We met up with friends Monica and Paul, whom we hadn’t seen in about 15 years. They have an inspiring story to tell: they upped and left Britain nine years ago and bought a beautiful run down house in Le Marche region near Tolentino. It is in the middle of beautiful rolling countryside with magnificent views to the mountains in the national park beyond and their 18 acres and house have become a labour of love.
But then the third earthquake of 31st October struck with major cracks appearing in their walls. They regard themselves as lucky since their house – unlike a neighbour’s – has not been condemned but it will cost a lot to fix. And of course there is the risk of another quake; it’s all very worrying for them.
They shared with us some thoughts about Italy and the Italians….
- Italy is like the UK was about 30 years ago.
- It is only recently that shops have opened on Sundays and Amazon Italy just started operating two years ago.
- Everyone wants to pay cash and tax avoidance is endemic.
- It is very hard to set up a business and make it work. They know many British who have come out here and failed in business and then gone back to the UK.
- There is a “culture of the dead” – families have their relatives nailed up in coffins on the walls of their mausoleums and talk openly about the next arrival!
- There is no work
- The Italians are scared of the fresh air in winter and continually wrap themselves up against catching colds.
- They have a fear of standing out and always want to be part of a crowd.
Despite being there for nine years and speaking good Italian, Monica and Paul think they will alway be “outsiders”. Though they do enjoy their lives here.