A Letter to Bighton & Gundleton From Abroad - Part 4


We have two friends who, for the last two years, have been planning the experience of a lifetime. In January, plans complete, they rented out their house for 12 months and set off on their new adventure. Little did they know what was going to happen……

To help take our minds off the worries of Coronavirus they have agreed to chronicle their adventure with all its highs, lows and funny moments and produce a series of updates of life in Italy to be published in Big Gun News and on the village website.

Ian & Gail

La Dolce Vita

Look before you Leap (Step Four)

A couple of months into the New Year of 2019 I had an email from my Italian teacher saying that she was out of hospital, how sad she was that she wasn't going to be going back to teaching this academic year and how, now she was feeling so much better, she was starting to feel a little bored. I had been struggling to find an Italian class to replace her lessons and this seemed to be an ideal opportunity offering itself to me. I wrote back by return and asked her if she would be happy to teach me on a weekly basis to give me a much needed kick up the proverbial to get my Italian going again. She was more than happy to assist and, as she still wasn't allowed to drive, we arranged to meet at her house once a week for an hour and a half of individual tuition. She mentioned that it would be better if there were two of us so we could chat together and bounce ideas off each other (and knock down the cost substantially). There had been another lady in our class who we had both got on with very well and who was at about the same stage in Italian as me. I got in touch with her and, as she had been having the same trouble as me in finding a new class, leaped at the idea and our new class was born … and I was to make two very good friends.

So, progress was being made on one side but the paperwork for the letting and renting of our house in the UK and property in Italy was expanding to nightmare proportions. We truly hadn't realised how difficult it was going to be to rent in Italy for longer than three months and live out there if not buying a property or taking up official residency in the country. The letting of the property in the UK was a lot more straightforward but still time consuming in the amount of conditions that have to be met to comply with the fairly stringent letting laws in the UK. I was getting incredibly stressed out by trying to get all the different strings to tie together and was basically at the end of my tether … this was supposed to be fun! Seriously, if you are not interested in doing a mountain of paperwork, do not consider long-term rental in Italy – definitely a case of look before you leap!!!! Although if I had realised how daunting it would be we wouldn't have done it … so maybe going in blind can be a good idea.

On top of that, sadly, our beloved old lurcher had come to the end of her time with us and we had to have her put to sleep at the end of March. An incredibly hard decision but it would have been so unfair to keep her with us to delay our grief. The vet was called to the house and she passed away so peacefully, with dignity and was relieved of the debilitating pain she had been in for a, thankfully, very short time.

A few weeks after her death, I hit rock bottom and spoke to my husband about our “grand plan” and whether it was really worth all the trauma and should we call it a day. He replied by getting the sheets and sheets of my to do lists (one lot for England, one pile for Italy and a pile of general stuff) and showed me how much had I had crossed off already. I suppose I hadn't looked at it that way before … I kept focussing on how much was left to do rather than what had already been achieved. In addition, although we were devastated by the loss of our girl she had been the one thing that had been really stopping us from going ahead … removing her from her home in England where she felt safe, comfortable and happiest had been non-negotiable … everything else was surmountable.

With renewed enthusiasm I decided to focus on things that had to be done but were achievable. You cannot do anything in Italy without a Codice Fiscale (equivalent to our National Insurance Number) but it is one of the few things you can put into place from the UK so I went ahead and completed the paperwork for codes for both of us and sent them off to the relevant authorities. Then I got our Letting Agents to send me a list of outstanding things that needed doing on our house (minor repairs) and a list of the outstanding legal requirements (Legionella Risk Assessment anyone?). Some things could only be done days before we left (that pesky Legionella Risk Assessment again), so a huge timeline was produced. We were back on track!!


© Ian Johnson 2020

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