Steve's Sabbatical


With a father born in Italy, and maternal grandparents from there too, I have always felt like a guy with one foot planted in the U.S. and the other rooted in Italy. About 5 years ago this feeling led me to sign up for Italian language courses. At 50, I thought language acquisition would be strong stimulation for my brain and also get me a little closer to my roots. This has been a fun and challenging journey that has led to many new friendships and connections. Learning a language is kind of like planting a tree – you really don’t see any daily growth, but come back in 5 years and the changes are clear. That said, I still feel like a sapling. It’s a humbling process for sure!


On a trip to Umbria and Emilia Romagna about three years ago, while sitting at a café with my wife Eleanor enjoying aperitivo, I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to live here for a year?” Visiting is fun, but as tourists, making real connections with people is difficult and fleeting. What I was dreaming of was becoming part of the scene for a while; know the barista, frequent the same farmer’s market every day, make friends at all the wonderful shops and restaurants, volunteer to do some good. We talked about this and it seemed like a dream and just that. We returned home, and the dream followed.


At some point we decided this was something we had to do. We just weren’t sure when or how. Like so many, we figured this would be on our retirement bucket list.


Then, about 18 months ago, a dear friend was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer and he was gone in a year. He was my age and in excellent health. He and I had made a promise to each other to climb Mount Rainier together – that never happened. His loss hit me hard, but it also inspired me. I realized; the future is not guaranteed. I know that sounds obvious, but don’t we all run around assuming it is? Anyway, shortly after his passing, I decided not to wait. Surely if professors can take a sabbatical, why not me?


I invited my business partner Keene Taylor over for a drink to discuss what we had decided to do. His response was thoroughly encouraging. We’ve been together in this business for 30+ years now and I am lucky to have partnered up with him. We know each other quite well by now, and I must say I knew he would bring his ultra-positive outlook to the conversation. Thank you partner!

So, the adventure begins when we land in Italy on September 1 this year. At this point, since we don’t have visas yet, we can only commit to 90-days (that’s the most time a US Citizen can stay in the Schengen Zone without a visa.) We have rented an apartment in Arezzo within the ancient city walls, and if things go well, we may stay for one year.


While I’m away, Keene will be here to take care of any real estate needs you might have. Additionally, we have partnered up with Erich Cabe (a Compass colleague) and his team so that I can be 100% certain your needs will be met. In my next post I’ll tell you a little about Erich and his amazing team and go deeper into how this improves our ability to serve you and your family and friends at the highest level. I’ll remain reachable by email and phone as usual and happy to consult and advise – just six hours ahead.


The plan is to share this experience through a blog and social media. There is a ton of planning and bureaucratic stuff to tackle, so I will post some of that - it won’t be all aperitivo in the piazza, that’s for sure! Maybe my experience will help others take the plunge? If you’re interested to see how it goes, then please follow along on our blog on our website.


A presto,


Steve, soon to be known as Stefano

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