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Mary Jane Cryan is a native of Massachusetts who has been living in Italy since 1965. An author and contributing writer for many well-known guidebooks, Italian and English language magazines, Mary Jane also puts her 40 years of experience in international education and journalism to good use through her website and travel consultancy: Elegant Etruria. In this article she tells us a bit about herself and her expat experience.


I’m a true expat of the “historic” type since I’ve lived away from my native country for 40 years now: at first studying in Ireland, then teaching in the international schools and universities in Genoa, Rome, Moscow and now Viterbo.

I lived in Moscow for 4 wonderful years as a trailing wife and journalist during the perestroika and I’m still in touch with Russian friends and other expats met then. Due to the lack of information (1987-90) we international women put out a newsletter “Making the Most of Moscow” for which I wrote the column “How to Survive and Thrive in Moscow” and we published a cookbook “… for Moscow conditions”.

Living in a small town like Vetralla is so much easier than in Rome, where I lived for about 30 years. It’s perfect for someone my age and with my profession. I am in touch with the entire world and am able to write, publish and keep up professional contacts thanks to Internet.

The lifestyle is more relaxed and it’s also much cheaper to live here. My home is always open to visitors and every Tuesday together with a neighbour, a Finnish opera singer, we have a luncheon in “The Secret Garden” followed by a concert and singalong.


We enjoy the two great luxuries of time and space. Instead of sirens I am awakened in the morning by birdsong and the musical sound of water in the ancient wash house. The people here have a more relaxed attitude towards life. The family, local traditions and festivities are important and people have more time to enjoy themselves.

With Rome only an hour’s train ride away, the sea, lakes and thermal spas of central Italy close at hand, the area known as Etruria in northern Lazio has become haven to many creative people: painters, singers, professors, writers and retired people from many different countries.

Mary Jane
May 2006

Mary Jane’s latest project , promoting special places and itineraries in central Italy, is based on her new book “Travels to Tuscany & Northern Lazio”. Valuable background information and insiders’ tips as well as unusual and historic itineraries are to be found on her website www.elegantetruria.com