Monday, March 13, 2017

I Moved to Italy

There he was eagerly awaiting my arrival with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The weight of the world fell from my shoulders, and I instantly felt calm and safe. That’s how he makes me feel. That’s what has swelled my heart and encouraged my move across the world.

He took me in his arms and welcomed us to our new life…

After traveling for two days and missing 8 hours, Jake and I were both exhausted. Luca brought us home, HOME. Arriving a few weeks prior to us, Luca found us a perfect apartment in downtown Catania. (Can I add here that the Navy provides him a room on base; he didn’t have to find us a home. But he did.) We made a quick walk because Luca was so excited to share our new area and we are directly across the street from the ruins of Teatro Greco. We were also very anxious for routine and stability (especially me) and honestly I really pushed it…

The next couple of days were way harder than they should have been. Luca had to return to work Monday morning and I had things to figure out… EXCEPT, I couldn’t sleep nor eat and I was searching for comfort just way too soon. My friend Gini reminded me that I’ve crossed multiple time zones in the past couple weeks and I really needed to just chill. She was so right and I really tried to cut myself some slack. I only cried once… or twice. But never in a department store sitting on a display bed :O Ha ha ha!!

I’ve completed my first full week in Italy and here is what we’ve established:
- Home. And despite a scary confrontation with people I don’t think are any good to mess with, parking. ~parking is somewhat of a nightmare here downtown and you either drive around for way too long looking for one, pay little $ to shady people that “manage” completely public parking areas, I call them the parking mafia, or pay a lot of $ to legit people that manage private parking areas. 1 is nearly impossible, 2 nearly got us stabbed, and 3 is what we’ve arrived with. Alas, we have everything we need to maintain for the next two months in Catania.

- School. I will be attending the University of Catania for a language course. Let’s talk about this… I signed up and Luca assisted with paperwork and payment while I was in the states. The course was designated from March through May (we will leave in May so I will miss the end of the course, no big deal, I’ll still get two full months of lesson). The school, a retired monestary full of beauty and history, is a 1 minute walk from our front door. Emails and website details were vague leaving us in a state of uncertainty. WHERE is the course? WHEN is the course? What do I NEED for the course? Emails and phone calls were useless. So, I showed up Monday morning ready for class. No class; the place was a ghost town. I only cried because I was so tired and I didn’t want to disappoint Luca. The good news is the office was managed later that day. I was right on time at 3pm. They were not (the Sicilian way!!). I was told the course might start March 15th or it might start March 31st. Oh good grief! I took an entry test and was promised an email. The biggest disappointment is the shortened amount of time I’ll get Italian lessons. And realizing that I was moving 300mph, NOW, I’m actually glad that it didn’t start right away!!

- Training. Luca realized my strong need for swimming, biking, and running locations. With no delay, after work, we found a pool Monday (reminder, I just arrived Saturday night). It’s a great pool although quite busy. Paying monthly, we are slotted for a Monday and Wednesday swim time. Perfect! We got our first one right away. I’m always over joyed that I remember how to swim. And another on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, after all sorts of sleeping, I attempted a bike ride. Getting out of downtown was a mess, steep hills of brick and broken roads and so much traffic. It took me 45 minutes to bike 8 miles (that’s a 10mph average btw ~ I usually maintain between 16 and 18 average). Except for the 2 mile blue bike lane, this was not a pleasant ride. I decided right away I have to buy a new trainer. Where’s my trainer you ask? Somewhere around Rome right now. Due to its weight and bulk, we shipped it ahead with Luca’s things with the Navy. And we won’t be receiving it until we finish in Catania and settle in Sarzana. I was confident that I could deal without it and just bike the coast here until then. WRONG! Thankfully my love is so wonderful and found me a bike shop/trainer which I picked up on Thursday. He also found me a group that cycles on Saturday's. We joined them Saturday morning for a 50k ride. Getting out of town with them was much safer and I've discovered the secret: own the road! We were invited back to ride with the again. YES! 

Running is the easy part, it can be done anywhere and there are some super fun steep hills to boot. I grabbed 5 miles on Thursday through the city and along the coast. And 5+ more with Luca on Sunday down Via Etnea (a beautiful long street ~climb~). So much to look at and see; there’s no getting bored here! We also found a great park for play, run, and walking Jake about a 10 minute walk from home.

As you can imagine, it’s very important for me to find a training routine. Consistency is key to success. I’ve settled with this:
Monday – Swim and Strength
Tuesday – Trainer Bike and Run
Wednesday – Swim and Strength
Thursday – Trainer Bike and Run
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – Long Bike (Luca will join me!)
Sunday – Long Run (and eventually will add an open water swim)
On paper this looks fabulous and I really think I can make it work with ease. Makes me calm.

- Food. We’ve mostly been cooking at home since Luca had to work all week and a top goal is DON’T GET FAT! Staples: meat, veggies, pasta, bread (as you can imagine). I’m not a fan of storing a bunch of food products at home. I like fresh! I discovered the street market early in the week and I’ve already made several trips for Italian sausage, fresh veggies, bread, and croissants. I LOVE walking for fresh food! On Wednesday we joined a group of friends for pizza. Oh MOMMA MIA!! Don’t get fat Lisa! The pizza was to die for! Friday night Luca and I enjoyed dinner out in Catania and Saturday night in Taormina. So many bakeries and sweets!

- Shopping. I found a shopping strip!! The most interesting clothes and shoes EVER! I need to be a millionaire, for real. I saw at least 6 pairs of shoes that I’d love to have! And the style! It’s so interesting, like a modern day 1970 look. I might have already bought a pair of shoes… or two.
I should probably stay away from Milan :/

- Exploration. Without delay, Luca and I have explored the areas around us ~ Catania, Taormina (by night), and Siracusa. We often miss the beauty, history, and relevance of our immediate area because we want to go beyond it. We do too!! But we have made it a point to "tourist" our own city too. We did the same thing in Biloxi/Gulfport, New Orleans, and Pensacola. It's super fun to explore your own city though the eyes, maps, and tours for tourists. We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday doing just that!! (separate blogs to come!!).

My biggest complaint right now is internet service. It’s just not like the states. If it weren’t for needing to work, I wouldn’t even care, but it’s my livelihood!! We are waiting for a wifi box to be turned on but remember the Sicilian way?? We just don’t know when it will happen. My Sprint service plan will end at the end of March and I’ll get a local phone with hopefully a local service and wifi plan. What stinks is the limited data. Most plans offer a very low amount of gigs per month. It’s just something I need to get used to and deal with. Patience. Virtue. Check.

Jake has adjusted much faster than I have. He took the first few days to sleep while I was out and about trying to figure it all out. I should have done the same. *Note to anyone else moving to Italy!! ;) But he’s happy where ever we are, as long as I’m there too!! I think he's enjoying the exploration and was especially happy to join us for a day in Siracusa on Sunday.

The bottom line, so far so good! I can't believe it's only been a week honestly! I've fallen quite comfortable and am adjusting quickly. I'm realizing even more what an amazing man that I am so lucky to have. He goes well out of his way to support and love me (not just me, us).
I'm super excited to continue exploring and making Italy my home. In fact I remind myself often, this is life now, not just a holiday so I can establish a true routine and comfort (and so I don't eat all the food and sweets!!!). 



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