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June 4, 2022

E87 Retire in Marche, Italy

E87 Retire in Marche, Italy

When Mark L. Hinshaw and Savina "Sunny" Bertollini were seeking a vacation in Italy, they desired the beauty of Tuscany but without all the tourists and high costs. They stumbled upon the small ancient hilltown of Santa Vittoria in Matenano in the le Marche region and purchased a beautiful home with stunning views at a very, very affordable price tag. In the few years they have lived there, the couple has fallen in love with Santa Vittoria and the town has equally embraced them. Learn more about the hidden gem known as the Le Marche region of Italy, on Episode 87 of Retire There with Gil & Gene.

Mark L. Hinshaw’s illustrations of and stories about living in Santa Vittoria in Matenano can be found on his website.  His forthcoming book, titled Navigating Paradise, will consist of stories about the venue, which will be available Summer 2022. Mark’s two other books are: Citistate Seattle: Shaping a Modern Metropolis and True Urbanism: Living In and Near the Center.

Sunny’s website, which includes photographs of le Marche, and so much more is available here


Sunny Savina Bertollini

Sunny Savina Bertollini was born in the Seattle area and lived there most of her life. For a couple of years, she lived with her family on a remote cattle farm in Montana She attended community college, but her skills are mostly self-taught. Sunny has had a variety of jobs over the years, but also raised two children to adulthood, which occupied much of her time. She had a custom sewing business while her children were young. Once they were in their 20’s she opened an herbal medicine shop in Pioneer Square, in the “Underground” passage below the Grand Central Bakery. She chose to close it when the couple initiated plans to move to Italy. Now, she is in the process of growing a clientele in Italy. Since the couple moved abroad they’ve both made amazing connections with Italians who have been very helpful and generous. One of these led to her being offered a job in a nearby vocational education high school, teaching students to design and fabricate clothing. The high school offers classes in English and they are required to have a certain proportion of “madre lingua” teachers. She was given special permission to work as an “Esperto Speciale Estero” (Special Foreign Expert) because she is an English speaker who knows how to make custom clothes. (she also is fluent in Italian, so she can make accurate translations of techniques.) In addition, she also does English revision work (proofreading for grammatical mistakes) for a translator, as well as sewing commissions for historical hand-sewn clothing. Her interests include: Helping people with herbal medicines, traveling, cooking – Italian, as well as food from many other cultures (we are foodies), Photography, sewing historical clothing (primarily from the 17-19th centuries), painting (pointillism). Sunny believes being respectful and kind to others in Italy makes a huge difference – in everything. The Italians (like many others) respond very positively to people who genuinely want to be a part of their culture and community.

Mark Hinshaw


Mark Hinshaw was born in Los Angeles, lived with his family in Minnesota and Oklahoma. As an adult, he lived for a short while in Memphis, then New York City, where he held his first full time job. Thereafter, he served in the military in Alaska for several years. For 40+ years he lived in Seattle. Mark attended University of Oklahoma earning a Bachelors in Architecture and Hunter College of the City University of New York earning a Masters in Urban Planning. He worked as an architect and city planner. Finally, for the last twenty years, he concentrated on urban design, which is a cross between the two.
Mark has written two books and numerous articles for online publications in the U.S. and Italy. So while he’s retired from two of his three career paths, writing continues as he has even more time to devote to it. Mark’s interests include cinema, traveling, eating as many different foods as he can find, and helping others with questions about immigrating to Italy.
Mark shared some wise wisdom with us: Moving to Italy is essentially re-starting your life. Nothing you learned growing up and being an adult will transfer here. Every custom, code, law, protocol, noun, verb, unit of measure, price, process, and document is different. Its like being a child again. There is no point in comparing how things were done better or faster in the U.S., Italy isn’t going to change because someone new showed up. Best to adapt. He also tells people:
Learn to laugh.
And laugh a lot.
After you finish crying.