A Grand Retirement Adventure by Alan Blake: Part 2

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A Grand Retirement Adventure by Alan Blake: Part 2
A Grand Retirement Adventure by Alan Blake: Part 12

Our apartment is “furnished,” and our landlady wrote to us that she provided sheets and blankets knowing that, arriving on a holiday weekend, we would not have these with us. We know there are some dishes and cookware, but in our anxiety we did not take a full accounting of all the available items in the apartment.

We are arriving in Winter, and the daily highs this mid-December have generally been 12 Celsius (53 F) to 4.5 Celsius (40 F).  It does snow in Montepulciano from time to time. We will take 7 days of winter clothes. We hoped to ship summer clothes, but discovered that Italy bans the shipping of clothes to them.  Italy actually has a long list of banned items, including medications, shoes, and many everyday items (FedEx and DHL have list of the banned items they will not accept). We will take as much as we can pack into two large suitcases, carry on backpacks, and our electronic items.  We expect to go on shopping trips from time to time if we want additional clothes. We also expect to buy a few appliances and bedding.

We know we can bring medication for personal use in our luggage, even if we may not have it shipped.  We are packing medications and hope it will not be an issue as we have as much as 6 months stock of some medications in original bottles.  We have read on websites that we may be limited to three medications, but we have multiple types of medication so we are a bit concerned. In addition, we must bring pharmacy lists of medication to verify our medications. On vacation, bringing medication has not been a concern, but bringing such a quantity in carryon luggage may raise questions with TSA in the US.  We have not encountered checking of luggage when entering Italy, and do not expect checking for this trip.  We keep our meds in the original bottles and packages to make it clear the meds are for personal use.  Should there be an issue, we will need to find a doctor as soon as possible to get prescriptions written with local pharmacies (as well as leaving purchased meds behind).

We have phones that work in Italy from T-Mobile, but after 3 months out of North America service will be stopped.  Therefore, we will need to get Italian phone service by getting Italian SIM cards for our phones, and have pre-paid service or an Italian phone plan. We arranged with T-Mobile to suspend service in late March so we may keep our numbers to use when we get back. We think we will like the local phone plan because, while T-Mobile has unlimited data, the best they offer is 2G which is very slow at best.

We have purchased four electrical converters as Italy is on a different electrical system, as well as the plugins are different from the US and Canada (Target, Walmart, AAA). Converters are desirable for computer connections and other electronics.  Electricity in Europe comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at 50 cycles per second; in the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only are the voltages and frequencies different, but the sockets themselves are different with rounded plugs.  For those electrical appliances that may not need conversion, we have some adapters.

As we will be on planes, trains and buses, we are trying to pack one large bag, one carryon bag and our electronics per person.  Trying to lug two large bags per person seems daunting to us.  As we had thought we could ship many items, but due to the Italian prohibitions we need to decide what is essential, what we can live without, and if we can get it all in our luggage.  We may be wearing extra clothes on the plane to get a few more items to Italy.  We are taking days to pack – we have to be thoughtful about arriving to Montelpulciano on a Sunday and on a holiday weekend.  We think the supermercato will be open to buy food, but we do not expect other stores to be open until Monday.  We will have travel size toiletries and  two small towels.  We also have weighed our luggage so we are under the 50-pound limit (22.67 kilos).

We have watched the news and searched the internet for information about Italian issues with COVID.  A new requirement is to wear a higher quality face mask on public transportation, as well as wearing face masks outside.  A vaccination card (CDC / Italian Green Pass) and a FFP2 mask (similar to N95 mask in the US) are required to ride public transportation.  We found these masks at QuikTrip, and believe they are also at Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart pharmacies.  We have eight masks to take with us, and we will obtain more at a pharmacy when in Montepulciano.

We assume we have forgotten something, or have things we cannot crowd into our luggage. Such is the adventure of relocating to another country.

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