I’m feeling a little sentimental today and a whole lot grateful as I sit here reflecting. I really have a terrific life that I am in awe of and a little bit frightened sometimes. Have you ever felt so happy that you have a wave or sense of impending doom because you know it just is impossible to get any better than this?

I push those thoughts away in order to live in the moment and enjoy every second, but sometimes you just have to sit down and take a moment to reflect on just how fortunate you are. It would be wrong to take it for granted.

This time last year, I was preparing for a trip to Tangier. We had thought about moving but I had never been there. I visited to see how I liked it and if it was a place I could live. I fell in love with it and was ready to make the move. Ben needed a little more time. We set the date for the end of September.

In February, we continued our love affair with Tuscany and visited Nippozano winery as guests of some friends, attended Carnevale in Viareggio and I returned to the U.S. for my annual visit to my parents. I also got to visit friends there.

Nipozzano

Nipozzano

Carnevale 2017 Viareggio

Carnevale 2017 Viareggio


March is always a good time to travel and we took a trip to Puglia. We stayed in Ostuni and visited many of the neighboring villages.


In April, my book, The Life I Imagined, was published and a friend held a book signing at her wine store. My brother and sister-in-law visited us for Easter. The sunsets start to become amazing at this time of year and we sat on the bridge to enjoy them.

Karen Mills, author, The Life I Imagined

Karen Mills, author, The Life I Imagined


I went to meet a friend in Bruges in May, and Ben and I took a quick trip to Venice. My best friend who was to visit at the end of May was diagnosed with a brain tumor, so didn’t get to make the trip.

I traveled with some friends up the hill to see the Villa Gamberaia in Settignano with its sweeping views and tranquil gardens. My son, Nick visited us in late June in conjunction with a business trip and we took him to Fiesole for a visit to the Etruscan ruins. The incredible sunsets continued.


July and August are not our favorite months in Florence so we spent a lot of time at the pool, in Castiglioncello thanks to the generosity of a friend, and took trips to Salerno, Camaiore, and Terreglio. At the end of the month, Linda took a turn for the worse and I flew to the U.S. to see her. She died on September 1. It was heartbreaking.


September was the month that we started packing up things, giving things away, selling things and getting down to business for our move. We had already booked our voyage from Genoa to Tangier and had documents to gather for the cats and ourselves. I was dealing with a lot of loss at this point, the loss of my best friend and the upcoming loss of my current home and friends here.

I tried to stay focused on the move and the future, and that worked out well. We made a quick trip to Bassano Del Grappa to see my son, said goodbye to all our friends and our beloved Firenze, and set sail from Genoa with Vincent and Felix James.


After we arrived October 3, it was a whirlwind of activity learning about the city, finding an apartment, moving in and getting settled. We’ve explored, visited, traveled to see Ben’s family and celebrated our first Christmas.


Wow! This year’s journey has had its ups and downs, as they all do, but all in all what a miraculous life. Viewing it like this humbles me/ Thanks for humoring me through this voyage of 2017, your readership at www.Anamericaninitaly.com and www.Directionofyourdreams.com . Thank you for buying my book and thank you for your love, support, and friendship. Happy New Year.

The winds of change are blowing in my life. At this point, I’ve seen many changes, both good and bad, but all of them have cumulatively led me to this wonderful place in my life. I have never been afraid of change and always approached it with optimism for the future. That being said, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of sleepless nights, anxiety, and concern. And so it goes with this change. I am excited, inspired, invigorated, intrigued, and ready to begin my new adventure. This time, I won’t be doing it alone, which is always a comfort.

My husband and I have decided to move to Morocco. We will be relocating to Tangier on September 30th. We are leaving on a ship from Genova for a forty-eight-hour voyage into Tangier’s Medport. We have secured an apartment on the seaside for our first five weeks while we look for permanent housing. We have packed up about 20 boxes of our precious belongings, secured passports for our two cats, sold all of our other worldly possessions and are ready to start anew!

I’m getting to be quite the expert at paring down my possessions, and the things that I packed to bring are odd and mostly of little value. They are the things that for me make a house a home. They are reminders of my past and my experiences and memories.

Why? Because dreams never really stop. Do they? I dreamed of living in Italy and have had an absolutely magical time here. Eight years of learning about the Renaissance, making new friends, learning a new language, embracing a new culture, falling in love, getting married, eating and drinking fabulous food and wine, and living “La dolce vita”. It’s been perfect. Well, almost.

There are a couple of things that caused us to consider another place to live. Bureaucracy in Italy takes its toll, and for us, documentation issues don’t give us the freedom to travel together outside of Italy, something that we both feel very strongly about. Secondly, between not being able to find full-time work, the taxes that must be paid, and the cost of living, it creates an unnecessary economic environment for us.

My husband is from Morocco. He grew up in Meknes, which is about 4 hours on the train from Tangier. He originally suggested Tangier as a possibility because it is a large, upcoming city with lots of growth and national attention. It is a “western civilization” due to the international flair coming from the influences of France and Spain combined with Moroccan history and exoticism. One hour on the ferry from Spain, you can hear many languages lilting across the warm sea breezes where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Seas come together.

In order to make this big life altering decision, I decided to visit Tangier on my own. It was important for me to learn if I was comfortable walking alone in the streets, shopping in the stores, eating out, communicating with locals etc. Of course with my husband there, it would be easy, but I am independent and would like to stay that way. You can read more about my trip in upcoming blogs, but suffice it to say that not only was I comfortable, I was inspired, and fell in love with this amazing city. The decision turned out to be an easy one.

So, here we are, just a few weeks away from the big move. I will no longer be An American in Italy! Oh, what to do about that? Well, first of all, I want to thank you all for your loyal readership. It has been wonderful to share this part of my journey with you all. Secondly, I would like to invite you to follow me as I continue my journey and change the direction of my dreams. In fact, my new blog will be called, The Direction of Your Dreams and you can find it here.

You can also find me on Facebook.

The new blog will be similar to this one but will have more personal essays as I explore my new home, encounter a new culture, learn yet another new language, and travel to/from and around Africa. On Monday, September 18th you can start to learn all about the preparations for the voyage and my experiences along the way. See you there!

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The Boboli Gardens are something that I always include on my must see list. There are not many flowers in the Italian style garden, but there is a lot to see. The climb up the stairs inside gives way to a spectacular view of Palazzo Pitti and all of Florence. The fountains and sculptures along the way make it interesting and there are different levels to stop and admire the views and take photos.
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Off to the sides, there are many delightful covered paths, sheltered from the sun, and lines with sculptures along the way. Going down one side gets you to the incredible fountain with its many sculptures, and fish swimming. We saw a heron having dinner!
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To the other side of the gardens you will find the smaller gardens of the Bardini Palace and the Buontalenti Grotto. Deep inside the park, you will see Italian teenagers playing soccer, or in the grass with cards. Other people go there to read, sun, picnic, or just to sit and take in the beauty. Some like to sketch the sculptures or fountains.
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Getting outside and into these gardens is a nice break from being inside a museum. There is beauty to explore in Florence both inside and out!
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