Hi, I am Stef Smulders, 57 years old and I moved ten years ago from The Netherlands to Italy with husband and dog. I now live in the small village Montecalvo Versiggia in the Oltrepò Pavese wine region, 50 miles south of Milan in Lombardy, where we have our B&B Villa I Due Padroni.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I was doing a master in Medieval Culture and was supposed to study half a year abroad, for which I chose the university of Pavia. But, secretely, we were already considering a permanent move as we dreamt of starting an bed and breakfast.
2. How do you make a living?
We earn our money with our B&B. Hosting guests is a fantastic experience in which you meet a lot of nice people.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Yes through Whatsapp and Facebook mainly. Many visit us once a year and we also visit The Netherlands once a year. We see eachother less frequently but more intensly for longer periods.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Italy?
The climate. Even in Northern Italy the summers are warm and dry: three months of 30 degrees Celcius and no rain! What a difference with our native country’s climate! And then there is the food, the wine,the people, the landscape.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Italy?
The roads in our region are horrible!
6. What do you miss most?
As we live in the hills cycling is quite an effort so we do most things by car. I miss the easy way of just taking your bycicle and go for an effortless ride.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Nico joined a choir. We became friends with colleague renters. We befriended a couple of our age near our home. But with a business as ours you are never really alone. An advantage of our region, as opposed to Chianti e.g., is that there are many little hamlets and always people around.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Not keeping up to promises, even if they are their own interest. How often people tell us yes let us do that, tomorrow I will send you info bla bla and then we never here of it again. Very strange. And there are lot of incredibly crazy people around, whom you can meet in my book ;-). Unbelievable.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That Italians are a happy people, always laughing, singing O sole mio all day. They are in fact quite pessimistic and hypochondriacs, apart from being very agreeable and nice. But there is a lot of fun to be had living here, if you have an eye for it, read my blog!
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Cost of daily life doesn’t differ that much I think. Eating out is much cheaper, fortunately! So we often each out as the food is very good as well.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Learn the language before you move!!!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
We already started a Dutch blog right from the start ten years ago. But since my first book with our expat adventures has been published (Living in Italy: the Real Deal) I have started to blog in English as well. Enjoy!
Stef's blog, Living in Italy
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