A heaping tablespoon of luck, combined with a pinch of RW’s awesome Army skills, led to the news that our first duty station on this round of the Army will be Vicenza, Italy. For those of you who knew we were slated to go to El Paso, Texas, you will recognize this as a major upgrade. Not only is living in Italy a great opportunity to immerse ourselves into another culture, the unit to which RW will be attached is a very good one, which is great for his short and long term career.
Vicenza is a city located in the northeast region of Italy, about 40 miles from Venice and 120 miles from Milan. Learn more about it here if you just can’t wait to know more! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicenza.
For all of you architecture buffs, Vicenza is the home of Andrea Palladio, whose Palladian style of architecture is found world wide. Think the White House as well as Jefferson’s Monticello and Rotunda.
The last two weeks have been a flurry of my Type A tendencies, as I aim to learn as much as possible about Vicenza, visas, Army health checks, apartments, driving rules, cars, caffes, airline pet rules, the best in cabin dog carriers, wine, bicycles, dog baskets for said bicycles, gyms, running routes, and where to buy kitty litter. Contrast this with the fact that the Army might tell me everything it thinks I need to know in its own sweet time… sigh. You can just imagine how hard that is for me! The entire Army experience is great for me to work on slowing down and going with someone else’s flow.
For now, no dates are set. RW may have another course that starts next week and will last one month. A likely scenario is that he will depart for Italy shortly after that course finishes (sooner if he does not get in). I am waiting on my official passport and no fee visa, as well as dependent health check approval before I can be added to the orders and get a plane ticket. Those documents may be back in time to leave with him, or they may not. Either way is fine- we will be living in a hotel for up to 3 months when we arrive, so his earlier arrival may help us get settled more quickly. There are a couple of options for housing, but I am hopeful that we can use a realtor to help us find our dream Italian apartment. I imagine cobblestone streets, caffes on the corner, my bike parked downstairs… Oh, and a parking spot and laundry. I am ready to live less like an American in general but certain things are non-negotiable.
The other pieces of the plan also all depend on the timeline. Bringing the pets is logistically challenging as we can only bring one pet each in the cabin with us, and there are often heat embargoes and restrictions on pets checked under the plane in the summer. I am still torn as to the best plan- bring two, leave two until someone can fly them over as carry ons, leave two and ship them in a month or two, or carry and ship them all on our flights. Unfortunately I think the trip will be stressful either way so I just need to pick the “least worst” option for the pets.
Right now we are in the process of trading in one of the SUVs for a smaller car with better fuel efficiency. Not only are the roads and parking spots much smaller in Vicenza, but gasoline is almost $10 per gallon! We do get some coupons, but not enough for a gas guzzler.
Due to the Statute of Forces Agreement between the US and Italy, I am not allowed to work there while on my no-fee, military visa. Acquiring an actual work visa is another bureaucratic process, and coupled with the fact that I am not eligible for an Italian veterinary license at this time means that I will most likely not be working in a traditional sense while there. I have some ideas for myself but nothing is flushed out enough to converse about it.
So that is that. Hurry up and wait! I am so excited for this adventure and cannot wait to share it with you all, whether in person, on this blog, or through Skype.