Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rome, Vatican city and Saint Peter's Basilica

Where does one even start when talking about Rome?? There is sooooo much to take in, it's overwhelming and completely exhausting. I am going to do several posts about Rome, I don't want to overwhelm anyone with the world's longest post.

Vatican City is it's own "country". You must bring your passport to get in and will be required to go through security before entering. It is made up of many museums and gardens, and of course the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. I recommend getting a tour guide, they are easy to find and affordable as they hang out around the Vatican just waiting for their next customer. (If you are military you can get a USO tour guide, they are awesome, contact the office in Rome).

 Depending on your tour guide and your preferences there are many different things you can see in the Vatican. We saw the Sistine Chapel ("Creation of Adam" painting on the ceiling, aaaammaazing!), St. Peter's Basilica, animal statues, a hall of statues, beautiful old HUGE tapestry's hung on the wall in a low light hall and we walked through a gallery of what looked like 3D molding on the ceilings and walls but was actually a 2D painting. 

The body that Adam in Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" in the Sistine chapel (no pictures allowed) is based off of.

So much beautiful artwork.

One of the Pope's entrances to the Vatican.
Here are some photos of St. Peter's Basilica, it is absolutely amazing. There is a statue of St. Peter that everyone stands in line to touch his feet, believing they will be blessed.

Swiss guard outside St. Peter's Basilica.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on Reposo...

Reposo is the "afternoon break" that Italians take. Pretty much everything closes down for a few hours every afternoon. Supposedly this is for taking a rest but every Italian I have asked says "we do NOT sleep!". So I suppose the rest is just a break from work or shopping.  (Although they should be taking a nap after how late they all seem to stay up and how early they get up...)

In some ways I find this a very charming tradition. There is no way you could make Americans "stop" for a few hours every afternoon. But to Italians, this is part of every day life, part of their culture.

To be honest though, this tradition sometimes aggravates me. There are times when I have said to myself, "I will pick up ingredients for dinner after I eat lunch, on my way home", forgetting that everything will be closed. And then I have to make a trip back in to the store in a hurry, right before dinner.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Italy has wonderful open air markets where you can find all kinds of fresh foods and cheap clothes and knick knacks.
Here is a great resource for finding some markets in Italy:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jesolo Beach

Just north of Venice is a beach called Jesolo beach. I had heard that the traffic gets pretty bad going towards the beach on the weekend and we definitely experienced that this weekend! It took us about three hours to get to the beach and only one hour to get home. I recommend leaving early to head to the beach on a weekend. Which means BEFORE 9 am. We left at 9 am, next time I think I want to leave at least by 8 am, maybe earlier.
Lido di Jesolo (Lido=beach) stretches for 15 km. I really couldn't tell you where exactly we were along the beach, we basically found some parking and headed for the waves! We set up camp on some the rows and rows of chairs and umbrellas, later we found out that they are reserved, oops.

There are lot's of cute little shops in Jesolo, it's your typical beach town. This is Europe, so you will see topless women (and girls) and lot's of men (and boys) in speedos.

Also on the beach you should expect to be constantly harassed by the various vendors selling sunglasses, hats, even fake tattoos. I thought it would be funny to ask one of the tattoo guys if he would do it on my husband's behind, just to see what he would say. He said yes! And then when I told him I was kidding and didn't want it, he hung out pestering me for another 5 minutes. So if you don't want anything don't talk to these guys, they are persistent! There are places to rent various types of boats as well, we didn't do it but these paddle boats with slides look fun!

Cost: The autostrada from Caserma Ederle costs 4,80 Euro there and 5,90 Euro getting back. Parking was 1,60 Euro/hour. There are cheaper outdoor parking lots for around 5-8 Euro for the whole day, if you can find them. We used quite a bit of gas due to all the stand still traffic. There were free public restrooms. We packed a picnic lunch, my favorite way to save money!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Conversions hurt my head

Let's talk about what it's like living in a foreign country. The biggest thing that both Nick and I have noticed is how many conversions we have to make (and remember how to make!). Such as euros to dollars, dollars to euros. Pounds to kilos, gallons to liters, and miles to kilometers. It gets really tricky when you are at an Italian grocery store and the price of produce is in euros per kilo. Umm, yikes. Oh yeah and Celcius to Farenheit...even my oven is in Celcius! AUGH!

Then there are the road signs, we had to learn them all to get a license here but it's still hard to remember sometimes. And they have some doozies. Thank goodness our speedometer has kilometers per hour on it!

Even when you plug things in you have to make sure to use a converter if it needs it.

Then there is the language. We are attempting to learn it, but we have both realized that it is going to take time and perseverance. Just one more thing to make our brains work work work.

It takes a lot of brain power to live here! I'm hoping all of this will come more naturally with time but right now, we are mentally exhausted!


Here in Italy there are three types of housing. On-post housing, government leased and private rentals.

On-post is a little ways from post but is surrounded by a fence and you have to show ID to get in, just like post. There are a few (very few) officer houses on Villagio.
Here is a VIDEO of an on-post apartment.

Government leased are places that the government rents and puts people in, the government pays the utilities and deals with the landlord. Typically if there are any government leased places available they will force you to take one, you cannot choose private housing unless all the government stuff is full because they don't want them sitting empty when they are already paying for them. There are different houses available through government lease, some that are meant for enlisted, some upper enlisted and some officer. Enlisted are typically in an apartment building with a shared yard whereas upper enlisted and officers are sometimes in a duplex or something that has it's own yard.

Private housing you rent yourself from a local landlord, housing helps you work out a contract but you are on your own for utilities. If you are in private you get an allowance for utilities but it can be difficult to figure out sometimes as they don't consistently send your utility bills and sometimes add random charges. But it is nice to be able to have more of a choice in where you live when looking for housing. Check out to see the listings of private housing. They have listing for all the different bases in Europe so if you want to get an idea of what housing is like where you will be moving, check it out! If you are wondering how much your overseas housing allowance is check here:

When I talked to housing they told me that they are in the process of approving a plan that will force ALL officers out of Villagio and government lease (not force them out now but not allow them any new contracts...) Officers will have to get a private rental. That way there will be more government housing available for enlisted. This is not in place yet, but is in the far as I understand :)

Making our way to Italy

When the word "Italy" came up on my husband's AKO, we jumped for joy. We were so excited for the opportunity to go overseas. We had no idea the amount of stress that we were about to face in the process of getting there.

When a service member gets reassigned the first sign that it is "official" is that it comes up on his AKO (the online military system they log into). But before they can really do anything to prepare for the move, they have to have official orders in hand. When going overseas you have to jump through several hoops before they will hand you those orders. You need to make an appointment for your health screening. They will want to know what services you might need so that they can make sure that those things are available at the place you are supposed to be going. Once the place you are supposed to go has said whether they have the health services you might need you can move on to the next step, waiting for official orders.

The minute you have those orders in hand you need to go to the official passport office (not the regular tourist one, we are talking about a military one here, usually on base). Passports take time, especially for us civilians who are on the bottom of their priority list. And if you are going to Italy or England, you need that passport asap so that you can send it right back out to apply for a visa.

Often times orders like to come at the last minute, just to keep you on your toes. So when you get those orders you will want to hurry over to the transportation office to arrange for your movers. When I did this they gave me a website to go to (not sure if all bases are doing this or not...) and it was a pain. We had to arrange three different shipments. We were authorized storage and unaccompanied baggage (about 1,000 pounds that got to go by plane to get there just a little faster so that we would have some things while waiting for the rest of our stuff to come by boat) and then of course the rest of our stuff went in "household goods".

Oh yes, and your car. Typically they will ship one car for you. They will come pick it up from you but if you live close to the port where it will be shipped from I recommend driving it there yourself because you get money for it (like a DITY move) and it's more than enough so you can pocket some extra.

Then you must arrange how to get yourself there, you get to pick a date. From what I understand you can report up to 30 days prior to your "report date", and it's good to be there at least a few days in advance. I recommend you get all moved out, then takes some time to make the rounds visiting friends and family and then head on over to your new assignment. Once you know you're leaving, the sooner you can get your stuff moved, the sooner you will get it on the other end!

Most importantly, try not to STRESS! AAAAAH! Good luck!


Living overseas as a military spouse has it's ups and downs. Military life is different than "normal" life, even without living in another country. While service members are sacrificing for our country, their family members are often right beside them making their own special sacrifices to support them. One of those sacrifices is being willing to move wherever and whenever the military tell you. Sometimes it's much further from "home" than other times. It can be hard to be so far from home, but there are a lot of amazing experiences to be had as well. I hope that this blog can give you a glimpse of what it is like to live in Europe and maybe it can even give you a few vacation ideas or help make your move go a little bit smoother.