A happy family in the galleria in Turin, Italy - Barrett and the Boys

We Moved To Turin Italy: Life In Piedmont With Barrett And The Boys

Thinking About Moving To Italy? Curious About Life In The Piedmont Region Of Northern Italy? This Inspiring Couple Shares The Story Of How They Moved Their Family Of 5 To The Beautiful City Of Turin - Their Journey From Los Angeles To Italy

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Imagine living in a picturesque region dotted with vineyards, apple and pear orchards, rice fields, and family dairy farms.

Now picture this location surrounded by snow-covered Alps with rolling hills, valleys, lakes, rivers, nestled on the edge of the Italian Riviera while bordering France and Switzerland.

What if it was also home to some of the best food and wine on earth?

Sound too good to be true?

Well, it’s not.

This is the Piedmont Region located in Northern Italy and its capital city of Turin, considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, was also once the capital of Italy.

If you’re thinking that even though it sounds like heaven on earth, “real people” don’t actually move to places like this, I would like to introduce you to a family from California who recently relocated to this very place.

*All images by Barrett & Andrè – @barrettprendergast on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/barrettprendergast/

Happy family at LAX airport with their luggage - Barrett and the Boys
All images by Barrett & André - @barrettprendergast on Instagram

From Los Angeles To Turin

When I moved to Italy, several years ago, I searched for a podcast that would be my guide in this exciting, yet daunting, new chapter of life.

After not finding any such podcast, I decided to start my own – documenting my fumbling bumbling journey of moving to Italy.  

Three years later, the I’m Moving To Italy podcast is in its 6th season and followed by thousands of listeners in over 100 countries.

Besides my own story, it has been a joy and privilege to share the stories and journeys of many people who have moved to interesting locations in Italy such as Sardinia and Trentino from places like Vermont and Toronto.

I have found that it takes a “certain type” of person to make such a bold and unconventional journey.   

My guests on a recent episode of the podcast are no exception to that rule.

Andrè and Barrett, along with their three young sons, moved to the city of Turin in the Italian region of Piedmont (Piemonte in Italian) from Los Angeles, in 2023.

The entire podcast interview can be heard on both Apple and Spotify and all major podcast platforms.

Barrett And The Boys: "Our New Life In Italy"

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend over an hour with this inspiring couple, who moved their family from California to Italy.

Being a native Californian as well, I found Barrett and Andrè’s story very relatable.   

I know you will be fascinated by them and their journey to Italy.  

The following are some of the highlights from our interview.

Our First Month In Italy

Nathan – “Welcome, Barrett and Andrè. It’s so good to be with you today.”

 

Barrett and Andrè – “We’re so happy to be here.

It’s wonderful to talk with you, Nathan.

We’ve been listening to your podcast for a long time, and we’ve also become friends, so it’s fun to share this time with you.

We’re your biggest fans!”

 

Nathan – “Thank you! The feeling is quite mutual. 

I’ve been in touch with you for the past year before you moved to Italy, and I even had the privilege of coaching you a bit on your move here. I must say, you’ve made the move brilliantly.

How long have you been here now?”

 

Andrè – “Oh my gosh, I think we’re only a month and a half in.

We’re still very fresh.

But, weirdly, it feels like we’ve been here for a long time, but we are still very fresh.

It’s an interesting thing when you go on vacation it’s just go go go, but the real day-to-day living here is a very different experience.”

We Took For Granted How Easy Life Once Was

Barrett – “Setting up daily life, from the beginning, in a new country, as adults, not being able to speak the language, having to relearn the most basic things every day,

at least for me, has been very emotionally taxing and draining.

It’s like, ‘OK, today we’re going to tackle how to mail a letter.’

‘Today we’re going to tackle how to pay for parking.’

Or, ‘Today we’re going to spend 3 hours at the mobile phone shop.’

These are the things that we’re dealing with lately.”

 

Nathan – “Oh yes, I remember those days, and sometimes, I still have days like that, even after three years.

It’s humbling, isn’t it?”

 

Barrett – “Yep, it is. You really take for granted how easily your life once was.

Things you do in your day-to-day life, in your native country, are done on autopilot.

It’s ingrained in the way that you’ve existed and grown up. Everything is easily accessible and you know exactly how to handle any situation.

And even when you don’t, you know you could get by and figure it out.

But when you’re here, there a very different way of managing things, never mind the cultural and language differences as well.”

What Is Your Connection To Italy?

Andrè – “My father is from Pulia, a village called Putignano. So that’s my tie to Italy. And I’ve been coming here for many years.

Italy has always been a special place for me.

Barrett and I are both completely obsessed with the food and beverage culture.

It’s a major part of our life.”

 

Barrett – “We will travel for tomatoes.

Yes, we will. (laughs out loud)

We’ll travel for almost anything when it comes to food. 

But we decided to make this our home because the food system is so incredible. The quality and diversity of food is incredible, here, also the respect for food.”

What Were Your Main Reasons For Moving To Italy?

Andrè – “Our kids.

They were a huge part of why we did this.

At the moment, we have a nine-year-old, a five-year-old, and a two-year-old.

We felt like they were still at an age where they would make this transition more easily.

Of course, there have been moments where they’ve been unhappy or it’s been challenging, especially for our oldest son.

But they’re showing us just how they can adapt.

They already have friends.

 

Barrett – “They’re eating foods they would never have eaten back in Los Angeles.

It’s incredible.

It really is.

 

Andrè – “Yeah, so that was a big part of it.

We thought, ‘Let’s do this now, while we can all have this experience together.’

We’re not pulling our son from high school, from all of his friends he’s known for his entire childhood and then he’s hating us for the rest of his life.

So, that’s a big part of why we did this at this moment and didn’t wait until, you know, they were all grown up.”

"Our life is now. This is when we have to live our life"

Andrè – “We realized, with so many things that have gone on in the past years, especially the pandemic, the value of keeping those you love tight and close, realizing that this is the time – right now.

Our life is ‘now’.

‘Now’ is when we have to live our lives.

When are we ever going to have this kind of youth ever again?

Our kids are never going to be this age ever again.

We thought the best way to take advantage of that recognition would be to live our dreams with them now.”

What Challenges Have You Faced In Your First Few Weeks Here?

Barrett – “We’re running around for a whole day trying to find socks for the kids.

I was like, ‘Andrè, we have got to figure out this Amazon thing,’ because we have so many little things to get.

It can’t be ‘One day we get socks,’ ‘One day we find a Brita water filter.’

An entire day can be easily spent only doing one thing because we don’t yet know where to find many of the things we need.

Things are different here.

The supermarket doesn’t have things here that the supermarkets in Los Angeles sell.

It has been essential to lean on Amazon.

And now we have that figured out, sort of.

They’re always yelling at us because we are not home when they try to deliver. That’s not OK in Italy. They always have to redeliver.

So we’re like the bane of the Amazon delivery driver’s existence.

We’re the annoying Americans who aren’t at home, but who ordered a package anyway.”

Were You Happy To Get Out Of Los Angeles?

Andrè – “We love Los Angeles.

LA is a special place. It’s not as bad as many people seem to think it is.

But the cost of living, over the past five years, got out of control.

Also, we have another child.

Having three children, especially in Los Angeles, is so expensive.

It just became so stressful and unsustainable for our future. Every year we were working so hard, and doing everything we could to do.

And it felt like, ‘OK, we just got by.’

And then the next year we would just get by, again.”

"Feeding Our Kids Healthy Food Became So Expensive"

Andrè – “But it just kept getting more expensive.

The cost of school kept going up.

The cost of having a part-time nanny went up.

The cost of food went up.

It became so expensive just to feed our kids.

You know, the organic healthy food we want to feed them.

We really care about that stuff.

And it just became cost-prohibitive. In the beginning, we were like, ‘What place will have the things that bring us joy, and on our list it is things like food and the sea, nature, mountains, being able to travel?’

We started to look around in America and the world.

We asked ourselves, ‘Where are the places that would meet this criteria?’

It was a critical moment in decision-making.

Do we continue on this path with the mentality of, ‘We just got to make more money’?

By the way, we do pretty well financially speaking, with our business.

But it still felt like we were never making enough, no matter what.”

"The USA Has Become A Broken System"

Andrè – “It feels like America is only for people in an upper economic bracket.

It is not available to everyone.

It’s a broken system.

Seeing that anyone can go and get a cup of coffee here, have a cornetto, go into a supermarket, and buy great high-quality produce that actually tastes like something and doesn’t have a million pesticides on it has been mind-blowing to me.

The cost of food here, compared to LA, is insane.

We could honestly talk about this for hours.

Barrett and I have spent so much time talking about this.

Our food costs have been drastically reduced since living here. While at the same time, the quality of our food has dramatically improved.”

"A Stark Difference"

Barrett – “It’s heartbreaking. Because it is possible to give people access to food that is healthier for their bodies.

And yet, we don’t do that in the States like they do here in Italy. It’s just so heartbreaking to see.

It is possible. But, in the US, we are choosing not to do it.

We talk about this real frustration we have with our country.

We love our country.

But there are so many things that have gone off the rails.

And the food system in America is a sad situation, the education system, as well.

Food is the basis for everyone’s well-being, but why do we have all these ultra-processed foods?

It’s just not for the benefit of people’s health.

When you come to a country like Italy, where you see how everyone, rich or poor, has access to the same quality food with the same ingredients and can enjoy the same kind of meals, it’s such a stark difference.”

What Is It Like To Live In Turin?

Barrett – “Turin is not a very “touristy” city.

So you don’t see a lot of tourists coming through here.

It’s not like in Florence or Rome.

So it’s very much like real Italians are around us in this city.

It’s interesting to see how fit and “healthy looking” so many people are here.

Everyone seems to be in tune with how food affects their state of being and their wellness.

Also, everyone moves here.

So, you’re eating good food, but then you’re walking everywhere.

Everyone’s constantly moving and going somewhere.

That’s part of the culture, a big part of it.”

"What the kids eat in school here is shocking"

Barrett – “Seeing what the kids eat in school here, compared to the USA, has been another shocking thing.

We would always pack our kid’s lunches in LA.

At the school they went to before, there was always a “hot lunch option.” It was burgers, pizza, or chicken tenders.

These were the things that the kids could eat.

Our kids never ate like that.

We would send a lunch with them, but even when you’re sending their lunch, kids want to have some processed food there too.

They want the chips.

They want the things their friends are eating.

Sometimes they only ate the snack items we packed.

It’s not healthy.

None of it is healthy.”

In The USA There Are No Vegetables In School Lunches

Barrett – “There were no vegetables at school lunches in LA. But, at the school, they’re going to here, even at Bruno’s preschool, you are not allowed to send a lunch.

They make sure that the kids eat fresh food every day. The food cooked and served at the schools here are balanced meals.

Even in preschools, they are teaching them about the idea of a balanced meal.

‘We eat a vegetable, we have some protein, we have some pasta.’

It’s all these different things.

You know, at Bruno’s school, every day we pick him up and the first thing they tell us is what he ate today.

‘He had some frittata, he had some pasta, Pistelli, he had some tomatoes.’

You go to Costa and Paulo’s school, and the condiment bar at the school is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.”

"The kids sit family style for lunch"

Barrett – “They sit family style for lunch!

It is the most incredible thing!

They sit family style for their lunches at school.

The children have a place mat, a plate, and silverware. They’re learning how to sit at a table together.

The teachers come around and serve a little bit of each food, to the kids. They ask that they try each item.

They don’t have to eat it, but at least try some of what they’re serving. They always find something new that they will eat every day.

Paolo came yesterday, and he goes, ‘Today, I had this meat this, I think prosciutto something “cotto” I think.’

We’re like. ‘You had prosciutto cotto?’

We couldn’t believe it.

And we can see the effect even after a month and a half.

The effect on our children’s tantrums, their sleep, and the control and self-regulation of their emotions – it’s completely different.

We feel a difference in our bodies, as well, we feel better.”

Good Food Without The Guilt

Andrè – “Yesterday, Barrett said something to me that was really wild.

We were driving through Piazza Vittorio, and she saw this woman eating a big ol’ pastry on a bench. She said, ‘God, it’s so refreshing to see a woman not even caring that she’s having this decadent dessert for breakfast.’

And she clearly looked healthy.

And she clearly didn’t have any guilt about it.”

"Aren't you so afraid of getting fat?"

Barrett – “Growing up in Los Angeles, there was a hyper-focus on being very thin, you know, not indulging in these things that might make you gain weight.

People back home see what we’re eating and are like, ‘How do you eat pasta all the time?’,

‘Aren’t you so afraid of getting fat?’

People say these things to us.

And I imagine having a daughter there (in LA), and it must be so hard.

Because even when I was in high school, there were so many girls who developed eating disorders and body issues.

It’s just heartbreaking.

And to be in a place where you see women of all ages enjoying these things without any other thought other than, ‘I’m hungry, and I’m going to nourish my body right now, and then I’m going to go on to my day.’

I’ve just never seen anything like it.

It’s so refreshing!”

How are you managing your business in the United States while you're here in Italy?

Barrett – “The interesting thing is that we’re kind of handling our business in the same way that we handled it when we lived in LA.

We have a gift company where we curate gift boxes.

The name of our business is ValleyBrink Road.

We work with a lot of corporations and businesses to create gift concepts for them.

We see the gift curation process to the end, from producing the concept to shipping it to the recipients.

So there’s a lot of creativity in terms of dealing with clients, coming up with proposals, and giving them different ideas of how we can create a gift that will be in line with their idea of what they want to send.

We’ve been doing it for 12 years now, and we love it!

In the beginning, it was me making every gift box, packing everything, tying the ribbon, going around, and delivering them.

That was the beginning.

Not sustainable.

But that was before our kids.”

"We have worked with our great team to create a flexible lifestyle"

Barrett – “Over the past few years, we have been creating a company where we ship directly to the recipient.

We have a warehouse set up in Los Angeles and have an incredible team.

We fulfill everything in that warehouse.

We ship nationwide.

We also ship internationally, occasionally. Sometimes we do that for corporate clients or volume orders that want to ship things to Europe, but that’s a whole different thing.

So, for the past few years that was the goal, ‘Be able to have the flexibility to potentially explore living somewhere else, while having the business run as needed.’

This has been something in the works for quite some time. It took us a while to get to this place.

We have an amazing woman there who’s running things for us in the warehouse, so it’s not very different from the way we were doing it before.”

You Also Have An Amazing Lifestyle Blog - Could You Tell Us More About That?

Barrett – “It’s called Barrett and the Boys, and it’s on Substack.

We launched before we left LA.

It’s a place where we share recipes and where we have started to share about our move to Italy.

It’s been an an amazing creative outlet to be able to process what’s going on, and what we’re going through every week.

And also hopefully a place where we provide information to other people who might have a dream of doing something like this but don’t know where to begin to follow along on our journey.

It’s also a newsletter that goes out weekly.”

Listen To The Rest Of Our Podcast Episode And Follow Barrett And The Boys

You will want to listen to the whole interview with Barrett and Andrè on Apple and Spotify as well as following them on Barrett’s Instagram page as well as their gifting company ValleyBrink Road on Instagram.

Also, be sure to follow Barrett and the Boys on Substack.

Want to read about a family who moved to the gorgeous island of Sardinia from Vermont?   

Click here for another inspiring story of a family who started a brand new life in the “Blue Zone” of Sardinia.

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Author Info:

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan Heinrich

Nathan is a writer, designer & horticulturist. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of "All Roads Lead to Italy" Magazine & host of the Top-10 Travel Podcast, "I'm Moving To Italy!". Nathan was born and raised in a 5th generation farming family in Northern California, he is currently, a dual Italian citizen, living in the Prosecco Valley of Northern Italy, near Venice.

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