Six months felt like the natural time to start a blog on our new life here in the Castelli Romani. Where I hear you ask? Nestled some 10 km South East of Rome in Lazio, the Castelli Romani comprises sixteen towns set in the beautiful Colli Albani (Alban Hills). Rich in history and known for its food and wine (think the eponymous white wine in the beautiful town of Frascati and the legendary Porchetta di Arricia) this area was formed as a result of a huge volcanic eruption. Today, it provides a calm antidote to the constant craziness of Rome and for us, offers the best of all worlds, with easy access to the eternal city and a chance to live as locals and embrace the italian culture and way of life that has inspired so many.
People often arrive in Italy searching for something. Its romantic image has been captured time and time again in both book, film, music and popular culture. I’ve long had a love affair with this country, that offers so much sensory stimulation alongside its enduring history. It feels slightly unfair that one country should trump all others when it comes to food, wine, history and such stunning and varied scenery. From the peaks of the Dolomites to the canals in Venice, the beautiful lakes in the North and the dizzying coastlines in the South, its regions are at the heart of understanding Italy and all the richness she has to offer.
We arrived in March to an unusually warm Spring and spent the first couple of weeks in a haze of excitement. This quickly gave way to an immediate feeling of helplessness as, once my husband left for work in Rome each day, I looked around at the boxes, the endless, endless boxes, the to do list and felt the rising sense of panic. Perhaps upending our whole entire life to a foreign country, where we didn’t speak the language, might not have been the wisest move?
This feeling ebbed and flowed over the Spring as we tried to get ourselves up and running, in a country not known for its lack of bureaucracy and simple systems. Our turning point was finally getting the internet (no easy feat and a whole separate post) which ultimately meant a degree of freedom for me. Our six year old daughter Mimi had left behind her friends and family at the start of the Easter holidays and she wouldn’t be starting her new school until September. Whilst six weeks of no internet developed her reading skills to an outstanding level, the intensity of that time, muddled with the daily frustrations and sensory overload of our new neighbourhood, meant that Netflix, when it finally arrived, was greeted with adulation worthy of the Pope himself.
The homesickness Mimi and I felt in those early months was closely rivalled by the overwhelming kindness that we experienced on a near daily basis. Whether it was the encouragement and praise from our local butchers, when I managed to make myself understood in faltering Italian, to the warmth, generosity and practical help from our italian neighbours, we have been utterly humbled by the welcome we’ve been given.
And so here we are, six months later. A vast array of experiences already, that I hope to capture and reflect back on in this blog. I finally get to press send on the background narrative that’s been accompanying me over the summer and bring to life the next chapter of this new world of ours.