"My secret plan to move to Venice was ready. It was time to see if my wife would buy into the idea of leaving our home to live for an entire year in a foreign country."
And the journey begins – Barry and Debbie Frangipane, a middle-class couple tired of the rat race leaves it all for the lure of Venice. But can they make it in a foreign land? Read about the hilarious twists and turns their lives take during their year in the city of water, as they show us a Venice we never knew existed. The Venice Experiment is about fulfilling dreams on a journey that any of us could make – but would we?
I was becoming a slacker. My productivity at the office was declining, as was my sense of humor. After 20 years of working as a computer programmer at the same company in Florida, something had to change.
But what? The people at the office had become close friends over the years, and I still enjoyed my work. I just needed a change of scenery.
My boss agreed to let me work from home a few days a week. We would measure my productivity, and if it increased, he would allow me to continue to telecommute from home. Our office phones were the new kind that just plug into the Internet, so I yanked the phone out of my cubicle and it worked fine at my house.
After a few weeks, it was clear to everyone that not only was my state of mind improving, but without the constant interruptions at the office, my productivity soared. I could focus on the work while ignoring the office gossip. In fact, a co-worker commented that 32 15-minute interruptions consume the entire day.
While on vacation in Venice with my wife, it occurred to me that telecommuting would work just as well from Italy as it did from our home in Tampa, 10 miles from the office. Back home, my wife and I discussed the idea. We could experiment by living in Venice for a year, while I telecommuted to my job in Florida. The boss was cautious, but after I reminded him of my productivity increases working from home, he agreed to the one year experiment.
I would work from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. Venice time, which coincided with the normal 8-5 office hours in Florida. We set up Skype for videoconferencing, and I purchased a scanner in Venice, to facilitate the flow of documents to the office.
Our Venice experiment was a success. Living our dreams in Venice, I was once again excited about my job. Everyone in the office could see the change in my attitude. In fact, upon my return, the boss promoted me to vice president of technical services. And I came back invigorated, full of new ideas for the company.
Financially, my wife and I made it work by selling our two cars before leaving and renting out our house furnished. We used the income from renting out our Florida home to lease a smaller apartment in Venice. Our valuables were stored in a small storage locker for the year.
We saved money on vacations, since we were already in Venice, and the local street markets provided the freshest foods at the lowest prices.
People watching at the local cafe replaced cable TV, and we quickly discovered the restaurants that gave discounts to residents. At night, as Venice slept, we walked alongside the quiet canals, soaking in the centuries of history surrounding us.
Admittedly, our year in Venice had its share of twists and turns. From learning the language to adjusting to the rhythm of this city built on water, it was certainly an experience.
At times - such as when Acqua Alta threatened our apartment, we felt we just might be over our heads both figuratively and literally. But looking back, this experiment has changed our lives for the better. We will be forever inspired by the people of Venice, and their love of life.
So, where do YOU want to go? Where will your experiment be? Have you set the date? - Barry