I have achieved many of my objectives. I wanted to live somewhere with a sense of community. Our little town has a different communal festa for each month of the year, ensuring regular opportunities to meet everyone and have fun together, always accompanied by much heated discussion on the disastrous state of affairs to which we have all been by our common enemy, central government.

Retire in Le Marche, ItalyI wanted my children to grow up bilingual, and they now speak both Italian and the local dialect with only the faintest trace of something different to set them apart from their friends. Establishing a career or even finding steady work in a rural area of a country going through the worst recession in fifty years has been a challenge, and I’ve done everything from cleaning holiday houses to running building sites. My sons have found it hard at times being so different from everyone around them, their height and blonde hair establishing an immediate difference, but over the years we have been helped by local people countless times as we’ve traveled slowly from being new and raw to part of the local landscape. This may have been helped by my enthusiasm for local activities and my readiness to take on all challenges, which was why I found myself mangling Virginia Woolf’s wave like prose with my accented Italian.

My reading was welcomed by applause and as I sat down my husband leaned over. “L’allodola” he said, referring to my pronunciation of the lark in Italian, “you got it wrong again.”

I may be fluent, but there is still much work to be done on my accent.

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