We’ve moved from the Kin Channel to my Medieval Mom Channel! Please help us pick an official name for our show. It’s about moving from America to Italy and what our new life is like in the old world. So please help us choose a show name! Leave your comments below or on the YT channel. And thank you so much for helping out!
It’s official… I finally have my Permesso di Soggiorno! This means I have my “permit to stay” in Italy, and this document will keep me in legal resident standing after my one year visa expires. Bottom line: I can stay in Italy now for five years. Mind you, I applied for this document in December 2011 and received it in April! It took four months for me to receive this important piece of paper due to any number of problems including: miscommunication between offices (this one told me to go there and that one told me to go back to the first one and around and around again – apparently this is quite normal in Italy); an incorrect home address (not my fault… another government office problem); misplaced proof of income (also not my fault); and a broken printer at the administering government office! No joke. I called to find out what the hold-up was and learned that their printer was on the outs and they had no idea when it would be repaired.
Two weeks later and I still didn’t have it.
After a number of trips to the police station (this is where you pick up your Permesso), the immigration cops began to recognize me. And then… today was the day! So I guess that means that it takes about three weeks to fix a government printer in Italy!
Let me start this one with an OMG! or a “holy guacamole Batman!” And people think driving in Los Angeles is tough! On Saturday, I drove into the center of Florence for the first time. As you may know, I’ve already managed to dent a car during my first day driving in Italy, so I was honestly surprised that we made it into Florence without incident! But the more I drive, the more I’m learning a few things…
First, I’m learning that traffic lanes are apparently nothing more than a suggestion. When on the autostrada, or freeway, most people seem to drive in the middle of two lanes. It kind of makes you feel like the highway is your own and also makes it that much easier to pass a car….
When passing a car, you must only pass on the left. This is a tough one for me… especially after learning the best and quickest traffic lanes on the 101 and the 405! Here, passing on the left is a huge no-no which means that if you get stuck behind someone that you can’t pass, you end up riding their tale and flashing your lights in order to get them to move over! (This is a tip from my Italian husband.)
Back to the lanes… when in the city, lanes do not exist. Period. Oh, they are there, but no one uses them. Every straightaway is like you are maneuvering in a video game. Cars are everywhere, weaving in and out, (without using lane change signals, of course!). And then there are the scooters, which are like a thousand little ants weaving in and out of the already-weaving cars! It seems that the lanes are simply just not wide enough for most of today’s cars, and apparently no one bothered to repaint to make them wider. So in an effort to remedy the problem, motorists have simply ignored that the lines even exist!
And many of the streets are so narrow…. I now understand the necessity to have side mirrors that fold in!
Then there are the signs… so many signs. I find it physically impossible to read a third of them in the amount of time you usually have going around a round-about. Thus, I sometimes feel like a “look kids, it’s Big Ben!” moment is just around the corner for me.
Next up are the prohibited streets. There are signs that inform you that you may or may not enter a particular street at a particular time… if you know where to look! Some of these signs are easy to miss and you can easily find yourself in a “do not enter” street. Even Buccia has taken us into forbidden zones within Lucca! Oops!
If you manage to make it through all of these obstacles, you may still find a ticket mailed to your home if you fail to notice an autovelox, an automated camera that captures you if you speed. Most Italians know the precise location of these grey boxes and they slam on the breaks just seconds before passing one. So beware… you might get a ticket or you might rear end the car in front of you who is slamming on the breaks!
Another issue: don’t get attached to a particular driving route. For some reason “they” change streets and routes with some frequency. What I mean by this is that one day you might find the street you always take to have a new sign indicating that it’s now a one way street or that it’s closed to cars or that it’s permit only, etc. So, you just keep driving until you find another route… this is truly a comical interpretation of “all roads lead to Rome.”
Also, I’ve often turned onto a street to see all the parked cars on both sides of the street facing me. I have a moment of panic thinking that I might be going the wrong way on a one-way street… but nope… cars park whatever way they want: forward, backward, even sideways! I like this one a lot because in LA if you were to park your car the opposite way on a street, you would surely get a ticket. Here, not a chance! Love that!
And then of course, there are all the new rules for me to learn: blue spaces are OK to park in, but you have to pay a meter box first; there’s no right turn on red; and you cannot make u-turns like you would in California; and much more! So… I’m learning!
Now I do have to get my Italian driver’s license within one year and it looks like I’m going to need that full year to prepare! Also, I think I have to take the written and the driving portions in Italian. Yikes! So please wish me luck… I’m going to need it!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about… Deca TV has just launched KIN STORY on YouTube. It’s a daily, 2-min (approx) documentary show that follows my move from Los Angeles to Italy.
Please subscribe to my channel so that you don’t miss an episode. I really do appreciate it if you watch and comment! I’d love to keep this show going which means… I need you! Please let me know if there’s something you want to know about the move or what life is like here in Tuscany.
And please pass it along to your friends!
Thanks a mil!
P.S. I’d also appreciate it if you would follow me on Twitter and visit my FB page and hit “LIKE” – trying to drum up business!
My friends are all too aware of the rigmarole we went through in order to get our little kitty to Italy. At one point, our friend Babi was going to fly on our dime to bring our cat to Italy. Here’s what happened to us and hopefully, anyone bringing a pet to Italy can learn from our mistakes!
So, like any person moving pets to another country, I did what I thought was rational. I called the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles and asked them what the procedure was for bringing my cat to Italy. I was directed to the consulate website for information and the necessary forms. The website states that my cat needs a rabies vaccination, a microchip, and the international health certificate. Easy peasy! I print the forms and contact our vet to set up the appointment. The vet tells me that the appointment needs to be within 10 days of our departure in order for the health certificate to be valid. I told them we also needed an updated rabies shot and a microchip. No problem – it can all be done in one visit. Fantastic, I think.
So we bring our beloved pet to the vet 7 days before leaving to get everything taken care of. Low and behold, we are told that the rabies shot was to be administered at least 21 days before entry into any European Union country! Huh what? Our vet made us sign a release saying that we were traveling with our pet at our own discretion and he wasn’t responsible for any problems that might ensue. And on top of all this, we still had to take our paperwork to the USDA office by LAX, as it turns out our vet isn’t officially authorized to sign the docs! We think everything is still fine and we’ll go ahead and bring our cat on the plane.
Well, after some more research and numerous calls and emails to friends who work at airlines, we were more confused than ever. Our airline claims that they know nothing about the 21-day rule. But when I called back and spoke to another agent, she was adamant about us not bringing our cat lest she be euthanized upon EU entry! WHAT?! I didn’t even know this was a possibility. There was no way we were taking that chance. Even my friend who has worked for an airline for years confirmed this could happen. Otherwise, our cat might have to be flown immediately back to the States; the better of two evils.
So I start calling friends to see if anyone can keep our cat for the extra 14 days and then begin to research pet transport companies. I found a company willing to take care of the transportation for a mere $3000. No joke! Our solution? My friend Cat was going to cat sit for 2 weeks and my friend Babi was going to get a free trip to Italy (using our miles) as our cat courier! This was such madness to work out. And the problem stems from the information I received from the Italian Consulate! Even after I called and told them about my dilemma, no one was able to give me any definitive information.
Two nights before we left, my husband was able to reach the minister of health and veterinary services in Italy. He told him of our plight and the minister immediately issued an email notifying the authorities in Italy (city and local) of the American cat coming to Tuscany! No joke. The next day we had the official letter translated and notarized by the Italian Consulate and then we were good to go.
To boot, after all of this… no one even asked us for any paperwork on our cat at any point! I couldn’t believe it! The airline took our paperwork just so that we could pay the $100 pet travel ticket. No one checked during our customs in Germany and no one checked in Italy either. Had we not notified the minister of health here in Italy, no one would have ever known that we even had a cat! However, because we did notify him, the official vet came to our home to give Sixx a checkup and then return after the remaining 14 days to give us an official health department seal of approval on our paperwork… and that’s how Sixx ended up in Italy!
Tips for travelling internationally with a cat:
Call the consulate for the destination country and hope that whomever you speak with knows what’s going on.
Print all the forms that you need to take to the vet’s office.
Confirm that your vet is USDA authorized. If not, you will have to go to the USDA office which can be a pain depending on where you are located.
Make 2 vet appointments: one for the microchip and rabies vaccination at least 21 days before travel; and one for the health certificate. (I think this is their way of making you pay double – just sayin’.)
Make sure your pet carrier is within the specifications given by your airline. They can be very, very strict about this. I’ve heard that the airline can deny you boarding if the carrier doesn’t meet their expectations.
Make sure you have the pee pads, a water source (we used a hamster/rabbit water bottle that attached to the carrier – other people suggest using ice cubes), and food in the carrier before boarding. You aren’t allowed to open the carrier once you are on the plane. (I unzipped the case a bit and pet Sixx… shh, don’t tell!)
If you can, sit the carrier on your lap after take-off. It can get pretty warm on the floor depending on where you are seated and whether or not you have those TV screens that slide under your seat. I find that taking your pet off of the floor also helps with motion sickness.
I think that’s it! Boy am I glad that ordeal is over. Whew!
I’ve been under the weather for the past few days = no blogging. Caught my first Italian bug… or I should say, our entire town caught it. Everyone here is or has been sick. What a bummer but at least we’re all in it together. Anyhow, in the meantime… enjoy our first episode of the new series that is following our Tuscan adventure every Monday through Friday! It’s on the KIN CHANNEL. Ciao!
And please, I really do appreciate your feedback and comments, here and on YouTube!
Dryers are a big no-no in Italy. (Another convenience equally frowned upon: air conditioners, but I’ll tackle that one in summer). Hmm, what to do? My quest for a dryer is poor at best (it seems that it is sliding down the scale on our priority purchases list), but it is still something I deem absolutely necessary for a household of four, two of which are kids. Here is what it looks like in my dryer-free home:
Who has time, I ask, to hang each individual piece of clothing on a stendino (drying rack) with clothes pins, wait for it to dry, iron everything because it’s rigid and wrinkled, and then fold everything? Further, have you ever dried off with a towel that has been dried on a stendino? Or have you tried to put on a pair of jeans? That towel is as soft as sandpaper, and as for the jeans? I refer to my husband who claims that the pants can stand up by themselves!
Still, I’m finding my defense of my need to have a dryer is lost upon deaf ears. There is no convincing anyone that a dryer is better than the fresh Tuscan air… maybe they’re right. Will I change my American ways? Time will tell. For now, I’m determined to get a dryer and start using that box of Bounce that I brought from America!