Two weeks ago today I landed in Catania in Sicily to start my new life here and to renovate the house that I purchased for 1 Euro in the town of Mussomeli. So much has happened for me in the last 2 weeks and every day I remind myself that I should be updating my blog and then something else happens that is truly wonderful and another day goes by…. I think that I am going to buy a journal and start writing down everything, even if it is a few sentences, as I will then be able to look back in years to come and be reminded of this extraordinary journey. I know that back in the UK everyone is in lock down and that for many people their Christmas plans will be cancelled. My heart goes out to you as I know spending time with family and friends over the Christmas break would have meant a great deal to you all.
We certainly are living in challenging times and I feel fortunate that I decided to leave the UK when I did to ensure that I arrived in Italy with enough time to apply for my Italian residency before the Brexit transition period ends on the 31st of December. I have always heard that Sicilians are incredibly friendly and this was evident to me as soon as I arrived at Catania airport. I was nervous that I had not had a Covid-19 test before I left the UK but as soon as I arrived all my worries disappeared as the staff at the airport gave me very simple instructions on the procedure that I had to follow.
I have rented a house here in Mussomeli as I am not able to live in my One Euro House at the moment. The house that I rented has no heating and it was a public holiday the day after I arrived so the number one priority was to find a good gas heater which I did and now the house is toasty warm. I have been practicing my Italian which is a good thing as most people in the town do not speak English. This is great for me as it is forcing me to learn. It rained heavily for the first week that I was here and there were times when I wondered what I have done moving to a town where I don’t know anyone and hardly speak the language. I think it would be strange if I did not have these moments of doubt, the key for me is to not dwell in the doubt and to remind myself that I have wanted to move to Italy for a long time and that I am fortunate to finally be here.
It's Christmas eve now and since I started writing this blog I have made significant progress with my house and also I am so happy to let you all know that yesterday I submitted my papers to become an Italian resident. I would not have been able to do this without the help of a brilliant Association here in Mussomeli called Strauss. Much like the Erasmus program, Strauss invites students from all over Europe to the town to live and study and work on community projects. The Director of Strauss reached out to me and invited me to their office to meet the team. They wanted to learn more about my plans to launch a Community Kitchen in my house and after they found out more about the kitchen they offered to collaborate and for the students to volunteer with me to work on the project. I was overwhelmed with their generosity and I am grateful for their help. At the end of the meeting one of their staff members then offered to help me with my application to become an Italian resident. One thing is for sure and that is that I would never have been able to apply just using Google Translate to navigate my way through all of the processes.
I visited my house a number of times during the first week that I was here and it was so good to open the doors once again as it is over a year now since I last saw the house. The rain had not been kind to my house and when I walked up the stairs to the top room I discovered that there had been major leaks in the house since I was last here. My heart sank of course because it was my intention to move into my house as soon as I could to start the renovation. I must admit that I avoided the house for the first week as we encountered torrential rain. Not being put off by grey clouds I returned to the house last week with a better attitude and a mop and a bucket, ready to clean the place up. Each day I opened the doors and windows and aired the house out and as the weather improved so did my mood and the state of the house.
Last year I chose a fantastic architect to work on my house with me by the name of Nicola. He was born one street away from my house so the area is very special to him. I spoke to Nicola about the roof and in no time at all one of his contractors arrived with a Cherry Picker to investigate the damage. I actually jumped onto the Cherry Picker with the contractor Roberto and he showed me the state of the roof. The damage was not major and Roberto was back the next day to fix it. What a great guy he is, super efficient and super fast, leak fixed and I am now one step closer to moving into my house. The house has been abandoned for 15 years and next week the water will be connected and the electricity supplied once again on the 1st of January. I have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness from everyone who has been helping me to move into my house. Fingers crossed that all will be ok with the water and electricity. Every day is like an adventure of a lifetime and I am grateful for this path that I am on and so happy to be now calling Mussomeli my home. Until next time I am sending you all my best.