It will be a little depressing to return to New Zealand. Don’t get me wrong: I love New Zealand for its wide open spaces, fresh air, laid-back lifestyle and stunning scenery. But I have to admit it lacks variety and the sophistication of a European city. Yep, NZ (and Australia) are much younger countries, so you’re just not going to spot ancient Roman ruins in the middle of the Canterbury Plains or lying around Uluru!

It’s the lack of variety I’m going to miss most. In Testaccio, literally around the block, are two gelaterias and two stunning patisseries. Two blocks away are the Testaccio markets where I can pick up a sparkling pair of Italian leather sandals for Euro 16.00-35.00 (or around NZ 26.00-57.00) or a hand-made leather handbag for Euro 50.00 (or around NZ 82.00). Testaccio is studded with little boutiques that sell high quality clothing – not the chain store Made In China crap we get back in NZ.

A brisk walk into Trastevere and I can pick up a buttery soft handmade leather bag from Carlo Cecchini. This will cost a little more – Euro 135.00 plus – but is so worth it. And then there’s my favourite cafe in Testaccio – Zi Elena – where I drop in every morning for my cappuccino and ciambella on my way to Piramide Metro station.

And I’ll miss the creativity of the Italians with their window displays and quality products. In Cavour, for example, is a wonderful little patisserie that sells bread fashioned into all sorts of amazing animals and shapes.

But I miss the quiet of New Zealand and the open spaces. I miss my dogs and horses. If working in Rome had come earlier in my life and career, I would have had no hesitation in moving here. Now though, I’m enjoying the quieter life and laid-back lifestyle of New Zealand (although people in the South Island can be a little bit too laid-back!). I enjoy the fact I have plenty of space to grow my veges. I have the land for goats, horses and cows. My cows can provide fresh milk. Mabel, the mother goat, can provide goat milk to turn into soaps and lotions.

Living in the apartment building in Testaccio has been a great experience though. People live on top of each other and hang out windows, watching the world go by. It’s full of Italians who speak no English and it was somewhat hilarious explaining to the woman, who acts as concierge during the mornings, that apartment 33 had no electricity.

The conversation went like this – Me: Appartamento trenta tre,  elettricità nada. Her: nada? Me: zippo. She then goes to the electricity board and checks – the switch is down for apartment 33 – she flicks it back up and the whole building went out. Her: Mama Mia!! Me: Sorry gotta go to lavoro (work). Ciao!

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