Yearly Archives: 2011

Getting a Visa for Italy

I haven’t been much in the blog updating mood.  Instead, I’ve been bouncing around California thoroughly enjoying the company of family and friends.  Also, eating. Eating A LOT.

My main extracurricular activity has been waiting.  Waiting for paperwork from Italy, waiting for paperwork from the Italian Consulate in LA, waiting to see if I could go back to Rome.

I moved to Rome on a student visa and finished my Masters program in November.  Once you stop being a student, you cannot stay in Italy on a student visa.  Don’t think you can enroll in one more class and thus renew your permesso di soggiornio.  If you have finished the program that you got the visa for, it’s time to go home.

What you need: a new Italian visa.

Since my status had changed, I had to head back to the US and apply again.

I wish I had some secret tip to help you get an Italian visa, but the only thing you can do is fill out all the forms and wait.

I have complained about Italy’s bureaucractic hoops many a time before, but I have to say that the Los Angeles Consulate really came through for me this time.  For that, I am incredibly grateful and ready to fly back to Rome for Christmas.

I’m also exhausted. I had no idea how much waiting on a government could mess with your emotions. I am already dreading the renewal process. Or worse, the chance that I won’t be offered a opportunity to renew.

This uncertainty is so difficult for me to accept. I hate that I cannot live in a place where I have made my life.  The experience has really helped me understand larger immigration issues.

Here is how you get an Italian visa:

-Fill out the forms and follow the directions on the Italian Consulate website.  AND, I can’t believe I am saying this, but be nice to the bureaucrat who is in a position to help you. Don’t blame them for the ridiculous rules and requirements.  Just bring the papers they tell you to bring and smile.

-Marry an Italian

-Be patient.  It will happen.



Thanksgiving in Rome

Pulling off Thanksgiving in Rome is an expensive affair.  All that crazy American import food is going to cost you!  But last year I skipped hosting the holiday and felt incredibly homesick.  Thanksgiving homesickness is a thing apart from Christmas homesickness.  There is something about missing out on a holiday that’s not acknowledged in your adopted country that feels wrong. So wrong.

But should you want to undertake the challenge of hosting Thanksgiving in Rome, it’s totally doable given enough planning.

Your first task will be finding the turkey.  Most butchers can procure one whole so long as you ask about a week in advance. I was *very clear* in explaining that 8 kilos was the MAX my tiny Italian fridge and little Italian oven could handle.

It was still a challenge to get the bird in the mini fridge, but the turkey turned out to be an amazing conversation started.  The butcher, the butcher’s wife who runs the cash register, and the other customers were very curious about the bird:

“What are you going to put inside?”
“I thought Thanksgiving was in July…”
“Why does the date change every year?”
“Is it traditional to eat the entire turkey?”
“Yes. It is. I saw it on Friends.”

Good to know that Friends is the reference point for American culture.

You can find essentials like pumpkin filling and cranberry sauce at Castroni, but be willing to shell out the big bucks.  I’m actually back in the US and just bought Libby’s for $1.65.  In Rome, I paid about $7. Ridiculous.

I LOVE Thanksgiving, but I spent 15+ years as a vegetarian/vegan. I have NO idea how to cook a turkey.  Turns out, it ain’t that hard.  “I think I did it!”

The meal kicked off with the best soup of all time, courtesy of E, the mastermind behind the Rome Gelato Tour.

Our whole spread was a group effort and absolutely delicious.  (Hint: If you’re looking for sweet potatoes, you can get them at Mercato Esquilino by Piazza Vittorio Emmanule).

I am so lucky to have amazing friends and family, in the US and Italy.  The day as passed but I am so thankful for everything I have: an incredible love, a warm home, a cute kitty, a fulfilling job, and the best friends in the world!


Reading Italian Maps: X-pat Factor

Thanks to Maja of Reading Italian Maps for interviewing me in her ‘X-pat Factor’ series.  Girl has got an eye for all things Italy. I’m lusting after everything she finds on Etsy.

We talked about why I moved to Rome, and the best/worst things about living la dolce vita in Italy.  You can check out the interview here.

A big shout out to Tiffany of The Pines of Rome (another great blog you should check out), for being the first expat interviewee.



Guess what this is:


Dichiarazione di Valore.


Guess when I got it:

On the last possible day.

Today, I graduate. (I hope- I’ll find out if they call my name at 7 pm tonight).  That means today is the last possible day that I could demonstrate to the university in Rome that I had, in fact, obtained a four-year degree from an American university.

If you want to attend a graduate school in Italy, you need to verify your bachelors degree (and possibly your high school diploma).  They give you a declaration of equal value- a dichiarazione di valore.  If, for some reason, you want to know about how to get a dichiarazione di valore, I wrote about it before I moved to Rome.

Actually getting to the point where I could hold this mythical document in my hands was a two year odyssey.

The school has been asking me for months to provide the registrar with the original copy of the DV.

I hounded the consulate in Los Angeles, who after several emails and several phone calls from my mother, finally responded to let me know they had sent the DV to the school in May 2010.

Guess where I finally found the DV?


The people that threatened not to pass me because I had not provided proper documents, had the documents in their files the entire time.

In fact, as soon as she opened the file that I insisted she check, there was my name with a note:

Natalie- DV O.K.


Francis Bacon the Cat

We have a little international home in Rome and wanted to expand a little bit.  We recently adopted a tiny kitten who is not quite as tiny any more.

Meet Bacon, after the painter, not the delicious breakfast food.

He may look regal in that photo but his day-to-day tastes are slightly less refined.

He enjoys batting fingers that are trying to type.

Taking naps.

Pretending to be people and joining us for a delicious seafood lunch whipped up by the boy.

Aaaaaaand hanging out in the toilet.


Italian Winery of the Year 2012

Tasca d’Almerita, a Sicilian producer, was just named Italian Winery of the Year in the 2012 edition of Vini d’Italia.

Not only do they make great wine, they have someone who is great with social media and made a spot that is going viral on youtube.

Does anyone else want to go to Sicily right now?


Day Trip: From Rome to Pisa

Let me start out by saying that most people would not try to do Pisa in one day from Rome.  Luckily, we are not most people and were crazy enough to catch the 6:15 am Sunday train to Pisa.

One good thing about taking a four-hour train ride at 6:15 on Sunday morning is that no one else does, so we were able to catch some Z’s and arrived feeling pretty refreshed.

The fact that Pisa is pretty cute and we serendipitously stumbled upon a mercato, also helped soothe over the early morning start.

Not in need of any clothes or shoes? Well how about a nice porchetta sandwich to start the morning off right?

After a quick panino, we set off for Palazzo Blu… see if you can spot it:

We were in Pisa to see the Picasso exhibit being hosted there, but along the way, I managed to get distracted by an adorable little church.

And then the name of the street that runs along Palazzo Blu gave me pause:

The exhibit was ok.  We were a little disappointed that there were so many lithographs and so few paintings, but I thought it was well curated.

After being artsy, it was time to be touristy.  I mean, c’mon, it is pretty silly looking:

But it can look pretty straight if you get right up to it:

The rest of the afternoon was filled with ribollita, wandering down alleyways and drinking wine with the boy.  We had another 4 hour train ride ahead of us back to Rome, so we slowly made our way to the station.  It was A LOT of train riding in one day, that I wouldn’t recommend for everyone, but we had a great Pisa day trip.

The Lazy Lady’s Minestrone

One of the things I love about the fresh markets here are the pre-packaged veggies.

I know, I know, I could just chop up my own vegetables.  But I am tired and never home and these babies can go straight into the pot with a little stock.

Plus, the October chill is finally here and zuppa bubbling away on the stove makes for a nice cozy kitchen.  (Even if I faked most of the cooking effort).


Too Much Adventure in This Adventure

Looking back through my drafts, I realized that there are several half-thought out posts that I have yet to publish.  BUT this one struck me.  I wrote it on 28 September 2010.  Which means I have been in Italy for nearly 1 year and 1 month now.  Eeep!


Hi from LAX.

I have already had too much adventure for one day.

It is really weird to pack your life into four bags but I did it.

Well, I almost made it. I was that girl. That girl off to the side, desperately pulling things out of the bag in an attempt to make them come in under the weight limit.

I finally staggered onto the plane, after nearly an hour discussion with the ticketing agent about how much she should charge me for my “extra baggage.” (The commuter terminal at San Diego airport isn’t exactly fast paced).

The Cosmo magazine was the first to go.  I got it on the first plane, but there was no way it was continuing on with me.

After I got here to LAX, I managed to get off at the wrong terminal and eventually find my way to the Alitalia ticket counter.

The burrito was the next to go. I was not going to try to talk salsa verde through security a second time.

As I sat outside, shoveling pollo asada into my mouth, I spotted some paparazzi.

I won’t go into details to explain how I was instantly able to recognize two plain clothes dudes as ‘professional’ tabloid photographers, suffice it to say- I knew.

“Who are you waiting for?!” I demanded with my mouth half full.

They looked at me a little bewildered/alarmed.

“Which. Celebrity. Is. Coming?” I repeated slowly, as I chewed.

“Uh… Hali Berry,” one offered up, while backing away ever-so-slightly.

Screw that. No WAY was I waiting while Hali Berry holds up the security line.  My only hope was to beat her there. I took one final, sweet (huge) bite of burrito, gave the photographers the stink eye, and braced myself for LAX.

If there’s been this much trouble to travel 120 miles, I’m a little concerned about the remaining 5000 miles.  Though it has been an overly appropriate farewell to Southern California.

Riots in Rome: 100 injured, 1 Million Euro in Damages

Yesterday, what was supposed to be a peaceful protest inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement was hijacked by violent rioters.

I’m not sure if I moved to Rome at a strange time, but though I was shocked by the images being broadcast from a mile away, I wasn’t surprised.  I mean, this happened in December.

It was much much worse this time.

Rex images

Again, this stems from a very complicated political situation that I don’t think I’m in a position to comment much on, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the turn for the worse had something to do with Berlusconi’s narrow confidence vote the day before.

He needed a minimum 316 votes. He got exactly 316 votes.

We didn’t see any of the violence, though it took place within easy walking distance from our home.  Life in our neighborhood went on as usual as riot police blocked off all the tunnels that could be used by protesters to cross over to our side of the ancient Roman wall.

Things are normal again, but there has been more and more anarchist graffiti popping up.

The revolution is a daily exercise’

I just hope the next time Rome “Rises Up” there will be less homemade bombs and burning cars.