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Why France or Why Italy

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Sergios
9/21/2019 03:53 EST

Those of you who have been following my posts know that, unlike most of you, my intention has not been to look for a place to settle down. My wife and I, since retirement, have wanted to explore the places that we just touched upon when we were younger and on limited vacations. We went to places and visited the tourist sites and did the tourist things but I was always more interested in what the people that lived there did. We are doing an extended sampling of life in those places.
Since 2015, when we first packed our two suitcases and got rid of everything else, we have been in Palermo, Brittany and now Chianti. While we were in Palermo we took a 5 month road trip through western Europe staying for a week or four in various places as far north as the Netherlands.
During our stays in various places I developed opinions about those places. Some of them strong opinions. Likes and dislikes, which I have written about before. So the question why Italy over France? Or the other ay around? I love both. For many reasons I prefer one over the other but each takes that role. But it is the negatives that are more important. Palermo is a beautiful city with an incredibly rich history full of people that have great pride in their home city. But those people, not all, are blind to the filth and chaos and animal abuse and third world traffic, which they are the cause of the above. And then there is the heat. Especially the heat.
Brittany has fewer negatives. Minor negatives. The winter weather is mild but a bit damp and the summers are cool (which I do not consider a negative). The people are kind and friendly but my lack of ability to speak French makes interactions with the Bretons difficult. The French bureaucracy, as bad as the french say it is, is nothing compared to the Italian system, especially the Sicilian version, where the remnants of nepotism and favoritism are still lurking in the shadows.
It is now Chianti's turn. Other than the common language and the common coffee culture, there is little common between Sicily and Tuscany. And there is little common between Brittany and Chianti. And that is the point of exploring. To find those differences and commonalties. I love the French food (farmers) markets. They know how to do it. Italy does not, or rather, they have different needs and their markets reflect that. French markets are all about the quality and variety of the freshest foods. The Italian markets are more focused on cheap clothing and home goods with the food part of the market taking a lesser role and the foods available at those stalls being not much better than what is available in stores. I miss the French markets although the larger, permanent markets, like the Central Market in Florence are decent.
We are planning a year in Chianti. After that we don't know yet. We had planned on staying a full year in Saint Pierre Quiberon, Brittany, but the house we were renting had issues. Although it had beautiful views and it was 75 feet from the waters edge, it was a house on four floors with bathrooms on the first floor. My knees could not take anymore. The house, even though it was on four floors was actually too small for us. The house has a very small footprint. But other homes close to the water were just not available. They were either all owned by people who used them as vacation homes or they were only available seasonally at high costs. I was not interested in the interior of Brittany since it was very much like upstate New York where we came from. And my wife wanted to go back to Italy where she could at least understand some of the conversations.
So there is a possibility, since Alice does speak some German, that next year it may be a German speaking country. Austria maybe. We'll see.

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2amilano
9/21/2019 04:02 EST

Thank you for letting us know. Really helpful. Exploring a wonderful thing to do.

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codybrandy
9/21/2019 04:36 EST

Sergio, I so admire your sense of adventure! You have often said to rent instead of buy and this is why. We do love Liguria but we have 'stuff ' and lots of it and are tied down. Plus selling in Italy would be a many years task. While driving through France (2x a yr to visit daughter in UK) I yearned for the wanderlust of just staying and experiencing France. We do plan to take the route via Brittany next time...so we experience in bursts. So, people: listen to Sergio: RENT first.

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JacksterJam
9/21/2019 06:15 EST

Hi Sergios. In Firenze, I live near the mercato Sant'Ambrogio. Small but nice. Also, have you checked out the food markets in Bologna? They're great!

The next time you two come to Firenze, we should get together for a coffee! :)

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JacksterJam
9/21/2019 06:23 EST

Also, if you haven't been to FICO just outside Bologna, it's an interesting experience.

https://www.eatalyworld.it/en/

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DLBeers
9/21/2019 12:38 EST

Sergio, I’m curious, because I think I would to try this, do you guys own a car? Or do you rent or lease when needed?

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Sergios
9/21/2019 14:14 EST

I bought a Renault Clio in 2015. It's been a great, low maintenance car. I paid cash, 17K but it's been much cheaper than renting.

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elpececitonegro
9/28/2019 17:39 EST

Ciao Sergio!
I love that you left it all behind and living your dreams.
I am a US citizen in my late 50s, and I have also been thinking of doing the same for a while, but found legal stuff a deterrant. I am talking about getting residency for beyond the visitors' visa of 90-days max. every 6 months for americans.
Do you guys have EU residency permits that allow living anywhere your hearts desire, with no questions asked?
It would be really helpful if you could write to help us out figuring how to go over the hurdle.
Thanks!

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Sergios
9/29/2019 02:59 EST

elpececitonegro, what you ask does not have a quick, simple answer. The curse of all explanations are the two words. It depends. I will, in a few days, write a summary of how it's done, particular to my case, but I will also touch upon what I know about other cases, in my blog. Once I do that I'll transcribe it here. So bare with me. I have already touched upon some of the topics in the blog if you want to look at that. Travelswithringo.com.
Others on this forum also have blogs that may help.

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rsetzer99
9/29/2019 03:57 EST

"All that legal stuff" for Americans is really no more than a collection of a few documents, filling out a form or two and a trip to a consulate. At least for those who are not seeking to regain citizenship in Italy for example. There is no overall "EU" residency permit for Americans. You establish residency in particular country and apply for a residency card. It does not allow for country hopping of long term living. People with an EU passport can live where they please.

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Sergios
10/1/2019 09:54 EST

An excerpt from my blog with regard to the question of how what I did can be done by others.

Most of you, those of you who have read this blog or who know me, know that we (the three of us) are on a slow journey through Europe. So far we have visited, in an extended manner, Sicily, Britany, and now Tuscany. Lately I have been asked “how can I do this too?” I wrote about the reasons why in the “Back Story” section of this blog. Here I will attempt to be more specific about what I did and what others can do. Understand that not everybody can do what I am doing. If you can’t prove you have the right to be an EU citizen, then the only option is to go through the visa processes which has its own obstacles and pitfalls.

Being an EU citizens, the citizen has the right to travel and live anywhere within the EU. They just need to let the host country know that they are present. The non EU citizen spouse has the right to be with the EU citizen. There are certain technical requirements that the spouse has to go through but under no normal condition can the spouses be separated. Unlike in the United States where a non-citizen spouse of a US citizen does not have the automatic right to stay in the United States if he/she is not documented with a visa or green card.

For me, once I spent 15 years arguing with the Italian consulate in New York and failing to convince them that I was right, which I was, I decided to follow an alternate path that was open to me. That was to go to Italy and apply for my citizenship to be recognized. That brings us to the subtleties of the process. In Europe citizenship is bestowed by blood rights. Unlike in the New World where it is primarily by place of birth. Specifically anybody can have Italian citizenship as long as their parent was an Italian at the time of birth. No matter where that birth took place. If you are born in a country that gives citizenship by place, New World, the italian citizenship and the citizenship of the place of birth are both recognized (my case). In the New World, the USA, you are a citizen automatically if you are born in the USA but if your parent[s] is living outside of the USA when you are born, the process gets a bit trickier:

Birth abroad to one United States citizen[edit]
A person born on or after November 14, 1986, is a U.S. citizen if all of the following are true:[16]

The person’s parents were married at time of birth
One of the person’s parents was a U.S. citizen when the person in question was born
The citizen parent lived at least five years in the United States before the child’s birth
A minimum of two of these five years in the United States were after the citizen parent’s 14th birthday. (wiki)
As you can see its not so cut and dry. But in this discussion the USA does not matter. Above I said to have my citizenship recognized rather than reinstated. There is a difference. I had to prove that I never lost my citizenship. In this way my two kids are also citizens because I was Italian when they were born. It would have been a much simpler path for me to ask for reinstatement (assumption that citizenship was lost) but then my kids, should they want their EU citizenship, would have to live in Italy for at least two years before they could get it. Now all they have to do is just present my documents to the consulate and they will receive their passports. Put a pin in that sentence.

Most of the people who ask me about this process are not of Italian heritage. So how can they do what I am doing? As mentioned there is the visa process. It is a difficult, tedious and more often than not a futile process. Unless you have a continuous income that meets the variable levels imposed by individual consulars, based on their mood at the time, you will not be given a visa. It does not matter if you have millions in the bank unless those millions are in some instrument that pays a regular income and can not be touched. The assumption is that millions could be spent just as easily as single dollars and a bank account does not provide security. I heard numbers as high as $3500 per month per person, of steady, sustainable income. Those same consulars are nearly impossible to see because they have put up an electronic wall to prevent contact with more people that they can handle between cigarettes, cups of coffee, and discussions about their favorite teams or what they are going to eat later. They have set up an internet appointment structure in which you must make an online appointment. The portal is restricted to 60 days. You can not make appointments outside the 60 day window. When you log in, inevitably, every time slot within the 60 days is taken. When you ask how an appointment can be made, they tell you to keep trying and that sometimes there are cancellations. Sure. You can take that pin out now.

So how to do it if you don’t go the Italian citizenship route or the visa route? Most people who want to live in Italy or Europe have some blood lines of one of the EU countries. Some of those countries make migration a bit simpler than does Italy. So if you are Irish or German or French or the descendant of any other EU country, look into the possibility of getting that citizenship either recognized or reinstated. Once you have that passport, you are free to live in any EU country. This requires some googling and studying to learn the relevant laws. You need to know them better than the person that will be sitting in judgement of your application.

Getting back to Italy, if you can prove that you have Italian ascendants {parents or grandparents or great grand parents}, you have the right to move to Italy without a visa and to establish residency. Once you have residency it is a matter of one year if your parents were Italian and two years if you grandparents were Italian before you are granted citizenship. I’m not sure but other countries may have similar systems in place. During that residency you are not restricted as if you had a visa. You may work and make an income unlike non-work visa holders (retirement visas, the most common).

Once you have completed your requirements to be a resident, that means that you are registered with the community and they have checked you out, you can apply for medical coverage (you can actually do that at the beginning of the process so you don’t have to wait for them to complete their evaluation). So check out, if interested, the requirements imposed by other EU countries with respect to repatriation.

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Umbertomar
10/1/2019 13:49 EST

While my info is old (2013) I had no problem obtaining a visa from the Philadelphia consulate. More recently, I needed some translations verified by the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia and they were extremely helpful and efficient. I have read many negative reviews of the Italian Consulates and Questure . My experiences have been to the contrary. It all depends on the person on the other side of the "sportello". My original intention was to spend one year in Italy. When I applied for the permesso, the Questure advised me to apply for 2 years.- a few euros more and I could stay longer if I wanted too.. Three 2 year permessi later, the Questure helped me with my Carta.
There have been a few bumps in the road, nothing serious and some of them self-inflicted.

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Sergios
10/2/2019 02:22 EST

Umbertomar, I have no problem with the questura, other than their antiquated facilities in Palermo. However, the New York consulate is as I described. They make interactions difficult.

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almare2
10/2/2019 03:45 EST

Absolutely right about the NYC consulate. It is literally impossible to get through by either phone or email; all you can do is go online and make a personal appointment. A few years ago, when I still thought I would be able to get an elective residency visa, I wanted to know what docunents I would need to prove my financial status. Finally I called the embassy in DC and miraculously got through to a human being, who told me to make an appointment and take whatever documents I thought appropriate, and the people at the consulate would tell me if they were the right ones or not. At the time I lived in NJ, so it was not so hard to get there, but what about the people who live farther away? Not very helpful, to say the least.

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miki184
10/2/2019 10:04 EST

Sooo many mails that I have not had the time to write and thank you Sergio for your answer about France vs Italy. Rather rude of me since I proded you for an answer ??!
Thanks again and if I have made any typos please forgive me - I am writing on the phone and can't see the entire screen. Plus auto correct sometimes completely changed the word I wrote ??.

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