Alecia's Story

A Giant Leap of Faith

We are taking a giant leap of faith into the unknown.  I found the following quote by Leo Buscaglia which resonated with me.  My family, those of us who are on this Italian citizenship adventure, are risking all to be truly free.

“The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.  He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love.  Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his freedom.  Only the person who risks is truly free.”

Once We’re Italian Citizens, Then What?

In my last post, I talked about applying to have our inherent Italian citizenship recognized by Italy.  In this post, I’ll discuss what we’re planning to do with it once we’re recognized.

The first thing I’m going to do is celebrate, of course.  

Once Dan, his sons, Brad and Ben, my daughter, Kellie, and I have our new passports in hand, it will be the end of the first part of the journey.  We’ll have achieved the goal of getting EU passports, which will open up the entire EU to us for as long as we’d like.  Dan’s wife, Angie, isn’t eligible for Italian jure sanguinis citizenship, so she’ll be along on our journey as an American.

Dan, Angie, and I are so ready to leave the United States and take a giant leap of faith into the unknown.  We don’t feel comfortable here in the U.S. anymore.  In addition, we want to provide the best life that we can for our kids, and we don’t feel America will meet that need.  It’s a risk, to be sure, to leave our homeland, but we feel the benefits far outweigh the risks.

We’ll no longer need to have long-term stay visas if we choose to settle someplace in the EU for any length of time.  The universities in the EU will be affordably accessible to us and our kids.  And our Italian passports will provide an option in case our American passports become useless.

Where in Italy Shall We Move?

I dreamed of settling down in Italy, in the region of Abruzzo, in the province of L’Aquila, and in my ancestral town of Pratola Peligna.  I was excited about the possibilities my future would hold. Such a huge move into the unknown requires a giant leap of faith.

A trabocco fishing hut in Abruzzo

After investigating the town and the surrounding area, the Peligna valley, I had a discussion with Dan about what I found.

Together, we decided that we didn’t want a car, so the town had to have good public transport and have easily accessible transportation to other regions of Italy.  

Since we would have our families with us, the town needed to have some sort of activities for our young adult and school-age children.  

I wanted there to be a fresh farmer’s market in town.  One of the visions I had was of us going daily to market, whether it was the grocery store or the farmer’s market, to get our daily needs.

Sulmona vs. Pratola Peligna

I felt Sulmona, a town less than 10 km (6.2 miles) away from Pratola Peligna fit our needs better.  The train station in Sulmona would connect us to anywhere we wanted to go, and there is a fabulous outdoor market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  

It’s a popular tourist spot, so people there would be more likely than those in Pratola Peligna to understand English, at least until we were able to learn Italian.

Dan agreed, so we began to research Italian life.  Since Dan is a trucker, he didn’t have as much time as I did to really dig into what it would mean to move to Italy.  All we knew at that point was we wanted to move there.

During my research, I learned a lot about the practicalities of living in Italy.  In the north, Italians are more likely to speak English, or at least understand it when they hear it.  But where we wanted to move, in the south-central region of Abruzzo, we wouldn’t have been able to talk with as many people.  That would be especially difficult when dealing with all the bureaucracy.

From what I read, the bureaucracy in Italy is horrendous.  I don’t have the patience to deal with crap like that.  As much as I wanted to move to Europe, perhaps Italy wasn’t the best choice.

Portugal is a Better Fit for Us

I discussed my findings with my friend, Manuel, from Portugal.  As I told him about what I discovered about Italy, he told me about Portugal.  This caught my interest. Manuel explained that Portuguese people under the age of about 40 all speak English as they are taught it beginning in 3rd grade.  The other reason I became interested in Portugal was the bureaucracy was much less of a problem than in Italy.

The more I researched Portugal, the more I felt that THIS was where I belonged.

The people are friendly, it’s the third safest country in the world, there are just as many historical sites as there are in Italy (I’m a big history buff), and it has a laid-back lifestyle.  It’s also the most affordable country in western Europe.

Porto, Portugal

Again, I discussed my findings with Dan.  He agreed that Portugal seemed to be a better fit for us. With faith, we will take the giant leap to move to Portugal.

Learning the Language

I studied Italian for 9 months already on the Duolingo app, but that wasn’t going to be helpful in Portugal so I switched to Portuguese.  Duolingo has the Brazillian, not the European, version of the language, but Manuel said I would do fine with the Brazillian version.  I would be able to understand and be understood, and at first, that is all I’ll need.

I’ll start learning with Memrise as well since it teaches the Portuguese that is spoken in Portugal. I don’t want to mess up my streak on Duolingo though.  Between Italian and Portuguese, I’m on my 389th straight day of learning a language on Duolingo.  I’m proud of that statistic, and I want to keep it going.

Portuguese is a difficult language to learn, but the Italian I learned over nine months and the Spanish I learned in high school have really helped me with learning Portuguese.  They are all Latin languages and have many similarities.  In fact, some of the words are the same among all three languages.

I encouraged Dan and Angie to begin learning the language, but so far, they haven’t had time.  Dan did sign up for Memrise though, so when he has the time, he will start learning.

Luckily, I learned that Portugal offers free language lessons for immigrants in schools, so we all will be taking those lessons.  I’ll be in a more advanced class, of course, since I’ll have been working on Portuguese for two years by the time we’re ready to move.

We intend to learn as much Portuguese as we can so we’re able to meet the level A2 language requirement for permanent residency, available after 5 years of living there.  Portugal will be our new home, and we may eventually even decide to seek citizenship.

Going “All-In” on Our Leap into the Unknown

Of course, we are taking a leap of faith to move to Portugal.  None of us have actually been there, and neither Dan nor Angie have even been to Europe.  But we are “all-in” on this adventure.  Manuel has agreed to show us around when Dan and I go on an exploratory trip in the spring of 2022 to find a place to live.

At first, we will settle in Coimbra, at least for the first year.  It’s a fairly large city, the third-largest in Portugal, so transportation will be excellent.  It has one of the oldest universities in Europe, so there will be a vibrant young adult population for two of our kids.  

The University of Coimbra

A daily market will provide us with fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish, and there is at least one large supermarket for other needs.

During our time in Coimbra, we’ll be traveling throughout Portugal and experiencing the various sights and culture throughout the country in order to find our forever home.  You can join us on our journey as we explore what Portugal has to offer.

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