We have Survived a Year in Italy

November 2019 is over and it is getting close to Christmas. This is my November story.

Have we managed to get our Italian ID Cards?

I have good news! We are now proud owners of Italian ID cards. Yay! It was the weirdest thing. The Commune called us to let us know that the cards are ready, like they said they would (everyone said that wouldn’t happen).

We walked down the next day in the rain and turned up at the office, and guess what? There was no queue. We thought “oh no, it must be closed again”, but it wasn’t! Maybe nobody else decided to go out in the rain. Who knows? The woman who helped us the week before, saw us, asked if we were here for the ID cards and we said yes. Another woman went to fetch them, she gave them to us and that was it. In and out in no longer than 10 minutes. 10 Minutes!! Every other time we have been there, we waited for a minimum of 45 minutes, up to 2 hours. We couldn’t believe it, I had to keep checking our cards. Anyway, we were slightly stunned, but very happy, as they now open the Italian world to us.

As we now have our ID cards, we were able to change our overseas bank account, which had no debit cards or internet banking, to a normal Italian resident’s bank account. It did take time to get an appointment, but after that it was easy. The man at the bank just wanted our ID Cards and we waited for him to open our new account and close the other one and he gave us our debit cards there and then. Unfortunately, unlike the UK there is no free bank account, so we pay a monthly fee, which is not great. But we now have debit cards, internet banking and most importantly, we have access to our money. Oh the joy.

The next thing we have to do is to get a medical card so we can register with a GP and use the Italian Health Service. This process has started.

Earlier in the month, Ivan took us to the clinic in Scalea. Where we found out the person we need to see is no longer there, she is now based in the hospital in Praia a Mare a 10-15 minute drive away. After a number of phone calls, over a number of days, we eventually went to the hospital and queued (obviously) and saw the woman who dealt with foreigners (stranieri) registering to the Italian Health Service. She took copies of our ID Cards, Codice Fiscale certificates and our EHIC cards. We now have to wait for her to call to see what we do next. Fingers crossed all goes well, it will be nice to have access to a GP.

The Weather in November

November has been really wet, but it seems like most of Italy is the same, as well as a lot of Europe, which is terrible. The extra high tide in Venice, floods in Matera, Tuscany and also closer to home in Lamezia and Reggio Calabria. When it rains here, it really rains. I don’t think I have ever seen as many thunderstorms in my whole life compared to our time in Italy. There have been lots, the novelty may wear off at some point, but I still like to watch them from our terrace, as long as the wind is not towards the house, then I hide indoors. It can be brutal.

I also love watching the rough sea. It can be so loud, we can hear it from our apartment, but it is quite calming, definitely better than the sound of traffic at our old house. When we go down to the beach it is amazing to witness the power it has, it is mesmerising. Luckily it hasn’t ventured too far up from the edge yet.


The Tyrrhenian Sea

A lot of the lidos and bars that are closed until the summer, have had the beach piled up to a large mound between the sea and their properties as protection. There are a couple of bars that are open all year that haven’t, hopefully they will be OK.

beach mound
Protection against the sea

Also, it has been sunny and warm, so warm in fact crocuses have appeared in places and wild rosemary is flowering again. It seems like it is another spring as opposed to autumn. We have enjoyed the sunny warm days, but it definitely does not have that Christmassy feel in the lead up to December. I guess we will get used to it, haha.

Wild Crocuses

We have had the first snow on the top of the nearby mountains, which was pretty, but unfortunately it only lasted a couple of days. I do like to see snow capped mountains when it is still warm here at sea level. It disappeared after the recent rain as it has been pretty warm. Today it is about 21°C according to the pharmacy sign. I think the minimum this month as been 12°C and the maximum has been around 26°C but more in the sunshine. Very different to what we have been used to in the UK in November.

It is the end of November 2019, a month to the end of the year and also the end of the decade. It’ll soon be the 20s! We arrived in Scalea on the 6th December 2018. We have been living in Italy for very nearly a year. So, I feel that now is the right time to reflect over the past year. I know I say it a lot, but time has flown by, no way does it seem like a year. We have seen all the seasons. We have had ups and downs, but mainly ups thank goodness.

Starting off in December last year, I remember the apartment was so cold in the morning, I cried. In Februrary we had the worst winds for years that blew someone’s windows out and bent satellite dishes. Then in July and August it was so hot, I had to keep in the shade and even then, I still went red.

Getting residency and ID cards have been a very slow process, but it doesn’t help that we don’t speak enough Italian. We had to rely on other people, which we are not really used to. Also coming to terms with missing the people we have left behind. I sometimes worry that we’re out of sight so we’re out of mind or people think that about us. Everyone gets on with their life of course. But to let everyone know you are never out of our minds. Just because we don’t talk every day and can’t afford to return to the UK on a regular basis does not mean we don’t think of everyone. That’s when social media is good, eventhough it is not the same.

Living by the sea is still a wonderful novelty. It is not something I thought would ever happen, never thought about it at all really, but here we are and it is a huge bonus. Meeting new people that have become friends has been wonderful. We have been here long enough to advise new people who have bought either permanent or holiday homes. It is a lovely thing to be able to do. We remember how reliant we were on other people when we first arrived and even now we try to help them as much as we can, eventhough we’re still learning ourselves.

Scalea as a town is a great place to live. Yes thinking as a Brit, things could be improved, but the people are lovely, open and friendly.  Whenever we are out and about, people say hello, or people driving by wave and beep their horn. We feel we are very welcome here.

Overall, we are very happy, which is a good thing as we probably couldn’t afford to move back to the UK anyway. Luckily, we don’t feel like we need to and hopefully it will carry on like that.

So that is it for this month. I will take this opportunity to say thanks so much for reading my blog and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and I will be back at the end of the year with my next post.


Christmas lights appearing

9 thoughts on “We have Survived a Year in Italy

  1. We miss you both and you are never out of our minds and never will be time is flying by but memories are being made that will last a life time enjoy every day as time is precious im sure you do great blog as ever speak soon Ciao xx

  2. Such good info! I’m so glad you made it a year! I’m not surprised about your reaction to the rat race at home when you visited. We spent 2 weeks on Ischia and came back to friends who seemed like all they did was complain nonstop, and stressed out work environments!! I can’t wait to relocate one day. I’d like to live on a hillside facing the water, preferably in centro storico. Is there a preferred direction of exposure to look for in Scalea – or in general? I would like sun and water view of course, but when I read about your experiences with heat, winds, and rainfall I want to make sure I’m facing the right direction! Are there any things you’d recommend to look out for in particular when buying a house on a hillside or near the water?

    1. There are properties in Centro Storico that faces west so if you have a sea view you will see amazing sunsets. This means you get afternoon sunshine. There are also ones that face south which will get sun pretty much all day. I guess it depends what you want as there are properties on the other side which must face east that get the morning sun but is cooler in the afternoon they are unlikely to have a sea view. People facing west have canopies to block the major sun then you can choose to have heat or not. The buildings are made of thick stone so they should keep a lot of the heat out as long as it is ventilated well. I think we face the prevailing wind which is east. The major winds seem to come from north east. Just make sure you have good shutters and you will be fine. We haven’t had any damage apart from a little corner lift of the roof.

      1. mi ringrazio!! That is so helpful! 🙂 I’m grateful for all the info you are providing!

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