The U.S. Naval Support Site in Naples, Italy, is affectionately known as “Little America.” Indeed, when we called there today to mail our absentee ballots for the U.S. and Hawaii General Election from a U.S. Post Office, I understood why many Americans choose to live “on base” and not “on the economy” as our children do.

On our way to the thrift store for pre-owned toys, bargain furnishings, and Halloween stuff, we passed schools, living quarters, hotel, community facilities, hospital, auto mechanic—a fairly sterile and self-sufficient town that’s very comfortable and that you would probably find at any military base. It could have been anywhere, really.

The NEX (Navy Exchange) was a veritable shopping mall with a good array of shops carrying excellent quality merchandise. Ari immediately ran into her friends, who she met through their sponsor, she said. Friends, like her, with babies in strollers that you would find in any mall in the U.S.

While they chatted I found the frame shop that carried the solvent and other oil painting supplies to complement the ones I mailed ahead from Hawaii seven days ago and that arrived today. We found the espresso bar that had the pastry I like, and we had a fine lunch at a place that made panini to order.

We shopped at the commissary that stocks groceries priced at 5% above cost. It’s worth the trip there for staples, favorite brands, things like peanut butter, that you can’t get in Italy, and beef from Germany.

I imagine Naples can be intimidating if you don’t know the language, and if you can’t or prefer not to adjust to the saying “When in Rome . . . .” Pete and I are very proud of Ari and Travis for adventuring into Italy to live. They are well-traveled, but Ari’s an island girl looking at three years or more abroad.

They looked at about 50 different houses before picking the right one for their whole family. They’ve enrolled 3-year-old Ayla in Italian school, and Ari will begin Italian lessons herself soon. They’ve learned to drive like maniacs, and they know their way around pretty well. The only rule, says Ari, is “Just don’t hit the car in front of you!”

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