Friday, November 15, 2013

La dolce vita

Chris and I briefly discussed living abroad the other night until it degenerated into bickering. I asked him to give me his top three choices of places he'd like to live and I'd say my three and we could decide from there. It didn't get past Rome before his wine-soaked brain jekyllhyded (I believe that should be a word) and he accused me immediately of shooting down his first answer. To be fair, he was right, I did say I didn't want to live in Rome even though I would if that were the opportunity. But he could have at least listened to why.

I want to live in smaller town Italy, somewhere in the south along the coast, in a place where the people don't live with the excesses of their world city brethren and we can pay about $500 a month for a room and live among the town's denizens instead of the tourists. I was thinking about a place similar to Veliko Turnovo, where I stayed in Bulgaria for about two months at the end of 2007, only with proximity to the sea.

I explored the parts of Italy many people don't consider. A few of them:


This is a port city, with ferries to Greece, Albania, Croatia, and Malta, something that appeals to me, especially since I've never been to any of those countries. (Greece and Croatia are near the top of my list!)

The city was founded in 710BC, so there's plenty of history, a prerequisite for living anywhere. At 60,000 inhabitants, it compares to Veliko Turnovo in population, giving it a smaller town feel with the perks of a city.

Belvedere Marittimo
Belvedere Marittimo

Seems doable. Old stuff, sea, mountains, winter temperatures in the fifties - all the ingredients for happiness.


Nixed because:

In 1991 Taranto was declared a high environmental risk area by the Ministry of Environment. As a consequence of the poisons discharged into the air by the factories in the area (most notably the ILVA steel plant, part of Gruppo Riva), Taranto is the most polluted city in Italy and western Europe. Only 7% of Taranto's pollution is inhabitants-related: 93% is factories-related. The European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) showed that in 2004, estimated dioxin emissions from the ILVA plant were responsible for 83% of Italy's total reported emissions.[7]

Every year Taranto's inhabitants inhale 2.7 tons of carbon monoxide and 57.7 tons of carbon dioxide. The latest data provided by the INES, the Italian national institute of emissions and their sources (Inventario nazionale delle emissioni e loro sorgenti), confirm that Taranto stands comparison with China's Linfen and Copşa Mică in Romania, the most polluted cities in the world due to factories' emissions.

In particular, Taranto has dioxin. 92% of Italy's dioxin is produced there and, in other terms, 8.8% of the dioxin in Europe. In ten years, leukaemias, myelomas and lymphomas increased by 30–40%. Furthermore, dioxin accumulates over the years: so far at least 9 kilos of dioxin have been discharged into Taranto's air by its factories, i.e. three times the quantity discharged in the Seveso disaster (the one in 1976 where the Italian city Seveso was contaminated by dioxin).

Grazing is banned within 20 kilometres (12 mi) of the Ilva plant.[8]
Ugh. Also, it's where the name tarantula comes from. Icky.

Then I came to Bari, a port city of 300,000 people, a little bigger than I had been looking for, but something caught my eye: the Petruzzelli Theatre, which houses the opera. What better place for Chris to live and sing in than one in which the opera house bears his name (or at least a form of it?)

There is old stuff. There are ferries to Greece, Albany, Croatia, and Montenegro. There are beaches. There is seafood and fresh olives. Rome is only a four hour train ride away. The Amalfi Coast is on the other side of the boot. The city isn't overly touristy.

So, Bari might be the place. Now to figure out how to get there. And when. And what to live on. Meh, I'll figure out a way. Who knows what the spring will bring? Stay tuned...

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