I grew up in a small southeast Texas town called KOUNTZE! There are about 2,000 people who live there, and like it or not, everyone knows each other (and their business) inside and out. I was blessed with a wonderful, super-supportive family who gave me the tools I needed to have a successful life.

After college I worked a few years in Orlando, FL in various roles for Walt Disney World. One day while browsing through “Eyes and Ears,” the WDW bi-weekly, I noticed an ad for Disneyland Paris recruitment. I attended the info session and interviewed for a position. Somehow, without speaking a word of French, and out of over 300 applicants, I was selected. So, in March 2000 I relocated to Paris.

A few months later I met him. The Italian! The tall, dark, and handsome stranger who seemed to float through the apartment complex with all eyes gazed upon him. Only later – many years later actually – did I learn he is actually quite shy, which, to be honest, was only more endearing. Well, life being what it was, the handsome Italian didn’t speak a word of English, and we already know I had a weak French level, so our “friendship” ended there. Sometimes we would see each other and smile or wave, but deep conversations, there were none. He moved back to Italy to help care for his ailing mother, and I returned to the states with an expired visa. One day, on a whim actually, I sent him an email to check on his mother … and that is how it began.

For the next two years we communicated constantly. The handsome Italian, let’s call him, Peppe, gradually learned the English language. We sent letters, postcards, and small gifts to each other. Although we were thousands of miles apart, we seemed to be living parallel lives. His mother had Parkinson’s, my father had a stroke. We both had left our jobs in Paris and were looking for employment closer to our families. We supported each other. I secretly dreamed of the day when we would be “together,” but I didn’t really think it would happen. I am a huge day-dreamer, and I was convinced he was another of my silly “dreams.” I didn’t think he could really be that wonderful “in real life.”

Little did I know, he felt the same way about me. Before his mother passed away, she encouraged him to visit me and see if it was “real.” He finally took the risk and hopped on a plane for Houston. Two days after he arrived we had “the talk” and agreed our relationship was not purely platonic. We knew it would be hard but we wanted to try to make it work.

After almost four years of flying back and forth and taking long vacations, I made the move. In April 2006, I quit my job, sold most of my belongings, packed four very full and very heavy suitcases-mostly with clothes and shoes-and headed across the ocean. This is my story. I know it will have sad moments, scary moments and a few what the HELL moments, but I look forward to the new experiences I will have. And as my mom reminds me – if I don’t like it, I can always go home.”

26 Responses
  1. Monkey

    Ah- sounds so wonderful. I was in Italy for the first time last summer. I fell in love with the country. I felt free and at home there. I wish I had the bravery to relocate there. Keep stories about your life coming. Some of us want to live vicariously…

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  3. Anonymous

    Hey sweetie, this is Laura, i loved your blog, and the pictures too. It is wonderful to find out that you moved to Italy. I bet is beautiful, and i can see you are very happy!!!. Cheers!


  4. Cherrye

    Hey Laura,

    If you happen to read this again, please send me an email. Yours comes back when I try to email you, maybe I have an old one??


  5. Anonymous

    Hey Cherrye, I am so happy for you. I think this adventure is going to be most interesting and exciting.Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Good luck. Tell Pep I said Chao.

  6. Liz

    Wow, great story! You are a beautiful couple and I wish nothing but the best for you and Peppe and your B & B. Does Peppe have any single friends?? hehehe…;)

    <3 Liz

  7. Tina

    I love your story, so inspiring! I’m making a move to Perugia this fall. if I head down south I’ll look you up ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Dawn( a.k.a Aurora)


    You are so beautiful and you have amazing blue eyes. My complements to you for being so beautiful, and to Peppe for having a beautiful sweet girl like you.:-) The Polish girl never stood a chance against you. You and Peppe make a sweet cute couple and I wish you both the best in the future. You have a true love story and I hope the story last a lifetime. Take care of yourselves and each other. Hugs to you both.

  9. Cynthia Rae

    Your story sounds similar to mine. My husband and I become friends via the internet and spent four year going over the pond for long vacations with each other.

    Hope you are adjusting life in Italy. It was a little hard on me the first eight months or so, but now I can not imagine living anywhere else. Too bad you live so far away from Emilia Romagna!

    Best wishes!

  10. foxyroxy

    Wow, what a nice story. Sounds a little similar to mine. I plan on making the move June 2007. I have waited too long to be with this man and I am excited for what is ahead. How was the VISA process? any luck as yet?


  11. Louise

    What a romantic story!! You could write a romance novel on that alone…LOL!
    I love reading your blog…keep writing!!
    I dream of making it to Italy one day, I was in Ventimiglia in the fall for the market but never got a chance to go any further!!NEXT TIME!

  12. Maryann

    Such a nice love story!My husband and I have a similar experience. He came from England to join me in New York. Ahhh..Love!

  13. Karen Beth

    I love this story and your blog! I can definitely relate!

    I’ve been in a three-year, long-distance relationship with my fiance who is in Australia. I’m in Mississippi. We are working through his visa right now so that he can move here as soon as possible.

    Knowing of others who have gone through this is a relief, as strange as that might sound. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great to “meet” you!

    Karen Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Leslie Swiney

    Hey Cherrye, I have not talked with you in a long while. Brandi was at my office the other day and showed me your blog and I have been reading, and reading and reading. You write a lot girl! Anyway, I got your wedding invite and Brian and I are going to be there…I promise to RSVP in the correct spot. I have enjoyed catching up on you, you are amazing and I would love to come to your B&B sometime soon. See you soon:)

    Long lost family member,

    Leslie Moore Swiney ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Shalet

    This is a great story! And good for you packing up and moving halfway across the world. We went to Italy last year and LOVED it. I’d go back in a heartbeat!

  16. L

    I discovered your blog through Bleeding Espresso. Great stuff! I think I’m too late to contribute to the Long Distance Relationship suggestions but I do have quite the story. I’ll give you the short version.
    Like you, I met my Italian husband in Paris. I was a wide-eyed 16 yr old Canadian on a class trip to France. And while everyone says you can never meet anyone in clubs, I met my man in a Paris disco. We hit it off and exchanged addresses but we were just penpals. I visited him once in Milan while I was backpacking through Europe. Niente. Then I was back in Paris studying at university a couple of years later and that’s when it happened. After graduation I moved to Italy and here I am 12 years, 2 kids and 2 cats later. It hasn’t been a smooth ride but with a bit of patience, compromise and luck, long distance love can work out.


  17. Mel's World


    Could that be any more of a romantic story? Seriously, that could be a “chick flick” movie of the week! I love how you dropped it all and went after it…you go girl!


  18. Tanya

    Wow, I want to see the movie version! What a wonderful story! In the past few months, I’ve found myself super addicted to all these expat blogs, who knew there were so many of you!

  19. Cherrye

    I can’t believe I haven’t posted any replies to these comments…at least I have an excuse…it was my first week of posts!

    Thanks everyone for the nice thoughts and encouragement.

    Monkey – When are you coming back to Italy?

    Laura and Robbie – Thanks for the comments!

    Liz – you don’t need his single friends, do you??

    Wow, Tina – this was a long time ago.

    Dawn – come back and see us.

    Cyn – our stories are very similiar. If you ever make it down south…

    FoxyRoxy – how did it go? I’ll go check out your latest posts.

    Still waiting on that trip, Louise.

    Thanks, Modelbehavior!

    Ahhh, that is nice Maryann.

    Thanks, WW. Come back soon.

    Karen Beth – how did it go? Update us.

    Hey, Leslie!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Shalet – what are you waiting for?

    No, L. You aren’t too late. I’m glad we finally “met.”

    Thanks, Natalie.

    Mel – I’m afraid for it to be a good movie, someone would have to die. Or, is that just Danielle Steel?

    Oh yes, Tanya. We are an addictive group!

  20. Hi Cherrye!

    I discovered your blog via Bella Vita in Liguria. Although I haven’t yet read all of your posts, just this one, I can already tell we have a lot in common. I met and fell in love with an Italian, except I met him in Italy during a study abroad program. It has its ups and downs, but it will always seem like a fairy tale to me. The distance between us all the time makes it quite difficult, but I know that once we’re together, we’ll be very happy.

    Good luck with your new love and new life in Italy!

    Catherine from New Jersey

    Hi Catherine. Thanks for stopping by. The distance is hard, but you are right-it is worth it in the end. In bocca al lupo!

    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..A Touching Story =-.

  21. Hi,

    Lovely blog even if I am several years too late. What a handsome chap he is :). As a bald guy I am envious of that hairline! ๐Ÿ™‚


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