Deciding What To Bring With Us To Italy

Items that are hard to find in Italy

Now that the house is complete, we have to go about furnishing it.

That raises the inevitable question about what, if anything, we will bring or send from the States. Some people move with whatever they can fit in a suitcase or two. Others end up shipping pretty much everything they own.

We’ll probably be closer to the former. For one thing, we won’t be there full-time initially. We don’t plan to sell our US house for another year. For another, we are at the point in our lives where we want to streamline things and live more simply. We will probably end up selling or giving way most of our stuff. Besides, shipping a big container is expensive.

So I envision us buying the furniture and most of what we need once we’re there, and bringing (or sending) clothes, personal items and a few books, plus those things that are difficult to find or expensive to buy in Italy:


I am not a cook, though living in Italy might just be the nudge I need to finally learn. Ed, on the other hand, is a good cook and so he plans to bring his favorite cookware and knives. We’ve been told that high quality cookware can be quite pricey in Italy.

Something Ed noticed on his latest visit to the house is how tiring it is to stand on a tile floor for an extended period of time, so we’ll be sending at least one of those anti-fatigue mats for the kitchen.

Here are some of the other things we’ll be packing:

Rubbermaid storage containers
Ice cube trays
Potato peeler
Gallon Ziploc freezer bags (you can get smaller Ziplocs at IKEA and a few other places, but the big, thick ones are hard to find).
Aluminum foil and Saran Wrap
Non-metric measuring cups and spoons (to make American recipes)
Large plastic drinking glasses

Spices & ingredients

Everyone loves Italian food, but we non-Italians sometimes want a little variety in our cuisine: Mexican Thai, Indian, etc. Good luck finding ethnic restaurants, unless you’re in a big city. Not only are they a relative rarity, but so are the ingredients to make ethnic dishes, not to mention traditional American recipes (especially when it comes to baking). You need to bring your own. Here’s my list so far:

Chili power
Taco seasoning
Coriander seeds
Celery seeds
Ground cloves
Vanilla extract
Maple syrup
Baking powder
Brownie mix
Chocolate chips
Peanut butter (you can get it in Italy but it just isn’t the same)
BBQ sauce
Brown sugar
Packets of dry gravy mix and ranch salad dressing
Canned pumpkin

Personal Care

While prescription meds tend to be cheaper in Italy, OTC meds are almost always more expensive, so we’ll stock up on those:

Huge double pack of Ibuprofen from Costco (very expensive in Italy)
Non-drowsy Benadryl
Pepto Bismol
Aquafresh toothpaste

Towels and Bedding

The towels I’ve seen tend to be small and thin and more expensive than here. Washcloths are non-existent. I plan to stock up at Bed, Bath and Beyond and HomeGoods.

The bed sizes are a little different in Italy (a bit longer and a bit narrower), but US sheets can still work, and we have a better selection at lower prices.

That’s it. When I think about it, there really isn’t that much we’ll need to bring.  I’m pretty sure that over time we’ll find acceptable substitutes for most things or discover we don’t really need them after all.

But for now having a few things from home should help ease the transition.

What would you take with you if you were moving to Italy?

Image: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

We Have a Mailbox! Not Fancy, but It Shows We’re Here

Kevin reports:

You Can Now Officially Receive Bills and Junk Mail!!!

The postina came down the road in her Fiat Panda and asked that we put up a mailbox … so, we did, temporarily placed on the oak tree as you turn down the road!

Temporary Mailbox
Our Mailbox
Click image to enlarge

A nice touch to wrap up the work for 2017.

Image: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Some Easy (?) Detective Work Identifying the House Across the Valley

While looking at some earlier pictures, I noticed a house in the background that I’d noticed before but never really thought about. Here it is in a picture from my October trip. It’s right in the center of the view from the back of our house, almost straight to the west.

Le Foglie Ridenti in distance
House across the Valley

I went to Google Earth and it was easy to identify. In fact, it popped up with a place name: Le Foglie Ridenti.

Update: July, 2017 – OK. In the end not so easy. I found the wrong house. Read all the way to the bottom and I’ll show my mistake.

Here’s the Google Earth view. Our house is the pin on the right.

overhead view of Le Marche terrain
Avventura and Le Foglie Ridenti

Here’s Le Foglie Ridenti from above. If you look closely at the first picture, you can make out the pool that you see in the overhead shot.

Le Marche propert from above
Le Foglie Ridenti

From the topological map, you can see: just down the hill and back up.

topological map Avventura
Terrain around the Houses

I found Le Foglie Ridenti on Google. It’s a house for rent, owned by Saranne and Graham, who live in the attached house with their two children. They describe it as an “eco-friendly farmhouse.” The name means, “the laughing leaves.”

The site says Graham is Irish; it doesn’t say specifically about Saranne. In addition to renting the house, they offer catering and wine expertise. Here’s the link to their site: Le Foglie Ridenti

On the site, I found a picture back across the valley. Our land is right in the center.

Casa Avventura from Le Foglie Ridenti
Our Land in the Center

Now, the question is how they’ll feel when they find out about the Americans across the way. We may contact them and see about staying there on an upcoming trip.

Mea Culpa Update

I thought I’d found the right house, but after we visited in July, 2017, Anne noticed that the house I had picked had a regular concrete pool, not the natural pool at Le Foglie Ridenti.

Here is the corrected overview. The red circle is the house I identified earlier. The correct house is in the green circle:

updated le foglie ridenti image
Correct Location in Green
Click image to enlarge

And a closer look:

Le Foglie Ridenti
Notice the Natural Pool at Top Right
Click image to enlarge

You can read more about Le Foglie Ridenti in Anne’s post from July.

First image: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure
Images 2, 3 4, 6,and 7: Google Earth and Google Maps
Fifth image: Le Foglie Ridenti |

Casa Avventura

We’ve been using “Casa Ideale” as the working name for our house. It’s the name Kevin used when he was marketing the property and the house concept.

AdventureWe hope the house will turn out to be “Ideal”, but we know getting it built and moving in will be an adventure, so I’m going to use “Casa Avventura” as our working name from now on.

Image: Pixabay CC0 - No attribution required |

How Our Big Italian Adventure Began Deciding to Buy a House in Italy

“Wow, the Euro’s really weak. If ever there was a good time to buy a house in Italy, now would be it,” said my husband, Ed, completely out of the blue one morning as he was reading the news on his iPad.

And so began our Big Italian Adventure. Within a month, Ed was on a plane to Italy in search of a house. Over a two week period he saw a total of 39 houses spread across the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Abruzzo and Le Marche.

He came home empty-handed, having seen only one house that seemed to be a legitimate possibility. The one clear decision coming out of that first trip was that we should concentrate our search on Le Marche. It was beautiful and, while not undiscovered, it certainly was not overrun with foreigners as Tuscany and Umbria seemed to be. And it was definitely more affordable.

After that, we were so consumed with work, our daughter’s hockey schedule and other commitments that a whole year passed before we could find the time to go back to Italy to continue our house hunt.  But we still were getting property alerts from various web sites in Italy and we would pour over the photos and descriptions looking for our dream house.

Finally it looked like we had 10 days open for a trip, so we booked our flights and scheduled a house hunting tour with our agent, and some sightseeing for our daughter’s benefit.

A Little Back Story

Ed and I first fell in love with Italy way back before we had kids. Originally Ed had no burning desire to go to Italy, but I wanted an Italian vacation, so he agreed to go if I planned the trip.  On that first trip we visited Tuscany (Florence, Siena, Lucca, Pisa and San Gimignano) as well as Positano and Paestum on the Amalfi Coast.

Ed, who had never been to Italy before, was smitten immediately. As soon as we returned home he wanted to learn to speak Italian. We signed up for a weekly class and listened to Berlitz tapes in the car as we drove around town doing errands on Saturdays.

The Italian class turned out to be pretty lame. The teacher was living proof that just because you can do something (i.e. speak Italian) doesn’t mean you can teach someone else to do it. If any of her students didn’t understand something the first time she explained it, she would just repeat it louder and in a more annoyed tone until people just gave up asking questions.

After the course ended Ed carried on by himself, studying grammar books and listening to tapes. I kind of lost interest and decided to rely on my Spanish to get by on the next trip.

That next time we went to Rome and Umbria. I had a business trip – we were shooting three commercials in Rome for my job, so Ed decided to join me. I’d be busy working the first week but we would stay a second week for vacation.

Since I was working long days and nights,  Ed was left to his own devices, sightseeing by himself and trying to practice his Italian on impatient Roman waiters.

Once our shoot was over (disastrous, as it turned out, since it rained every day), Ed and I left Rome and spent another week touring around the hill towns of Umbria: Orvieto, Perugia, Spoleto, Todi.

We went on our third trip with another couple while I was pregnant with Jack and our friend was pregnant with her youngest daughter. This time we flew into Milan and visited the Lombardy region (Bergamo, Lake Como, Lake Garda, Verona) and Venice, and then continued down to Emilia-Romagna (Ravenna, Forli, Bologna and Parma).

By this time, Ed was fairly proficient with his Italian and would take every opportunity to converse with the natives. They, in turn, really appreciated his efforts, since it is fairly unusual to find an American tourist who can do more than order pasta and ask for the bathroom. The fact that I was pregnant seemed to make us even more attractive to the locals, and we were adopted by strangers everywhere we went, with offers to show us around their village and invitations to join them for a drink in their wine cellars. (Italians don’t seem to think a little wine enjoyed by a pregnant woman is at all harmful to a baby).

Until Ed’s first house hunting trip in 2015 we had not been back to Italy since 1997 when we visited Sicily to celebrate our 10th anniversary. But during all that time we had fantasized about buying a place in Central or Northern Italy one day.

Ed’s comment about the Euro initiated a discussion about life being short and if we really wanted to do this Italy thing, we’d better go ahead and do it before it was too late. “One day” was here.

Image source
Licensed – Copyright © jakobradlgruber / 123RF Stock Photo