We got our visas!

Genzano di Roma, here we come!  On May 12th, I was scrolling through my inbox and saw the following message and literally started screaming.


That’s right, 6 words, no punctuation, no capitalization.  Doesn’t matter. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing you won’t be moving to a new country as an illegal immigrant.  So wonderful, in fact, Niko drove there today to get them…an 8 hour round-trip drive.



First Car Shipped!

After our visa appointment, and some Crescent City Beignets, we headed down to the port in Galveston, Texas to ship Niko’s car.  I’d been researching for some months for a reliable yet affordable company to use. Niko has a Mercedes CLK500 and the quotes I’d received to ship the car from Galveston to Livorno ranged from $1350 to $1900.  About a month ago I started sifting through the quotes again to decide on a company and start the paperwork.  One problem…Bad reviews, I mean bad.

 “Every one of their agents is a liar. DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR BELONGINGS AGAIN. They make me wish cutting off the hands of thieves was legal. These lying stealing crooks would have no hands if the law allowed that remedy.” Continue reading “First Car Shipped!”

Visa Attempt #2

Visa Attempt #1

After having our visa request denied, we were back in Houston, almost 1 month to the day and only 55 days before we were set to fly out for good. After hours and hours of blog reading, forum searches, and even a successful attempt to reach the Houston Italian Consulate by phone, we thought we had it figured out. Note: Each Consulate has it’s own set of rules for approving visas.  Although there are guidelines established as a minimum by the country, Italy, itself.  Each consulate is given complete autonomy for all approvals.  They can require more money for cash reserves, more money for passive income and even if you do meet the criteria, they can still flat out deny you. However, this consulate told us we needed 30 days bank statements and proof that we have at least 32,000 EUR in passive income per person. When asked if that “per person” requirement included our 6 and 12 year old daughters, we were not given a clear answer. We were not given an answer at all, only a scolding.  The woman on the other end, said “It doesn’t matter what I tell you over the phone, you need to come in person anyways.” Continue reading “Visa Attempt #2”

Visa Attempt #1

As you can see from the title, we did not obtain our visa this visit.  Our first visa appointment was for April 1st at 9 am at the Italian Consulate in Houston.  We wanted to arrive at 830 in plenty enough time to show to show our eagerness for the appointment and respect for officer conducting the interview.  Well, needless to say, we didn’t arrive that early.  We arrived at the office at 8:58 am to find that the office doesn’t even open until 9.  We were relieved.  We waited until 9:01 am and politely as possible rang the door bell to Suite 660. A tall man opened the door then walked around the back to approach the window and ask what we needed.  I announced in Italiano, “Siamo qui per un appuntamento di visto.” He asked, in Italiano: our last name, how many of us were present and if I were doing the interview in Italian.  I requested, “Inglese per favore.”  He said the officer only spoke Italian.  I was shocked, my Italiano isn’t THAT good.  It’s barely above a beginner’s level. Continue reading “Visa Attempt #1”


From left: Emerald, Nene, Niko, Chase, Missy.  Bottom: Aaja

We’re a blended family from Texas about to embark on the experience of a lifetime. WE’RE MOVING TO ROME THIS SUMMER.  It all started with a vision Niko had for our honeymoon.  As a fairly frugal person, I was impartial to having a honeymoon at all, but I figured we could spend a long weekend in the Caribbean, sure, why not.  Well…Niko was not having that, he wanted to go Rome.  I showed him the price difference between the two and just knew he would choose the Caribbean.  But no. He told me, “Look, I’m going to Rome, you can go to Mexico or wherever, if you want.” (You’ll come to know his humor, if that’s what you can call it.)  Needless to say we booked our honeymoon to Italy for 3 nights in Venice, Florence and Rome.  We were in love! Oh, and by the way, Hurricane Dean devastated the Caribbean islands that August. Since 2007, we’ve been to Italy 5 times and feel like there’s so much more to explore.

So what initiated the move now? Well, as an petroleum engineer in the oil and gas industry, I felt the thorn of low oil prices that plagued the industry starting in late 2014.  I could feel the layoffs in the air. Without my job, we could manage, but we would probably be house poor.  Thankfully, several corporations had decided to relocate to West Plano and even though we’d only been in our home for a year and a half, we had  tons of equity. Even the going rent was about $1000 more than our monthly mortgage.  Being a God-fearing and believing family we prayed about the decision, looked at some homes for rent in Rome, ran the numbers on just my husband’s income as a part-time government contractor.  Welp, it seemed that all roads let to Rome!  We decided to make the move about a month after our daughters were out of school for the summer, the first of July.

My God-given instincts about my job security were right.  On Jan 5th, I was laid off along with many other engineers at my company.  The travel agency I started in August of 2015, primarily as a tax deduction and an avenue to get cheaper travel for our yearly summer vacations, had been bringing in good money, but boomed almost immediately after my layoff.  Our home is currently listed for sale and rent.  Our flight tickets are purchased and our visa appointment is coming up this Friday.  All the wheels are set in motion and we decided to bring everyone along for the ride.