
2/17/2019 04:58 EST

Isabelka7: I do agree with your observations about doctors just not telling you enough. Patients do not appear ‘empowered’ here and there is an attitude that the doctor shouldn’t burden you with needless details. This is in sharp contrast to my GP in the US who I still use to validate everything going on here in Italy. So far, so good on that point. I also educate myself about drugs, their side effects,, interactions, etc. using the best medical sites for info on my conditions so as to infuse myself into the process. But never admit to internet education. You do have to advocate for yourself and ask questions regardless. Go well prepared before your sessions with doctors. That helps me stay focused. I find a lot of our discomfort is in the service delivery style of our health care professionals in Italy. And I do think most of that is cultural. While nearly all my medical care is in Italy now, I still maintain contacts and backup resources in the States. Over the past four years of unexpected, but considerable, challenges, my needs have been satisfied well in Italy.

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HenryGiovanni
4/8/2019 13:01 EST

Hi Maryanne,
We lost track of you! I hope all has turned around for you. What happened? Where are you? We all want to hear the happy ending to your story. Or did I miss it?
Cheers, John.

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rsetzer99
4/8/2019 14:00 EST

My wife and I just had a lovely lunch in Pescara with Maryann and the puppies. I'll let her tell the story of ending up in Abruzzo.

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maluza86
4/8/2019 14:02 EST

That’s awesome :-)

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maradel
4/9/2019 08:12 EST

Ciao a tutti! Yes, as Ray indicated, things are starting to fall into place for me! I gave up on Lucca: troppo caro and no decent places to rent for a person with ewoks, I mean pekingeses. But mainly, I only recently learned about the tax break for new residents in Italy and quickly changed my priorities about where I should try to live so that I could take advantage of that. As much as I was beating myself up for not pre-arranging my residenza prior to coming to Italy, it actually worked out in my favor.

I still love Lucca and I'm glad to be spending a couple months here, but I'm also glad that I won't be in Lucca this summer. It's already getting too crowded with tourists for me. Abruzzo is beautiful, mostly unspoiled by tourism and hoards of summer visitors. The mountains are as spectacular as anything I saw in Colorado, and the sea is just an hour or so away, which is not the case in Colorado.

I found an apartment that is small (my preference), cozy, no stairs, with a well-kept yard and gardens for my dogs (and me!) to enjoy. It's within walking distance of daily necessities. My landlord is a very interesting and friendly British guy who is fluent in Italian, so I'll have some help, most importantly, in getting my residency established, and necessary things that follow on to that, like health care.

I don't know how these things happen, but I was just about to make a bad decision on an apartment in Lucca that would have been difficult and depressing to live in when I stumbled across a link to an article on the new tax regime. Many people here and on FaceBook have been so helpful in getting me redirected and finding that apartment in Abruzzo! My trip last week was tiring but it's a relief to finally have a place where I can establish residency.

I have another 3 wks in Lucca and then head to Abruzzo!

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codybrandy
4/9/2019 08:48 EST

Wow MaryAnne, what a turnaround...I'm so happy for you! I'm sure the time in Lucca was well spent but it looks like you might have found a real 'home'. Buona Fortuna! Keep exploring and stay happy...best to the 'ewoks'...Troy W.

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almare2
4/9/2019 08:54 EST

Where in Abruzzo are you exactly? I often spend time in Avezzano.

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dgraziano528
4/9/2019 08:55 EST

Hello! I’ve been reading about your journey the past few months and find it interesting that you are now in Abruzzo! I have visited Roseto degli Abruzzi and Pescara several times over the past few years and really love the area and people. I am in the process of obtaining dual citizenship and seriously considering moving to one of the two cities (or nearby cities) in a few years. It would be most helpful if you could share any experiences with regards to renting, utilities, neighborhoods (especially in Pescara) etc...also please feel free to PM me. It’s been difficult to find expats in those areas to talk with so I was very excited to hear you are there! Thank you and I look forward to learning more!

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maluza86
4/9/2019 08:56 EST

Wow! That is absolutely fabulous MaryAnne. Resiliency pays off. I am so glad for you and your pups!

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HenryGiovanni
4/9/2019 13:49 EST

Hi Maryanne,
Great news! I'm glad that you've finally found where you needed to be, and wish you all the best for the future.

But . . . what happened to the school in Todi? Not that it matters now, but just curious. And I think I must have missed the part about winding up in Lucca.

Sounds like you did the "adapt, improvise, overcome" bit just fine! I hope the Abruzzo is kind to you and the Pekes. Again, I'm really glad to hear that things worked out for you. A bit of sunshine on a rainy day.
Cheers, John.

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2amilano
4/9/2019 15:14 EST

Can you provide information on the new tax regime you mentioned?

thanks!

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maradel
4/9/2019 15:56 EST

John, I guess I've been going in so many directions, I forgot what I posted here and what's been in emails.
Todi...not my favorite place, although not Todi's fault. It was a difficult place to be with breathing problems. So much smoke! My eyes burned the whole time. Having pneumonia in that kind of environment was not a pleasure. Plus, everything is salire and scendere. And as I mentioned to someone else, some Italians seem to favor what I call "hair shirt" mattresses. I might as well have been sleeping on a slab of rock, and after 15 orthopedic surgeries, it was just not a good experience. I was so sleep deprived, I did not learn any more Italian at the school there than I already knew.

As my Todi experience was winding up, several people suggested that I go to Lucca, another beautiful and ancient city, but one with a completely different personality. Lucca is like a carnival compared to Todi, and people seem on average much happier there. I found a B&B right in centro storico to rent for a couple months because my original plan was to find an apartment establish residency there. However, although it seems like everyone in Lucca has a dog, no one wants to rent to someone with a dog, let alone 3 dogs. A few places outside of the walls came available, but none of them felt right.

So that was the situation, in brief, when I came across the article describing the new tax regime for new residents in Italy. It started Jan 1, 2019 and you have to establish residency in a town with less than 20,000 people in Abruzzo, southern Italy, Sicily, or Sardinia.. So I just made a quick decision to change my plans of where to live, and with help and advice of a number of people from FaceBook and, especially, Ray from this group, I made a quick trip to Abruzzo and found an apartment there. I also got to meet Ray and Heidi, who will be my Abruzzo neighbors after I move!

As I've said elsewhere, I've been astonished at the kindness and generosity of people in this group and FaceBook groups! I've rarely experienced kindness like this, certainly not in the last 40 years. It's interesting that I had to leave the US to find kind Americans!

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maradel
4/9/2019 15:56 EST

John, I guess I've been going in so many directions, I forgot what I posted here and what's been in emails.
Todi...not my favorite place, although not Todi's fault. It was a difficult place to be with breathing problems. So much smoke! My eyes burned the whole time. Having pneumonia in that kind of environment was not a pleasure. Plus, everything is salire and scendere. And as I mentioned to someone else, some Italians seem to favor what I call "hair shirt" mattresses. I might as well have been sleeping on a slab of rock, and after 15 orthopedic surgeries, it was just not a good experience. I was so sleep deprived, I did not learn any more Italian at the school there than I already knew.

As my Todi experience was winding up, several people suggested that I go to Lucca, another beautiful and ancient city, but one with a completely different personality. Lucca is like a carnival compared to Todi, and people seem on average much happier there. I found a B&B right in centro storico to rent for a couple months because my original plan was to find an apartment establish residency there. However, although it seems like everyone in Lucca has a dog, no one wants to rent to someone with a dog, let alone 3 dogs. A few places outside of the walls came available, but none of them felt right.

So that was the situation, in brief, when I came across the article describing the new tax regime for new residents in Italy. It started Jan 1, 2019 and you have to establish residency in a town with less than 20,000 people in Abruzzo, southern Italy, Sicily, or Sardinia.. So I just made a quick decision to change my plans of where to live, and with help and advice of a number of people from FaceBook and, especially, Ray from this group, I made a quick trip to Abruzzo and found an apartment there. I also got to meet Ray and Heidi, who will be my Abruzzo neighbors after I move!

As I've said elsewhere, I've been astonished at the kindness and generosity of people in this group and FaceBook groups! I've rarely experienced kindness like this, certainly not in the last 40 years. It's interesting that I had to leave the US to find kind Americans!

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maradel
4/9/2019 15:56 EST

John, I guess I've been going in so many directions, I forgot what I posted here and what's been in emails.
Todi...not my favorite place, although not Todi's fault. It was a difficult place to be with breathing problems. So much smoke! My eyes burned the whole time. Having pneumonia in that kind of environment was not a pleasure. Plus, everything is salire and scendere. And as I mentioned to someone else, some Italians seem to favor what I call "hair shirt" mattresses. I might as well have been sleeping on a slab of rock, and after 15 orthopedic surgeries, it was just not a good experience. I was so sleep deprived, I did not learn any more Italian at the school there than I already knew.

As my Todi experience was winding up, several people suggested that I go to Lucca, another beautiful and ancient city, but one with a completely different personality. Lucca is like a carnival compared to Todi, and people seem on average much happier there. I found a B&B right in centro storico to rent for a couple months because my original plan was to find an apartment establish residency there. However, although it seems like everyone in Lucca has a dog, no one wants to rent to someone with a dog, let alone 3 dogs. A few places outside of the walls came available, but none of them felt right.

So that was the situation, in brief, when I came across the article describing the new tax regime for new residents in Italy. It started Jan 1, 2019 and you have to establish residency in a town with less than 20,000 people in Abruzzo, southern Italy, Sicily, or Sardinia.. So I just made a quick decision to change my plans of where to live, and with help and advice of a number of people from FaceBook and, especially, Ray from this group, I made a quick trip to Abruzzo and found an apartment there. I also got to meet Ray and Heidi, who will be my Abruzzo neighbors after I move!

As I've said elsewhere, I've been astonished at the kindness and generosity of people in this group and FaceBook groups! I've rarely experienced kindness like this, certainly not in the last 40 years. It's interesting that I had to leave the US to find kind Americans!

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maradel
4/9/2019 16:05 EST

Thank you everyone for the well-wishes!!

Almare, my new apartment is right outside of Pretoro, about 116 Km east of Avezzano

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maradel
4/9/2019 16:15 EST

2amilano, Here's a link to an article describing it:

https://www.altenburger.ch/current/newsletter/new-italian-tax-regime-for-retired-people-abroad/?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

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maradel
4/9/2019 16:15 EST

2amilano, Here's a link to an article describing it:

https://www.altenburger.ch/current/newsletter/new-italian-tax-regime-for-retired-people-abroad/?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

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almare2
4/9/2019 17:19 EST

That sounds lovely! Though not so close to me, especially as I don't drive. I wish you all the best in your new home!

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HenryGiovanni
4/13/2019 16:27 EST

Hi Maryanne,
For some reason I did not get this post in my e-mail. ??? I was casually wasting time and came across it in this post only because I was looking for that "new tax regime" that excludes me, apparently. Nuts. But good that I came across your post. Sometimes my e-mail doesn't get posts, for some reason or another that is beyond my personal comprehension.

So OK, that explains a lot. But why was Todi so smoky? Factories? Pollution? Burning last year's agri-waste? I can understand the ups-and-downs of hill country (says the guy who lives on the plains!), but some folks live for that (not me, after the SoCal canyons everywhere) and that's fine so far as it goes.

But Lucca?? That's a bit of travel right there. And to a massive tourist magnet. I lived for many years in a "massive tourist magnet"; never again, if I have my way. Sooner or later the regular folks get weird, putting on airs and stuff. Or they get out, like I did. It was too much like Disneyland (Anaheim original) for me; one can visit for a day but never wants to live there.

So now you are down in Avezzano? I wanted to move to Abruzzo when we decided to move here, but my wife wanted to move near to her brother. I thought coming from CA to ANYWHERE in Italy would be fine; she said "Down the block!". We are within a 10-minute walk from her brother's house. Fine with me, but I spent a lot of time looking "anywhere in Italy" because it was closer to her brother than CA. In all fairness, my geographical ignorance of local comunes and etc exacerbated the problem, even once we'd gotten here. But that's just life, and one deals with it, as, apparently, you did.

It's been awhile (50 yrs?) since I passed through the Abruzzo. But it looked nice to me when viewed online. And closer to my previous latitude of 32 degrees. I'm now at 45, but like the change in seasons; SoCal had none of that, and one loses track of Time. The years slip past without distraction from weather. Some call that "heaven"; I know otherwise.

Not to be mean-spirited, but I have the medal for the 1915 earthquake in Avezzano, that killed so many. Look it up. I've lived through many earthquakes in San Diego over the last 50 yrs. Things move. Keep a bit of extra water and food on hand, because gold won't buy them when it comes. Plan sensibly.

I hope the Ewoks like it down there; I'm sure they will be happy to have a regular home. Your rental sounds like a good fit.

Best of luck to you, and let us know how it all turns out. This is Life, and we are all watching "your movie".
Cheers, John.

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almare2
4/13/2019 17:52 EST

Hi, John,

I'm the one who's in Avezzano (sometimes). Maryanne is in Abruzzo but about 100 km from there. :-)

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maradel
4/13/2019 17:58 EST

Hi John,
Where to start!? It has been pure dumb luck that I managed to not get that tax thing screwed up, because I've been trying to rent apartments (in the wrong places) for weeks and the deals kept falling through at the last minute. You'd think that after talking with 2 commercialisti over the last several months, someone would have mentioned the new tax deal, but nope, I just stumbled on the information by accident.

Well, I've given up believing that things happen "by accident", and these events, in particular, seemed almost scripted. Maybe my guardian angel was actually on the job this time, instead of hanging out in some bar yukking it up with his buds.

Todi: at least 2 sources of smoke. old wood burning fireplaces in those close-together buildings and not even a breeze to dissipate the smoke, and olive farmers burning stuff. Really awful.

Lucca: I went to Lucca for many wrong reasons and some right ones. If I had visited Lucca NOW for the first time, or worse, in the summer, I would have run away screaming. But I went in February and it seemed very nice, almost tranquil. Italians freeze to death unless it's at least 80 F outside, so they must have all been indoors, and tourists tend to not come to Italy in February. Now I can't wait to leave and it's only April!! Hoards of tourists traveling in packs led by tour leaders shouting at them about this or that church. The streets are so packed in the afternoon that it's dangerous to walk. Teenagers anxious for the school year to be finished are zooming around the streets and on top of the wall on their bikes.

For someone who has spent most of the last 25 yrs in small mountain communities, this is major stress! But it's ok. I had an enjoyable few weeks here, appreciating the medieval feel of the town, the history, the architecture, shopping in the small markets, sampling different food... I didn't do any of that in Todi because I felt so sick the whole time I was there.

I might have tried to stay around the Lucca area because I was so stressed about the residency issue, that's all I was thinking about. But I'm glad I got over to Abruzzo. It's beautiful. Pretoro has just enough mountain feel to be comfortable, but I don't ever want to live at 2600 meters above sea level again, like where my last house was. Not enough oxygen for me.

Earthquakes and landslides are not a good thing, though. I was completely set up for long power outages in Colorado--generator, wood stove, water cistern, all kinds of survival stuff. If power goes out in Pretoro, I'll probably just leave (if possible) until it comes back on. I don't have any interest in re-accumulating all that survival gear.

I suspect I will continue my trend of moving every 2 yrs, on average, at least until I'm too old. I have wanderlust, I guess, and now I have all of Europe to explore, not just Italy! I may surprise myself and grow some roots--I'm certainly tired enough right now that I just want to park myself-- but the trend for the last 50 yrs, at least, has not been to grow roots. Who knows?? Having to survive on grant money for many decades made me a hyper-planner while I was working. I nearly died in a car accident 20+ years ago. I got back to work and continued the high stress grant survival mode, but it seemed kind of pointless. Like "what? I managed to claw myself out of the grave for this??" I'm sick of it. I'd like to let the rest of my life unfold in whatever way it does.

My little ewok doggies were so happy today because we didn't walk on the wall. We walked around the city just outside the wall, where there's grass. they got to walk, without the risk of being trampled or run over by bikes! Something so simple made them so happy. We could all learn about life from dogs.

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HenryGiovanni
4/14/2019 07:29 EST

Hi Almare2,
Ooops. I just looked them up on the map and see Pretoro is, as you say, about 111km almost due East of Avezzano. Maybe I'll make it down there one day.
Cheers, John.

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HenryGiovanni
4/14/2019 08:12 EST

Hi Maradel,
Wow. You are right; nothing happens by accident. You are where you were meant to be at this time, for reasons we can't possibly know. Glad to hear that it is a place you will like, at least for awhile.

I've not been to Lucca (that I remember), but have heard of the crowds. I grow less fond of crowds as I get older. Seems like Italy has 3 cities when viewed from America: Roma, Firenze, and Venezia. Of course, Lucca and Pisa are day trips for tourists in Firenze, as is Siena.

Up here, the hordes go straight for Venezia, bypassing me. I was in Venezia on June 2 (Festa della Republicca) a few years back, and it was absolutely terrible. Like you said, hard to walk in a straight line for more than about 5 feet. Venezia is a city of bottlenecks (bridges); I'm sure you can imagine how that works out. Plus, prices are outrageous unless you get far-off-track. But, all that said, one should go to Venezia at least once in a lifetime; it is a beautiful city.

So I looked up Pretoro: seems like a small town (989 inhabitants!!) on a mountainside. Going to be interesting. Looks like some up-and-downs, too. At least there should be a breeze coming through. And it looks like a place that the pups will love. Let us know how you like it after you've been there a bit. Finish up "The Rest of the Story".
Cheers, John.

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thefountain
4/21/2019 09:16 EST

Hi. Well I have been reading everyone's posts. And just came back from three weeks with my family in Italy. And I made a decision. A decision I didn't think I would make. After hearing about the health care system, the bank problems and the post office problems I decided the freedom i have in America is important.
Yes Italy is beautiful and my cousins are important to me. but freedom of what doctor I want to go to, and not have crazy taxes on money from America is part if my freedom.
I would like your take on this as well as anyone's take as I may be missing something.
Happy Easter/Passover to everyone.
Sunshine

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whidden39
4/21/2019 10:33 EST

You did the right thing. You contemplated your plans during an extended stay in Italy while you derived first hand, qualified input from this forum. You assessed your tolerances without being blinded by overly romantic sentiments about Italy. Your decision to pass on your idea of moving to Italy was apparently well informed and responsible. I am spending some time over Easter in my native Boston and have come to realize how much my proud city is changing. The cost of living is through the roof and there is much too much traffic everywhere at all hours of the day. I don’t enjoy eating out here anymore. My stomach has been very angry since I got here. I can’t wait to get back to my peaceful, healthy, slow pace of life in beautiful Puglia. But that’s me.

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maradel
4/21/2019 10:51 EST

Since I started this discussion, I"ll go ahead and answer... I'm sure those who have been in Italy longer than I have can speak to this better than I can, but here goes.

It's important to be realistic, but if the struggle is not interesting to you, then you shouldn't come. Living in Italy is not a vacation. I've had nothing but problems since I've gotten here, but I wouldn't go back to the US for any amount of money. I suspect that I'll continue to have problems, but that will be no different from the first 65 years of my life. In Italy there are different problems, or there are the same problems in different conditions. Life.

Moving to a new country, a new culture, is a growth experience. For me it's a chance to extend myself, challenge myself, become a different person in ways I can't predict. It's effing hard. But that's the purpose of life.

Italy is full of problems. Everywhere there are human beings you will find problems. We tend to become complacent with the problems we're used to; that's why they persist!

I've found kindness and help from total strangers. I am learning to let people help me. I am learning to ask for help. I am learning to say I don't know how to do ... whatever it is that I don't know how to do. I'm learning that a 4 year old Italian knows more about Italy and can speak better Italian than I do. I'm learning to be more humble, not that I am usually arrogant, but having 2 doctorates can make one just a bit over the top sometimes. My ego has been pounded into the ground here. Good!

None of this is "fun". None of this is easy. I didn't come to Italy expecting fun and ease, so I'm not shocked. What is kind of interesting is stepping outside of myself and watching myself twisting in the wind.

I have heard the same litany of struggle from others, not just Americans. No one I've talked to wants to go back. Just the opposite! They love Italy!

Medical: I had pretty good medical insurance in the US, but I sure couldn't go to ANY doctor I wanted to and expect the costs to be covered. My out of pocket medical expenses in the US were $15,000 - $20.000/year for about the last 10 years. Those were mostly for "covered" medical expenses (and insurance premiums). On the other hand, you can go to any doc you want to in Italy. You pay out of pocket...a huge amount LESS than you would pay in the US, but lots of people here do that. I paid 120E for a CT scan of my lungs. Do you know how insanely cheap that is compared to the US???

Taxes: Taxes pay for useful things in Italy, like making sure that everyone has good healthcare. That's why Italy is ranked 2 or 3 in the world in healthcare while the US is something like 35th. Italy isn't spending money inciting wars and causing misery around the globe. Maybe some people don't care about that, but I do. Italy has now put in place some great tax incentives for new residents, but even if I weren't planning to take advantage of that, I'd still come out way ahead because of the huge reduction in my medical expenses and cost of living.

Post Office: I can't speak to this issue, since the only problems I've had at the Ufficio Postale were because of my pathetic Italian. You can now make appointments online, but I have no idea if that works well. I will say that I have waited in line at US post offices close to an hour just to mail stuff.

One thing I've been told over and over again is that there is no "Italy". There is a collection of comuni. Conditions, rules, laws, customs, language/dialect, whatever, can differ markedly from one to another, even within the same province! So if you think you know what the situation is in "Italy", you assuredly don't. It's a mysterious, crazy country. It's not the US.

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foxwhite1
4/21/2019 11:08 EST

Very well said, Maradel!

Making such a life-changing move requires a ton of courage, because it is so easy to simply fall back into our everyday patterns which feel safe. Much like relationship which are kept alive, simply because 'change is hard' and even though we may be unhappy, the fear of the unknown keeps us locked into what we know, even if we are unhappy. Men and women are capable of coming up with dozens of excuses or rationalizations for not doing something, but being pulled out of our comfort zone opens up so many new and unforeseen opportunities to live and grow.

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whidden39
4/21/2019 11:10 EST

Well said, Maradel. I identify with most of what you said here. Having your ego bruised (but enlightened) and the micro element of Italian society, the comuni, were spot on.

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thefountain
4/21/2019 14:34 EST

Thank you all for input. I appreciate hearing from everyone.
Yes every move presents challenges. But I don't understand how the post office asks for proof to withdraw your money before they give it to you. Isn't a person's money there for whenever you want to use it without proving the expenditure.

What is the magic Italy has that makes people say they wouldn't move back to where they once lived.
I don't mind reconsidering my decision if I had a grasp on the life in Italy. So why wouldn't any of you leave Italy?

Thank you . Sunshine

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codybrandy
4/21/2019 14:58 EST

Dear 'Fountain" You're best bet might be to become better acquainted with the one area you feel is right for you. Stay as long as you can for a number of visits. Meet potential neighbors, work on your language, get to really know the comune that you pick, make some friends and check into how many ex-pats are in the area. Maradel has some very good points. Our area in Liguria has wonderful hospitals and drs...and yes if you need to you can choose your own Dr. The price for healthcare is outstanding...i.e. 7E for each refill of Rx...try to buy aspirin for that price. But, bottom line you have to WANT it badly enough because there will be hassles. Maybe just visiting is your best bet. If you are not in the super tourist area you can find wonderful apts. to rent for a pittance. If you are on a good train line you might not even need a car. Don't do anything without investigating...not just hearsay but seeing for yourself. Good Luck

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foxwhite1
4/21/2019 15:15 EST

I am not sure where you bank in the US but my bank, Wells Fargo (and my previous bank PNC), asks for ID before cashing a check/withdrawing monies. The only time that does not happen is when a particular teller gets to know you over a period of time. Nothing unique about that experience in Italy. Seems to me you have already made up your mind and probably were looking for reasons to not stay or you had very unrealistic expectations. If waiting in line, being asked for ID or any of the other possible daily irritants are enough for you to change you decision then you should, by all means stay in the US. What you will be missing, and what keeps so many here, you will never know.

Just saying.....

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HenryGiovanni
4/21/2019 15:23 EST

Hi Sunshine,
First, Happy Easter Sunday to you and yours (and to all other readers here, too).

Next, I'll repeat: whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you are right.

So it is no up to me to judge your decision. But since you asked, I will say that, in my opinion, life is what one makes of it, regardless of geographical location.

I'm with Whidden39 on making a decision without undue sentiment. Here or there, somebody still has to take out the trash, clean the toilets, and wash the dishes, though hopefully not in that order! Life here isn't all sitting in cafes and sipping spritzes. It comes down to lots of really hard work.

I further agree with his assessment of life "there" and life "here": far too expensive and way too many cars. I came out of Southern CA, down at the border, so add in all the border problems to boot.

My opinion of banks and post offices hasn't changed one bit. As for doctors, I had Kaiser, which, 'pon reflection, really didn't do much for me anyway, though the cost for premiums was what I would call excessive. All Kaiser ever did was take tests (more costs) and tell me to come back some other time, but regularly, of course (that cost business again). I left in Dec 2017; in Jan 2018 my family premiums were going to increase to 50% of our combined SS. That's just stupid, and I was glad to tell them to take a hike.

Why stay here? Cost of living is far cheaper, and quality of life is much better. I am no longer a slave to either work or a mortgage, living solely on SS, which ain't much, by the way. I like walking through history instead of last-year's newly-built skyscrapers overlooking endless homeless encampments everywhere in their shadows. I now volunteer my time at a local historical museum, something that was just impossible back in CA, where every minute was spent chasing another dollar in order to just get by without ever getting ahead. I gave up "getting ahead" without losing a minute of sleep. Now my time is my own, as is my life.

Hoops to jump through? Sure, just like CA, only less of them and the people behind the desks are nicer than that woman at the DMV who's been there way too long to be of any use to anyone who needs assistance from a public servant.

Taxes? Just like Death; unavoidable, though mine are now less thanks to leaving CA, where every election meant more taxes and less rights. But wait! That's not all! They can raise your taxes without an election if they just call them a "user fee" or some other such nonsense! And we don't need no steenking constitutional rights; I remember when UC Berkeley was actually proud to be a free-speech campus. It really wasn't that long ago. My, how things change.

I spent about 50 yrs in CA and will never return to live there (nor any of the East-coast cities where I lived). Just ain't gonna happen. CA was nice, once; a long time ago. Now it's the GroupThink capitol. Thanks, but I'll pass.

Remember this: an ebbing tide mires all boats.

Just my opinion.
Cheers, John.

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maradel
4/21/2019 17:22 EST

I don't understand this "problem" with the post office. Is someone feeding you fear-based information? If I go into any of my banks in the US to withdraw money, I will be asked for my picture ID. In Italy it took me a couple hours (because of my lack of language comprehension) to apply for and get a Poste card, basically a master card tied to my Postale account. I can use the card for many kinds of transactions (as long as there is cash in the account), including getting cash from the Ufficio Postale ATM. However, if I go inside and ask to withdraw money, I will be asked for my picture ID (passport) and fiscal code. No different in any way from the US.

If you're looking for magic in Italy, you won't find it. The magic has to be inside of you--you create it, you bring it with you. Or not. It's your choice. The magic is tied to desire--desire to grow, desire to learn, desire to experience something new, desire for more than your usual life. Italy doesn't have magic. It has opportunities for you to work your magic on.

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thefountain
4/21/2019 20:35 EST

Thank you maradel. My cousin told me, a native of Italy, tha t when he want to take out a large sum of money that he had to show proof of what he was using the money. He also told me that t hete is no interest on money keep in the account. Is this true in all cases?

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thefountain
4/21/2019 20:53 EST

Hi John,
Happy Easter to you as well.
First let me say I having been listening to your advice to others for over a year and that is what gave me the courage to visit my family for 3 weeks.

Where my family is from, small town outside of naples, the hospitals are not that great , as my family told me . But I hear in northern Italy the hospitals. I go to the doctor frequently because of my sinuses and allergies. My family tell me that sometimes they have to wait to get an appointment. In many cases I can't wait a week for an appointment.

The other problem is the taxes on money brought into Italy . I've been told taxes could be as high as 43%. This much higher than the U.S..

My point of moving to Italy is to be near to my family but the areas that interest me are at least 3 hours by car. My mind is spinning right now. I guess I need to learn more about alot of things.

I guess the other thing bothering me is that I am allergic to all the cheese in my cousin's town. I love cheese and have no problem in the U.S.. maybe it is how it is made locally.

Love your sayings as they are true.

Thank everyone for taking the time to write.
Sunshine

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thefountain
4/21/2019 20:57 EST

I actually like standing in line because I like speaking to people I don't know. If you read my other posts it's about withdrawal of money over a certain amount and being asked for proof of the a purchase .

(I had made up my mind to move but maybe I need more time)

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thefountain
4/21/2019 21:01 EST

Yes codybrand I believe that is what I need to do. visit until it all comes together in my mind.

Thank you to everyone.

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maluza86
4/22/2019 01:40 EST

Hello Sunshine,

A lot of great advice already on here from others so I will only add to the money/banking discussion.

i have CheBanca! and online Italian Bank. They do not charge any ATM fees within Italy or Internationally.

I can take out €1000 per day and €3000 per month as can my wife on here CheBanca bancomat cards. That's a total of €2000 per day and €6000 per month.

We also have a credit card that we can use for another €1000 per month. The credit card acts pretty much like a bank card. It charges the money and takes it out of my account automatically once a month.

In addition for major purchases you do a wire transfer to that person or businesses account, its called a "bonifico" and there are no fees associated with doing it, unless you need it expedited. Otherwise if bank to bank in Italy it's usually done by close of business on that day.

I just bought my wife a 2014 cinquecento convertible, paid €9000. I gave them €3000 cash, and €6000 bonifico. Put the downpayment down in cash on Tuesday, they got the car ready, I sent bonifico Tuesday afternoon, picked up the car Wednesday morning.

So there are really no issues. You can spend up to €3000 cash per transaction without any questions asked.

As you will find many businesses try to get around paying taxes by not showing all of the transaction and some will even ask to give you a cash register receipt for less than you paid for the service so they don't have to show the entire transaction.

It's called "Black Money" in Italy and it is still quite prevalent and very illegal.

But that is the reason Italy restricts the amount of a cash transaction and how much you can take out of your own account in cash per month.

Your money, however, is always there and you can transfer as much out as you like at any time to a different account (whether in the US or another country). You always have control of your money if that is the concern.

Let me know if you have any other questions and "in bocca al lupo" as you make your decision.

Ci vediamo presto in Italia.

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rsetzer99
4/22/2019 03:17 EST

Yes, banks in America are sensitive to larger withdrawals as well. It has to do with the anti money laundering rules. Italy has them as well. Tax rate --- "As high as" is the key phrase. Same as in America. Amounts over 75.000 EU are taxed at 43%. The bracket between 15.000 and 28.000 is 27%

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HenryGiovanni
4/22/2019 15:44 EST

Hi Sunshine,
Well, thanks for listening, but always remember that I pretend to no expertise: I'm just doing what needs to be done, mostly as it comes up (reactive vs proactive). Sometimes I dream that I'm a great planner and things always go as planned, but then I wake up and realize that other, higher, plans were made for my life..

On taxes: remember all the "hidden" taxes. I paid high housing in CA for perfect weather that wasn't "quite" as described. In exchange, a loaf of bread cost a small fortune, and don't even get me started on gas prices, which are the highest in the nation, as I recall, and if not, then certainly right up there at the top. The price of living in something that was continually called "Paradise" was rather steeper than the price of my current paradise, that nobody but me calls "Paradise". My wife just calls it "Home".

Inflation, brought to you by your beloved politicians, is the real hidden tax. The (contrived) inflation index "conveniently" omits housing, gas, and food, which, not coincidentally, happen to be the three biggest expenses for any person and/or family alive today. The index barely moves, but your family expenses always seem to keep going up (as the standard of living goes down, just like the old balance scales). The reason is because housing, food, and gas, if included in the index, would bankrupt the country overnight because SS and other benes are tied to the index. A steady wage in a rising "cost of living" = inflation, regardless of "official index" numbers that omit the truly important costs. Imagine (just for a minute) getting a 1400% monthly increase in your SS income because the index was suddenly tied to housing, food, and gas. Won't happen. One gets tired of all the BS. In the end, I voted with my feet, and have no regrets on that score. Which doesn't mean I live on Easy Street; only that I live on "Easy-er" Street. Figure it out.

On allergies: bring a multi-year stock of allergy meds with you and replenish as you re-visit. I take an over-the-counter medicine for my stomach. In the US, it cost rather more (6x!!!) than it did in Tijuana, where I bought it for the last ten years or so. When I came here, I brought almost two year's worth of supplies. The price was stupidly cheap, so why not? I was limited only by "use by" dates. I can't speak to mail-order meds, never having done it, but it seems like a good idea for OTC meds, if available.

Distance: OK, I lived in San Diego, and the nearest place to visit was LA. The 108-mile drive always took 3 hrs (!!!) due to traffic (whidden39 and Boston on that one). Las Vegas was a mere 5 hr drive, if one gambled. I don't gamble, least not with money, though this trip here was a huge gamble in other ways. See next para.

Gas: highest prices in the nation in a city with a port. ??? We have a car that runs on GPL (called "LPG" in the States, or propane everywhere else). Gas used to cost me $50/week/car, with at least 2 cars, sometimes 3, in CA. "Gas" here costs me about EU 10 or less per week, depending on how much I drive; sometimes it's that price for 2 weeks. Do the math; calculate the savings. I used to hate driving to LA, and so stayed at home or went on long road trips. Just how it is when one lives far from other places (or only near to places one doesn't want to visit!)

Food: better and cheaper than Trader Joe's and Vons. Fresh, local. cheap.

Language: working on it.

Metric vs Standard: not a big problem.

Bank: don't have one here. I use USAA debit and credit cards while I am on "extended sabbatical" that will never end.

History: thousands of years here vs max old building was, maybe, 400 yrs in CA. I like history. Donatello? In Padova. Galileo? In Padova. Giotto? In Padova. Did they walk the same streets in their everyday affairs that I now walk in my everyday affairs? Maybe they did; I would really like to think so. It changes your day.

Money: never enough, ever, no matter what, so just give it up.

Time: lots more of it here than there. I think Italian clocks must be made differently!

This is meant to cause "Thinking". None of it is "proof" of anything.

That's all, folks!
Cheers, John.

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thefountain
4/22/2019 19:16 EST

Thank you John. Taking a break from thinking for a bit. Will visit Italy again now with more information.

What places north of Roma that have a city yet rural feel do you think have good health care and some Americans. I will visit ty hem on my next trip.

Be well. ??

Sunshine

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thefountain
4/22/2019 19:24 EST

Maluza86

You definitely gave me info I didn't know. That helps.

As I said to Henrygiovanni , I am taking a break from thinking. Overwhelmed right now. When I visit again I have more to go on.

What areas do you know in Italy north of Roma that is city yet rural that have Americans

Thank you.

Grazie per tutto.

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codybrandy
4/23/2019 05:23 EST

Good Morning Sunshine (sorry couldn't help myself)...There are many charming towns north of Rome and a great train service going up and down the coast We are so happy we chose ( and we looked everywhere north to south) Liguria...many, many good health facilities (specialists etc and hospitals) Living right on the coast would be pricey but just 10 min inland the costs drop dramatically. You have the best of all worlds, great climate...not too hot not too cold. We live 20 minutes from the sea and up in the hills. We do our shopping and all government stuff (driver's lic, visa renewals, etc) in Sarzana and LaSpezia...both have all the services one would need...they are fairly big cities tho we prefer villages...peace, quiet and good fresh air to actually live in. As to where you might be happiest: what worked for us was to pick a general area of interest, rent an apt. for 1 week at least and what we used to call...spoke out. One day we'd go north, next east, next south...you know like spokes of a wheel. Then we'd try another area for a week...on and on until we got the true feel for everyplace. We'd meet neighbors, see what was available in the area and learn as much as possible...We did this for quite a few original visits. Good Luck!

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thefountain
4/23/2019 11:37 EST

Thank you Codybrandy. I will keep this in mind the next time I visit. Still not sure if this is the right move for me. But I believe as I learn about Italy I can make a better educated decision.

Enjoy.
Sunshine :)

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shelbyt
5/6/2019 05:39 EST

Thefountain, I have had multiple experiences with healthcare in Italy, both using private insurance and my tessera sanitaria. I will be happy to share...will PM you.

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thefountain
5/6/2019 14:37 EST

Thank you Shelbyt.

Well to everyone who has helped me a heartful thank you.

After days of analysing, listing the pros and cons, reading this forum and talking to my family in Italy and people who were born in Italy and live here now - I made my decision not to move for many reasons. For now it doesn't work out financially or medically.

John I hope you speak the comnercialista and international accountant that does right by you.

I pray everything works out the best for all of you.

I look forward to reading this sight and hope all goes well for each of you.

Ciao,

Sunshine






Looking forward to reading your updates.

Ciao

Sunshine.

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vidalegre
5/20/2019 08:40 EST

I recently had a hip replacement at Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute in Bologna. Both Rizzoli and the medical staff, especially my orthopedic surgeon Dante Dallari, are world class. Before the surgery, I had given a great deal of thought to returning to the US for this surgery, but I am sure that I would not have had a better experience in the US. Plus, the post-op care at Rizzoli is excellent, with physical therapy. Post hospital physical therapy is also very good, available privately or through the USL.

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codybrandy
5/20/2019 09:15 EST

Very good to know Vidalegre! My husband just had surgery in Rapallo (Liguria) and we were both pleasantly surprised at the quality of care and after-care. Rapallo has a beautiful new hospital and it equaled anything we saw at home in Boston. Take care with that hip (had mine done years ago) after the p.t. you will be amazed at how different life is: you can walk...yeah!

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maradel
6/6/2019 02:18 EST

I might as well keep all my updates in one place, so here's the latest!

The last report of my saga, I was heading to Pretoro. Well, I stayed about 3 weeks. It took me a little over a week to figure out that I had walked into a con job. Once I got there, the landlord, who promised to draw up a legal lease, decided there would be no lease. He said his Italian "fixer" friend would work his magic with the right people so I could establish residency. That set off lots of alarm bells, but honestly, I was exhausted and really wishing to get settled so I decided to stay and see how things went.

They went badly. The rent including utilities all of a sudden didn't include utilities. There was mold and multiple water leaks that the landlord had no motivation to fix. And other things.

The second week I was there, the "fixer" and I went to the ufficio d'anagrafe in Pretoro. Lots of talk in Italian between the "fixer" and the Signora running the show, including fingers pointing at me and saying FINES. Well, I may have primitive Italian speaking skills, but my comprehension is much better, and I clearly understood that the apartment was still registered as a B&B, not for long tern rentals, and I could be hit with fines for trying to establishing residency in such a place. That had been another lie by the landlord. So the next day I went into gear looking for another place to live.

A very kind American woman in Atri who speaks fluent Italian offered to help me find a place there, put out many inquiries, and one worked out. So, within another week, I had moved out of Pretoro and into the Apartment in Atri. I now have a legal rental contract for a clean and comfortable apartment just outside Atri centro historico. My landlord is an Italian guy who lives in a separate house on the property. My friend in Atri knows him well. I have very nice Italian neighbors downstairs. Just this week I was finally able to apply for residency.

Oh yes, there's one other wrinkle to this story. When I left the US, the woman in charge of AIRE registrations at the Chicago consulate told me to submit a certain form (she sent it to me) to have my name removed from AIRE once I had a permanent place and residency in Italy. Last week, my friend in Atri and I went to the ufficio d'Anagrafe in Atri to start the residency process, and they couldn't find me listed in AIRE!! WHAT?? Well, to make a long story short(er), the consulate had sent my citizenship documents to Calabritto (my grandparents' comune) to register my Italian birth certificate and get me listed in AIRE, but the email was ignored!!! Without being listed in AIRE, I couldn't establish residency!! I didn't know I wasn't listed in AIRE!! Based on my communications with the consulate, I made the assumption that I was listed. I won't make that kind of mistake again.

After a flurry of emails and phone calls, the consulate re-sent the documents and Calabritto did what they should have done last September, but this mess delayed my residency application in Atri another week.

This has been hugely stressful, both for me and my dogs. So stressful that I am sick again and utterly exhausted. But things are moving forward now. I like Atri and I'm getting a little more familiar with the surrounding area. My friend, who has been in Atri for 12+ years, has been incredibly kind and helpful. I could not have done this without her help!

Again, in spite of all these difficulties and bad luck, I am still astonished at the kindness of "strangers". My super-independent and competent self in the US is non-functional here. I am learning that there are still kind and generous people in the world. I just had to leave the US to find them. Italy is a strange place, but I have no plans to go back to the US. Life has no guarantees, and my warrantee, if there ever was one, surely ran out decades ago. It's finally summer in Italy and the flowers are beautiful! Kindness and flowers: who needs more than that??

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codybrandy
6/6/2019 05:38 EST

Hello again, So! Settled! Super. Yes, you do find some really nice folks here in Italy...just have to relax and try to go with the flo....I know, we Americans would like everything to go smoothly the very first time...but not here. When it does happen smoothly we rejoice and are surprised....happily surprised. I'm not at all surprised by the AIRE mix up...will you try for citizenship? That will be more fun with bureaucracy. Anyway, welcome, good luck and the thread you might have been looking for is: Buying a second hand car in Puglia...the librarian in me wishes the forum were a little better organized to find older threads. We all have tons of personal anecdotes but your best bet will always be search out the info with your eng.speaking friend in your own area...Italy doesn't seem to have 1 big written book on how to deal with every situation...it more depends on WHO you deal with. (and what mood they are in) Much luck, Troy

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