Meet the Straniera

Ciao and benvenuto, I’m the Small Town Straniera! American born, Italian at heart, living in Italy 31 years and counting. I’m so happy you stopped by, and hope you’ll feel welcome here.

So first, what is a straniera?

Italian Noun
foreigner, stranger, expat
(Pronunciation: stra-njera)

And who am I?

Well, I’m La Signora Sheila, born and raised in beautiful (but freezing) Michigan. And I’m really only a partial straniera because I hold dual citizenship. I’m happily married to an Italian (raised in America), and we have two grown children and nine special grandchildren!

About this blog

This is where I share my life and love of Italy. Where I strive to slow down, simplify, and draw closer to God. While also learning to get organized, care for my health, the planet, and those around me.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have learned many lessons through the years, which I hope will help you as much as they have me!

Our Story

We set out with basically nothing. Just two kids and eight suitcases. No support base, no income or money in the bank, no property or assets, and very little cash.

We’ve moved over 50 times, north to south and east to west, mostly in Italy. Even living in a tent, a tarantula-infested camper (shudder), and an old chicken coop, so cozy the chickens kept returning! We’ve gone without, been abundantly blessed, and learned countless lessons along the way. And most of all discovered that God has been, and continues to be, good and faithful every step of the way!

Let’s be Amici!

Because journeys are better when shared with others!

Email Friends

Sign up for new posts!

Join 491 other followers

On Social Media

All images are my own. The header photo taken in Rome is not recent, but I chose it because it reminds me of God’s immense faithfulness to us throughout the years!

47 thoughts on “Meet the Straniera

  1. Sheila, what a joy to read about your adventures! (My husband and I will be married 44 years in June). We have missionary friends in Italy, and an author friend who absolutely loves it there. Her and her husband have been many times. God bless you and your husband for giving your lives to those who so desperately need the Good News of Jesus. I’m glad you found my blog, for it has given me a chance to find treasure in your writing. God bless you and your family with health, peace, and His amazing love and provision. May the doors to sharing the Lord open wide, and hungry souls receive the bread of life. ♥


    1. Thank you so much Jacquie for your kind words and prayers! I’m glad I found your blog too. I could already tell that it will be a big blessing. For us it is an honor and blessing to be able to serve the Lord and our beloved Italian. And we feel that we have gained much more than we have given up. For we can never outgive God!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for following my blog. So glad you did so I could find your delightful site. Although we’ve never met, I’m a native Michigander and half Italian. Such lovely connections we have. I look forward to reading all your posts and drinking in the scenery. Grazi!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much, Sheila, for the follow. I’ll return the favor because your story is fascinating. Your heart is beautiful as you share your perspective on the joy of life with Jesus and your loved ones. Looking forward to getting to know you better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sheila, thank you for the follow. I read through a couple of your posts and I will follow you also because I clearly can learn more. Italy, always wanted to go there but my wife of 46 + years isn’t keen about travelling and if the truth be told, neither am I. We’re home bodies and our five grown up children and our six grandchildren all live here in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Whenever I think of Italy I think of the Apostle Paul in prison there and the early Christians that suffered through persecution. I was close to Italy for a few months, served with the United Nation Peace Keepers Armed Forces and spent six months in Cyprus. I look forward to reading more of your posts!


    1. Thank you Bruce, and we’re so glad to have you! But I know the learning will take place on both sides…we learn and glean so much from all our blogging friends. I love your blog and it sounds like you’ve had an interesting life!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sheila, I am beyond excited to meet you. Thank you for commenting on my blog post. Now I know who you are and, honestly, I’m in tears. Your great love of Italy and the people cut me deeply. My website is a culmination of my great love for Italy and all of the things you mentioned about it…beauty, slow living, always time for others, history. Thank you for stopping by and introducing yourself. I am reading through your posts and finding amazing encouragement. Blessings to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Susan! It’s so wonderful to meet another blogger who shares two our great loves: Italy and Italians! I love your blog, mainly because you show that not only rich people can afford to visit Italy! And your love for this nation pours out of your posts. It’s a special place and (or at least we think so) one to be experienced, not just toured. Yes, there is beauty and history to see and admire. But there is so much more below the surface – a special “live life and love it” quality in the lifestyle that has to be experienced to be appreciated. Glad you like our simple blog and especially that you find it encouraging. That makes it all worthwhile! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to admit I’m a little jealous of anyone who gets to live and minister in Italy. We spent 5 weeks there a few years ago and simply loved it 🙂
    May God bless you both as you serve Him and give you an open door for sharing His love, grace, and truth.
    Blessings in Jesus,


    1. Thanks Kelly! It’s an honor to me to be able to connect with you! Yes, Italy is beautiful. But what we most love is the lifestyle. Laid back, easy going, and always time for an espresso in piazza with family or friends. But it can be maddening at times too. What’s great, is knowing it’s where God wants us to be! And we’ll take that open door…actually we’re praying for many of them! Thanks so much for the encouragement!


  7. Italy is both gorgeous and wonderful, that’s for sure. But no matter how beautiful any place is, if us being there makes us out of God’s will – it loses its beauty. So right where God has you planted is the most beautiful place in the world for you. And personally, we’re coming more and more to the conclusion that the USA now probably needs “missionaries” more than any other place in the world. We’re grateful for all the shining lights God has in the nation. So let your light shine!!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Sheila! If you hadn’t liked my post I would never have had the chance to read about YOU – such a great intro and I am so excited to start following your blog (and that’s not an exaggeration).
    I hope your simple Italian life continues to be everything that you express so beautifully here. Be blessed, Sheila, and I’ll be reading. Jessica

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jessica! A fellow INFJ! Woo hoo! There’s not a lot of us around! I’m so happy we can follow each other’s journeys–it’ll be fun and encouraging. I’m sure my Italian life will keep on pretty much as it has. This is home, and it has my heart! Thanks for your encouragement and have a great day!


    1. No Karen, we live in Abruzzo, the region to the right of Rome. At least most of the year. We also have a 2nd base in the Salerno province. Thanks for your encouragement, and I’m so glad to have you on my journey in this great land of slow living!


  9. I enjoy your blog and love your style of writing. It is clear and easy to follow. I have done a lot of traveling to Germany, and love reading about your journey and perspective. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thank you so much, Julene, for your encouragement. I enjoy your blog too, and am happy I found it! I imagine being clear and easy to follow is a result of living so long overseas. In English we have to speak simply or few would understand us. And in the beginning at least, we are only able to speak simply in our adopted language. So simple becomes the norm for us! LOL!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.