If you are familiar with all that’s trending on YouTube , then you may know The Pasta Grannies, a channel with more than 400.000 subscribers where...
If you’ve ever dreamed of moving to Italy, but are too afraid to make the leap, read on: Lisa Condie’s story will inspire you.
Almost four years ago, at 56 years old, on an impulse, the Salt Lake City, Utah, native decided she would move to Tuscany. Without thinking it over too much, she sold her house, left her job of more than 30 years, said goodbye to family and friends, packed her bags and landed in Florence.
As she shared her Italian experiences on The Huffington Post, which has named her one of the site’s “50 Over 50”, meaning 50 people who reinvented their life after reaching the age of 50, many women began asking her to show them that authentic Italy she was writing about. Being the resourceful woman that she is, Lisa co-founded A Better Way to Italy, and recently started Find Yourself In Tuscany, two tour companies specializing in trips to Tuscany for women, combined with classes on finding courage and passion.
While her new life in Italy has certainly had its challenges, especially at first, Lisa is happy with the choice she’s made. Let’s hear from Lisa directly.
When you decided to move, you didn’t know anybody in Italy and didn’t speak Italian. Why did you pick Italy?
I always say, I think Italy picked me! I’d visited in 2011 and 2012 as part of vacations to Italy, Greece and Turkey. Each time I was here, I felt such an inexplicable connection, and such joy. I made the decision to move here at the end of a trip in 2012, in a bar, while waiting for my espresso. I just had to find out what was in Italy for me, and not feel rushed through this beautiful country.
What prompted your decision?
I felt that life was supposed to be more joyful than it had been for me in the years prior to moving. I purposefully set out to find more happiness and passion in my life, in the country that seemed to have so much of it! My children were raised, my house was too big, and everything seemed to indicate that I had a window of opportunity.
What were your feelings when you sold your house in the U.S., quit your job and bought your one-way airplane ticket to Italy?
Initially, I was so busy that I didn’t think about what a huge leap I was making! I arrived in Florence just 3 months after making the decision in the coffee bar in Rome. I had had so much to do, in such a little time, that it wasn’t until I was halfway across the ocean that it hit me...gulp! Arriving in Florence, I didn’t know a word of Italian or a single person here. I learned to just take one day at a time, explore and learn, and trust my own strength.
What were the major obstacles you encountered when first living in Italy?
Obviously, the language was a big obstacle, as well as the fact that I was all alone. Both of those contributed to a feeling of isolation, and initially, it was a bit overwhelming. Simple errands could take me all day to complete, as I was learning about a city, a language and a culture!
What do you like the most about living in Italy?
There is so much to like about life here! I love the walking that I do each day, to the market, to meet friends, to savor the views. I enjoy the international community of which I am a part now, and the friendships I’ve made. I like the tempo of life in Italy, the focus on family and friends, savoring moments together. And, I am happiest when I am sharing all of that, through my tours, with other women!
What do you find most annoying about living in Italy?
I take my status as “guest” very seriously, and I don’t dwell on the things that annoy me in Italy. Like most, I do get frustrated with the bureaucracy of living here legally, the post office and the dirty sidewalks. However, a stop at my neighborhood panino shop for lively conversation and a Chianti with my sandwich, I quickly forget the annoyances!
What do you miss the most about life in the U.S.?
How easy it is. Everything in the U.S. is streamlined for maximum efficiency and speed! The fact that I can simultaneously run the dishwasher, washing machine AND use my hair dryer surprises me still!
Of course, I miss my children and friends in the U.S. and am grateful for Skype!
Tell me about the tour companies you founded, A Better Way to Italy and Find Yourself in Tuscany: how did you come up with the idea, and who is your clientele?
I was approached by a lot of American women, asking if I would show them the Tuscany I was writing about for Huffington Post. The idea came from those requests. I didn’t have any previous experience in the travel industry, and have learned each step along the way.
Early on, I learned that relationships with the Italian people we work with and meet along the way are what make the tours so unique. My groups are treated like family at the restaurants and hotels.
I desired to share, with women, the beauty and joy I’d discovered here. I wanted each woman to be able to relax, focus on herself, and find her own inner joy. I present classes all through the tours which are related to those subjects, and we share our stories with each other...as well as a lot of pasta and wine! What could be better?
What advice would you give to someone looking to make the move to Italy, especially if at midlife?
I would give them the advice which I didn’t take! That advice is to come over for three months and see if it is really a life change you want to make, before you quit your job or sell your home. Tuscany holds an allure that life is totally blissful here, and all you have to do is arrive! It definitely has its challenging aspects, and I encourage people to try it out first.
Ultimately, what has this experience taught you?
Living in Italy has taught me so much about my own strength and courage. I’ve learned that I can stand on my own two feet with clarity about who I am, and what my dreams are. I’ve learned to see through the lens of a new culture, without judgement, to understand how similar we all are. What the experience has given me is beyond words! I am forever grateful to Florence for holding me while I found my wings to fly.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a memoir of my first three years in Italy. It’s the story of how I got here, and what I learned!