We have made a lot of progress. The shipment has been picked up. We dropped off a goodwill donation and something a friend wanted and finished the grocery shopping yesterday morning. The trash left was grabbed by the Junk pickup people today. This is a photo of what we are shipping to Italy. 16 boxes and one rocking chair.

Looks like junk, I know, but it is MY junk!

We have been here for ten days so far. We have shopped for food, interacted with lots of people, and eaten out several times. So far these are my impressions after being away for five years in no particular order.

Everything here is about speed and convenience. There is take out everywhere, or delivery services. Everything is fast and efficient. The groceries are full of already made food or dinner kits or ready to cook produce and marinated meats. The produce looks nice. The variety is pretty incredible. There is a much bigger emphasis on foods for people who have food intolerances. Whole aisles dedicated to them. The service is copious and friendly. The size of the stores is incredible. Italy is not about speed and convenience. Italy does have the Iper Mercati which are just about as big, and they also DO have prepared foods. Just not in the quantities as here. They do have some foods for people with intolerances but a LOT less and a lot smaller selection. The service in Italy is nearly nonexistent.

Going out to eat is eye-wateringly expensive. The servers are incredibly annoying. They are crazy cheerful and seem to want to be my best friend. At the beginning of every meal they seem to feel the need to recite the entire menu (like I can’t read) along with telling me their personal favorites (do I care?) trying to encourage me to buy many courses, and selling the expensive items. Wines are triple or quadruple the retail prices.

All prices are staggeringly high for everything. It is a stark difference between the U.S. and Italy. I do not notice a lot of inflation in Italy. Prices are very reasonable for food, wine, going out to eat.

The culture is much younger in the US.

Drug commercials! Argh!

We haven’t had a decent cup of coffee since we came. The rental house has only a drip coffee maker so the coffee tends to be very weak. Espresso is steamed as opposed to drip so there can be no real comparison. But here, even the espresso is wimpy.

The rental house was built in the 1800s and is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath right in Old Town. It even has parking! It is walkable to everything. This is not the norm for the US since most people live in the suburbs. We lived in Old town for 16 years and chose it for its walkability.

Forced air heat 😳. I had totally forgotten about this. The whirring of the fans all the time. Garbage disposal that grinds up food! And no recycling. All are differences from Italy.

Our rental car has automatic protections against car jacking. Hmmmm.

I have had some of my favorite things to eat while here. I had a crab cake sandwich (not great). I had a lobster roll (great). Seared scallops were also great. Luther and my sister had raw oysters. None of these are seen in our part of Italy. Seared scallops.

So a job well done by us. The unit is empty. My goal has been accomplished. Hooray! A big sigh of relief all around!

16 thoughts on “Impressions

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Tony, well, when we moved here I did NOT think it was permanent and that I would go home. So, I only took the things I didn’t really like. I left my favourite things back in the US. I didn’t want to throw them away so I am paying duty now and shipping etc to have them here. I am happy I am doing it. It will be nice to have them back again

  2. Tony M

    Something a friend, who lived abroad for a few years told us before we moved to the UK was that we probably wouldn’t want to have anything left behind in a storage unit. Paying rent on a little space to keep things we probably wouldn’t want to have/use should we move back. We did keep a storage unit, as our move was short, 3 years. But happy we did keep our things. It’s ones personal choice to do this. I completely understand. Much has changed since COVID in how we do things, eating out is one of them. But I’d gladly give up all that to be living in Italy. Happy you’re closing a chapter with ‘what’s left behind’.

  3. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Mark,
    Sure, but we not in Arlington we’re in Old Town Alexandria. This house was super comfortable for the 11 nights we stayed. We got a two bedroom because my sister stayed with us. It is walkable to lots of restaurants and all the sights and the waterfront. Here is the link

    I hope you have fun. I’ll be happy to get back home!
    Hi to Sandi!

  4. Mark Lane

    Hi Nancy,
    It was very interesting to read your take on the US after 5 years’ absence. We are going back next fall and would like to know of a good rental place with walkability and charm. Would you be willing to share the contact details on the house you had in Arlington?
    Thanks, Sandi and Mark (Lane)

  5. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Cheri, dining out in Italy especially outside the cities there is really cheap. There is no tip expected but handing your waiter a euro or two is a treat for them. Today when walking by an Italian place here we saw a pizza Margherita was $19.00 😳 in Italy it would be €4.00 – about $5.00! What a difference!

  6. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Rosemarie, this was a working trip with little to no time to do anything. I saw a total of my sister and Luther’s brother and wife and their kids. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to see you! Thanks for the invite. You’re sweet. We fly home Sunday. Tomorrow we meet our grand niece and nephew.

  7. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Carlo, I guess I wasn’t clear. The first photo is the stuff the shippers packed up and sent to Italy. I should get it in 10 weeks. I had totally forgotten I had all those glasses. They don’t make them anymore and are now considered vintage. I guess I am vintage too then! 🤣

  8. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Ah Catherine, you don’t know how great if feels to have this done! It’s been hanging over me for years! Yes! Next thing up, new kitchen! 😃

  9. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hey Matt, this stuff in my first photo was the stuff I am shipping to Italy. The Junk guys got nothing of use. I too have heard people complain about inattentive Italian waiters, but the waiter figures once served they leave you be and if you need anything you’ll just signal them. I’m surprised the American waiters don’t pull out a chair and take a seat with me! 🤣

  10. Cheri Nienhaus

    Yeah I think the server friendliness has a lot to do with earning a good tip. Not that they wouldn’t be nice anyway, but I think our tipping culture has a lot to do with it. I can’t wait to get to Italy so we can actually afford to eat out more.

  11. Rosemarie Lentini

    I have been trying to reach you to invite you to dinner or lunch here in Potomac. Not very far. Tonight or anytime this weekend. Call us at

  12. Carlo

    Nancy, that doesn’t look like junk at all! Actually, I flinched seeing all those nice crystal and German wine glasses sitting out on the concrete floor! I think I remember drinking good Alsatian wines from those traditional glasses at two or three of your homes over the years!

    As to coffee, the best espresso here is made using Italian commercial espresso machines by dedicated professional baristas. We are lucky to have a few nearby. I also use an Italian espresso machine and grinder here at home. It’s the only way to go!

    Good luck with your remaining household item shipping. It’s great to see the empty storage unit. Good job!

    All the best to you and Luther! Safe travels.

  13. Catherine Rowley

    Congratulations!! An incredible feat; disposal and ‘letting go’…all rolled into one
    trip. Must feel really good!! Also, the comparisons were interesting; somehow puts things in perspective I would think, perhaps you’re missing ‘home’….I guess it’s no wonder the Slow Food movement originated in Italia….safe travels. Look forward to your next post; maybe from Umbertide, with the new kitchen taking further shape. Auguri, Catherine Rowley

  14. Matthew Daub

    Wow, Nancy, I’ll bet your junk guys thought they died and went to heaven when they eyeballed your stash. They hit the jackpot! Your comments are so interesting about servers in the US versus servers in Italy. I’ve heard so many Americans complain about Italian servers being inattentive. They don’t realize that it’s considered rude for a server to stop by every few minutes to ask if you need something. In Italy the table is yours and a meal is not to be rushed. Bet you can’t wait to get home!

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