Florence may be known for its elegance. But each June, Florentines revisit their martial past. This is when the ancient sport of calcio storico is contested among the city’s four districts, and the rivalry is intense. Calcio storico harkens back to Roman times, when it was used to keep soldiers fit and battle-ready. Every summer, the square in front of the basilica of Santa Croce is turned into a sand-covered arena. Teams of 27 men try to get the ball over the wooden fence posts at either end, while trying to stop the other team from doing the same. That’s pretty much where the rulebook ends. Fists, feet, and elbows are all fair game. Throwing a sneaky handful of sand is not unheard of, either. Even if you can’t appreciate the carnage on the playing field, you may admire the hundreds of drummers, flag-bearers, and trumpeters who greet each team as they arrive.
I’m looking down the barrel of an Arisaka rifle—standard issue for a Japanese solider in World War II. This isn’t your usual museum, more like a garage stuffed with war material: rusting shells, M1 rifles, a machine gun, radios, trenching tool, uniforms… The garage belongs to the Cata-al family, who have spent decades searching the forests around the “Horns of Negros” mountains on the Philippine island of Negros for leftovers from the battle of Mount Talinis.
If you fancy seeing the glaciers of Patagonia, trying a bit of tango, or just chowing down on a juicy Argentine steak, we’ve got some good news for you. The Argentine government has decided to waive the $160 reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens entering the country. This pesky expense used to apply to U.S. tourists spending less than 90 days in Argentina. But Argentina seems to have taken a leaf out of the book of its great soccer rival, Brazil. It suspended the fee following President Obama’s visit in March.
New Zealand is famous for its magnificent natural scenery, welcoming culture, and fine wineries. One of the best places to experience all three is the Wairarapa region, which encompasses the fertile valleys and windswept southern coastlines of the North Island.
After a five-year bear market, the rally in emerging markets has officially begun... The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index jumped 20% from mid-January to mid-March. A move that big is rare. But these gains should continue from here. More specifically, this kind of jump has happened less than 3% of the time since 1988. And history says it could lead to 12% gains over the next few months. From January 21 to March 21, emerging market stocks rallied 20%. And they’re now up 23% in total since their January bottom.
"I told myself I would return to live here one day,” says expat Fred Staff of his decision to retire to Bolivia’s Garden City. “I fell in love with Cochabamba when I first came here. It’s clean. It’s beautiful. The climate can’t be beat. And it’s really cheap, perfect for anyone retiring on a fixed income. Plus, it’s developing all the time: We now have a big cinema center and a new mall set to finish this year or next.”
Views don’t come much better than this. Friends back home are wrapping up for the winter. But I’m relaxing on a sun-drenched balcony, taking in the splendor of a vast, blue lake stretching into the distance, framed by imposing green mountains. The sky overhead is perfectly bright, heralding yet another clear, warm day. Here you can spend it canoeing or kicking back with the many expat friends you’ve made around town. And the stunning lake-view retreat you call home can cost less than $200,000.
“You could hike every day here and see something different,” says Kristin Simmon-Lowman of her new home in the highlands of Ecuador. “My friends and I just hiked Fuya Fuya (an inactive volcano), which was wonderful. Now we’re working up to doing Mount Imbabura (one of Ecuador’s most iconic mountains), so we’ve been getting a training system going to get in shape for that. There are waterfalls all around and a lot of lower foothills.”
“For the good of my health, I had to make a change,” says expat Jennifer Enright of her decision to relocate to the Colombian city of Medellín. “I had to reinvent myself businesswise. After working for years as an executive head hunter for high-tech companies in Seattle, I had had enough. Too much rain and cold, and I injured myself from too much repetitive motion.”
Lying in the northern mountains of Nicaragua, at the heart of coffee country, the city of Matagalpa is green all year round. With temperatures ranging from 59 F to 74 F, the cool breezes are a welcome break from the warmth of the lowlands. And even by Nicaraguan standards, Matagalpa is highly affordable: Figure $1,200 a month for a couple, all in. But these advantages aren’t all you’ll find here.