The Art of Writing

A Writers Retreat in Tuscany

Is Italy for everyone? Getting past the honeymoon phase in a new country.

Such a fun week, being featured in Locals I Love by my favorite Girl in Florence, Georgette Jupe. Hearing again from women around the globe who’ve fallen in love with Italians and are in long distance love dilemmas reminded me of writing The Promise. Though that period of my life was a tortuous time of indecision, it was also a long phase of deep romantic love. So I have no regrets about moving to Italy for love.

I was a starry eyed 17 year old Aussie traveler when I first met my Italian husband. However, for 18 years I went back and forth from Sydney to Florence before I was convinced I should stay in Florence. And ever since, during my subsequent 20 year marriage, I have felt a many-colored range of emotions.

When you fall in love with an Italian, in Italy, there are so many special and unique moments. I’ve always maintained that Italian men love differently to Australian men (as a generalization). Italian men love fully, uncompromisingly and often unconditionally.

But I know many bicultural couples that haven’t made it. The relationship between the one who leaves home (often but not always the woman) and the one who stays home collapses for many reasons – some of which I have outlined in Locals I Love. But going deeper, bicultural couples often don’t make it because of resentment. Bitterness over his one dimensional view of her is often why the relationship can’t survive. He can only see her as the person he knows here in Italy. He can’t see her as the daughter of a mother. Or the sister of a man. Often he cannot see that his girlfriend was never able to reach her full potential because she left opportunities behind in her home land. He can only see her in the here and now.

For success, your Italian has to really see your history. He must understand, respect and acknowledge your past, your traditions and your family so that they are a part of your present.

Most importantly, he has to hold your hand tightly when, as time goes by, you begin to lose the people you never had enough time with, because ultimately you chose him over them.

Do you love writing? Would you like to join The Art of Writing team in Tuscany? Let’s dream, plot, write, learn and grow as writers for a week together.  Email me at so that I can tell you more about our annual creative writing retreats.


  1. Thank you for writing this post Lisa. Love your book The Promise and as you know I did move to Italy for love.

    • mm
      Lisa Clifford

      10 July, 2017 at 11:24 am

      You are more than welcome Cathy,
      there is more need than ever out there to discuss this.
      And I thought it was all over once The Promise was done and dusted.
      Sending my best and hope you are well and happy,

  2. It amazes me how one flaw in a person or place can tip you either way when you are sitting on the fence. I was in my late teens when I met my English husband at my best friend’s wedding in Sydney. I had to make the move to the UK as my husband had a business. We travelled a lot which I loved and I spent a lot of time in Italy where I felt naturally happy just to be there. I loved London but, I resented it because I wanted to be back in Sydney even though I went home every year at Christmas. I could never settle in London and felt more at home in any foreign country but England. My marriage ended after 14 years and I went home to Sydney and my ex followed me. Sydney was like a foreign place to me even though I went back once a year. In the end, I took off back to the UK and settled in Devon for 5 years knowing my ex would not find me. I got a job working for an international airline and moved from Devon back to London and that is where I remained for many, many years. I fell in love with London and I became a typical Londoner and when I wasn’t in London I pined to be there. Looking back now, in reality, I had made a bad mistake. I hated and resented a wonderful and beautiful country and city all because I was unhappy in my marriage. My only regret is that it took me way too long to realise my mistake.

    • mm
      Lisa Clifford

      10 July, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Dear Michele,
      how I loved this comment! I too think I have and had misjudged Italy because there were times when my marriage wasn’t fabulous. So then I started to hate Italy. I have now made peace with Italy and can see so well how you would have despised London because of the relationship you were in. So easy, yet the resentment masks itself well.
      Where is home, as an expat? I don’t know. I feel like a visitor when I go home to Sydney – because I am. It’s been 20 years, so I am a local yet a foreigner there too.
      Did you have children?
      Thank you so much for sharing this, as I hope others, who are perhaps in unhappy marriages here, will not hate Italy because of it.
      Keep in touch, really enjoyed reading your story – what a great book it would make!!!
      All the best,

      • Dear Lisa,
        I am chuffed you found my life interesting. Thank you!
        I am an avid reader and love writing for my peace of mind….some people have therapists, I write.
        I think it was back in 2013 I was searching Amazon for a book to download on my kindle, now I either like true crime with Anne Rule being my favourite author or biographies and that is how I stumbled across “The Promise”. Being an Aussie I identified so much with many things that you encountered in your book, at times things seemed so raw to me you had me in tears. I don’t think some people grasp the complexity of being so torn . When my marriage ended my family felt my place was back in Australia and I tried it but, I just didn’t fit in anymore. My speech was English, I behaved like an English person and I had English culture embedded in me….and I still have. I consider myself just as much English as Australian.
        My ex and I never had children as neither of us wanted children and we travelled so much, eventually they would have had to go into boarding school and I never wanted to be that kind of mother.
        My marriage failed for many reasons, for one I was married way too young, my husband was very possessive and wanted a trophy wife, but couldn’t handle it when men paid me attention and I was never allowed to have a job, his wife couldn’t be seen working…so I made some bad choices. When you are young and in love you see everything through rose coloured glasses and your partners faults just like your own are brushed aside or non existent until reality actually kicks in. I was also his second wife and his marriage with his first wife was tainted with affairs and I am afraid his baggage was brought into our marriage. He was also 10 years older than me.
        I am currently in Australia, but my frustrations are growing stronger and stronger. I came back here trying to settle in the country I was born and where my family reside, but its just not working for me after 2 years. I have seriously thought about moving back to Europe and Italy was at the top of my list. I have never been afraid to be alone in a foreign country, but I always felt Italians always make people part of a community. I have looked at property and reading your posts does give me a lot of insight.
        To finish my rather long story…. I think I should say this, I believe in my heart and from my own experience a relationship has a much better chance of surviving and enduring true happiness if you fall in love and explore a country first, before you fall in love with a person of that particular origin and then things will hopefully automatically fall into place quite naturally.


        • mm
          Lisa Clifford

          11 July, 2017 at 3:51 pm

          Thanks Michele,
          wow, you really have quite a story. I really enjoy reading your of experiences and life as you find it now.
          I don’t think could ever settle again in Australia after 20 years. I know that is not the answer for me.
          My story as you read in The Promise is quite complicated. And I am working on a book that somewhat reflects what I am going through right now. Though it is bedded in fiction, rather than non-fiction.
          Good luck with everything and if you do move to Italy, let me know! I will start to spend more time in the UK now, and even more when my youngest finishes school and heads there to Uni. Natalia is already there. I think Italy will always be my home but for sanity I need to leave regularly.
          We’ll see!
          Thanks again,

  3. thanks again Lisa,
    your honesty is endearing, I haven’t had to leave a country for my love but I did leave a city and a lot of dreams behind moving a few hours away to the country, as we threw our lives into ministry. Many years on, after a series of unfortunate events, we are now back in the city near family. We’ve lasted the distance and have learned to love each other deeply by valuing each others story. I’m finding it therapeutic to write about it. To be honest about it. It’s been quite a journey!

    • mm
      Lisa Clifford

      11 July, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Keep in touch Steph,
      It’s really good that you value each other’s story.
      Big hugs and I mean it,

  4. Thank you Lisa. It certainly has been wonderful exchanging life stories with you, especially since we both originated from the same city, in the same country and we are around the same age. I don’t have any Australian friends in London to share experiences with. Most of my friends thought I had a screw loose and always asked why I would choose to live in London when I could live in Sydney.
    Your children were born in Italy and you are married to an Italian, you learned the language from the age of 16 and you have embedded yourself into Italian life and culture, so I would expect that Italy will be your forever home.
    If I chose to move to Italy it would be Liguria Region around the mountains where it is quiet and away from the busy city life. I had a home on the Algarve and lived there for 3 years and I so just love the easy relaxed way of life. I have always loved everything about Italy and its history, culture, people. It’s also close to London. Love Italian men, but they do tend to have a wandering eye…lol
    I hope the new book doesn’t contain too much fiction. The Promise is such a good book because it is so real, you certainly have come a long way since the 16 year old girl lost in Florence railway station…lol. I had a similar experience in Amsterdam. I grew very fond of Dutch people because of their kindness toward me during a very difficult time. OMG…the stories I could tell….I certainly have had a colourful life….lol
    Thank you again Lisa for sharing your life experiences.
    Michele xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2017 The Art of Writing

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑