Opting for a life in Italy
In 1999, 20 years ago, I had the choice to renew my temporary contract with my then employer or to live in Italy. After all, we had already built Polmone for 10 years and now have a reasonable clientele.
I could not imagine what it would be like to live and work in Italy. But I had the idea that I had to keep it up for at least 3 years from the moment we were moving. After all, the first year I would certainly love everything! The second year would certainly have cracks in it and doubt will strike. And that means that you can make a balanced choice in the third year whether or not it is for you. I decided to go for it! And in April 1999 we left for Umbria, looking forward to the uncertain future!
A first introduction
My Italian wasn't really good at that time, so I decided to go straight to the university for foreigners in Perugia to learn the language well. That meant every day for 9 months, from Monday to Friday to class. For me it was the first introduction to the real Italy.
After all, I traveled every day on the slow train from Marsciano to Perugia. And there I immediately noticed the difference with the Netherlands. With Italians, I learned, you get into conversation very easily. Also in Perugia it happened to me quite regularly to get into conversation with a passerby. You should not die in the Netherlands. If you just go there and talk to a stranger, they at least think you're a bit disturbed or startled.
The real life in Italy
And in the same Perugia, I discovered that that fantastic Italy was really less fantastic for its own citizens. I have seen a lot of poverty there. Young people with few opportunities on the labor market if they do not have a wheelbarrow in their family. People who dare not say anything to their employer, afraid that they will be fired and then have no more income. After all, there are no benefits in Italy like in the Netherlands. If you have no work, there is no assistance. Then you have 0 income! Professors and professors who still work at the university after the age of 80 to ensure that the jobs that are released are taken up by their relatives.
It makes the Italians very helpful to each other, since the state does nothing for you. You depend on each other. At the same time, it creates clientelism and a culture of fear. After all, you don't brag into the rack from which you eat! And that means that most Italians do not stand up for themselves and are very docile in our eyes.
Renew driving license in Italy
We were confronted with it again last week when Nico had to renew his driver's license.
The easiest way to do this is to hire a driving school that arranges all the burocracy and paper shop for you. The first obstacle is a check by an independent doctor. This asks for a letter from the treating specialist whether or not you are able to drive. For that you have to go to the specialist and even though we did not have an appointment there, you are simply helped in between and with a letter we went back to the doctor of the driving school. But despite the positive letter from the treating specialist, that doctor was unable to decide whether Nico could extend his driving license for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years. When I asked why we had to get that letter from the specialist in Perugia, I received the simple answer that he really couldn't decide on that. For that we had to go to the committee in Perugia.
That meant another hurdle. We received a letter from the driving school with an appointment date, time and sequence number when it is your turn. Who is our surprise when we arrived at the agreed time, the waiting room was chock full of people who had to come to the committee that same day and number 1 had not even been called! We had number 34 ... so they let all people come at the same time while everyone already has a serial number! We saw no sign of irritation or excitement about illogical logistics among those waiting. Everyone is sitting there quietly waiting like easy sheep! After waiting about 3 hours it was Nico's turn. And after an eye check, he could read all the letters on the board, the verdict fell. You will receive a new driver's license for 3 years!
The independent doctor at the driving school had also checked his eyes. Did we have to come to a committee for this? I could not resist asking on the basis of which they had decided for 3 years and not for 5 years. "Your husband has a chronic illness" was all they answered. "But the specialist said in the letter that there is no problem whatsoever with regard to my husband's ability to drive?" "Sorry ma'am, you were the last one, your husband's driver's license has been renewed for 3 years."
I still can't get used to that rigid without any explanation. But on the other hand, anything is possible! The fact that you can go to your specialist without an appointment. We even have her cell phone number! Or the time we went to buy a car and we got 20% extra discount if we were to register with a certain union. That turned out not to be possible, but the car company then arranged it itself if we put the € 50 contribution on the table in such a way.
Living in Italy is a good life
Living in Italy, we have never regretted it. Everywhere you can enjoy the culinary art of Italians, praised to mythical proportions. We think it is normal to be able to drink delicious coffee everywhere for a normal amount. It is wonderful to live in a society where the pace is still fairly slow. We really like that the people are so nice. We are very happy with the healthcare in Italy! Nico receives medication here that he is not eligible for in the Netherlands. And with a consultation, a doctor simply has time for you. That of course also means that you sometimes have to wait a long time if another patient needs a lot of time. We like to wait here, because they also take all the time for us!
Social safety net
We realize now that we live in Italy very well that most things are really much better organized in the Netherlands. Take home care now. Everyone complains about it in the Netherlands, but it simply doesn't exist here! If you are in need of help here, you are dependent on your family and if they are not there or have no time, then you have to hire someone yourself.
The so-called 1000-euro generation has existed here for over 20 years. Young people who earn around € 1000 per month, have no job security and no prospect of improvement. A hopeless situation, but they are happy that they have a job. Most young people who have followed an education go abroad to work there. The crisis that struck in 2008 is far from being resolved here. Italy is still struggling economically.
Distrust of politics
Politically it is also completely different here than in the Netherlands. Whoever we speak, nobody, but really nobody at all has faith in the politicians. When we talk about the ideals our politicians have in mind, they start to laugh. "You certainly don't believe what they all promise!" Now I have to say that in the Netherlands there are also considerable cracks in our political system, but we are generally not fooled.
It is now almost November, it is fall and winter is approaching. Another big difference with the Netherlands is that Italians do not heat. The Italians do not get warmer than 17-18 degrees at home and they think that is actually too hot. Their reasoning is that the difference between the inside and outside temperature should not become too large, because then you will get sick. If someone has flu here, it is always due to a sudden change in temperature. When I say that the whole of the Netherlands should have the flu, they look at me in disbelief. I then say that it is normal in the Netherlands to heat around 20 degrees indoors and that it can also be cold outside in the winter.
Slow life in Italy
Well, living in Italy, it is really very different from living in the Netherlands! Fortunately we still enjoy it every day! We have a fantastic place where we live, work and receive guests! And because we enjoy it so much, we also try to introduce our guests to the slow life. With the soothing peace of silence around you.
In short, living in Italy has its tricky sides, but in one word is delicious!
Did you know that you can fly directly from Rotterdam to Perugia next year? It is then only an hour to Polmone.
Come and discover that slow life on Polmone and therefore book your stay below!