Post #7: Ancora

We made it! And, while Dylan might disagree, I found that the process of flying with a canine companion was far less traumatizing than I had anticipated. Much to my appreciation, he remained out of his crate throughout the entirety of the check-in and security procedures. He pranced along happily in the airport, stopping frequently to receive generous back-rubs from passengers who had dropped their carry-ons and halted foot-traffic just to say hello to the happy pooch. An airport is always such a stressful and hurried environment. Funny how the oddity of a dog sauntering through the crowds and playfully stealing his owner’s neck pillow is enough to inspire a swarm of smiles. While I can testify that these first hours of the journey were more or less pleasant for both parties involved, I can’t say that Dylan enjoyed the post-security segment of the trip. The important thing is that he was waiting in Oversized Baggage when I landed at the airport in Milan. And, as I spoke in broken Italian to an associate waiting nearby, I heard his tail thumping excitedly against the plastic wall of his crate at the sound of my voice.

Almost a week since that day, I’m happy to report that I’m quickly remembering the language and gradually adjusting to the time change. Even Dylan is adapting to the move! The stress of the flight certainly exhausted him, but it wasn’t anything a few days of lounging on our sunny balcony and exploring his new surroundings couldn’t fix. While I still can’t believe I’m back in Italy, it somehow also feels like I never left. But I think that is just how it goes when you return to a place you’ve been before; Time is like a magic trick, making illusions out of memories made elsewhere and pulling old place-specific ones out of a hat. As quickly as a quarter can disappear, I am right where I was a year before… an ocean away from home.

The decision to return to Valpellice wasn’t a particularly tough one to make. The community of Italians was incredibly welcoming and the fans made it an exciting place to play. We knew we would be, strange as it is to say about a foreign country, comfortable here. I know when to go for groceries, where to find good gelato, how to speak Italian (sort of), and how to properly engage in the double cheek kiss greeting (an awkward exhange for any unsuspecting American, but a formality to which I have grown accustomed). The last of these bits of knowledge has been particularly important since I have already been greeted warmly by handfuls of our Italian friends from last season. The brother-sister butcher duo, our “host” family, CafĂ© owners, and team staff, all issuing the exuberant kiss-kiss before sharing stories of their summer travels and expressing their enthusiasm about our return.

Though this comfort factor certainly makes the transition to Italian living an easy one, it was simultaneously my one reservation about coming back. Comfort is obviously a good thing. But, there is also something to be said about doing something for the first time. I was worried that last season’s adventures set the standard too high to be achieved a second time. I mean, movie sequels don’t have a great track record for matching up to their predecessors.

Fortunately, one week of being back in town has been enough to eliminate my concern. There are a lot of “new”s this time around: A new apartment, new neighborhood, new opportunities to travel with our dog. And let’s not forget all the new friends to be made. With six new ladies added to the wife/girlfriend squad and three of us returning from last year’s roster, we make up a hockey team all our own!

Just as the new elements of this season have shown promise for months to come, my perspective on being too comfortable has undergone a significant transformation and further diminished my uncertainties. As it turns out, the very feeling of sameness that I was worried about essentially makes this year different. We are already a part of the community with a network of friends that we didn’t have at this time last year. We can strengthen those relationships to add a new dynamic to our lifestyle. We can relish in this experience more as natives than strangers, and revisit places to find things we overlooked before.

Clearly, there is still a lot to look forward to as we move on to Chapter 2 of our adventures in Italy. Though we have graduated from the days of mistakenly ordering French Fries on our pizza, there is still a lot of life, love, and gelato that awaits. (And I mean A LOT of gelato considering we actually have a freezer this time around.) 

Dylan lounging on the balcony

The Foyer

Kitchen looking left

Kitchen view from balcony

I am excited enough that our appliances are life-size, but that fact that our refrigerator is built-in is extra fancy!
Please take a moment to appreciate the size of our freezer. 

An ingenious space-saver common to lots of kitchens out here is the above-sink dish drying rack.

Balcony with kitchen window to the right

Balcony with kitchen entrance to the left

The view from the balcony

It's clear given the ornate furnishings that this is the master bedroom. What's not so clear is, who is the master?

Bathroom with a small balcony entrance for hanging laudry at the back

A showerhead mounted beautifully to the wall.

Some fine china

A cool little teapot

Another fun little trinket... looks like a liquor bottle/shot glass stand

An up-close look at the lavish wallpaper and tin wall clock

The second bedroom

the formal dining room from the entrance

The formal dining room from the balcony

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