Scottish born Connie Milano left 40 years in California behind her to move to her husband's childhood village
1. Please tell us about yourself, where you hail from originally and how long you have been living in Italy?
I was born in Glasgow Scotland….moved to California and lived there for 40 yrs. I met my husband Gino in California. He was in the restaurant business in Vancouver and California.
2. What made you choose Italy as a place to live?
We moved to Enna, Sicily, the town where my husband Gino was born. He had left at 18 and always wanted to return to live in his home town to be close to his elderly parents and large family.
When you do not speak Italian or Sicilian for sure there are challenges. I am lucky that most people love to try and speak English with me and somehow we manage to communicate.
3. Tell us about the area you live in, what was it like to settle in as an expat? Did you come across any challenges?
Enna dates back to 135 BC. We have an amazing Norman castle...Castello di Lombardi with the famous Rocca di Cerese close by which was a temple dedicated to the fertility Goddess Dimitri. History says it was the site of human ritual sacrifices to the Goddess Dimitri.
We have over 28 churches but there were over 50 as each little neighborhood had their own church. The most famous is our breathtaking Duomo built 1307
We are close to lake Pergusa, famous again in Greek mythology where Persephone was abducted as she bathed by the lake by Hades. Zeus, the father of Persephone, made an agreement with Hades to allow his daughter to live half a year in the underworld. It's quite a story.
Lake Pergusa is also famous as a formula one race track from the 50's to the 70's. Many famous drivers from all over the world raced the circuit. It's still active but now hosts car and motorcycle shows The lake is now a protected wildlife habitat.
So we have many wonderful things/places to share with our guests.
Enna is situated in the very middle of the island and is lovingly called the belly button of Sicily. We are one hour from Catania and 1.5 hrs from Palermo. One hour to the ocean…nothing is too far away. It's a very good location to travel from.
4. Tell us about your b&b and cooking school Villa Isabella. What was the inspiration behind it?
Gino and I are both entrepreneurs and have worked very hard. Gino has successfully opened many restaurants over a 50 year span and I have opened many retail stores. We both agreed we still needed to be busy and around people so our Villa was perfect for a B&B & Cooking school. Many of our customers come from our restaurants. The food we teach is mainly Italian based and our customers want to learn from Gino the recipes they enjoyed eating at our many restaurants.
5. Share with us your website so that our readers can check it out!
My new website is under construction. I can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. As a final question, do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about wanting to move to Italy and start a new life here?
Moving to Sicily or Italy will be an experience worth having. The people, the food and the history is so worth it. For sure depending on what country you are coming from or if you have this heritage one must get paperwork in order.
For several years now there are many small towns that are working hard to repopulate and are giving big incentives to sell homes to foreigners. For sure one must visit and live like a local to see if this life is for you.
It has been a marvelous experience for us.
Photo of Castello di Lombardi by Dedda71 - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7660064