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Times New Roman

Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.

John Updike




I was on vacation with my mother in Florence, Italy in 1997 when she suggested we hop on a city bus, “…just to see where it takes us.” That fortuitous moment changed my life forever.


On the ride up a mountain north of Florence we enjoyed vistas beautiful enough to write home about. We saw postcard-worthy shots all along the route. When we reached Fiesole on the top of the mountain, we set out to explore the city. For us exploring meant wandering through churches, window-shopping, enjoying a glass of wine al fresco, and then deciding on a spot for dinner.


During the shopping portion of our journey, we were surveying the delectable treats in a chocolate shop when we met a thirty-something couple from the United States. My mother was chatting with them when they revealed something amazing: They were not tourists — or “travelers,” as Mom and I liked to refer to ourselves — but residents of Fiesole.


My ears perked up and everything, including the intoxicating smell of cocoa, faded into the background. In that moment I thought: They live here. How did they do it? What do they do for a living? Are they rich? Could I do it, too? All of these questions and more swirled in my head like the turning vats of dark chocolate in the shop. I stood there too dumbfounded to ask them.


From that moment on, something inside me changed. A seed of possibility was planted. If they could do it, maybe I can too, I thought. But it didn’t take long for that pessimistic devil to show up and make me doubt this could be my life: You can’t do this. They must have lots of money or special skills. You could never do this.


I felt unworthy. I didn’t want to move to Italy to study art or architecture or ancient civilizations or for any noble cause really. My motivation was so simple it was embarrassing. I had visited one other time and had fallen in love with Italy. I was tempted by the taste of authentic fare, seduced by the sound of its Romance language, awakened by the sight of overflowing flower boxes, cheered by the sight of overhanging laundry lines and, most of all, delighted by the Old-World charm of the people I encountered.


I said to myself: Forget about the expat couple and the dream. I don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone in Italy. My career doesn’t translate here either. How would I get along? Quit my job? What? Am I crazy?


I figured that this dream would have to wait until retirement. But then it didn’t.



Martha Miller and her husband, John, in Le Cinque Terre


Times New Roman is a true account of lifelong dreams to live abroad, experience another culture, complete an education and alter two career paths.



“…a delightful, witty, and intimate account of a real Italian adventure. From Miller’s descriptions of the food they eat and the tiny apartment they rent, to the challenging decisions they make along the way, readers will feel like they’re right there with them, enjoying the ride.” –

Travis Neighbor Ward, Author of Living, Studying, and Working in Italy



“…You’ll taste the gelato, feel the cobblestones under your feet, and start daydreaming about quitting your job to move to Italy too!” —

Laura Vanderkam, Author of I Know How She Does It,168 Hours, and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. www.lauravanderkam.com.



“It is 100% delightful. Well written, vibrant details…I have to restrain myself from getting online, looking for flights to Italy. …immense pleasure in a delightfully fun read.

Gretchen Cook, Editor & Publisher of Parents & Kids Magazine, Mississippi



“A delight for the senses! Martha Miller’s vivid anecdotes recounting her nearly two-year sojourn in Rome shows us it is possible to live our dreams. She manages in her deft accounts to capture the human condition in its cultural idiosyncrasy, as well as in its universality.”

Molly Mezzetti Zaldivar, PhD, Coordinator of Italian Studies The University of Texas at San Antonio


Martha in the kitchen


Drying laundry Italian style




Author Bio

Martha Miller is a former retail marketing executive turned freelance writer and essayist. Her work has appeared in LifeinItaly.com, Transitions Abroad, Wanted in Rome, GoNomad.com, Go World Travel, International Living, Family Circle, Parents, The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer. Her personal essays and syndicated columns, Living Greenly and Living Online, have been published in regional publications across the United States.


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