Connie Costa and family exchanged Los Angeles for life on the island of Sicily
1. When did the idea of moving to Italy first arrive for you?
It was always in the back of my mind but more of a "wish" than something I would actually do.
2. When did the idea turn into the actual decision to move
In 2019 when I returned from my usual Italian Summer vacation, I did not want to go back home to Los Angeles; it was too much to bear. I was really, really down. I wanted to stay in Italy. Plus, things back home in California weren't what they used to be, so I suggested the idea to my husband, and he was on board. Yay!
3. How long did it take to then move here once the decision was made?
One year. We returned to Los Angeles in July 2019 when I felt called to move to Italy. We got all the paperwork done, made all the arrangements, and by August 2020, we were already living in Italy. We were supposed to move in June 2020, but the pandemic made us get there a few months later than scheduled.
4. Can you paint a picture of how you felt about finally living here in Italy?
It was exhilarating! I was excited, nervous, elated, and confused all at once. The logistics of moving to a foreign country can be overwhelming. There is so much to do and figure out. However, being here felt so good and so right. I knew I was meant to be here. Plus, the Universe kept magically opening doors for me, so I knew it was my calling.
5. What do you do here in Italy, do you work/have your own business?
What I do in Italy is what I have always done. I am a Holistic Life Coach, Sicily Travel Host, Published Writer & International Speaker. Years ago, I started taking my coaching clients to Sicily and would lead personal development retreats on the island. Then, people who were not my clients would tell me they too wanted to go to Sicily, so I started a second company called "Exclusive Sicily Tours."
Next year I will lead another personal development retreat in Sicily, and I can't wait!
This year I also launched Bespoke Luxury Sicily, my luxury line. Private villas, private chefs, yachts, private drivers, private VIP access, it's Sicily done right. My specialty is having access to the best this island offers, so I love providing a service that my clients cannot get anywhere else.
I am incredibly passionate about everything that I do, from writing articles in magazines to coaching my clients to showing Sicily to my clients through my eyes. I love to surround my clients with beauty and offer them transformational experiences.
6. What were you top two greatest challenges when you first moved here? How did you get over them?
A. Going through the hoops of Italian bureaucracy.
I learned to demand what I needed. I am a very polite person, but I know that you must be a bit pushier here in Italy than usual. I am still not a mean person, but I walk into the room with confidence and don't leave until I get what I need.
B. Driving in Palermo!
Oh my. I honestly thought I would NEVER drive in Palermo. I was convinced and ready to hire a private driver. The way I overcame it was the only way to overcome anything- by just doing it! At first, I had my husband and friends with me as passengers all the time; I could not drive without them. Eventually, I felt confident enough to need them no longer. Now, I find it funny that I could not drive here. Yes, it's very challenging because it feels like you're in an evil video game where everyone's goal is to kill you, but eventually, you get used to it.
7. What is something that has surprised you the most about what you love about living in Italy?
All the fun family events. There are so many fun things to do with kids here. And all the activities are CHEAP!
Sure, there are many things to do in Los Angeles, but they are all so pricey. Between tickets, parking, and food, any form of entertainment in LA was hundreds of dollars. With just 10 euros TOTAL, you have access to fabulous events in Sicily.
8. Is there anything that you would do differently here, if you had your time over?
In general, I believe there is no failure, just feedback. So even though we made a few mistakes, I would not change them because we learned so much. The only thing I can think of is that I rented an expensive car for over a year. I wish I could have bought a used car and then bought something newer much later. So now I feel like it was tons of money wasted down the drain.
9. What is the strangest thing about Italian culture that you thought you would never get used to but now couldn't live without?
Most businesses shut down at 1 pm and do not re-open until 4 pm. I thought I would hate that, and sometimes it can be not very pleasant; however, now I love that it's so much quieter at that time. There's no traffic and no lines at the supermarkets. I get so much done while everyone else is napping.
10. Give us a run-through of your favourite Italian day.
I take my son to school early in the morning in Palermo. Then, I go back home, and my husband and I go to our local bar and have coffee and some famous Sicilian pastries. We walk a bit in our gorgeous town to get some exercise, and then we go back home and work on our businesses.
In the evening, we pick up our son. I cook a delicious homemade Italian lunch, and after that, we go to our local beach and swim altogether.
In the late evening, we meet with friends and participate in one of Palermo's many fun family events.
We all go out to dinner at night in a fantastic authentic restaurant (too many to choose from!). We follow this with a nice passeggiata and gelato or Sicilian granita.