Living in Italy: Two Years On

©ornaoreilly.comWhere has the time gone? I can hardly believe it has been two full years since I picked up sticks in Ireland and moved to Italy lock, stock and barrel. It seems like just the other day I was freezing on a wet, windy building site in the west of Ireland, checking on the layout of whatever house I was designing at the time.

No. I don’t miss my previous existence as a hard-working interior designer. Whoever said such a career was glamorous never worked in the unforgiving weather on Ireland’s Atlantic coast nor, indeed, fended off mosquitoes – and worse – on the southern African coast of Mozambique – both places where I worked for many years in turn.

When I decided to move to Italy, I knew that finding suitable accommodation in a good location would be the essential first step. I wanted a smallish house with a good outdoor area and – having a large family and lots of friends – a nice guest suite was a must.

The Veneto had always appealed to me, having visited here more times that I could possibly count. Lake Garda with my parents was an annual event for many years and I loved tripping up and down the lake on the hydrofoils and ferries.

Sirmione on Lake Garda

Sirmione on Lake Garda

Venice is, in my view, the most spectacular city on the planet and I never tire of visiting there, being lucky enough to live close by.


So, after three years of searching for the perfect property, when I saw what was to be my little home in The Euganean Hills, I put in an offer within a few hours of seeing it for the first time and have not regretted it one bit.

Canal formation where I walk in The Euganean Hills

Canal formation where I walk in The Euganean Hills

Becoming an Italian resident was relatively simple. As I am Irish and an EU citizen, there were few formalities and all went without a hitch. Organising my bin collections was a bit more complicated and getting signed up for Wi-Fi and a mobile phone took a bit of effort. Getting enrolled in the medical system and choosing a doctor required a fair bit of queuing at the local hospital in Este. However, what appeared to be the simple process of changing the address on my EU driving licence turned out to be the most complicated piece of bureaucracy I have had to encounter and I still await its arrival more than one year on.

Italian bureaucracy requires that everything needs to be photocopied, stapled and rubber stamped. Paperwork is always mountainous and one’s signature is required over and over again. It’s a particularly Italian system, but, once the rules are adhered to, things seem to operate pretty smoothly.

Ornamobile ©

My builders were quite another matter however, and I can feel my blood-pressure mount ominously at the thought of all the little bits of work that still need to be attended to in my new house. I counted eighty-three emails before they responded to my request to have a faulty pipe replaced; a five minute job, as it turned out. I have also discovered that Italian builders, apparently, do not work in the rain – even the threat of a shower preludes a “no-show.” At least, that’s my personal experience. What would we have done in Ireland if Irish builders refused to work if rain was forecast? Nothing would ever be built!

Italian lessons progress slowly. This is my own fault, as I am writing a book and my brain is processing the English language on a daily basis. I had thought that I would become fluent in a year, but it is taking considerably longer for me to master the subtleties of Italian grammar. But, onward and upward, I continue to struggle while my new Italian friends laud my execrable Italian, clapping and shouting “Brava!” at my pathetic attempts. They are too kind.


Two years on, I feel confident that I have made the right move for me. I love it here in Italy, where I have fully embraced the culture, food, wine, climate, and – most importantly – the Italian people who have welcomed me into their country so generously.

Now I am actually living La Dolce Vita in Italy and loving it. Moving here permanently has wrought great changes in my life. Having travelled solo for many, many years, even having gone so far as to have commenced writing a book on the subject, I am no longer alone, having met a fellow traveller (and superlative blogger) along the way. In fact, he entered my life when I went to visit a Palladian villa just a few months after I arrived here. Little did I know that my lifelong fascination with Palladio, in my view the most talented architect ever, would bear such interesting fruit!

Palladio's Villa Poiana: destination for romance!

Palladio’s Villa Poiana: destination for romance!

If you are one of my readers who is planning a move to Italy, all I can say is BUONA FORTUNA!


Orna O’Reilly

Veneto, Italy

11 thoughts on “Living in Italy: Two Years On

  1. A delightful post and fantastic photos, complimenti! As for not working in the rain, you must have noticed by now that Italians are the first to open an umbrella whenever there is a hint of rain. Something to do with not messing up their perfect hairdos! Enjoy your Dolce Vita!

  2. Miss you here in Ireland’s Atlantic Coast! Really enjoy reading all about your wonderful adventures..amazing photographs!


    • Hi Cathy! Lovely to hear from you. Haven’t been to the Atlantic coast for more than six months and no plans to visit for the moment. Go to Dublin every few months to check in with the family. Delighted you are enjoying my blogs posts and photos. Orna

  3. Pingback: A Year in Italy: Photo Journal 2015 | Orna O'Reilly: Travelling Italy

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