I often ponder this question.
I know lots of people end up in a certain city because work sent them there. That is certainly the case here in Sydney. Probably the next most obvious reason people end up somewhere far from home is that they’ve followed their partner away. My husband ended up in Sydney because I grew up here.
When my grandmother was seeking to leave Communist China in the fifties, she sought advice from the various embassies in Harbin, and found that only Australia and Brazil were taking immigrants. She didn’t know a thing about either place, but she couldn’t stay in Harbin… so she did what anybody would do in her situation. She set out to find out as much as she could on both places. She didn’t have the luxury of time (or the internet) to help her. In the end, she often told me that she chose to come to Australia because they drank tea there. She’d heard that Brazilians preferred to drink coffee while Aussies prefer tea, so that was that. Decision made. I guess when you’re facing a lifetime of racism or marginalisation you’re not so picky about where you go.
But what if you’re not in those categories?
I avidly watch that British TV program called ‘A Place in the Sun, Home or Away’. The premise of the program is that they help a British couple that can’t decide whether to move abroad or to stay within England by showing them houses that fit their budget in both countries, so they can compare. Typically they’re chasing the sun or looking for a more relaxed lifestyle. Maybe they’ve been to their chosen destination a few times before on a holiday, in the middle of summer. They’ve almost never seen their chosen place in the middle of winter, or in autumn, when everything isn’t looking so rosy. Usually they’re swayed by the sun shining, and the possibility of buying a home far larger (and more ‘wow factor’) than they ever could afford at home. For most of them, learning the language is an afterthought. How can they contribute to the community if they can’t communicate? I constantly marvel at those few brave (or crazy!) people on that program who are so desperate for some sunshine that they would consider buying property and living in a foreign country that they have never even set foot in. But sometimes, occasionally, they take the plunge and move. Such courage!
Our next trip will probably be around this time next year, probably for about eight weeks or so, and I’m thinking to spend this next trip in Lazio. Lazio doesn’t attract the thousands of tourists that the rest of northern Italy attracts ~ but it is dotted with locations rich with Roman history. I’ve had a few places on my list for a while now; Viterbo, Montefiascone, Tarquinia, as well as Ariccia and Formia. I’ve never been to any of them. But I feel that I should give Lazio a try. Besides… I like the bread there.