We post a lot of pictures and stories, but we are also living here in Italy. So for roughly every day we go sightseeing, we typically spend a day at “home” just living. I am not quite up to speed yet after breast cancer so look forward to these days of rest almost as much as our days out. It gives me a chance to re-group, catch up, and plan for what’s next.
Some of you have asked what goes on behind the scenes – so here is a look at our “everyday life.”
Everyday Life is Logistics
For the most part, we have rented apartments directly from the owners via TripAdvisor or Home Away. We have loved this so far because we get a whole apartment for less than a hotel and feel like we really live here. We also get to meet the owner or greeter and instantly have a connection to the town. For example, last night we met Luca, the owner of our Montepulciano apartment, out in town to taste local wines.
But this life also requires a fair amount of planning. I have all the rental contracts with me and have to check in along the way to make sure all is lined up. There is always some uncertainty as to whether the postings are real or as good as advertised (so I usually have a back-up in mind). Each apartment also has its own requirements – some want only cash, some want PayPal, some want wire transfers (no one takes credit cards). You have to plan ahead to be able to show up with rent in all cash! We also have to bring our own coffee, tea, breakfast, toilet paper, soap, etc., so we have to think ahead to what we can bring with us to the next place or need to buy along the way. And then we have to think about how to get all this stuff from the train or our car to our apartment – no bell hop or valet parking when you are living the “everyday” life!
Everyday Life is Budgeting
We have a big spreadsheet that tracks our housing, food, transportation, and entertainment budget. We have a collection spot for receipts, and I record them every week so we can see how we measure up. If we have been living a little too high on the hog, we know right away and scale back until we are back in line. But we are on target or under budget for the most part – yay!
Everyday Life is Paying Bills
We also have to pay our bills at home. We made a big list of all possible expenses before we left and either paid them off ahead of time or set up electronic billing. I even filed my taxes via TurboTax from my desk overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.
We have a housesitter at Frank’s home, who checks in about once a week with any house news. She scans the mail and lets us know if anything looks important. When I moved on the boat, I got a box at Mailboxes Etc., which has been great because they will forward mail. So I get my mail about every 6 weeks. Interestingly, aside from personal notes, there has not been one piece of mail I could not live without in the last 3 months!
Everyday Life is Cooking
Our usual routine is if we are sightseeing, we have a nice lunch out and then “snacks” at home for dinner – bread, olives, cheese. And then we cook dinner a couple of nights a week. We’ve had fun with this and go to the market and select what is in season for wherever we are – fish in Venice, homemade pastas in Tuscany. Then we experiment. One of our best meals was when we created a dish of what was left in the cupboard, cooking simply by tasting, thinking about what was missing, and adding ingredients.
Everyday Life is Working
I continue to work about 20 hours a week – mainly Tuesdays and Thursdays, while checking emails other days. Our apartments all have had WIFI (which is usually pretty reliable) so I can log in just like at home. When I get to a new place, I set up my new desk. I have some regulations with me, and my laptop is loaded with many more. When I have a “critical mass” of documents that need to be printed, my office sends me a Fed Ex to wherever I happen to be. I can access my firm’s network and also have online legal resources, so really have the same capability as home. I have a dial-in number for conference calls and have been on some calls where the client hasn’t even realized I was not in DC.
Everyday Life is Household Chores
And of course, there are those everyday chores we all have. Frank and I divide these up. He is in charge of garbage. Every town has its own rules. Montepulciano has a chart we have to follow for which type of garbage goes out on the steps each day (see above). Frank also does our market runs for extra supplies like milk, bread, and cheese – this is usually his mission while I am working. He also scouts out local places we may need, like the post office or office supply store.
I am in charge of making the bed and laundry. The main lesson I have learned is to look for the setting that seems to be handwash (lavaggio a mano) or delicate (delicato). I learned this after turning Frank’s undershirts blue!
So, while not quite as glamorous as our usual posts, this is our everyday and REAL life in Italy. (And we love it.)