God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Italy Update Time

Well, it has been a while since updating the Italy saga--not that nothing is happening but we are at the bits and pieces stage--trying to get all the details set up for the much dreaded but anxiously awaited trip to the Italian Consulate in LA. It is rather inconceivable but nonetheless real that we could be denied our visa. The great dilemma continues to be the elusiveness of what it is that "they" require us to have. It's like a "we gotcha" game with only one side knowing the rules.

Anyway--the latest events, concerns and puzzlements are:

1. Our plane reservations are made and paid for--this brings a sense of true commitment. We leave July 30 at noon--arriving in Florence at 2 pm the next day. And then--our adventure as short-term expats begins! Our visas will be good for one year and so we will return to the US of A on July 30, 2007.

2. Ken and I are flying over March 4 - 15 in order to take care of details such as:

Kids normally need to be registered for school in January; however, my friend Rita--who is a real gift in our lives-- has talked with the school in Greve and since it does not handle enrollment via mail, they are quite willing to enroll Casey in March. Apparently all we will need is his birth certificate and his immunization records. As far as I can tell, Italy requires the same shots as California and so that is no problem--Casey needs no more immunizations until he is a teen-ager.

Casey's New School in Greve

Camilla--Alessandro's ( our landlord) daughter-- is in the same grade as Casey and already looks forward to our coming and helping him in the classroom. She and Casey have exchanged pictures. We will get there about 6 weeks before school starts and so, hopefully, he will have several friends from the sports center and park by the time the bell rings.

We have the rental contract worked out with Alessandro and so will sign and register it with the comune in March. We will then have that visa hurdle out of the way.
Alessandro has made this process easy, delightful and stress free--a harbinger of our relationship when we are living there. Every indication is that things will be smooth--both they and we are looking forward to a friendship between our families and the opportunities we will have to learn from each other.

The latest good news about our apartment is that it has ADSL computer hookup--which is not available in all places in Italy. For those of us who get upset when our high speed connection slows down a teeny-tiny bit, the thought of returning to a 28 or 56 speed dialup is nothing short of nightmarish!

Well, this is becoming a major focus of attention, frustation and concern right now. For reasons I do not and c
an not understand, there is little consistency within this world we call home when it comes to electronics, radio signals, frequencies, etc.

Basically, what we are wanting to do is take Casey's many DVD's and Game Cube paraphernalia over with us. Sound simple? Right? Wrong!

Televisions are different--the US has something called the NTSC signal system while Europe has something called the PAL system. DVD players need to output signals in the format that matches the TV. OK--then get a DVD player that works with Italian TV's--problem solved! Wrong, again.

When it comes to DVD's, the world is divided into 6 regions. The DVD's formated for one region won't play in another region. So, since USA is Region 1 and Italy is Region 2, we can't play our DVD's on a synchron
ized TV/PlayerPAL system.

Next solution: Get a DVD player that is 110-240 v; 50-60 hz and can switch between Pal and NTSC. This means we can play region 1 DVD's in Italy. Right? Right. But--we won't be able to play DVD's from Italy with this player. Plus, such a DVD player may not have the right connectors for the European TV which uses something called SCART rather than our coaxials and stuff like that. (If you understand about these things, you probably can tell that I don't have a clue about which I speak.)

So--I think I have figured it all out (with the help of a couple on-line gurus) and I think what we need does exist. It is a codefree, region free, dual current player with the ability to switch connector types. Now to decide where to buy it--here or there. One more thing to put on our "find-out about" agenda for March.

Next maze--figure out what to do about the Game Cube. Is there anyone out there who can make this journey into technological nightmare go away? If so, you'll earn a whole blog entry all your own! What a prize!

But now--it's time to think about Christmas and put Italy a way for a while.


Anonymous said...

hi Jane,

Just catching up on your blog. One word of advice about the Consulate. When you go, have everything you need including that form from the FBI that shows you are clean (they will get you for this if they can't think of anything else!) and plan to remain at the consulate, all day, until they give you the visa. If the first person says no, ask for a supervisor. Stand firm and show them you aren't leaving without your visa! I have heard the LA consulate is one of the easier ones, but I do know someone who got turned down there, when her husband and son were both approved!

Shannon (in San Diego.)

Diva said...

I am checking in too~
I know my friends who came here for a year with their two kids and enrolled them in Italian scholl.. brought an american laptop..and the kids watched the DVDs on the laptop...

I think I had given you my friend bills info. he did all his consulate stuff in SF

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

A lot of people in Europe are starting to have "universal zone" DVD players, that can play all zone DVDs, without having to switch anything back and forth. We have one in Norway and it wasn't really any more expensive than a zone 2 DVD player. Hope this helps!