Today sees the tenth in our series of interviews with Expats in Italy, taking us to Basilicata to meet Valerie Fortney-Schneider of the My Bella Basilicata which provides travel planning assistance and unique experiences to make your trip to Basilicata very special. They’ll design a custom itinerary just for you, or be your personal email consultant to help you build the trip of your dreams.
They’ll reserve quaint accommodations and delectable restaurants, and arrange activities that will make lasting memories. For those with roots in the area they’ll organize a genealogical journey to help you discover your heritage. And if you’re dreaming of buying a house in southern Italy they will help you through the process from start to finish.
Valerie says: “This is Basilicata…Spectacular sunsets. Friendly folks. Beautiful beaches. Wonderful wines. Majestic mountains. Historic hill towns. Folk festivals. Lovely landscapes. Hospitable inhabitants. Come and experience this little-known corner of Italy – you’ll be glad you did!”
My Bella Basilicata offers personalized travel consulting, southern Italy real estate assistance, Basilicata property listings, vacation rentals and farm stays (agriturismos in Basilicata), and southern Italian genealogical journeys and assistance. They also arrange winery tours, cooking classes, local tour guides, and more!
“If you want to move to Italy, Basilicata is a special place to settle. You’ll enjoy a tranquil and traditional lifestyle where the air is clean, the views are spectacular, and people greet you by name. Here the pace is slow and quality of life is high – but home prices are affordable. We invite you to explore the hidden treasures and the rich traditions of the place we call home.”
The Questions and Answers:
How long have you been living in Italy?
I’ve been living in Italy since 2006, with an unfortunate year-and-a-half hiatus in northern Virginia. We’ve been at home in Basilicata since September, 2010.
Who came up with the idea of living in Italy?
My husband and I were both instantly captivated by Italy on our first trip, and we both expressed a desire to live after our second trip. Our vacations become annual and longer each time until we finally decided to “just do it”. We have no regrets about ditching it all and making the move.
How are you getting on with The Italian language?
I’m doing fairly well with the Italian language. I am fully conversant and can successfully argue when needed. I’ve been rather lazy about studying grammar as much as I should, that’s my summer resolution.
No, I don’t miss them a bit. Ha! Kidding! Of course I miss them, but the miles seem shorter with Facebook, Skype, email and cheap phone cards.
Did you buy, or are you renting the place where you live?
We had rented while living in Ascoli Piceno, but we bought our piccola casa in a small village in central Basilicata. In fact, our little house is going to be featured on House Hunters International!
What do you think about the Italians?
I hate to generalize but overall I think they’re fantastic. We’ve been welcomed warmly and genuinely, made to feel like part of the community and, sometimes, part of the family. Like anywhere in the world, there are characters, unfriendly folks, or just plain curmudgeons, but our experience is overwhelmingly positive.
5 Good aspects of living in Italy?
1. The rhythm of life. We like how the day ebbs and flows, there is a rhythm and pattern to it that is lovely.
2. Siesta, or riposo as they say here. Yes, it’s connected to answer #1, but that little break after lunch when all is quiet and you can rest is really nice.
3. The landscapes. The country is very diverse geographically and the landscapes can be breathtaking. Rolling hills covered in vineyards or olive trees are picturesque; the rugged mountains, cliffs that tumble to the sea, or fields of sunflowers – there is great natural beauty here.
4. Cappuccino. You just don’t find a perfect, frothy cappuccino anywhere else. The foam isn’t dense, it’s creamy-good. Standing at the bar exchanging gossip while drinking it is a nice way to start the day.
5. The people. We love how people interact, gesticulate, and sing out the cadence of the language; how life is lived in the piazzas and an emphasis is placed on human interaction. We’ve been made to feel like locals instead of foreigners and that makes us feel very much at home here.
5 Bad aspects of living in Italy?
I prefer to say that things aren’t bad as compared to our native land, they’re just different. However. There are a few things that can annoy.
1. The post office, known to us forevermore as the Post Awful, because they just can’t seem to send or deliver mail efficiently. If something actually arrives we rejoice, no matter how many months late it is.
2. Roadside litter. Remember those beautiful landscapes from the previous question? I dislike seeing them littered with trash. It’s ugly and unnecessary.
3. “Modern” construction. The 1960s and 70s were sad chapters in architectural history, with mostly ugly concrete utilitarian buildings that obscure many towns’ historic centers. With so many glorious years of ancient architecture to draw on, they really should have come up with something more attractive.
4. Innards. I love to eat, and Italian cuisine is certainly fabulous; but we’ve choked down some rather dubious dishes like coratella (heart and lung of lamb) and trippa. Blech.
5. Berlusconi. ‘Nuff said.
5 Top tips for our readers about living in Italy?
1. Pazienza. Practice patience – with yourself and with the Italians. You’ll have a wide learning curve, and so will t hey as they get to know you and get used to your funny accent.
2. Attitude. Take a positive attitude even when things are frustrating. Remember what you love about the place, and remember that things are just different, not necessarily better or worse, just different.
3. Explore. Get out and experience all the wonderful places and things that your area has to offer.
4. Interact. Don’t isolate yourself or cocoon up in an expat community; interact with your neighbors and townspeople. Making friends is a big part of making you feel at home.
5. Learn. Learn the language, the history, the culture and the traditions. It’s the biggest step toward understanding and adapting.
Thank you Valerie for your time, answers and giving us a little insight into expat life in Basilicata…
Better add Basilicata to the ever growing list of Italian places to visit!
Valerie Fortney-Schneider lives near her ancestral village in Basilicata with her husband, where they offer travel planning, genealogical assistance and property consulting through their business, My Bella Basilicata
Contact Valerie via email: firstname.lastname@example.org