I consider myself lucky for a lot of reasons. One of those is that I have some amazing friends. And, I don’t think this is a biased opinion, but my friends are pretty amazing people. I’ve always known and appreciated being in such close proximity to amazingness through these friendships, but I am further reminded of my good fortune every time I am in their company. Which is why I was so excited to have one of my closest gal-pals, a UNH major-mate and post-college roommate, come to visit me in Italy. I knew it would be a memorable February vacation, and sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed.
During her visit, we covered nearly 1,000 kilometers in autostrade to have Aperitivi at my favorite café in Torre Pellice, a relaxing walk through Pinerolo piazzas, a 10km cross country skiing adventure in Entreves, a downhill skiing day in nearby Courmayeur, a shopping trip to Torino, and a relaxing day of exploration in Lake Como.
In these Northern Italy destinations, we drank some of Italy’s most prized beverages… daily capuccinos, a bottle of Barber d’Asti, another of Nebbiolo d’Alba, four glasses of Valdostano Rosso, at least a liter of house reds, not to mention the occasional Spritz Aperol. We ate some of the most delicious Italian meals… handmade raviolo packed with Venison and accompanied by sautéed apples, four-cheese gnocchi, dainty, but delicious pastries, fresh olives and prosciutto, mouth-watering individual pizzas, and, of course, several flavors of oh-so-delicious gelato.
During our journeys, we also overcame life’s little stressors that come with territory of traveling to new places. For example, we maneuvered an over-sized station wagon through traffic, over a curb and onto an under-sized sidewalk parking spot angled maliciously between a tree and a van. We survived a claustrophobic trip up a steep mountainside funicular that was crammed with masses of pre-teens who occupied themselves with playfully beating up members of the opposite sex in the trademark adolescent attempt at flirtation. And, last but not least, there’s the occasional, but inevitable inconvenience of the language barrier.
Of course, these occurrences of temporary distress made up for an incalculably small fraction of the week when compared to the frequency of our happier moments. We watched a sunset cast it’s light on Lake Como from the shores of Bellagio, we basked in the sun in snow-stationed lounge chairs, we rode a gondola in the shadow of Mont Blanc. We celebrated a playoff victory with a post-game pasta dinner in Luserna. We marveled at the relative smallness of our world as we pondered the life’s coincidences. Most amusing was how we drank wine at “American Bar” in an Italian ski town with a group of Canadian pilots who were vacationing from their work in Hong Kong. And, who, just so happened to be staying in the same hotel as us across town.
As expected, laughter was an inevitable component to the week’s escapades. It was a consequence of taking an inside joke outside and wearing obnoxiously- or fabulously-(depending on your style) -gold pleather jackets in various Italian settings. It also followed my friend’s first introduction to Kevin’s teammates mere hours after landing in Milan. She was jet-lagged, but still beautiful, as a swarm of single guys vied for her attention and she stood helpless in the pack. To the innocent bystander, a sheep among wolves made for a humorous analogy. And, some of the most uncontrollable laughter was induced by the following epic ski falls: four graceless tumbles during what was presumed to be an easy cross-country skiing excursion, a wipe-out at the very start of our downhill adventure, and, finally, an Olympic-worthy ski jump that ended in a not-so-Olympic worthy landing.
All this, and I’m still not done. Because, as it is often the case with good friends, there are countless little moments that far outnumber the more spoken-about memories like the ones mentioned before. Moments that don’t warrant photographic documentation or even come up in later conversations where the friends are reminiscing about their shared histories. For example, how we sat outside in a sunny piazza in Torino, eating a piadine, drinking a Coca-Cola Light, and appreciating that it was warm enough to do so on a day in February. Or how we turned onto narrow cobblestone streets in Brunate just to see where they led. Or how we played cribbage while enjoying Chef Kevin’s signature meal of mushroom risotto and marinated veal. How we ran the hill loop from Luserna to Torre, rode the train to Torino, talked with two English-speaking Italians over a late-night gelato, smiled at a friendly old lady sweeping the road, sang classic rock ballads, swapped childhood stories, and so much more.
All this in six days. If there is a word for overwhelming, fulfilling, exciting and wonderful all at the same time, it would be applicable here. And it would be one of my favorite words in the dictionary.
|The view of Lake Como from Brunate|
|The Funicular to get to Brunate|
|A street in Bellagio|
|Sun setting over Como|
|View from the lodge at one of Courmayeur's peaks|
|A spot to lounge in the sun on the cross country ski trails|
|Cross Country skiing View|