We usually read about stories of people dropping everything to travel or move abroad, which I did too and talk about in my article Drop everything and move abroad.
But today I want to tell you another story, about dropping everything and come back to live in Italy, because exactly 10 years ago I left Australia permanently to come back home.
I have a stamp on my old passport to remind me of that day, as well as the birthday of my step-niece Viola (though I didn’t know back then since she was not yet part of my family 🙂
A special date that represents a new birth, both of Viola and of my life.
I won’t tell you about my life abroad, though most people ask me about how life in Australia is and why I’ve come back.
I want my story to start on 29th April 2010.
I still remember everything about that day. I was really stressed and running all over the places to gather my stuff and fit two years of my life into two suitcases.
Then the taxi waiting for me in front of my House at Coogee beach, the last time I saw the ocean and my key ring that I forgot attached to my house-keys.
Then a trip back in time towards Italy (also because of the time zone, since Australia is 10 hours forward 🙂 ).
Once back at Home so many overwhelming emotions, like hugging my parents again after more than a year (my mum only, as dad came to visit twice), seeing old friends, being moved to tears in front of familiar landscapes that made me feel “at Home”.
A new feeling for me who had never felt any particular affection towards the place I grew up and lived in.
And that was my main reason to drop everything and come back to live in Italy, to seek my roots and find myself.
It’s true that sometimes we need to go far away and take a step out of or everyday life to fully appreciate it. I had always considered myself a citizen of the world and never imagined I could live in my small village in Tuscany, but eventually that’s where I’ve come back to.
Let’s take a step back. It was April. I came back to live with mum for a while (it could seem nice but after 8 years living on my own, honestly, it was quite a nightmare 🙂 ).
I spent summer at home in Tuscany before moving again to Milan for work in my grandpa’s apartment where I had lived during my university studies.
How did I end up in Milan?
I believe because when you are open to the world, the world always gives back.
In Sydney, I used to work for a inbound tour operator organizing trips to Australia that we sold to international travel agencies. One of our clients was based in Milan and I had met two employees, Tina and Alessandro, who came to Sydney on a business trip few months before my departure.
So when I was about to quit, I wrote to let them know and say goodbye. Few days later they told me their boss wanted to offer me a job.
As soon as I came back to Italy I had my job interview and got the job.
However, coming back to live in Milan after living in Sydney was quite a choc, maybe due to the unusual rainy autumn of that year, or to the hectic city life or to the fact that I was separated from Miles who was living in Tuscany. After 6 months I quitted my secure job to come back to my home village in Northern Tuscany.
I admit it was not a piece of cake to settle down in such a remote and economically depressed area.
I passed several interviews with local travel agencies but the terms were simply unacceptable (as unfortunately it is often the case in Italy).
I decided to work for a period as a secretary at my father’s car garage, while developing other projects that could allowed me to work in tourism.
I started collaborating with local tourism not-for-profit associations until 2015 when, partnering with other young people of my region, we founded a tourism cooperative promoting our beautiful territory.
Running a business was a challenge, I’ve learned to manage a team of tour guides, designing tours, marketing and participating to expos, managing info points, a hostel and even a castle!
Despite the long hours of work (but little pay) and the burden of all responsibilities, I loved my job. However, being constantly in disagreement with my associates forced me to leave and start working on my own as a freelance.
This helped me to learn, cooperate with different projects, gaining expertise and self-confidence but most importantly learning to leave behind each time something turned out to be not good for me causing distress. So now I only work on projects I am passionate about without loosing time with situations that make me feel unease.
I’ve learnt to find the courage to turn down an offer or leave a safe job if that’s not what makes you happy, accept a failure and be ready to start all over again.
My aim is not to earn a lot of money but rather to spend my precious time doing something that fulfills me.
“With your skills, you could earn much better abroad” I am often told by family and friends who live as expats.
But I’ve prefered the quality of life I can enjoy in Tuscany, waking up with the birds singing and surrounded by beautiful nature, popping into my father’s office to say hello any time I feel like to, take a swim in the sea after work in summer or spend a weekend in the mountains sleeping in a tent, eating genuine food bought direct from the local farms.
What about my travels?
I certainly cannot afford to travel as much as I wish to, but we are compensating travelling close to Home and exploring the surroundings, while waiting for our two “big” trips to discover the world twice a year.
It’s been 10 years since I’ve come back to live in Italy and I’ve had my ups and downs, but I have never regretted my choice.
In Italy we are often discouraged by the local government and lack of work so many Italians decide to leave, but I think we can create our own future.
I know what it means to drop everything and move abroad and life as an expat is not always easy neither, to get settled, find a job and new friends, live away from your family.
I think each one of us has his/her own path. Some find happiness living as digital nomads or long-term travellers, others, like myself, at Home.
Whichever the case, our happiness should be the final goal.
In these last 10 years I’ve grown so much and been on a long journey, not around the world but within.
“No matter how far you travel, the most significant journey is the one you take within”