Our committee members
Here you can read about the founder members of British in Italy, their lives in Italy and what they hope to achieve.
After many years as a foreign correspondent for leading British newspapers I am happily settled in Trevi, in Umbria, writing books.
I was born in Bury, now part of Greater Manchester, went to school at Bury Grammar School and Abbots Bromley, and then to Bristol University. After training on the Bolton Evening News and Reuters I became a Reuters correspondent in Geneva, Bonn and Rome, before joining the Times as Bonn correspondent. When Rupert Murdoch took over the Times I, with many other of its journalists, moved to the newly-founded Independent and was posted back to Germany where I covered the fall of the Berlin Wall. I then went to Warsaw to cover the collapse of Communism in Central Europe, and afterwards to Rome, in time for the collapse of the post-war political set-up and the rise of Berlusconi. Finally I spent two years working for the Sunday Times in Berlin.
Since then I have written ten books, all for German publishers, although two have also been published in English: Flight across the Ice, the story of the escape of the prize breed of Trakehner horses from the Red Army in 1944-45, and Umbria, a portrait of the lovely region where I live.
I have spent six months each of the past three years living in Morocco, but am now sedentary in Umbria again. I have a daughter and granddaughter living in Rome.
‘I believe I can bring the skills I have learnt in business to the British in Italy team to make sure we can respond to the challenges and changes forced on us by the UK Government and nurture relationships which we may eventually find useful in the uncertain future that lies ahead. ‘
I have been living in Italy since 2004 when I moved here for work. Mine is one of those stories you hear about, of people who travel abroad on a whim, then fall in love and stay. I am now married to my Italian wife and we have a son who is, to all intents and purposes, also Italian. I was born, brought up and educated in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After finishing university I took up a retail trainee management role, but soon realised it wasn’t for me and at 24 years old, set off to travel the world. The following years spent travelling widely throughout South east Asia, Australasia and the USA were a most formative period of my life. On my return with only the clothes in my backpack I switched my career to something which interested me more: finance.
After a short spell working in a call centre for a bank, I worked my way up to financial planning manager for a branch of HSBC before opening the first overseas branch of a UK Independent Financial Planning firm in Rome, Italy. After the financial crisis of 2008/2009 hit I decided to change the way I wanted to do business and joined a different company. This time I insisted on much more control over how I ran my business and I started targeting a different client segment using various social media outlets and trialing the type of content I posted online. Like all businesses, my world is in constant flux depending on new laws, political decisions ( BREXIT) and people. I always need to be ahead of that curve and proactively meet the needs of my clients.
I’m married to Delia Dumaresq, and a retired QC, resident in Umbria since early 2015.I first came to Italy aged 17 to teach English to the daughter of a Roman family with a seaside house in Fregene. It was the time of Fellini’s Fregene and the parties were like scenes from La Dolce Vita. I spent my student vacations hitching round Europe, and Italy usually featured in those trips.
In 1997, after a long absence from Italy, I met Delia and renewed my acquaintance with the country. Restoring a house, selling up in the UK, settling in Italy, making a garden on a dry rocky hillside and learning the language and culture have been our retirement project. We have spent six months studying Italian language and culture at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia.
My reaction to the referendum was a mixture of anger and depression, both of which remain to this day.
‘My main fears from Brexit:
Residence: if, as seems likely, we are bargaining chips in the negotiations, the UK playing hardball may well result in the EU reacting similarly and none of us would have an automatic right to stay. In my own case I am unlikely to have the time qualification for permanent residence even if that survives.
Healthcare: I always believed that using private doctors to jump the NHS queue was wrong and never had private health insurance in the UK. Before moving to Italy I checked that similar state provision would be available here. If Italy refused to treat us it would be difficult at my age to get insurance and a major illness would make it impossible to remain. The differences in house prices and markets between the UK and Italy would make it virtually impossible to return to England. So we would be completely blocked.’
Born in Australia on a farm. At university in Australia’s ‘diplomatic’ capital discovered the exciting world beyond the WASP. Became an archaeologist in Thailand and traveller across the world. Arrived in Europe disappointed to find the Paris revolution of ’68 was finished but worked variably in Portugal and France and first came to Italy to speak at a Womens’ Conference Against Violence Against Women in 1978. Europe seemed a ‘grown-up’ place with serious history in the eyes of an ex-colonial. Being perennialy bad at languages, went back to working in London – with the mentally ill in a Social Services department and with Rape Crisis Centres before becoming a barrister. Worked as a construction law barrister for 20 years and became a British citizen as it was part of Europe. I finally returned to Europe by retiring to Italy.
Ex-colonial, ex-archaeologist, ex-explorer and womens’ rights campaigner, ex-social worker and ex-barrister retiring to be a European citizen. But then there was Brexit. Ex-British?
I grew up in London suburbia and studied law at Kent University. Throughout my 20s I worked in the law centre movement in South London and went on to qualify as a Solicitor specialising in criminal law and human rights.
Travelling was always a part of the family, my mother had moved to the UK from New Zealand to study art; my father was often on business trips in South America and later settled in Madrid. While I was on holiday in 2000 visiting my English aunt in Rome I met my partner Luca, and the following year decided to leave London and move to live in Italy with him. I was excited to take on the challenge of living and working in another European city and learning the language. My friends and family were shocked at the move, but it felt very natural. Rome was only down the road and I had grown up seeing Europe as an extension of my own country with its endless opportunities and open borders.
2001 was the year that the EU Directive on Establishment of Lawyers was made law in Italy. Within a few months, heavily pregnant with my first child I braved the Bar Council in Piazza Cavour claiming my right to register as an European lawyer, facing protests of “mamma mia, Madonna!” from the Clerk assigned to enrol lawyers. I was not deterred but returned with an Avvocato friend and a copy of the new law, was given my papers and sworn in before a bemused bench of Court of Appeal judges. It took me the first five years to master the language, at least the first ten years to master the basics of Italian law. A big part of my working life is now spent helping other fellow “stranieri” unravel the bureaucracy and overcome obstacles. The other part is spent in the trials and tribulations of being a working mum raising two half Italian half English teenagers, who I still rely on to correct my Italian…
“I have joined British in Italy to help work on Italy-specific issues which are, of course, of direct concern to me and my family. Continued freedom of movement is crucial to my son’s future”
I am an English teacher in the Veneto. My partner and I swapped corporate life for the classroom and have not looked back. Our son has lived here in Italy since before he could walk and is currently at university in the Netherlands. I have previously worked in France and my partner in Germany. Our lives pretty much revolve around both our British and EU citizenship.
Since the referendum I’ve been a team member of Brexpats Hear Our Voice, a pan-European campaigning/support group for citizens’ rights. In particular, I work on communications and media relations, dusting down skills from my old corporate job. I co-edited In Limbo Too, testimonies from British citizens in the EU27 telling the human cost of Brexit. The book was the brainchild of Elena Remigi, an Italian in the UK, who had previously produced In Limbo with the often harrowing stories of EU citizens in the UK. I also work on case studies of vulnerable people, following the startling discovery in April 2018 that the British government had not carried out any such impact studies themselves.
In my more “normal” life, I love walking in the prosecco hills. I also have a passion for the very British tradition of taking tea, which involves collecting vintage tea-ware, English conversation tea parties and large fund-raising events with the help of volunteers. The year of the fated referendum we held a giant tea party to raise money for the Amatrice earthquake victims. Like many others, I look forward to getting my life back. I would like to continue calling Italy my home, and get back to doing more in my local community.
“I got involved with British in Italy because I felt so upset by what was happening in the UK, the extraordinary way in which so many people fell for the lie that the EU was the source of all their problems and the devastating effect this was having on the lives of so many friends and colleagues both in Europe and in the UK.”
I first came to Italy to study Italian at the University in Florence as part of my degree, but not having any money I spent my time selling handbags in Piazza Santa Croce and distributing leaflets outside the Duomo advertising a discotheque that I never went to. I then spent two months in Calabria where I learnt to appreciate the warmth and generosity of my calabresi hosts but also the ambiguity and sinister undertones of their very rich relatives. And that lying in the midday sun is not a great idea. After graduating I arrived in Rome where I worked for a year at a scuola media in Ariccia in the Castelli Romani, lived with a nuclear physicist friend in Frascati and attended meetings of a feminist group in Trastevere.
I spent the next 10 years in Oxford where with a group of friends I founded a cooperative language school, the Lake School of English. I took the CELTA course at IH in Piccadilly and the DELTA course at the Swan School in Oxford (well the courses had different names in those days) and then returned to Italy as a teacher and teacher trainer, setting up the DELTA course in Verona before moving on to teach in Verona University and Ca’ Foscari. In my work with the Cambridge exams in Italy I met many wonderful English language teachers and have kept in touch with many of them.
I met my wonderful husband Mario Zenari while walking up Monte Baldo by Lake Garda and together we brought up my daughter who attended a liceo scientifico and then went on to study medicine in the UK – I still thought of the UK as home and believed in the country in those days. How things have changed!
Mario has supported me and my work with British in Italy throughout. He attends our meetings, records the talks and has created our youtube channel, so in many ways he too is part of our team.
I am now retired and have a wonderful granddaughter who lives in the UK. My work for British in Italy is dedicated to her.