"I discovered my husband had been having an affair with an old neighbour in England, quite soon after the move but me and the children were settled in Italy so we never considered moving back. I asked them on a weekly basis just to check, if they wanted to return to England but they always said no" (JP, June 2012)
What is your name, age and how long have you lived in the Apennine mountains? Which part of the Apennine mountains do you live in ?
Jill Pennington, age - 44. I have lived in the Apennine mountains for 8 years. It is just over the border from Tuscany near Reggio Emilia.
What is the area like where you live?
This area is beautiful, unspoilt rural countryside.
How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
I have three children Joshua was born in 1994, Samuel in 1995 and Millie in 1998.
What was your experience of relocating to Italy with children?
We were very lucky because all three children loved Italy and settled in very easily. Wed had some Italian lessons before we left the UK which helped. I also think that as they were all at the same school initially they could support each other.
You split with your husband soon after moving to Italy, why did this happen and did you first think of going of going back to the UK?
I discovered my husband had been having an affair with an old neighbour in England, quite soon after the move but me and the children were settled in Italy so we never considered moving back. I asked them on a weekly basis just to check, if they wanted to return to England but they always said no.
Why did you decide to stay?
We decided to stay because we had already made a new life out here and we were happy.
You were left along with three children with little knowledge of Italian, how did you manage to make ends meet?
I found part-time/temporary work and grew a lot of food and lived on a very tight budget.
Did you buy or rent your property? How did you find the process?
We rented for 6 months then bought our farm and started renovating it. We had help from the estate agents so the process was fairly easy.
How well integrated would you say you and your family are?
We are well known and have made lots of friends in the area, the children in particular as they go to Italian school.
What language do you speak to your children? How is your Italian now?
At home we speak English. The children are all fluent in Italian but I still struggle with the grammar a bit and often get it wrong which gives my neighbours a laugh. The Yorkshire accent doesnt help!
What is your impression of childcare and education in where you live?
I have had no experience of childcare over here. The class sizes in schools are much smaller, which is better. They have less holidays but are compensated with three months off in the summer. I think the workload is harder than in the UK and if the children dont get the marks they sometimes have to re-sit the year.
What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in the Apennine mountains?
Finding work has not been easy with young children and not being fluent in Italian, but I do get offered work by other Brits who need their holiday homes maintaining in their absence.
How welcoming were the locals when you arrived in the area?
We were made very welcome when we arrived here and soon became part of the community.
Would you say your area is family-friendly and is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
Italians are well known for being family-friendly, in rural areas people are very helpful and neighbourly, the children flit from one house to another and often phone home to say they are eating at a friends house.
Are you able to recommend to other MumAbroad members in the area any local services (home delivery, plumbers, dentists, babysitters etc) or any activities, restaurants or shops for children in the area?
I could provide a long list of good restaurants in this area, and have many connections with builders, plumbers and electricians. There is an excellent climbing forest near here called Cerwood where kids are taught to climb on ropes and other activities - Its great.
What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to the Apennine mountains with children?
I would say try to start learning the language before you leave the UK and when you arrive in a new country stick to a budget and dont treat it like a holiday. Also keep a monthly account so you can compare your outgoings with your UK life and moderate it if necessary.
What couldn´t you live without in the Apennine mountains?
The view from my front door. I get homesick at the end of my drive.
What could you live without in the Apennine mountains?!
At the moment the earthquakes, we have had a lot of tremors over the last few weeks.
You’ve written a book about your experience of relocating to Italy and bringing up 3 children by yourself. How can people buy it? And do you intend to carry on writing?
My book The diary of a single parent abroad is currently available to download on Amazon kindle http://www.amazon.co.uk/diary-single-parent-abroad-ebook/dp/B00871I0XS. The paperback should be available in the next 3-4 weeks.
I love writing and am hoping to finish building my house, then I will title the next book The house that Jill built.